We totally meant to do that: the WhaleOil story

There is no point engaging in argument with the WhaleOil crew, however many or few of them there are. This is taken as read by most people on the left, and was even before Nicky Hager exposed what a shallow, mercenary organisation “they” are.

A lot of our antipathy towards them has to be ideological. We’re talking about an extremely rightwing, vicious attack machine which actively seeks to destroy the lives of people who stand opposed to it.

But there’s no need to bring political opinions into this. The chief reason not to give even the slightest benefit of the doubt to WhaleOil is because nothing published there has any weight. It’s nonsensical and self-contradicting, and while I should really just not be writing this post and giving them oxygen, it may be helpful to have one canonical example of this as a warning to the next ten generations.

Holla if you get that reference
Shout out if you get that reference

So Cam Slater wrote a book about the terribleness of unions, and the first review posted on Amazon was a five-star paean, under a pseudonym, quickly discovered to belong to WhaleOil moderator Pete Belt. Immediately after publishing, free signed copies were sent, apparently to every Labour MP and other leftwingers who would presumably be outraged by its contents.

And yesterday this post [donotlink] went up praising the book for being #1 in Amazon’s Kindle/Kindle eBooks/Nonfiction/Politics & Social Sciences/Politics & Government/Specific Topics/Labor & Industrial Relations category. It is remarkable only for being a perfect example of Whaleoil doublespeak.

To accept the assertions of Pete’s post, you are asked to accept several ideas:

  • That seeing “many copies” at the CTU conference proves the book is popular among Slater’s enemies, while admitting dozens of copies have been sent for free … to Slater’s enemies
  • That “the media and the Left were very quiet” about the book (which may not ring true if you follow #nzpol on Twitter) and that this means there was a deliberate strategy of not talking about the book
  • That “the Left have outrage cornered”, but WhaleOil nevertheless had to “engineer” it because of our deliberate strategy of not talking about the book
  • That Pete Belt deliberately left a mild-sounding but favourable review with a “provocative” screen name in order to “engineer” outrage
  • That the Left then promptly forgot our strategy of not talking about the book and began talking about it
  • At which point Pete Belt immediately deleted the review, because its only purpose was to engineer outrage, not game the book’s rating
  • And this all proves that the Left are buying Slater’s book in droves – even though the Amazon figures are for the Kindle edition, not the hardcopy, which has been sent for free to many people.

It’s a classic case of someone saying whatever they need to in the moment to “refute” the arguments against them. It’s “I totally meant to do that” writ large. Of course it’s accepted without question by the WhaleOil commentariat, rejected out of hand by the Twitterati, and largely ignored by the rest of the country who have better things to do with their time.

By accounts from people who have read the book, there’s not a lot of new material. There’s not much material full stop. If you want to know why Cameron Slater hates unions, and what he thinks is wrong with them, he’s already told us, many times, for free.

Which is probably why no one had to create a “strategy” of not talking about the book. Though the cover is still pretty funny.

5 Replies to “We totally meant to do that: the WhaleOil story”

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