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Sunday 17 July 2011

Eyes On The Ball

When Phonehackgate first appeared on the radar just over two years ago, some observers characterised it as a right versus left affair, with more than one pundit declaring that it was those rotten lefties trying to get payback for Damian McBride. At the time, especially given that the Guardian was unable to declare all of the evidence available to it, this was understandable, if wrong.

Now that the story has shown itself to be a serious one, and beyond lefties trying to get at Young Dave via Andy Coulson, one might have hoped that the right versus left angle would have been quietly dropped, if only out of sheer embarrassment at having called it wrong at the start. But this would be to underestimate those generally right leaning pundits who cannot see events otherwise.

And exemplifying this tendency is the Maily Telegraph’s Janet Daley, who reinforces her assertion that it’s all about the “BBC Left” by having to resort to making a number of blatantly false statements. The modernisation of the Tory Party is held to be down singly to an attempt to get a “fair hearing” from the Beeb’s news coverage, as if only the BBC provides this. But this is only a taster.

We are then told that the Obama administration wants to shut down Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse), which they have shown no sign of trying to do, and that MSNBC’s audience is “the smallest of any cable news channel”, which is blatantly untrue: MSNBC is generally second in the cable news ratings, ahead of CNN and its sister channel HLN, and ahead of CNBC.

But the most blatant whopper is the assertion that “the left” (whoever this is) is trying not only to shut down debate, but shut down right leaning media outlets. Why should anyone on the left want to see the likes of Fox News close? Who would they call out for systemic bias, dodgy journalism and agenda driven campaigns if Fox were to disappear? More importantly, what would Jon Stewart do for a living?

Daley is stuck in the rut of being unable to see Phonehackgate for what it is: routine criminality. But she is not alone out there on the right, where pundits and bloggers are united in seeing the BBC as some great leftist Satan and want to see a few left leaning hacks in the dock as some kind of balance.

It’s not like that, never was, and never will be. Rupe and his troops not only broke the law on an industrial scale, but also offended public decency. That’s why they are in the dock, not because of where on the political spectrum they are.

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