Sunday, January 19, 2014
Mike Butler: Dotcom shows up shallow reporting
“Human headline” Kim Dotcom’s launch/non-launch of his Internet Party has been “a study in the politics of naivety”, journalist and commentator Sean Plunket wrote this week. Writing in in the Dominion Post under the headline "Internet party amateur and vain", Plunket also noted that it has also a glowing example of the gullibility of certain sections of the New Zealand news media and public.
The Dotcom Party launch was leaked on the Whaleoil blog on Wednesday with the logo and details of funding. Left-wing blogger Martyn Bradbury was named as the candidate for Auckland Central, being paid $8000 a month. (1)
Scoop Media’s general manager Alistair Thompson was party secretary and has registered the domain names under the Scoop Media banner. Solicitor and political commentator Graeme Edgeler produced a report, believed to be in return for $3000.
One basic fact in this political circus is that Kim Dotcom is not a New Zealand citizen so cannot run for office.
The launch was postponed until February 20 after the Electoral Commission warned Dotcom that throwing a free party for thousands of New Zealanders might constitute “treating” – essentially buying – people’s votes.
The fact that Dotcom is fighting off extradition to the United States to face charges related to online piracy fuels speculation that his plan is to upset the 2014 election to bring in a more sympathetic Labour government and therefore avoid facing trial.
For two years since his arrest in a bungled raid on his Coatesville mansion on January 20, 2012, Dotcom has played naïve media personalities to build support.
Whaleoil blogger Cameron Slater and Investigate Magazine editor Ian Wishart are the only New Zealand journalists to have dug into the fat German’s past to provide information that TV3’s Campbell Live and the New Zealand Herald reporters have systematically overlooked.
It has been a shame that reporters did not do a bit of basic digging because all the information about Kim Dotcom aka Kim “Kimble” Schmitz, aka Tim Vestor, aka Kim Kimble, aka Kim Tim Jim Vestor, is freely available. Wishart published a master class in investigative reporting titled “Merry Chrischmitz or Merry Hell? International criminal sets up home in Chrisco mansion” in April 2010. (2) Even a Wikipedia check gives more than enough sources to follow up.(3)
Herr Dotcom has already been convicted of various commercial crimes in other jurisdictions and has been duly slapped with a succession of wet bus tickets.
Dotcom’s presence is toxic. He has effectively ended ACT Party MP John Banks’ political career with claims over a $50,000 donation.
Dotcom arrogantly taunted Prime Minister John Key in a select committee hearing that resulted from procedural errors in his arrest in which it was confirmed that the New Zealand Government Communications Security Bureau illegally spied on Dotcom, a permanent resident.
That arrest shifted the focus from Dotcom facing extradition over to face charges related to online piracy to allegations that the Prime Minister presided over a system that spied on its own people.
Notable in mainstream New Zealand media reporting of the fat German is the extent to which reporters avoid going into Dotcom’s past even though all the material is factual and there is no legal impediment to its publication.
Scoop Media’s Thompson either resigned or went on sabbatical after committing the journalistic sin of being on the payroll while writing sympathetic stories.
For instance, in a supportive article titled “Gordon Campbell on Dotcom, and recent events at Scoop”, that was published on Scoop, Thompson’s mate Gordon Campbell sadly acknowledges the possibility that Thompson had a conflict of interest. Campbell did not go into the Dotcom back story, having the effect of limiting the damage to procedural hiccups. (4)
A possible silver lining in this dark cloud that is Kim Dotcom (yes, the two-metre megalump even dresses in black) is that the mainstream media is now forced to look into his chequered past.
1. (Exclusive) The Internet Party strategy revealed, Whaleoil, http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/2014/01/exclusive-internet-party-strategy-revealed/
2. Merry Chrischmitz or Merry Hell? International criminal sets up home in Chrisco mansion, Investigate Magazine, http://www.florianpoullin.fr/sites/florianpoullin.fr/files/investigate.pdf
3. Kim Dotcom, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kim_Dotcom
4. Gordon Campbell on Dotcom, and recent events at Scoop, http://gordoncampbell.scoop.co.nz/2014/01/16/gordon-campbell-on-dotcom-and-recent-events-at-scoop/
at 12:57 PM