In case anyone was in any doubt over the significance of Monday’s Commons vote on press regulation, the usual suspects in the Fourth Estate, via their bully pulpits, have underlined its importance. Such is the amount riding on the vote that any pretence of nuance and subtlety has been abandoned, as hacks and pundits have descended into forthright dishonesty.
This can be observed in the increasingly vitriolic attacks on Hacked Off, which is campaigning for a free but accountable press. Here, the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre has joined forces with Sun political pundit Tom Newton Dunn (operating with Murdoch approval) and their chief poodle in the blogosphere, the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines at the Guido Fawkes blog.
“DID Ed Miliband cave in to Hugh Grant?” asks Sun Says, in the rhetorical style beloved of Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse). Hacked Off is painted as “celebrity fronted” so that the Murdoch press is not seen dishing out yet another kicking to the McCanns and Dowlers. Rupe’s downmarket troops also get the endorsement of London’s occasional Mayor.
Because Bozza is all in favour of a free press, provided it supports Himself Personally Now. And that press is more than ready to accuse Hacked Off of threats against politicians, which of course the Sun and Mail would never think of doing (much). So Newton Dunn, who wants you to know that he never bullies anyone, talks dutifully about “Hugh Grant and pals”.
By the time the story gets to the Mail, Dacre has personally taken charge and decreed that Hacked Off is guilty of blackmail, although the draft press release being touted by those who scrabble around the dunghill that is Grubstreet would have been issued after the event, thus making blackmail difficult to anyone not in possession of their own personal Tardis.
We know that Dacre is behind the Political Correspondent item today, as it goes into detail on the PCC Editor’s Code of Conduct, his personal contribution to press regulation which his own paper then proceeds to flagrantly breach whenever it suits it. His obedient poodle Staines has then recycled the “blackmail” smear, along with the “Hugh Grant and other slebs” meme. Lame, lame, lame.
It’s left to the likes of Alex Andreou at the Staggers to illustrate the patently ridiculous posturing of the press, with a must-read “ten truths the media needs to hear”. Along with his analysis, Hacked Off has shown why the Tories and their opponents were not even close to agreement, as some hacks have pretended. As ever, what the press is actually defending is its power to mark its own homework.
And it will say whatever it takes to retain that power. No change there, then.