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The four-word review by left tweeter Russell Brown (@publicaddress) was emblematic of the Twittersphere's rush to judgment on Nicky Hager's Dirty Politics. "Christ, what hideous people."

Minutes after the book's release on Wednesday evening, Internet Party leader Laila Harre (@lailaharre) was asking, "Aotearoa. Can we have you back now? #hagerbook."

Twitter was the place to go to find the first indication of the book's contents. TV3 political editor Patrick Gower (@patrickgowernz) revealed a full hour before the launch: "Hager book is about attack politics - not about Snowden leaks."

At the launch, Radio Live political editor Jessica Williams (@mizjwilliams) was one of many media and pundits tweeting. "This is like a One Direction signing for politics nerds."


The hashtag #DirtyPolitics soon became a favoured hashtag to debate the book. By Thursday morning Twitter recorded New Zealand's top five trending terms as "#Hagerbook", "Dirty Politics", "Slater", "Watergate" and "Whale Oil".

One aspect keenly discussed was the role of the Prime Minister. Blogger Morgan Godfery (@MorganGodfery) predicted John Key would emerge largely unscathed. But others detected a smoking gun. Jonathan Mosen (@Jonathan Mosen) was one of many tweeting comparisons to bigger scandals: "I think New Zealand just got its own Watergate."

Twitter also gave #DirtyPolitics inter-national exposure. Wikileaks (@wikileaks) linked to a Herald article and tweeted, "Leaked emails released by WikiLeaks partner Nicky Hager may bring down New Zealand government."

Twitter also proved useful in flushing out information on how pollsters - probably engaged by political parties - were digging around. Kirsten McDougall (@KirstMcDougall) reported: "Just had a call from 'consumerlink' to ask if I'd heard of Hager book and if it had negatively influenced my view of Nats."

Humour was never far away. @MrDutton Peabody tweeted: "Colin Craig reportedly furiously phoning lawyers after being excluded from #HagerBook."

#DirtyPolitics was a story made for the political Twitterati. One National Party activist with links to many in the book, Jordan McCluskey (@myscoundreljack), admitted an "Existential crisis about the politics I've supported for the past four years".

• Otago University political experts Dr Bryce Edwards (@bryce-edwards) and Geoffrey Miller (@GeoffMillerNZ) are following the impact of Twitter on the election campaign.