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Thursday, 17 June 2021

Daniel Morgan - Don’t Mention The Screws

The power of our free and fearless press, now as ever, depends not only on what it chooses to publish, but also on what it does not. In a world of changing narratives, this is a rock-solid certainty. And nowhere has this been more starkly illustrated in the past 48 hours than the response to the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel’s report.

Daniel Morgan

After the Panel’s findings were at long last published on Tuesday last, the press identified one target for its ire: the Metropolitan Police. The Murdoch Times told readers “Met accused of corruption over murder investigation”, while the Guardian was more or less on the same page with “‘Institutionally corrupt’: Daniel Morgan inquiry condemns Met”.

Looks like the Met is to blame ...
... yep, it does look that way ...

And the Daily Mail went full Dacre as it thundered “ROTTEN TO THE CORE … Met branded ‘institutionally corrupt’ over infamous murder … Cressida Dick fights for job after blocking key evidence from inquiry … Savage report greatest crisis for Yard since Stephen Lawrence affair”. But this was a highly selective reading of the report.

... in fact, the Met is DEFINITELY to blame ...

It is selective because it - rightly - castigates the Met, but omits any mention of the press, especially the late and not at all lamented Screws. The key paragraph of the Panel’s report is 458: “The Panel has found evidence of corruption in the linkages between serving Police officers and private investigators, and in particular with Southern Investigations … at the time of Daniel Morgan’s murder and afterwards. The Panel has also found corruption in the linkages between Southern Investigations and former Police officers … who continued to obtain information and assistance from former colleagues within the [Met]”.

... so don't look over here ...
... or at her. Or else

That’s the bit the press is telling you about. Here is what they aren’t: “The documentation indicates that these linkages were used in an illegal trade in confidential information, much of it Police information, via private investigators to the media. In particular, the information was sold to the News of the World, the media organisation named in the panel’s terms of reference and which accounted for an increasing proportion of Southern Investigation’s business by the early 1990s. The involvement of serving Police officers in trading in confidential information obtained illegally is a form of corruption. It was also a breach of the rules of professional conduct for editors”. Former Guardian man Nick Davies had more.

Daniel Morgan panel [report] (par 169) says evidence ‘strongly suggests’ that [a] News of the World journalist worked [with] a suspect for [the] murder to ‘discredit and/or intimidate’ [a] senior detective ‘and thus disrupt’ [the] murder inquiry. NoW knew about this and did nothing”. Which sounds like the surveillance of Dave Cook and Jacqui Hames.

Steven Barnett of Westminster University has reminded us “This was precisely what Leveson Part 2 was designed to investigate. It was cancelled by the government”. Brian Cathcart of Kingston University added that the report “says her company took part in a plot to sabotage a murder inquiry. She was told in 2003. Did she really do nothing?”.

At the time the Screws was closed, Ms Brooks, by that time CEO of News International, told staffthere were worse revelations to come in the hacking scandal”. Add to that this revelation from Untold Murder: “Our understanding is that Rupert Murdoch and News UK have not co-operated with the [Daniel Morgan] panel”. Oh what a giveaway!

Seems the “worse revelations” may have been this case. Why we still need Leveson 2.

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Wednesday, 16 June 2021

GB News - Ultimate PR Fail

UK Broadcasters who are not the BBC depend, in part at least, on advertising revenue for their income. Getting big name brands on board, and keeping them sweet, is the name of the game, whether those broadcasters like it or not. So when your content makes some of those advertisers a little, shall we say, nervous, what would be the sensible course of action? What would a sensible person have done? What would Nietzsche have done?

This thought has not yet been allowed to enter at new broadcast entrant Gammon Broadcasting News (“Bacon’s News Channel”), where the efforts of campaigners such as Stop Funding Hate have resulted in the channel - just three days into its tenure of the airwaves - losing several high profile names from their advertising portfolio.

But GB News are not even considering stopping and thinking why this might be: they, and their pals in our free and fearless press have gone on the attack, full of aggression, bluster and just a hint of menace. This “spend with us or my mates will trash your lousy brand” strategy unfolded as soon as the first dominoes began to fall.

As Press Gazette has reported, “Drinks companies Kopparberg and Grolsch, skincare company Nivea and the Open University have all distanced themselves from the new channel … They were later joined by Swedish retail giant Ikea and Ovo Energy”. So the main man at GB News, former Murdoch editor Andrew Neil, went on the attack.

IKEA has decided to boycott GB News because of our alleged values. Here are IKEA’s values - a French CEO who is a criminal with a two year suspended jail sentence for spying on staff”. Who did Brillo work for when he edited the Sunday Times? His attack was later joined by former Screws and Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan, who declared that IKEA were “pathetic virtue-signalling twerps”, and that he would now be boycotting them.

This became popular with the less savoury part of the right-leaning punditerati, with Brexiteer floor-crosser Kate Hoey claiming “I certainly will not purchase anything from IKEA until they lift their boycott of [GB News]”. Washed-up has-been Tony Parsons added “[IKEA] happily do business in a country where there is the death penalty for being gay and yet the pious flat-pack furniture merchants clutch their pearls at the idea of doing business with [GB News]”. Deeply unpleasant former Sun editor Kelvin McFilth joined in.

Despite global protests Saudi Arabia has just beheaded a young man they arrested for rioting when he was 16. Ikea's local management kept quiet but over here the firm pulled ads from anti-woke [GB News] saying the station didn't meet their ‘humanistic values’. Hypocrites or what?” None of these less than totally august individuals stopped to think that many would rather like a visit to IKEA if it meant not encountering any of them.

The result has been all that a free marketeer could have wished: Vodafone and Octopus Energy have joined the exodus, with insurer LV considering its position and Deliveroo being lined up by campaigners who point out that the brand is an England football team partner - and GB News hosts claim taking the knee is “waging a culture war on fans”.

The latest response from the media establishment is the Spectator (chairman - guess who) getting a droid from the planet Spiked to attack campaigners. But it won’t work. Brillo and his pals don’t have the clout they think they have. The slippery slope has already arrived.

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Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Daniel Morgan Panel - Tory Inaction

At noon today, the report of the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel was finally published: this signalled the start of the process by which Morgan’s family continue to seek justice after all these years, while those who would rather they stop asking questions and just go away try and spin, bully, project, gaslight and just lie to put them off.

Daniel Morgan

Silent thus far have been the Metropolitan Police, whose commissioner Cressida Dick has been on the receiving end of a significant amount of criticism, not least over the claim that she obstructed the Panel’s work, and the wider conclusion that the Met is (note present tense) institutionally corrupt. So one suggestion is now being widely made.

And that suggestion is that Part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry, done away with by the Tories as part of the deal they have struck with the devil that is our free and fearless press, should be revisited. It was suggested to Priti Patel, inexplicably made Home Secretary by alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, in the Commons today.

SNP MP Stuart McDonald “asks if Patel will make a statement about the implications of the report for the media. And he says the report backs the case for phase two of the Leveson inquiry to be allowed to go ahead” told the Guardian politics live feed. She declared “The government formally consulted Sir Brian on whether to proceed with part two, decided that it was no longer appropriate, proportionate and in the public interest to proceed given the potential costs and the amount of time that had been spent on part one itself”.

This suggests Brian Leveson was in some way agreeing with the decision, but he was not: Matt Hancock tried to make that claim and his flagrant lying was called out, including to his face by now former Labour MP Ian Lucas. Leveson Part 2 remains the only way of being as certain as we can be as to “who did what to whom”. And, indeed, on whose behalf.

You're not getting sacked in the morning

Former PM Theresa May was in no doubt about the significance of the panel’s conclusions, especially those on the Met and potential corruption. She “says the report provides yet another example of ‘an organ of the state, whose job was to protect the public, prioritising the reputation of the institution over the delivery of justice’”.

So the question had to be asked: would someone not unadjacent to the top of the Tory Party like to give us some small hint of action, perhaps putting in motion the process by which Cressida Dick is moved rather closer to the exit door? Sadly, “Asked if the prime minister still had full confidence in Dame Cressida Dick during a Westminster briefing, his official spokesperson simply replied: ‘Yes’”. In Bozo world, no-one resigns.

Smugtastic, politics pickers

So the Tories are already circling the wagons, in the process creating yet another holder of high office who owes them for their continuing hold on that office, at least in part. Cressida Dick could of course head off any accusation of being dependent on Bozo and his cronies by doing the right thing, admitting her conduct fell short of that required, and resigning.

Priti Patel is writing to lots of people in the wake of the Panel’s report. She says its conclusions are “deeply alarming”. But don’t expect her to do anything about it.

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GB News - Rant TV Has Landed

Those of us of A Certain Age can still remember the launch of BBC Breakfast Time, the first of the wake-up TV genre, more than 38 years ago. Put together in a matter of weeks, partly to get the jump on TV-am and its array of big-name presenters, the show worked from the word go. Set design, presenters, graphics, all went together seamlessly.

Gammon Broadcasting ...
... and its top presenter. No, don't laugh

This showed that it was not rocket science. But all those years later, and with millions thrown at it, GB News launched on Sunday evening with sets that looked dark and austere, sound quality was poor, and despite claims of audience share, it was abundantly clear that many viewers had tuned in just to see how bad it was. Some viewers were only watching with one eye on gathering enough evidence to submit a complaint to Ofcom.

The feedback was damning, with Count Binface musing “They were so preoccupied … they didn’t stop to think whether they should make it look like the Honey Monster ranting in a shipping container”. James Mc Manus was equally unimpressed. “[GB News] looks hilariously budget. Also why is it being broadcast from inside a giant PS4?

Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, who you can tell as she’s a doctor, asked “Why is #GBNews a mess? The design/audio/video are so substandard I'm quite shocked. It’s so not on par with CNN/Sky News/BBC. Granted it’s Day 1 but its technical issues are amateur hr … Don’t get me started on content … attacks on #MeghanAndHarry etc. This is News?

And Sam Bright had something to say about the content. “Dan Wootton has just spent five minutes on #GBNews broadcasting conspiracy theories about coronavirus being a ‘scare story’ … I’m old enough to remember an hour ago, when Andrew Neil promised that his new network wouldn’t spread baseless fake news”. He also called out the hypocrisy.

‘I was totally out of touch when I was based in London’, says former MP Gloria De Piero, from the #GBNews HQ in Paddington, London”. As to Wootton, Ian Fraser was not persuaded. "Dan Wootton's opening rant was something else: I've not witnessed such a prolonged display of ignorance and bigotry on British TV before”.

Dipstick Dan then brought on Alan Sugar to pontificate, most likely believing his guest to be in tune with the Gammon Broadcasting™ zeitgeist. It did not go well. “This Alan Sugar interview isn't going according to plan … Wootton out of his depth here” observed one Tweeter. By yesterday, there was another problem. “Interesting spelling of freedom”.

The good news, though, is that there is a full list of advertisers available for those who want to lobby them over being associated with GB News. Moreover, “Kopparberg has suspended its ads with #GBNews 'pending further review of its content’”. There will be others. But a warning also needs to be sounded on how Ofcom is being played.

Sol Hughes cautioned “GB News is likely to get round Ofcom 'Balance' rules by having a stable of 'stooge' liberals as the 4th guests on their right-dominated chat shows”, giving a link to examples, something Dawn Foster confirmed. “They asked me repeatedly to so a weekly slot doing precisely that”. Dan Wootton already pulled that one on Sunday.

Not since Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse) made that claim has there been more transparently fraudulent pretence of impartiality. This is hard right propaganda.

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Sunday, 13 June 2021

Harry Cole Marr Whopper UNRAVELS

In yet another futile attempt to appease the Murdoch mafiosi, the BBC went into truly barrel-scraping mode this morning and allowed the odious flannelled fool Master Harry Cole, a pretend journalist who has been made political editor of the Sun, to appear as part of the paper review panel on The Andy Marr Show™. The result was all too predictable.

Claims to be a journalist. No, don't laugh

Cole, who is incalculably stupid - and equally dishonest - took an alleged news item from the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph under the headline “Macron triggers Johnson’s fury by by claiming Northern Ireland is not part of UK”. This, he proclaimed, was a diplomatic gaffe demonstrating how the dastardly foreigners didn’t understand the UK.

But, in true Cole style, or rather lack of it, the claim was not only not true, but was soon unravelling. Sadly, in the meantime, not only Marr, but also the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg, had allowed the claim to be passed off as fact. This enabled alleged Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to whimper that the EU was being “offensive”.

Raab went on to claim “Various EU figures here in Carbis Bay, but frankly for months now and years, have characterised Northern Ireland as somehow a separate country and that is wrong. It is a failure to understand the facts”, while Ms Kuenssberg, not for the first time, excused the behaviour of alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson by claiming that the Northern Ireland ruckus was not really a major topic of G7 conversation.

This excused Bozo and the Tories from having the BBC’s audience informed that just about every other leader at the G7 had ended up with little short of disdain for Bozo and his bluster. And all the while, no-one on the Marr Show so much as peeped at Master Cole using the Beeb to propagandise for the Government. Some clearly had short memories.

It was less than six years ago that Cole secured his first Sun front page lead: the story, claiming that then Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn would have to be sworn to the Privy Council on pain of his party losing its allocation of “Short Money” was totally untrue, and, yes, it was soon unravelling. And that’s what the Macron claim has now done.

The Elysée has, as Reuters has reported, told that “the prime minister queried how [Macron] would react if French courts prevented the shipment of Toulouse sausages to Paris … The president said that Toulouse and Paris were part of a single geographic area and that Northern Ireland was on an island … The president wants to highlight that the situation was quite different and that it wasn’t right to draw this kind of comparison”.

So the Telegraph claim was bunk - another former paper of record that now needs its supposed “news” coverage backed up by a reliable second source - and the BBC allowed Master Cole to talk well, but lie badly. Meanwhile, Bozo gets away with timing his press conference at the end of the G7 so that it clashes with England’s opening Euro game against Croatia. And our supplicant media class will let him get away with it.

This morning’s Marr Show, given the information which was most likely already there providing someone had asked the question, and which is now all too widely available, was not the BBC’s finest hour. That’s what you get for inviting an unprincipled liar to speak.

And it still won’t stop the Murdoch press trashing the Beeb. I’ll just leave that one there.

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The Clickbait And The Other Clickbait

And so we arrive at launch day for GB News, the new broadcast media entrant better known already as Gammon Broadcasting (“Bacon’s News Channel”), which claims not to be a UK copy of Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse), although, by mere coincidence you understand, it has modelled itself rather obviously upon FNC.

Demonstrating its British credentials, by being significantly funded from outside the UK, and having its lead presenter, former Murdoch editor Andrew Neil, located at his retreat in the south of France, the new channel has already let slip how it intends to attract viewers - by a mix of contrarianism, foreigner-bashing, Muslim bashing, and culture war clickbait.

Both the contrarianism and foreigner-bashing were revealed by “historian” Neil Oliver, the world’s worst Eric Cantona impersonator, who has told anyone not yet asleep that the lockdown response to the Covid-19 pandemic was “the biggest mistake in world history”, which demonstrates a magnificent disregard for history up until, er, maybe last week.

And like Brillo, he is well-versed in putting the boot in on the SNP, which has already played well with the Daily Brexit, still called the Express, but has been ridiculed by outlets like The National, where his historical revisionism also got short shrift. That, though, is to miss the point - which is to attract enough attention to get potential viewers to tune in.

The Muslim bashing was signalled after Ed Husain, formerly part of Quilliam along with Maajid Nawaz, made the claims reported by the Mail as “British towns that are no-go areas for white people”. Colin Brazier, now at GB News, took this one and ran with it. “As someone who grew up, and still has family in Bradford, the idea of parallel communities that - increasingly - have little in common rings painfully true”. And there was more.

Thanks to the tireless [Ed Husain] for shining a light onto a story that will shape all our futures”. So that’s the kind of guest that Brazier & Muroki will be inviting on. Then comes the culture war strand, but with a twist: footballers taking the knee before matches has been decreed a suitable target by GB News. But not just by mouthy white men.

As iNews has reported, “England fans who boo players taking the knee should not be dismissed as racist, Nana Akua, a leading presenter on GB News has claimed … [she] said some of those jeering England players were expressing disapproval of a ‘virtue-signalling’ gesture, rather than rejecting the campaign to drive out racism”. Do go on.

Ms Akua … told i: ‘I instinctively couldn’t support taking the knee because it was so closely linked to Black Lives Matter, which is clearly a far-left Marxist pressure group and political organisation’”. Except it has been pointed out, not least by England manager Gareth Southgate, and a host of current and former players, that it isn’t.

So now every not-really-racist-honestly can say “the black woman says we’re not racist, so BOOO! BOOO knee taking!!” Add that slice of attention seeking to Brillo’s determination to sneer “woke” at those who oppose his alleged “common sense” approach, and you have the GB News playbook revealed even before this evening’s first broadcast.

But there is a gulf between generating viral clickbait and monetising it sufficiently to keep a seriously expensive operation afloat. Especially if the advertisers begin to take flight.

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