Editorial: Rats and niceties

This is another dirty politics editorial. Can't be helped.

Our topic, regrettably, is "ratf...ing" as explained and celebrated by Whaleoil blogger Cameron Slater who has been operating with particular nourishment from Judith Collins, Jason Ede and others.

There's a charming passage in the hacked emails upon which Nicky Hager's Dirty Politics book is founded, in which Slater confides to a friend that ACC client Bronwen Pullar is about to get "rat-f...ed".

So it proved. Soon after that, an email was leaked to the press implicating Puller - wrongly - as trying to receive money from ACC before returning a huge amount of sensitive information she had mistakenly been sent.

Helpfully, for those who mightn't understand the term, Slater himself blogged on "The philosophy of ratf...ing" last October.

This was the word coined by Donald Segretti and other disgraced officials in the Nixon White House for the dirty tricks they pulled first as university students and then during national elections.

Slater hardly lamented the practice. Quite the opposite. He wrote it was a shame that this "art" had largely been lost in New Zealand since the Muldoon era. He lamented that we had become a bunch of sooks, scared of a bit of blood and guts.

Slater doesn't mention this bit, but ratf...ing, at least as Segretti and co practised it, was essentially deceitful; illegally so in some cases. We must presume he sees his own activities differently; nothing more than politics red in tooth and claw.

But Slater, the unabashed basher, does say this much plainly: "It isn't about the public good, it's about the game".

The extent to which National higher-ups batted not an eye at that philosophy, and had no problem dealing with him, is now on the agenda.

We must remember, daily, that Hager's book is founded on hacked information. Some say that if a similar number of emails from an agent of the Left had been similarly hacked, it would reveal much the same.

Possibly so, though the question is how we should react to the dirty great steaming pile of that information we do have to hand. Perhaps Slater would have us ask ourselves: What would Segretti do?

The Southland Times