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Tuesday 19 March 2013

Press Regulation – Tantrum Throwing Special

What did I tell you? After warning that the press were not going to like yesterday’s Royal Charter agreement one bit, it turns out that they, er, don’t like it one bit. The Rothermere, Murdoch, Barclay Brothers and Desmond empires declared their joint displeasure and told that they would be consulting lawyers. In the meantime, they were not going to comment.

But they clearly knew a few hacks who would be. And, by the most fortunate of coincidences, those hacks just happened to be writing in their papers! These fearless print warriors were going into battle to defend press freedom, that is, the freedom of owners and editors to say what they like, stick two fingers up to anyone complaining, and yield only at the door of the court.

So it will surprise nobody that subtlety, and indeed facts, were in short supply as the Murdoch Sun went into whinge overdrive. A voluntarily set up system of self-regulation was denounced as a “Quango, which is interesting, given it is very clearly independent of Government. There would be a “Royal Charter of rules, written entirely by senior politicians”. Who else writes stuff in Parliament?

But remember, readers, “The Sun is committed to tougher rules that safeguard the public” (good test for the bullshit detector), and “this won’t apply to the BBC”. No, Murdoch people, the Beeb is regulated by Ofcom. You want a little of that? No? Then quit carping. And never mind the “what about the internet” guff, or the “issuing decrees to papers ... ordering massive corrections” flannel.

Meanwhile, the Maily Telegraph was worried about its human rights, these being different to the human rights which should not be given to anyone talking foreign. The Rubicon was said to have been crossed. Benedict “famous last words” Brogan mourned the potential loss of press freedom, which would be guaranteed by the Charter he and his colleagues were rubbishing.

And the obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre at the Mail had yet another angle: it was all going to be very complicated. There would be a “galaxy of committees”. It was all “Byzantine”. The mildly inconvenient fact, that the graphic used to reinforce the article has had several extra boxes added for effect, is not mentioned. But it’s all too obvious.

Even so, the editorial view is that this means “A grim day for all who value freedom” (for definition of “freedom”, see above), and the whole package is gleefully reported by the odious Quentin Letts (let’s not), who among other signs that he was once more not taking notes or checking his facts, tells the Camborne “is strong UKIP country”. Yes Quent, they actually kept their deposit last timejust.

Which all means “stuff the facts, we don’t want to play”. No change there, then.

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