It’s election time in Aotearoa/New Zealand and the big news is that the Prime Minister might have lied about mass surveillance. Matthew reveals some of the leaked information, Josh calls “Battlefield: Earth” a terrible film and there is a debate as to who out of the following is the most trustworthy: John Key, Kim Dotcom, Edward Snowden or Glen Greenwald.
So, Kim Dotcom has had his Moment of Truth and now everyone is waiting to see how it plays out. I’m still consolidating my views about the revelations (and waiting on some evidence; appeals to authority, no matter how well-respected, only get you so far) but I have opinions (beliefs, almost) about the timing.
Conjecture 1: The John Key email is not what it seems.
Dotcom’s Moment of Truth really was a moment of truths, given that it was not just a gotcha of the kind “The PM lied about having prior knowledge of Dotcom” but also the revelaiton “The PM lied about mass surveillance” (or, if you are the kind of person who thinks the PM is both uninterested in oversight of our intelligence gathering operations and also a bit of a dunderhead about his constitutional responsibilities, trusts that an unguarded GCSB would, in the face of all evidence, do nothing illegal). It seems, then, just a little odd Dotcom would choose to make this revelation just five days out from a general election, given that National voters are likely to wait to see the Government’s response (which, it will argue, will take time, given that there are documents to check, clearances to get, et cetera et cetera; given it’s the last week of the election, the government won’t be in a position to respond properly until, say, next Monday). Surely, centre-right voters who might be swayed by such a relation will argue that this should have come out months ago.
So, why now? Well, maybe the email about John Key knowing full well who Dotcom was prior to the raids on the Christco Mansion is a forgery, or Dotcom suspects it’s authenticity and thus knows that, given time, the gut reaction of the public will dissipate as National and John Key argue it’s all just a setup. At least part of the Moment of Truth was a one hit wonder with a short shelf life (ah, the mundane beauty of a mixed metaphor), so if Dotcom’s revelations are to have any impact, then they needs to be released at a time where the government at least looks like it’s scrambling for a response.
Conjecture 2: The email is genuine but Dotcom has kept it secret until now to maximise the vote.
Maybe the email about the PM is genuine and Dotcom is using it to energise the undecideds and non-voting (but potential) voters. This conjecture relates to the first: perhaps Dotcom, as someone who is remarkably good at PR, realises that if John Key and the National Party got too much time to talk about what they have been up to, some people might start to wonder (wrongly) what the fuss is about and thus go back to being an undecided or non-voter. So, Dotcom might have held on to information he is certain about precisely because this is the point in time which maximises his interests (getting the Internet Party into Parliament) rather than serving the public interest (revealing wrong-doing).
Conjecture 3: Something something vested interests
It’s possible Dotcom is being played by some other force and dancing to another’s tune. However, this seems just a tad unlikely and it’s certainly not the preferred narrative of Messrs. Key and Slater, who seem to think we can put all the country’s ills on one permanent resident.
I’ve not written much about the Edward Snowden and Glen Greenwald revelations (which will be the substance of this week’s Podcaster’s Guide to the Conspiracy) because although some of the same issues about timing are the same, Snowden and Greenwald have a reputation for sincerity that Dotcom does not. Dotcom is a right-leaning, libertarian-sympathetic millionaire who has somehow latched on to what should be a far left political vehicle, the Mana Party. There is something insincere and manufactured about Dotcom, a sense that he is playing a game with the electorate in order to get back at the people he thought would support him. I realise this sounds like a conspiracy theory disseminated by the Right, but I think, in broad terms, it’s warranted by the evidence. I also don’t begrudge Dotcom his reasons: he was treated deplorably and illegally and deserves protection from extradition for those reasons. However, it also seems that the whole Moment of Truth thing is, for him, a game. Snowden, et al, were there to give what turned out to be an email of suspicious providence a little gravitas.
I would say that failed.
Last week, before the Moment of Truth but after the revelations of Dirty Politics, Dotcom admitted that he didn’t think his revelations would lead to a change in the government come election day. A charitable interpretation of that claim would have it that he saw the reaction to Dirty Politics and thought “Well, if that didn’t land, this email of mine sure won’t”. The less charitable version of the same story is that Dotcom always knew his evidence was shaky but thought the sheer audacity of revealing it a few days before an election would be a game-changer. Then he saw how Nicky Hager’s much lengthier, far-better evidenced argument that National was up to no good really only benefited fringe parties on the Right and went “Hmm… This won’t work after all.”
Oh, and as per usual when talking about these election issues, I half expect to be proved wrong in the morning.
Let down only by Moffat’s decifing to continue to have the Doctor comment on people’s body image, “Listen” is probably the best story we’ve had since “The Girl in the Fireplace”. It’s smart, possibly monster-less and much more a story about people being scared than trying to be a story which scares people. The reveal at the end might not be what everyone expects, which I suppose is kind of the point when it comes to Moffat’s plot arcs (or attempts thereof).