Mr Hager replies

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.

I do, I will, and they can.

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 would have thought “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.” was more than a slight suggestion.

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”).

A fine legal distinction that Winston would be proud of.

Also, as anyone can read, I explained that it was part of fourteen-verse poem.

Yes you did.

I did not pretend that the four verses were a consecutive whole.

You printed them consecutively!  

That’s all you needed to do to create your desired false impression.  Who would assume they were not consecutive?

A ‘principled wordsmith’ would have inserted dots or a footnote to make it clear they were not consecutive in the original.

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.

I don’t mind a bit of cheek directed my way. (How could I with my track record?!)

But I did not misrepresent what I was doing nor misrepresent what your poem is about.

Didn’t you?

Well, let’s see…

(more…)

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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