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Saturday 2 April 2011

Telegraph – They Have A Problem

Last Wednesday, I noted that the Maily Telegraph was homing in on a five minute comment piece by author Zadie Smith (her chosen subject being library closures) on the previous day’s BBC Radio 4 Today programme. Much righteous indignation was expended by trying to portray the item as some kind of catch-all demonstration of bias, but sadly, no other part of the Fourth Estate was interested.

No other paper has taken up the Telegraph’s specific accusation of bias, not even the Daily Mail: all that has come from the obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre has been a footnote to a Richard Kay column. No mention has been made of this supposedly major event in the Express or Daily Star, or even the Super Soaraway Currant Bun.

Even those titles which might have been expected to counter the Telegraph attack, the Independent and Guardian, have hardly mentioned Ms Smith’s comment: neither has covered the attempt to make a story of it. So it might be thought that the Telegraph and its hacks might give up and chase after some real news, rather than trying to invent headlines where none exist.

But that thought would be misplaced: yesterday afternoon, the ridiculous Simon Heffer joined the fray – or perhaps he was caused to join it – with a typically ill-informed rant about local Government where he pinned the blame for library closures on “mischievous Leftist councils”. The Hefferlump then attacked “diversity officers” and “lesbian outreach workers” to show that he knows even less than the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance about the subject.

Sadly, this fine example of blowhard bluster, along with its sneering tone – Heffer calling Zadie Smith “Miss”, for instance – was equally ineffective in persuading anyone else to join the cause. So today the baton has been passed to the loathsome Toby Young, who kicks off his own rant by describing Ms Smith’s comment piece as “a Party Political Broadcast on behalf of the Labour Party”, which may surprise anyone at the Labour Party.

Young, in an offering that is tediously and pretentiously long, engages in a superb piece of whataboutery by insisting that “the cuts” are only in the order of 3%. He therefore fails to address the 4.4% average across local Government in 2011-12 alone, with some councils facing an 8.9% cut. Added to this are cuts in the central Government “formula” grant averaging 9.9% in 2011-12 and 7.3% in 2012-13. That adds up to rather more than 3%.

Quite why the Telegraph is continuing with its attempt to prop up this attack on the Beeb is unclear. No-one else is joining in, the attacks are increasingly ineffective, and show how little most folks care about the issue.

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