Calm down, Pauline. It’s called journalism
EVERY journalist has done it at one time or another.
Set up a fake Facebook profile to get your way into a group that might have good information. Called a restaurant pretending to be a guest registering a dietary requirement for an event, when you're actually just trying to confirm that it's happening.
Of course, it's not always that easy but if a journalist isn't already following up a lead or using information from a whistle blower, sometimes they have to get creative. Which raises an interesting ethical dilemma: where is the line between reporting on a story and creating one?
We saw it this week with the explosive investigation by Al Jazeera into One Nation and its links to the gun lobby in the United States.
Investigative reporter Rodger Muller spent three years as an undercover journalist, carefully creating an identity as an Australian gun advocate. In an article, timed with the release of his documentary 'How To Sell A Massacre', Rodger Muller describes how he was originally recruited to infiltrate the NRA.
Rodger Muller says he was then asked by Al Jazeera to contact Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party, to find out if any connections already existed between One Nation and the US gun lobby. While they didn't before, with Rodger Muller's help they soon would.
He writes: "When I approached One Nation Chief of Staff James Ashby and mentioned my NRA connections, he told me he wanted to visit the US to meet them. I set up meetings in Washington and soon Ashby and One Nation's Steve Dickson were on a flight to the US."
One Nation has accused Muller of entrapment, saying, "Al Jazeera are a state owned propaganda arm of the Qatari government that supports Islamic Extremist groups and are not a legitimate media organisation."
While they've further accused them of foreign interference in the lead up to the election, there's nothing new about journalists infiltrating organisations to report on a greater story.
The horrors of the slave trades of the 1880s were first brought to light by writer George Morrison, who worked on a ship for a month where he witnessed, and facilitated, the horrific trade.
More recently, News of the World's undercover reporter Mazher Mahmood has claimed to have secured more than 100 convictions in elaborate stings, often disguised as a 'sheik', leading to his nickname the "fake sheik". He's responsible for breaking huge stories including a spot-fixing scam in the Pakistan cricket team and Sarah 'Fergie' Ferguson selling access to her former husband Prince Andrew. In 2016 he was sentenced to 15 months in prison after being found guilty of tampering with evidence in relation to the collapsed drug trial of a British pop star.
German reporter Gunter Wallraff is revered and heavily criticised for his work assuming the
roles of marginalised people including alcoholics, the homeless and most controversially a black man. He became so notorious the Swedish invented a word in his honour: 'Wallraffa', meaning to expose misconduct from the inside by assuming a role.
Is it honest work? No. But what can be more honest than the truth?
And the truth is if Rodger Muller had walked into the office of almost any other member of parliament he would have undoubtedly been shown the door.
Annelise Nielsen is a political reporter with Sky News. @annelisenews