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Sunday 23 October 2011

Waterfield’s Phoney Empire

[Update at end of post]

Today’s top story, for those who still consider the Telegraph a paper of record, tells of dastardly deeds behind the scenes at the EU: “New euro ‘empire’ plot by Brussels” it screams. But one look at the name on the by-line – yes, it’s the ever-unreliable and dishonest Bruno Waterfield – should sound a warning. Because this story is nothing more than another steaming pile of bullpucky.

Regular visitors to Zelo Street will know that Waterfield – who would not have even got his foot in the door at the Telegraph of old – has form on over-egging his particular pudding: back in March he told that proposals for a “Single European Transport Area” would mean “an end to cheap holiday flights from Britain to southern Europe”. He made that one up.

So it will come as no surprise that not only is his “empire” story substantially fictitious, but that the idea of an EU finance ministry – not “treasury”, not when there is already the ECB – is not new news, having been discussed back in August. And the proposal came from Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel, not van Rompuy – he was the two leaders’ preferred choice for the job.

Otherwise, the article is filled with comments from unnamed “sources”, whether “senior” or from “No. 10”, and assertions that plans have “emerged”. We even get “senior sources at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) indicating privately”, as if anyone in that position would trust the Telegraph’s Brussels man any further than they could chuck him.

And, other than spin the usual Telegraph line – that the Eurozone is yet again finished, and that the European project lies in ruins – along with stirring in the story of the Tories being subjected to a three-line whip for next week’s referendum debate, is all there is. Nothing supposedly “new” has a single reliable attribution, including the supposed IMF “bombshell”.

This is formulaic knocking copy, the kind of thing that used to be associated with lesser papers like the Daily Mail. It underscores yet again how far the Telegraph has fallen from its past status as a paper of record, its willingness to recycle old news along with conjecture to fit the headline, and the routine dishonesty of its hacks. It’s a lame attempt to mislead and misinform its readers, and it’s not good enough.

[UPDATE October 24: the Express has recycled this story - characteristically a day late - with the same mistake made by Waterfield repeated (asserting that the EU finance ministry proposals came from Herman van Rompuy, which they didn't) giving the game away on where they got the information. We also get "fears ... were sparked yesterday" which they weren't. But it's cheap and fills papers, eh Des?]

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