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Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Guardian Bashing – 3: More Means Worstall

[Update at end of post]

Over at Forbes online, the Heresy Corner post was eagerly picked up by Tim Worstall, fellow of the Adam Smith Institute, a museum of outdated economic thought which has fraudulently appropriated the name of the founder of economics. Worstall has appeared occasionally on the Zelo Street radar as he has cheered on Nigel “Thirsty” Farage and UKIP, denounced Warren Buffet as a “liar” for being of inconvenient opinion, and told how the CP, which operates train services in his adopted country of Portugal, has sent its rolling stock to the UK for refurbishment, which it has not.

Forbes gives what are no more than op-ed pieces the grand title of “reports”, and so Worstall’s is given a gravitas it does not merit: at the outset he falls into the trap of calling Phonehackgate as right-versus-left, which it never has been. Had this been “the left” going after “the right”, then the Labour supporting Mirror would have reported the affair, and especially Matt Driscoll’s unfair dismissal case.

They did not, despite Driscoll, formerly employed by the Screws under the editorship of Andy Coulson, being awarded a possibly record amount for the industry of around £800,000. The reason is straightforward: as Nick Davies put it in Flat Earth News, Dog doesn’t eat Dog. The press do not rake over each other’s dirty laundry, or rather they did not until the Guardian broke the hacking story in 2009.

This, though, does not deter Worstall, who tells of “A near blind fury from some parts of the left over the very existence of ... titles like The Sun” and that “the skilled working class ... is really rather right wing”, unable to understand how the press works and instead proving Olbermann’s dictum (“the right lives in a perpetual state of victimhood”) over again.

But this is not the sole howler in Worstall’s piece: like Paul Staines at the Guido Fawkes blog, he upgrades the Heresy Corner post from qualified opinion to data, claims that the Guardianaided in killing off ... the News Of The World” (it didn’t), and tells that the Millie Dowler voicemails “would have disappeared after 72 hours whether they were listened to or not” (wrong - only if they had been listened to).

Moreover, his assessment of the Dowler case aftermath is pure conjecture: Worstall had no access to the decision making process at News International and he should not be suggesting otherwise. He also confuses Laurie Penny’s Comment is Free (CiF) piece with Guardian news reporting: “the direct allegation that the Guardian published yesterday” being his actual words.

CiF is not Guardian editorial. Or perhaps Worstall would like to explain the presence there of folks like Norman Tebbit? Is the former Tory MP for Chingford “part of the left”? This is a misleading piece which will wrongly cause Forbes readers to believe they are getting an authoritative take on the news. And that’s not good enough.

[UPDATE 1900 hours: Tim Worstall has responded with a characteristically humourless snark on his website, revealing that he too contributes to CiF, and therefore should know that this strand is not equivalent to the Guardian's news or editorial line. I am honoured to have been called a "twat" by The Great Man.

Pity he can't cheer up once in a while, mind]


BB said...

You say:
"and tells that the Millie Dowler voicemails “would have disappeared after 72 hours whether they were listened to or not” (wrong - only if they had been listened to)."

But is that right?

"In a statement to the inquiry last Monday, Neil Garnham QC, for the Metropolitan Police, said detectives now thought that the voicemails had probably been automatically deleted because they were more than 72 hours old by the time her parents got through to her voicemail." http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-16237080

Tim Fenton said...

Thanks for the info.

Quite apart from the Met (possibly) changing their minds again, that is also heavily qualified, with "thought that" and "probably".


keith said...

There's another BBC piece from this year (the story above is from 2011) which still says the Met don't know what happened to two messages even if there were automatic deletions.

The Met said in their statement they believed some individual voicemails were automatically deleted 72 hours after they had been listened to.

Det Ch Insp MacDonald said he could not "conclusively" say whether any voicemails were manually deleted.

But his statement added: "There do appear to have been two messages missing that should have been present when Surrey Police carried out their second recorded download on April 17.

"It is not known why that happened and it will not now be possible to provide an explanation."


So no conclusive proof either way although a suspicion that something happened to two messages.