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Thursday 11 July 2013

Press Freedom – Delingpole Speaks

[Update at end of post]

The invitation to Rupert Murdoch – which he has welcomed – to appear once again before the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Select Committee has set a variety of pundits off on the familiar tack of suggesting that the rotten lefties are behind it all, and that press freedom is somehow at risk as a result. Today’s shining example comes from James “saviour of Western civilisation” Delingpole.
Not really Fair and Balanced

Del Boy starts from the usual premise, that the BBC is relaying the news of Rupe’s return with “salivating glee”, which as any fule kno means that the Corporation is a hotbed of leftism (that Del garners significant marginal revenue from his appearances there, and thus enjoys a shop window for his particular USP, is not told for some reason). Murdoch is then portrayed as a heroic victim.

Along the way, Delingpole slips in his heartfelt lament “I thought to myself, not for the first time: ‘Britain is losing the battle for press freedom’” which then forms a proven part of the narrative, despite there being no evidence to stand up his contention. In any case, were the UK to enjoy a truly free press, it would sit at the top of the 2013 Press Freedom Index, which it most certainly does not.

And while Del Boy is portraying Rupe as some saintly figure – well, the Dirty Digger was made a Papal Knight – and dumping, as is his wont, on what he calls the “Liberal-Left”, that strange hyphenated concept imported from Stateside beacons of probity like Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse), the supposedly serious commentators at the Maily Telegraph are talking up their press freedom solution.

Under the heading “A Free Press”, readers are told “Following the Leveson Inquiry, the creation of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) will give us a free press as well as a robust regulator”. Really? No, not really: as Evan Harris has pointed out, this supposedly new regulator fails just about every “Leveson test and is just a Mark 2 PCC. And we all know how good a regulator the PCC wasn’t.

What is being advanced here is, on the one hand, to once again demonise anyone who talks ill of Murdoch and thinks that any good can come out of the BBC, and on the other, the sleight of hand that is pretending the press is putting its own house in order, when it is not. And Delingpole does not help his cause by relying on the Guido Fawkes blog as a reliable information source.

The reality of our supposedly free press is that the UK languishes at number 29 in the 2013 Press Freedom Index, behind Jamaica, Costa Rica, Namibia and Cape Verde. At the top of the charts is Finland – for the second year running – which has self-regulation underpinned by statute, much as envisaged by Leveson. Delingpole’s claim that we have a free press, and are risking losing it, is bunk.

But it’s good to see that he is obediently doing his bit for the propaganda campaign.

[UPDATE 1500 hours: Delingpole has, since I posted, reacted adversely to freedom of speech - and ability to routinely dispense personal abuse - when it is used by others against him.

After he had authored a semi-serious article for the Spectator on how his wife organises him, one commenter snarked: "Delingpole is married? Is it to Katie Hopkins or just a horse?" which brought forth a tirade of resentment from The Great Man.
"Hello? Excuse me? That crap unfunny remark by some pseudonymous dork calling himself Barry Fatrabbit actually prompted four of you - at time of reading - to give the comment a recommend? Jesus H Christ, what is the point of Spectator Online if it acts purely as a honey pot for bitter, leftist cheapskate losers who'd never actually read the Spectator in a million years because they'd choke on its politics and they'd never think of paying money for quality journalism" he froths, before excusing himself with "I'm not offended btw., just despairing, truly despairing".

Quite apart from all the false assumptions and exhibitions of prejudice that Del Boy shows in that rant is the fact that, as can be seen from the screen shot, 41 people have recommended the comment that has upset him so much. And, well, that's freedom of speech. Del Boy loves it when he's the one dishing out the abuse, but it's such a different thing when the boot is so firmly on the other foot]

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