Friday, April 13, 2007


Tabloid Hypocrisy is Breathtaking

My left hand picture is of Fleet St; the other one is by now all too familiar. Polly Toynbee today excoriates our press as 'the worst in the world'. By this I suppose she means the tabloid and not the broadsheet variety unless she includes her own august employer as part of this lamentable state of affairs. Certainly the tabs have managed a difficult cork-screw turn over the released 'Iran' servicemen. First they sought to seduce them with tempting offers for their stories and then, when the MOD said selling their stories was permissible, they howled outrage at the government. As Polly observes, particularly of the Mail and the Express:

'The press is blaming the government for failing to stop them buying stories'

The hypocrisy of this section of the press defies belief and no-one surely, can trust the word of such media outlets? Yet, they continue in business and in the former case at least, do rather well compared with the rest of the dailies, many of whom struggle to survive. There is no justice of course on this topic and maybe we should wearily accept a wider application of Enoch Powell's observation that:

'A politician complaining about the press is like a ship's captain complaining about the weather'.

Sadly, perhaps, we have to allow that the popular press is here to stay some time yet. At least voters who read the tabloids ingest their minimal political content and that is not to be discounted. Moreover, Polly's calls on New Labour not to be so 'cringing' to the press is unlikely to be heard. As Peter Wilby observed, recently, Gordon Brown enjoys surprising depths of support in both The Sun and the Mail. As long as that obtains Polly will have to tolerate a fair bit more sycophantic cringing.

You say "sychophantic (sic) cringing" I say 'living with the world as it is rather than as you would wish it were'!

Although she writes a lot worth saying in this piece, PT offers no solution to the problem. Her notion that a few cabinet minister slagging off the tabloid press on the Today programme will fix it without in any way damaging Labour's election prospects is just daft.

And the 'quality' press can be just as hypocritical as the rest - how about the Indy which is always lecturing HMG about getting to grips with CO2 emissions but which offers flights to New York as competition prizes?
It'd be fascinating to work in the offices of the Mail, the Sun, etc for a (short) period. Do all of these educated journalists really believe the thrust of their paper's message? or are they subordinated to powerful editors? Speaking of editors, who drives the paper's politics: the few, or the many?
I agree. Murdoch is quite hands on re editorial lines- so it's the single person in the case of The Sun, Times, etc. and so was Maxwell, but other proprietors are far less controlling.
But it would be fun to guest for a while to find out how they function. Read 'Stick it Up Your Jumper' by Chris Orrie and someone else for a wonderful insight into The Sun when Kelvin McKenzie ran it.
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