I was on holidays when the latest “Get Hager” campaign began after the Wellington-based independent journalist Nicky Hager wrote recently about the National Party’s continuing relationship with Australian political spin-meisters the Crosby/Textor group. The story appeared in the Sunday Star Times and seems to be a detailed rundown of C/T’s activities behind the scenes in the Nationals’ election strategy for 2008.
But Key has not been disclosing an important secret about his leadership: that each step of his campaign to become prime minister has been overseen and directed by the same professional manipulators used (and also kept secret) by his predecessor, Don Brash. They are the Australian political tacticians, Crosby/Textor. Their role advising Key is known to National Party staff, including some who are uneasy about Crosby/Textor’s involvement, but has been kept secret from the public.
From time to time Nicky comes under fire for his strong views, persistent digging and the exposure of political spin for what it is. I’m not surprised that the National apparatchiks and politicians despise him and try to discredit him at every turn.
However, I was surprised to read an attack on Hager’s credibility by Fran O’Sullivan in Saturday’s (13 July) New Zealand Herald. The Herald is published by the SST‘s rival newspaper company, so perhaps there’s a commercial agenda in play here. But I suspect it’s more than that. O’Sullivan refuses to acknowledge the legitimacy of Hager’s journalistic credentials; instead she calls him an “activist”, though I know that Hager is careful not to be involved upfront in political campaigning today.