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Sunday 20 May 2012

Disgrace Of A Former Paper Of Record

The sad decline of the Telegraph from paper of record to broadsheet competition for the Daily Mail has been further confirmed of late, as its Sunday edition continues to give a regular berth to the fact-free ramblings of Christopher Booker, who claimed recently that the Europol headquarters in den Haag had once been occupied by the Gestapo, although it was only opened last year.

Not mysteriously flying off the tracks

The organised assault on the HS2 project also continues apace, assisted by scaremongering by purveyor of dodgy journalism Andrew Gilligan, who tried to spread the idea that trains travelling at 200mph would be derailed by mysterious forces. Sadly, the scientist whose research he wanted to quote saw him coming and deployed the straight bat of no comment.

But the anti-HS2 line has continued: today’s paper has brought supposed revelations about a conflict of interest concerning two HS2 Ltd directors, who have shares in Balfour Beatty, whose subsidiary Parsons Brinckerhoff has been awarded a project management contract. But the two men don’t participate in board discussions or procurement decisions if they have an interest. It’s a non-story.

That follows on last weekend’s non-story that legislation for HS2 had not been included in the Queen’s Speech, although it is not needed until next year. But there was a “red-amber” alert over the project, whatever that means. Then this weekend has come selective quoting from meeting minutes, accompanied by assertions that this is the “latest blow” to HS2, and that there is a Whitehall “feud” over it.

Don't look, it doesn't work. Allegedly

All of this drivel, which would not be out of place over at the Express, such is the loaded nature of the content, has been published under the by-line of Deputy Political Editor Robert Watts (note that he is not the paper’s transport correspondent). But Watts has been outdone today by chief reporter Robert Mendick, who has shamelessly recycled lobby group propaganda as fact.

And here we return to the Tel’s fixation with slanted reporting of anything to do with renewable energy. “Electricity bills set to rise to pay for wind farm subsidies” is the headline. It is asserted that this cost rise will be “as much as a quarter ... according to a new report”. And who, pray, is the source of this damning report? Ah, but Zelo Street regulars will not need any clues as to the origin.

Yes, it’s the Renewable Energy Forum, an offshoot of the Renewable Energy Foundation, which claims to be in favour of renewable energy while campaigning against it. The Tel gushingly credits the REF with the title “specialist renewable energy consultancy” rather than the more accurate “Astroturf lobby group”. It’s yet another example of appallingly slanted journalism.

But some of the paper’s readers will believe it, so that’s all right, then.

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