A tale of two campaign launches

After a week and a half of being relentlessly hammered, day in, day out, by their political opponents and the media over the Dirty Politics allegations, National was relying on yesterday’s campaign opening to change the media narrative.

National’s line was made clear, with John Key refusing to answer Dirty Politics questions, batting them away with two brush-off sentences – “We’re moving on from that. That’s last week’s story”. Key is betting that the public have now well and truly zoned out. Questions over who spoke to whom and when before releasing some SIS briefing notes? That’s for those who write or read political blogs. At the end of the day, Middle New Zealand wants policy.

Complicating matters is the hacker, Whaledump. National have no idea what else might be released via Twitter, ready to be pored over by the media and excitedly rehashed on the six o’clock news. Nonetheless, Key can be relatively comfortable that any future releases will be embarrassing for underlings, rather than Key himself. If there was a firm link between Key, Cameron Slater and the underhand activities described in Dirty Politics, it would have already ended up in Nicky Hager’s book. The source emails now being drip fed to the Twitterati are embarrassing for the people who wrote them, portraying them in a very different light to their public personae, but Key is banking on there being little more to come in the way of solid accusations.

For National, yesterday’s campaign launch was about hitting the reset button. The All Blacks are back to being victorious, there’s policy to sell (I’ll discuss National’s housing policy in a separate post), it’s Situation Normal. The media (and Whaledump) may have other ideas though…

Speaking of campaign launches, the lead item on 3News last night (and presumably One News too) was Pam Corkery’s quite astonishing meltdown at reporters outside the Internet Mana Party’s launch. Calling a reporter a “puffed up little shit” and then having Kim Dotcom flee from reporters probably wasn’t, in retrospect, a great way to get the media discussing party policy.

Admittedly, some of the 3News reporting was a little dishonest. The fact that Dotcom had, almost twenty years ago, hacked into a database and reduced the German Chancellor’s credit rating to zero was not something that Dotcom had suddenly revealed. It’s been a widely told story, utilised over and over again by Dotcom since he was first trying to woo Hone Harawira and the Mana Party into bed.

Nonetheless, if Dotcom didn’t want to answer questions about hacking, it probably wasn’t wise to include the comments in his campaign launch speech, especially given that his reference to John Key as “another Prime Minister I don’t like” provided the media with a great platform to once again ask whether Dotcom had had any involvement with the theft of Cameron Slater’s emails.

As to what else happened at the Internet Mana launch, well, who knows? It certainly didn’t get reported, and for that Laila Harre needs to deliver some strong words to her Press Secretary and her Party Visionary.

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