“Nathan Carswell”, it seems, is back from his reported recent trip to Brisbane.
Friday week ago “Nathan” called, a little over two days after the “Who is Nathan Carswell?” story first went live on Tasmanian Times.
“Nathan” was a man on a mission: he wanted a full retraction of the original story with no ‘ifs’ and no ‘buts’.
At first, I wasn’t sure who was calling. It was lunchtime and the kettle was on the stove and I was somewhat distracted with something else I was working on. “Who are you?,” I asked? “Nathan Carswell”, he insisted. He directed me to comment number #6 on the original thread and insisted that he was that one not one of the “other piss-takes” that had submitted comments.
Since the article had been first published – and after “Nathan Carswell” #6 was posted – there have been more than a few Nathan’s who have outed themselves on Tasmanian Times including “Nathan Carswell-ish”, “Nathan Carswell”, “Nathan Carswell” of “I’m Nathan Carswell and so is my wife” fame, yet another “Nathan Carswell”, “Nathan Nocarswell”, “Nathan Carswell, Mild Mannered Reporter”, “Natty” (who insisted “@6,17,20,24,25,34,39. Excuse me, but would you false claimers please stand down. I am Nathan and @ 24 my wife is not me, I am. I repeat, I am Nathan.”)
So when “Nathan Carswell” (#6) called I did a mental double-take: was I supposed to take this “Nathan Carswell” seriously or was this another “piss-take”? How should I know which “Nathan Carswell” I was actually talking with?
“Adrian Bold gave me your number,” he said. How many others had called, he asked. Fair point, I thought. (It was, after all, not a number listed in the phone book. I had indicated to Bold – via an earlier email towards the end of my over week-long attempts to discuss the issue with him – that I was happy for my number to be passed on to “Nathan Carswell”.)
The comment from the “Nathan Carswell” (#6) – posted a few hours after the article first went live - was pretty direct.
“Wow, what a beat up. Is friendship an offence now? I contribute to these debates under another name (as I’m sure many opponents equally do). I’m still a ratepayer, and my opinions expressed still count. I just prefer not to use my own name for privacy reasons. While Adrian has passed on your number, I have no inclination to talk with the reporter for the same reason.”
Even so, “Nathan Carswell” number #6 insisted he was the real deal. And now he did want to talk to me.
Nathan and Adrian
His argument was straightforward. “Did you hear the ABC this morning?” I had to confess that I hadn’t. According to “Nathan” ABC Radio’s 936 Breakfast program presenter Ryk Goddard had raised the issue of “Nathan Carswell” that morning which had spurred him to call me to set the record straight. (After his call, I figured out that he was in fact referring to something which had been broadcast the day before).
“Nathan” insisted that, based on the original story I had written, others had equated “Nathan Carswell” with Adrian Bold, the Executive Director of the Mt Wellington Cableway Company.
And “Nathan” insisted that since it was me who had raised the issue publicly in the first instance, the onus was on me to retract the original article so he could “clear” Bold’s name.
I pointed out to “Nathan” that in the original article I authored had specifically only gone as far as the evidence went, which was that Adrian Bold had stated a friend of his had adopted the pseudonym of “Nathan Carswell” and had come over to his house on occasion and used his computer.
Since the original article hadn’t claimed “Nathan Carswell” was Adrian Bold then I couldn’t retract something I hadn’t written.
“Nathan” restated that he wanted to clear Adrian Bold’s name and that at first that he had thought that the issue wouldn’t go much further than the article on Tasmanian Times. However, since the ABC had run with the story he was adamant that it was my responsibility to set the story straight. The way to do that, he said once more, was to retract the original story.
I said that I couldn’t see that there was anything he had said that indicated that there was anything in the original story which was inaccurate. Given that, I stated, I couldn’t see there was a valid basis for making any correction let alone a “retraction”.
Why did he use a pseudonym in the first place? It was, he insisted, because of where he worked, which he didn’t divulge. Making a submission to a formal government process under cover of a pseudonym? It was, he stated, was because of where he worked. But who he really was or where he worked, let alone any evidence that he really was the original “Nathan Carswell”, was not provided.
Then he argued that the original article had selectively quoted Bold and that things he had said hadn’t appeared in the article. For example, he said, I hadn’t mentioned that Bold had told me that “Nathan” didn’t work for the Mt Wellington Cableway Company.
I explained that I had simply taken Bold’s statement at face value and it wasn’t relevant to include it whereas it would have been relevant if “Nathan” did work for the company or was a consultant to it. (Apart from which, at over 2900 words, the original article was already a big stretch for people to read; many online publications have a preferred range of 500-1000 words).
The wireless network hypothesis
“Nathan”, though, wasn’t giving up.
The killer argument, he thought, revolved around the issue of the IP address which showed several comments by “Nathan Carswell” to Tasmanian Times resolving to the same IP address as used by Bold two weeks earlier.
“Nathan” said that when he had gone over to Adrian Bold’s house that he could have used his friend’s wireless network and submitted comments via an IPhone or Ipad that that would have showed up as the same IP address as Bold’s without his friend knowing.
It is a fair point.
There are several problems with that line of argument though.
The first is that in the original article I explicitly noted that an IP address could merely capture a catchment of one or more potential other contributors and therefore provide a ‘false positive’. This is precisely why, I explained to “Nathan”, I sought comment from Adrian Bold on just that question.
When I finally spoke to Adrian Bold on the phone just before the story was finalised he stated that when “Nathan Carswell” came over to his place he allowed him to use his “computer.” He didn’t say he allowed “Nathan” to use his wireless network. I had asked Bold twice about the correlation of “Nathan Craswell”s IP address with his own comments and both times he used the word “computer”. So that is what I quoted. Changing that would not be correcting an inaccuracy but creating one.
Secondly, between the time of publication and the call by “Nathan” – which was well over 48 hours – there was as far as I know no attempt by Bold to contact me via email, voicemail or text to suggest that there was anything in the story I had wrong. Nor were there any – to the best of my knowledge – comments submitted to Tasmanian Times seeking a correction or clarification by Bold on any point in the article. Nor was there any contact with the editor of the site flagging any possible concerns about the original article. Nor – again to the best of my knowledge – has there been in the ten days since.
But there was one final unresolved question to the ‘I could have used his wireless network’ hypothesis. Why for two of the central comments in question did “Nathan” use the now defunct email addresses from the “boomcreative.com” and “boomcreative.com.au” domain names? The latter domain name had been registered by Bold’s former business partner for the business they jointly owned, Boom Creative.
There are – as explained in the original article – two possibilities. The first is that when submitting a comment to Tasmanian Times that these addresses were entered manually. Or alternatively, once the first letter was typed into the email address field, the Autofill function completed it for whoever the user was.
If “Nathan” had used his own mobile device on Bold’s wireless network then at some point he must have knowingly entered the boomcreative address into his own wireless device browser. In which case he would know why he adopted the boomcreative email address.
So I asked “Nathan” why he had used the boomcreative names in his comments. “I’m not answering any more of your questions,” he said. I tried once more to ask him why he used the boomcreative domain name but “Nathan” said that, as he had told me what his concerns were and that if I wasn’t going to retract the article, that there wasn’t much point continuing the conversation.
Then he was gone.
I had hoped to ask him if we could meet up to – as I had flagged in my original email passing my contact details on to Bold – but didn’t get the chance. I also wanted to ask why it was that his original comment #6 on the original story thread hadn’t raised his wireless hypothesis or sought to dispute any other points in the article. And why he had set up the Facebook page on the same day that he made a submission to the Wellington Park Management Trust. And why he claimed to have studied and graduated from the University of New England when he hadn’t.
So who is “Nathan Carswell”?
Despite the phone call, we aren’t any better placed in knowing who “Nathan Carswell” really is.
There is no way of knowing whether the voice on the phone really was the “Nathan Carswell” who made a submission under a pseudonym to the Wellington Park Management Trust and comments to Tasmanian Times and The Mercury. Certainly, there was no hard evidence provided to support the suggestion that they were one and the same.
While the real “Nathan Carswell” should be able to readily explain why an email address associated with the boomcreative domain names had been used, the caller tellingly refused to discuss this. This alone raises significant doubt that the caller was really “Nathan Carswell”.
The mystery remains as to who “Nathan Carswell” really is.
• Earlier on Tasmanian Times: “Who is Nathan Carswell?”
• ROCC: Hobart City Council stalls Pinnacle rezoning The Hobart City Council tonight sent a clear message to the Wellington Park Management Trust (WPMT) calling on them to provide information on how the proposed amendment to the Pinnacle Specific Area furthers the vision, principles and objectives of the Management Plan for the mountain. As landowners, the Council asked for the process to be suspended until, as landowners, they were given more information about the justification for the proposed amendment. “ROCC fully supports the council motion,” said Mr Ted Cutlan, spokesperson for ROCC. “The chairperson of the trust Dr Christine Mucha has repeatedly claimed that the amendment to the pinnacle is not related to any particular development and yet tonight Alderman Freeman said repeatedly that ‘we all know it is about the cable car’. Who is right?”