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Wednesday 30 March 2011

Telegraph – Inflating Their Own Balloon

We all know that the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre and his band of dubiously talented hacks at the Daily Mail despise the BBC. But, if only to reinforce their favoured nickname, those over at the Maily Telegraph want everyone to know that they can do Beeb bashing just as well.

The only problem with this approach is that a story is needed for the Telegraph to use as a stick to beat the BBC – unless, of course, they can make up their own. So when author Zadie Smith appeared on this morning’s Radio 4 Today programme with an impassioned defence of libraries, the opportunity was gratefully accepted.

Writing the knocking copy was Harry Wallop (crazy name – crazy guy!), who styles himself “Consumer Affairs Editor”. He would do well to edit his own copy to remove the obvious howler: Ms Smith grew up near the library at Willesden Green, not Kensal Rise as he states.

And Wallop makes light of the later appearance by Shaun Bailey, a man more than capable of getting his point of view across, which countered the appearance of Ms Smith. He then gets the quote – seemingly obligatory for the Telegraph – from the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance, as if it has anything to do with them.

But they’re not done yet: to try and inflate the balloon a little, there is an accompanying comment piece by Ed West (specialist subjects include “low culture”), who asks the rhetorical question “Has the BBC given up all pretence of impartiality?”, which is of course a statement in the style of our old friends at Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse).

All in all, the exercise comes across as a rather lame attempt by the Telegraph to start its own story running and keep it in the public eye by using the Fox News technique of passing it across the news-comment divide to try and keep it warm.

Sadly, this particular turkey has now gone cold, as even the arch-BBC haters at the Daily Mail have not touched the story, and by the time the Express gets hold of it tomorrow, the news cycle will have moved on.

Still, keeps the hacks and the TPA occupied - and off the streets. Mustn’t grumble.

[UPDATE: The so-called Taxpayers' Alliance has now run its own "story" on the Zadie Smith comment piece. The tedious and hyperbole filled copy, by up and coming non-job holder Charlotte Linacre, can be seen HERE. Note that one of the commenters has produced an extended riposte which, I suspect, the TPA will not allow to pass unchallenged, especially as it tries to stick to things called facts]

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