Hager’s hollow hoax

I want to show you in my customary left-right way how Nicky Hager operates.

Have a look below at how this self-styled truthseeker hollowed out one of my poems to create the exact opposite meaning.

The poem, Political Careering, from my book I Think The Clouds Are Cotton Wool – Rhymes Committed by John Ansell, is about the journey from lobbyist to disgraced PM of a Clark/Muldoon/ Peters type of politician.

By the time Hager had finished his gutting and pasting, it had become my epitaph to Don Brash.

You’ll see it at the end of the Iwi/Kiwi chapter of The Hollow Men. Page 74.

Nowhere did Hager admit that the four verses he fused together were not meant to be consecutive. They were, in fact, verses 3, 9, 12 and 13.

I think we call that a breach of copyright. (Not that a rich boy like Hager would have anything much to worry about if I sued him.)

And nowhere did he tell you that I had clearly dedicated the original to New Zealand’s fiercest political animals, Rob Muldoon, Winston Peters and Helen Clark.

He just allowed me to embarrass my boss and myself in public – something I felt compelled to apologise to Don for at the time.

(It was the last of Don’s worries, given the scale of the other misrepresentations he’d found.) 

If Hager can be so dishonest about a simple poem, what does that suggest about the rest of the tale? 

But you decide.

Here are the two versions side by side, so you can see how much of the truth Hager left out.

 

POLITICAL CAREERING
 
 

MY ORIGINAL

HAGER’S HOLLOW HOAX

Dedicated to New Zealand’s fiercest political animals, Rob Muldoon, Winston Peters and Helen Clark.

                        

…a tribute to Brash’s years as National Party leader. It is fitting that Ansell, who nearly got him into power, provides a well-crafted epitaph.
   

Working on a politician,

Lobby for a strong decision,

Lots of lolly on commission

As a lobbyist.
 

 

Working for a politician,

Always been a long ambition,

Dominate a strong division,

Party activist.

 

 

Wanna be a politician,

Follow me I’m on a mission,

Gotta get a strong position

On the party list.

 

Wanna be a politician,

Follow me I’m on a mission,

Gotta get a strong position

On the party list.

 

Gonna be a politician,

Gotta be on television,

Shot of me in each edition,

Babies getting kissed.

 

 

Finally I’m a politician,

What a battle of attrition!

Sock it to the Opposition,

Then I’m getting pissed.

 

 

Up and coming politician,

Got a lot of recognition,

Tons of perks and tunnel vision,

No expenses missed.

 

 

Double-dipping politician,

Higher Salaries Commission,

Should decline, but what they’re dishin’

Out I can’t resist.

 

 

Party’s leading politician,

Not a lot of competition,

Clobbered ’em into submission

With my iron fist.

 

 

Leader of the Opposition,

Keeper of a strong tradition

To articulate a vision

People can’t resist.
   

Leader of the Opposition,

Keeper of a strong tradition

To articulate a vision

People can’t resist.
 

Country’s leading politician,

Blunted by the coalition,

Hunted by the Opposition,

Wish they would desist.

 

 

Country’s leading politician,

Made a rather odd admission,

Order ’em to block transmission,

Really must insist.

 

 

One embattled politician,

I’m a picture of contrition,

Honestly to God I’m wishin’

I did not exist.
 

One embattled politician,

I’m a picture of contrition,

Honestly to God I’m wishin’

I did not exist.

Soon-to-be ex-politician,

Step aside on one condition:

“Leaving of my own volition”—

Think you get the gist.

 

Soon-to-be ex-politician,

Step aside on one condition:

“Leaving of my own volition”—

Think you get the gist.

 

Sick of being a politician,

God I made the wrong decision,

Damn it all, I’m going fishin’ —
Get me out of this!

 

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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. […] well. Better even than the book, which treated me kindly compared with some others – despite Hager’s shameless rehashing of my poem about Clark, Peters and Muldoon as my ‘epitaph to Don […]

  2. Dear John,

    I think you see yourself as a principled wordsmith so I hope you will leave this reply on your site so others can judge whether I really misrepresented your poem.

    Below is my full introduction to your poem from chapter 12 of The Hollow Men. Readers will see that I did not in the slightest suggest it was you writing about Don Brash. I explained it was part of a poem written generally about politicians from before you began working for Brash (note the “can serve as”, not “was written as”). Also, as anyone can read, I explained that it was part of fourteen-verse poem. I did not pretend that the four verses were a consecutive whole.

    Here it is:

    “A month before Ansell decided to return to advertising to help Brash, he published a book of poetry including a long fourteen-verse poem about politicians called “Political careering”. Four verses can serve as a tribute to Brash’s years as National Party leader. It is fitting that Ansell, who nearly got him into power, provides a well-crafted epitaph.”

    Yes, it was cheeky to use your words to write about Brash. But I did not misrepresent what I was doing nor misrepresent what your poem is about. I think if it had been the other way around, about a politician you did not support, you would have thought it was fair game and enjoyed the joke.

    Best wishes,

    Nicky Hager

  3. Ah, Nicky, while you are here perhaps you would like to respond to this kiwiblog commentary on your scrupulous adherence to the highest standards of journalism.

    http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2008/07/the_hollowness_of_the_hollow_men.html

  4. Jack,

    Since you ask, I am happy to respond. My reply is that that Kiwiblog analysis misquoted the correspondence concerned. When I read that piece I initially worried that I’d got it wrong. But I’ve checked and I didn’t. You and other readers (and the writer of that Kiwiblog piece, I assume) have not seen the original documents, so the criticism perhaps sounded credible, but I am confident that I got it right. I stand by what I wrote. I did not bother replying at the time as I am doubtful that rational discussion can occur on politically aligned blogs. I wish it could. I hope that day will come. But it hasn’t yet.

  5. Nicky Hager: “I am doubtful that rational discussion can occur on politically aligned blogs.”

    I think you should give it a go Nicky – point by point. Otherwise your statement of confidence in what you wrote is rather ‘hollow’ (sorry, I couldn’t resist the obvious).

    David Farrar makes no secret of where he stands, but gives everyone a fair shot. Many of his commenters are extreme, but they come from across the spectrum and your response would gain wide coverage.

    I think you’d gain respect if you can logically refute the criticisms.

  6. I did ask, and that is not a response. The Kiwiblog author clearly did have the documentation, so unless you can respond – point by point as John suggests – then the kiwiblog analysis stands. You look duplicitous on that analysis, and the director of the film even worse, as a man with no integrity at all.

  7. And one other thing Nicky. When I read that Kiwiblog piece I got a copy of that Horowitz book. The material and tone of that book is exactly as Kiwiblog describes it. That is why you have some explaining to do. As for Alistair Barry, I don’t think there is any way he can restore his credibility, in respect of what Kiwiblog documents.

  8. […] Ansell showed how he operates here and Hager’s response is […]


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