The National Party in New Zealand, led by Prime Minister John Key, continues to be on the defensive. Faced with attacks from the Opposition and a slip in public support, the National Party seems overwhelmed by the enormity of the political scandal triggered by the book Dirty Politics.
According to NZ Wire, the prime minister has turned his ire on media and advised it to "present a balanced perspective," while fending off allegations raised in Nicky Hager's book.
The book had made explosive disclosures based on the emails hacked from blogger Cameron Slater's computer. To disprove allegations that the data was fabricated, the author Hager has started releasing the emails to the public. The eight emails so far released have either been quoted, in part or full, in the book.
Hager's book alleged the involvement of Mr Key's office in running smear campaigns against political opponents. The campaign was run by blogger Slater through his Whale Oil blog.
The emails also establish the interactions between John Key's former aide, Jason Ede, and the blogger related to information that could discredit Labour party.
But the PM has taken a stand of playing down the allegations as a political stunt. On Monday, Mr Key said he was aware of his aide Jason Ede briefing some right-wing bloggers. Taking a lighter view of the incident, he said all political parties do talk to bloggers. Jason Ede was one among the many persons whom Slater talked to.
Mr Key asserted that the book was a left-wing smear campaign against him and politically motivated.
The prime minister challenged the media to present a balanced perspective and added that he can also raise such charges against Labour party. Mr Key denied his office ever getting involved in the discovery of a security gap on the Labour party's Web site that showed the name of its donors.
Mr Key said the fact was that his party wrote to Labour, telling that their site was open.
Mr Key also said when it comes to digging dirt, Labour was never behind. He alleged that Labour even sent a party president to Australia to dig up dirt against him. But nothing was found. Mr Key's reaction came in response to the charge by Labour that the prime minister is dodging questions about the allegations in the book.