Dr Liz Gordon – Under the sea


No-one wishes a stroke on anyone, and I was sorry to hear that he-who-had-a-right-wing-website-that-shall-not-be-named had two last year and has now declared bankruptcy. I wish him a speedy recovery. A friend of mine wondered how the big fish website was going now it was no longer owned by ‘he-who-had’.

He pitched this to me as a worthwhile blog one bored Sunday, and, not wanting to report his findings under his own name, asked me to report back.

My friend went undercover as an “unashamedly European New Zealand white male”.  He looked around for an ordinary name, one that sounded… errr … white. Tommy Robinson was taken, so he chose Mike Garner.

After a few hours of work under deep cover, Mike came back to me looking pale.  “Quick”, he said, “I need a dictionary, or Google or something”. It seems that them thar fish bloggers are somewhat keen on acronyms and abbreviations.

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“So how is it out there in the deep blue sea?”, I asked impatiently.

Mike G (alias) thought about it for a minute. “It is pretty sad” he said. “There are three things that should set alarm bells ringing for any fish.  Not enough food, too much ocean rubbish (plastics getting into tummies and so on) and a change in habitat. The stinky sea site is facing all three”.

“So what sort of thing are they doing?” I pressed.

“Take Jacinda, for whom there has been a wave of love and respect around the world.  Everywhere, that is, except among the fish bloggers, who burble on about how useless she is and what a lightweight and so on.

“So do they oppose the gun legislation, then?”.

“Well, if they do you wouldn’t know, because they launched a scathing attack on Mike Loder ( I believe this is not a pseudonym), the firearms guy who shot himself in the foot (not literally – that would be unseemly) at the Select Committee.  ‘With friend like this, who needs enemies’, the fishies complained”.

“You have to drill down a bit to get their current views on Muslins in Aotearoa.  There is a little bit of “everyone knows that mosque radicalised people”, or not, and that parliament has chucked out the Christian prayer and now mandated the Muslim call to prayer (same old supremacist ‘replacement’ nonsense) and lots of white men affirming their right to be white men. But they no longer seem to say ‘Muslims go home’.”

Hmm.  Anything else?

“Not anything, everything.  The website is now a diverse fish caucus blowing bubbles in all directions, noshing up all sorts of useless plastic from the sea floor. Against the increase in the minimum wage, but wants the pension increased further, AOC, JAG, climate change denial and goodness knows what else. They speak a language that is barely English and seem to do a lot of code-speak”.

“I don’t understand”.

“Me neither.  What I get from all this is that they are desperate for anything to get publicity. So there are so many adverts, secret bits, subscription options and so on that the news is lost in a welter of online begging.  There is still quite a lot of paid advertising on the site, so it is making money (it is now owned, I believe, by the whale’s partner)”.

Thanks to Mike for the bit of online trolling (or in this case perhaps we should say trawling?).  My take from this brief review is that the fish blog, now more desperate to turn a penny than make the news, is a shadow of its former stinky self.

The fish blog’s previous business model was something like this: get people’s dirty secrets (this was apparently not hard, or sometimes they just made them up); tell these secrets online in their full glory, whether true or not, in order to elicit (reader numbers) (advertising) (an outraged response); have a few defamation cases on the go at any one time and make your money through corporate fees, advertising and donations for legal costs.

Sort of like the Truth in the old days, when people of my parents’ generation bought it to read the salacious details published in divorce cases (I am not making this up). Only updated to the now.

This is not the end, of course, for right-wing blogging in NZ.  Nor even the end of the beginning. But in the hiatus caused by the currently diminished voice of the right wing online (I don’t get paid to write this blog, and anyway there would not be enough money in the world to bribe me to listen to talkback radio, so someone else will have to report on whether that model is still fizzing along), there might be an opportunity to alter the political voice in Aotearoa for a generation to come. Do yer think?


Dr Liz Gordon began her working life as a university lecturer at Massey and the Canterbury universities. She spent six years as an Alliance MP, before starting her own research company, Pukeko Research.  Her work is in the fields of justice, law, education and sociology (poverty and inequality). She is the president of Pillars, a charity that works for the children of prisoners, a prison volunteer, and is on the board of several other organisations. Her mission is to see New Zealand freed from the shackles of neo-liberalism before she dies (hopefully well before!).


  1. Hey Liz!

    Something definitely fishy goin’ on there…

    I remember the old Truth well. Used to work there as a printer many years ago.


  2. Go to Whale Oil or Kiwi Blog and read some of the stuff the RWNJ’s write, they really wind each other up, quite comical if you are not to sensitive to the hate and sarcasm which emminates from the Bloggers keyboards

  3. Whale was John Key and Judith Collins Hitman, his father was a former President of the National Party, one only needs to read between the lines ?

  4. Listen to talkback radio????

    Ain’t enough money to pay me to do that. Tried it once

    Really those callers are seriously disturbed loose units

    No wonder Mike Hosking and Leighton Smith, etc fit in so comfortably

  5. Cameron Slater is a former editor of Truth.

    “In September 2010, he was convicted of eight counts of breaching name suppression orders and one count of identifying a victim in a sex case in his Whale Oil blog.”

    Some claimed, pre-Slater, to read Truth for the politics. I remember it publishing lists of divorces, often, or usually, with the reason – which is no business of salacious readers; older now, I see this as reducing to two or three printed lines, what may have been the private pain and anguish of other people’s lives.

    I remember more which I prefer not to comment on, but I think we are a healthier society for it no longer existing.

    • Replying to myself again wondering if karma kicks in for editors of Truth.

      I knew former editor, the late Russell Gault, when he was at the ODT, and I think he must have died quite young.

      Russell advocated flogging violent criminals. Anti-abortion, he carried a jar allegedly containing an aborted foetus. I think Spuc used to do this when visiting schools and covered markets.It was dishonest.

      Having had several miscarriages between approx 8-12 weeks, I have held my own tiny white ghosts of embryos in my hand, and kissed them, and baptised them, and I know that they are not the pink kewpie doll miniature babies displayed by the anti-abortionists.

      These people are free to hold their own views, but their arguments should stand on their own merits and not rely on misrepresentation of facts, especially with possibly misleading emotionally clobbering visual aids. School kids could well be traumatised by such zealots – as a teenager I know would have been.

      • Slater lost any remaining credibility he may have had when he openly declared on the TV news one night “I never break the law”.
        What about the convictions for eight counts of breaching name suppression orders and one count of identifying a victim in a sex case Mr Slater?

  6. Some real RWNJ’s on talkback radio ???

    Likewise I can’t bring myself to listen to it at night even when I can not sleep ?

  7. I find the blog quite interesting and well written, now that they have a number of different writers.

    The standard of writing is higher in both articles and in the comments section than all left wing blogs

    The comments section is significantly better than the un-moderated cesspit that was/is Kiwiblog

  8. Cam Slater has one primary goal, and is getting advised by Simon Lusk. He is dedicated to rolling Simon Bridges and having his very close friend Judith Collins installed as the National Party Leader. Slater loathes Bridges, and hates National (in general).
    The degree that the stroke has affected him is debatable. He was facing oral cross examination in court, so the stroke came at a fortuitous times. I’m not denying it happened; I question the extent of the disability. I’ve been “under cover” on WO for many years, and have good reason to question this.
    Unlike Dr Gordon, I am tending towards being less charitable. I don’t believe he is deserving of too much goodwill and best wishes.
    In regards to the website in general, it’s far worse that the above describes. I make a point of scanning the posts daily. The regular contributors are hard-right climate change deniers (there is one in particular I’d wager is a professional hitman), anti-migration, Muslim bashing, racist, benefit-bashing sexists….hateful, horrible people.

      • I just want to go over with you what a base axiom is. So you’ve got your cognitives, your connives and your effectives.

        Cognitives is how you rationally brake down a thought.

        Connectives is what you are willing to do.

        And your effectives is how you feel about something.

        So when ever some one finds something disgusting like denying climate, they have there reasons which is mainly connectives but they’re still a reason. Do you agree with that?

  9. Reading the comments here what springs to mind first is the phrase ‘Those in glasshouses are wise not to throw stones’.

    Some of you really do need to step back and think how your posts come across. Many are exactly what the contents claim to despise.

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