Sunlight did what sunlight does: Nicky Hager on Dirty Politics, three years on

Dirty Politics landed like a bombshell in the NZ election campaign of 2014. It may not have affected that outcome, but that was never the ambition. It has, however, made a big impact on our politics, argues Nicky Hager in The Spinoff

Digging up dirty deeds, Nicky Hager writing in Walkley Magazine

Political journalists had long suspected
links between the prime minister’s office and these
bloggers, but the activities were well hidden and
denied. The book shows a series of attacks and
manufactured scandals: researched and coordinated
by government staff and then fed to journalists via
the attack bloggers. It is a classic example of where
a leak was crucial for the story getting out

New Zealand elections: dirty tricks helped John Key win another term

An orchestrated attack has painted Key’s political opponents as dodgy, untrustworthy or incompetent. This is not how democracy should work

New Zealand elections: dirty tricks helped John Key win another term

An orchestrated attack has painted Key’s political opponents as dodgy, untrustworthy or incompetent. This is not how democracy should work: Nicky Hager writes in The Guardian

Dirty Politics

Early in 2014 Nicky Hager was leaked a large number of email and online conversations from Cameron Slater’s Whale Oil blog.

Many of these were between Slater and his personal allies on the hard right, revealing an ugly and destructive style of politics. But there were also many communications with the prime minister’s office and other Cabinet ministers in the National Govt.

The Manipulators, chapter 10 of The Hollow Men

The Australian strategists Crosby/Textor have returned to the news working for the British Conservative Party. We are reproducing a chapter about their operations in a New Zealand campaign, including leaked reports that show clearly how they think and operate…
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Bruce Jesson Lecture, Maidment Theatre, Auckland

The second part of the lecture will be about investigative journalism. But before that, I want to use the opportunity of this lecture to talk much more widely, sharing some thoughts about the state of politics in New Zealand today.

Speech to the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists Conference, Rotorua, 16 October 2009

I would like to set the scene for today’s discussion of pharmaceutical company sponsorship by looking at the whole range of tactics used by corporations and industry lobby groups to gain political and commercial advantage. I hope that examples from other spheres will illuminate the issues that you face.

“Crosby v Hager”: defamation proceedings used as a political weapon

I have just been through an eleven month defamation case. Fortunately, we mostly won. About 20 to 1 if it was a score. If I was ever going to be sued like this, I am pleased that the suer was a man of Lynton Crosby’s standing and that his case against me was so weak….

Unfortunately, defamation is a tool that can be used by any well resourced company or individual against people who have annoyed them or who they do not like. This has serious implications for journalism and public accountability — potentially chilling freedom of speech about the people who most deserve scrutiny and criticism — since the sad fact is that it is much safer for a news organisation to criticise poor people than rich and powerful ones.

“Imagining a world where the PR people had won”, Sociological Association of Aotearoa New Zealand Conference, University of

We live in an era where the public spaces are being crowded with paid spokespeople, spin and trickery; where news and political discussion are being polluted by the glib outpourings of ever growing numbers of PR people; and where the public spaces available for real democratic activity are drying up. My subject for today is considering the CUMULATIVE IMPACT of the growth of public relations, and particularly its cumulative impact on the media and the other public spaces where politics occurs

Hooton’s hollow complaints, comment, Pundit website

Nicky Hager was invited by the Pundit website to reply to a column by Matthew Hooton.

“Exposing political parties and their strategies”, Global Investigative Journalism Conference, Lillehammer, Norway, September 2008

Unelected political advisers are the most interesting and important part of many political issues, controversies and election campaigns. They can be more influential than the politicians they serve. Yet they usually get away with acting invisibly and avoiding media scrutiny.

“Where are you, ethically?” A speech to the to the Records Management Association of Australasia conference, 10 September 2007

It is a sad truth in politics, and maybe all human activity, that when people believe they are acting in secret they do things that they would never do if they believed other people might find out. Often good record keeping and the availability of those records is the best protection we have against deception, dishonesty and corrupt behaviour by people in positions of influence. I hope you recognise this important and powerful effect of your work

Inside Spin, the dark underbelly of the PR industry, Bob Burton

Inside Spin, the dark underbelly of the PR industry, Bob Burton, Allen & Unwin

review by Nicky Hager

“Propaganda then and now”, notes of a lecture at Auckland Museum on Wednesday, 2 May 2007

I will be talking tonight about the history and characteristics of propaganda, starting with the WWII versions as seen in the “Towards the Precipice” poster exhibition here at the museum and moving on to contemporary examples that together help us to understand the world we live in.

Beyond the spin-doctoring, democracy is at work

I would like to propose a New Year’s resolution for news organisations: sorting out the difference between genuine media commentators and giving regular media space to political party spin doctors….

Reply to Michael Bassett and Richard Long

Michael Bassett and Richard Long used their recent columns to criticise me and my book The Hollow Men but they barely mentioned, much less debated, the contents of the book. Nor did they acknowledge that they both feature prominently…..

More to NZ’s tour of duty than meets the eye

A LEAKED report reveals the 61 New Zealand Army engineers caught up in the Iraq conflict have spent only a fraction of their time helping rebuild services for Iraqi civilians….

In the line of fire

The role New Zealand soldiers are playing in Iraq is not the one the government has sold to the country… (This feature was the first expose of New Zealand military activities in Iraq.)

Power firm’s shock ally

Nicky Hager reveals a controversial American company behind the South Island’s proposed Project Aqua scheme….

Meridian Energy and public relations

It is not surprising if you haven’t heard of Project Aqua. It is the largest power scheme planned in New Zealand since the Clyde Dam 20 years ago and already it is controversial in the local area around Oamaru. But a lot of state resources are going into trying to silence the opponents and avoid the inconvenience of genuine public debate….

Investigating and Exposing

This chapter is about some of the powerful tools an individual can use to dig out useful and important information that exposes wrongdoing and empowers the public. Starting with the story of the research behind my book on anti-environmental public relations, Secrets and Lies, I want to decsribe how a sensible person with time, persistence [...]

Denials and diversions, but deeds remain

Frantic Government damage control followed the release last week of my book Seeds of Distrust. We were told the book was completely untrue and that I was a conspiracy theorist taking part in a Green Party dirty trick.

Seeds of Distrust: Foreword and Chapter 1

Seeds of Distrust, the story of a GE cover-up Foreword In 1999 I co-authored a book about the relationship between government, business and public relations companies. Our conclusion was that secrecy allowed the then National Government to abuse power as it allowed state agencies to mislead the public and play politics in pursuit of their [...]

Seeds of Distrust, The story of a GE coverup

Seeds of Distrust - Nicky HagerThe book tells the story of how the New Zealand government handled the unwelcome news of contamination of corn crops with genetically-engineered seeds. Officials succumbed to industry lobbying, quietly changed the regulations to “allow” contaminated crops. ‘managed’ the risk of politicians and the public objecting by keeping the whole incident secret. The book is not about the corn but about the political management. It takes readers step-by-step through the crisis, based on original documents from an unhappy insider.

Investigating public relations companies

PR is a huge feature of modern politics. Every journalist spends a lot of his or her time coping with and trying to see through PR communications and tactics. However the issue for journalists should not just be surviving PR tactics and spin, but turning the spotlight on it….

Exposing Dirty PR Tactics Across the World and in Your Street

Introduction to the United States Edition of Secrets and Lies As public relations companies export techniques for manipulating democracy around the globe, citizens in every country urgently need to share knowledge of these tactics and how to deal with them. Secrets and Lies is a rare and detailed exposé of how modern PR companies can influence [...]

A Happy Ending – Timberlands’ Schemes Unravel

Afterword to the United States Edition of Secrets and Lies The anti-environmental campaign described in Secrets and Lies might have made a depressing story, where the secret tactics and constant lies succeeded in defeating the genuine community groups. However, despite illuminating some of the dark side of politics, the lessons from the New Zealand rainforest [...]

Secret and Lies, the anatomy of an anti-environmental PR campaign

Secrets and Lies – Nicky Hager and Bob BurtonA based on hundreds of leaked public relations papers, the book shows how PR consultants think and act when they are being paid to try to influence politics. It shows the range of techniques used by PR companies to manufacture political support for their clients and dirty tricks they use to stop their client’s opponents being heard.