Dotcom and Greenwald: A story or the story?

Kim Dotcom has long been promising a revelation, a revelation that will show once and for all that the Prime Minister of Aotearoa (New Zealand), John Key knew much more about the raids on Dotcom’s mansion than he has let on. Various people on both the Left and the Right have been dismissive about just how weighty Dotcom’s information will turn out to be, and even Dotcom has admitted that he doesn’t think the PM will resign over the matter.

However, ears have been pricked by the news that Dotcom is going to bring Glenn Greenwald over to Aotearoa (New Zealand) to help break the story five days before the election. If anything, that has confused people on the Left and the Right even further: it’s Glenn Greenwald, after all, the journalist most commonly associated with the Edward Snowden leaks, so it looks like the story could be big and connected to the bigger issue of global surveillance and the role of Aotearoa (New Zealand) in the Five Eyes Network. Then again, it’s a reveal five days before an election, which is hardly time enough for the story to have that big an impact on the election. It’s also doesn’t give the public or journalists much time to fact check the story. On the other hand, it’s surely enough time for the government of the day, National, to spin a line about how Messrs. Greenwald and Dotcom have not got their facts straight.

Of course, some (mostly on the Left) have claimed that the government (or one of its agencies, like the SIS) will try to block Greenwald’s entry into the country, which is a nice little conspiracy theory. It builds upon our skepticism that the current government and our intelligence agencies are all that trustworthy and it pulls in the notion that there is mounting evidence that our current crop of ministers and the PM are the sort of people that have much to hide. Thus, if we were to bring in an independent journalist (independent in the sense that he’s not a New Zealander and thus has little to worry about should he piss off the status quo), then we might finally get news stories which don’t downplay the extent and connection between stories, say, like the Judith Collin and Oravida, Murray McCully’s stepping back from taking responsibility for MFAT’s horrific blunder in re Tania Billingsley and Maurice Williamson’s repeated intercessions with the police about crime-committing wealthy business people. As conspiracy theories go, it’s certainly plausible, as long as we think Dotcom is holding something over the PM that the PM (or his cronies) is worried might go public. However, there’s another interpretation of the data which makes Greenwald’s imminent appearance much less weighty: Dotcom has the influence and the money to be able to fly him over no matter what the content of the game-changing information is.

Think of it this way: because of Greenwald’s association with the Snowden leaks we, quite naturally, assume that if he’s going to be say something, then it’s going to be of importance. Now, let’s leave aside the worries some have about Greenwald’s occasional ramping up or exaggerating of what the Snowden leaks tell us. No, even if we say “Normally, Glenn Greenwald is worth listening to!” what we’re really saying is “When Greenwald speaks about the Snowden leaks, listen up!”1 However, nothing about what we know about his appearance at the Dotcom event says that he’s going to talk about anything connected with the Snowden leaks. As far as we know he might be here to give us a rendition of his new tap dancing routine before Dotcom takes the stage and reveals that John Key had lunch with a shape-shifting alien reptile the day before the raid on Dotcom’s mansion.

Dotcom is keeping his revelations about the PM close to his chest. I would say “too close”, since if he really has damaging materials which might seriously undermine the public’s trust in the PM, that information should not just be used in an attempt to increase the vote of the Internet Party. Rather, it should be revealed now as it is in the public interest. Now, it’s quite possible Dotcom has information damaging to John Key and Greenwald has been following this up and connecting it to the bigger issue of global surveillance.2 It’s also possible Dotcom has a leaked email from two days before the raid, addressed to the PM which mentions Dotcom in passing. We just don’t know. As such, it’s easy to assume that if Greenwald is going to be in the room when the announcement is made, it’s going to be a big deal.

It might be, too. It’s just that it might not be and all we might see is a little light tap-dancing and maybe some smooth jazz.

Got to love that smooth jazz!

Notes

  1. I’m generalising and simplifying: I’m sure Glenn Greenwald is worth listening to on other matters as well.
  2. There is some speculation that it is overseas journalists who are doing the heavy lifting on New Zealand’s role in the Five Eyes Network and what the Snowden leaks have revealed about that network, due to legal issues in Aotearoa for New Zealand journalists investigating such sensitive matters.

About Matthew Dentith

Author of "The Philosophy of Conspiracy Theories" (Palgrave Macmillan), Matthew Dentith wrote his PhD on epistemic issues surrounding belief in conspiracy theories. He is a frequent media commentator on the weird and the wonderful, both locally and internationally. On occasion he can be caught dreaming about wax lions but, mostly, it is rumoured he works for elements of the New World Order.

2 comments:

  1. Aren’t most of us fed up with even the mention of Dotcom? He is making our Parliamentary process a laughing stock. If he has anything major to reveal and make John Key blush, then he should have put it out therer long ago. In the end even with all the heralding of having Glenn Greenwald here to help expose this information, it will probably just be a fizzer. I’m not defending John Key because he is a devious appeasing man in my eyes but this saga has gone on long enough. I will be glad to see Dotcom extradited to the US and out of our hair.

    1. The saga has only gone on to long because the government and its various agencies haven’t had the decency to admit that what they did (or allowed to be done) to Dotcom was wrong. I’m no fan of Dotcom – I think he’s a right-wing libertarian who has opportunistically taken up arms with a certain faction of the Left because it suits his sense of revenge – but he was accepted into this country as a permanent resident and then spied upon by our government on the behest of another. Frankly, that was wrong. If the US wants to extradite him prosecute him they should follow due process. For the time being, Dotcom deserves both his day in court to show up the government and deserves an apology from the government for the wrongs they have committed. The only people who have made our parliament a laughing stock is the government.

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