The tabloid press likes to portray itself as having knowledgeable journalists as well as those who seek out slebs’n’sleaze. But, as a Zelo Street regular has pointed out, this is mere pretence when it comes to the Murdoch Sun. Here, non-bullying political editor Tom Newton Dunn has a gofer, and his name is Steve Hawkes. And a quick trawl of the latter’s Twitter feed is all you need to see what that means.
“PMQs! Presuming we’ll hear a fair bit about energy – and why not rip-off England kit. I also wager 78 mentions of ‘long-term economic plan’” he speculated yesterday, and totally wrongly (by contrast, the first paragraph of this blog’s PMQs sketch, which is written before it starts, was 100% accurate). Just because the Sun says England kit is the story does not make it a fact.
Having got his prediction wrong – missing the Royal Mail ruckus totally – Hawkes then pontificated on the exchange between Young Dave and Mil The Younger. “Ed Miliband goes in studs first on Royal Mail – what’s the PM’s ‘excuse’?” he observed, demonstrating anti-Labour bias and the possibility that he was either not watching PMQs, or viewing them through some kind of mind-altering filter.
This impression was only reinforced by the next Hawkes gem: “Cam back strongly. Royal Mail was losing £500m under Labour”. A strong response is not characterised by failing to answer the point being made. Nor is dishonesty anything to crow about: Royal Mail’s last year under a Labour Government saw an operating profit of £404 million. Plus I’m not sure Cameron actually used that figure.
Then comes a change of tack: “Labour’s perennial prob. They attack on Royal Mail. The PM reminds the house the two Eds were in charge when banks cost taxpayers billions”. Again, I don’t recall Cameron saying that, and Hawkes manages to miss the Tory weakness on such an argument. They would have regulated less and done nothing to stop a meltdown. A bout of selective memory there.
“More on Royal Mail. David Cameron: ‘A sale nobody wanted?! It was in his manifesto!’ Oh dear Ed” came next. It wasn’t in Labour’s manifesto. Hawkes excuses his failure to check his facts by responding to a critic that “Labour are about to put that out I believe”. Does he rely solely on what party press officers tell him? Small wonder the tabs are so crap at investigative journalism nowadays.
But Hawkes did come to the required conclusion: “Despite a very embarrassing Royal Mail botch job the PM took Ed M to the cleaners there”. No he didn’t, but it is instructive to see that, between the Murdoch muppets and the Dacre doggies, there is little to choose. Miliband was calculating and deliberate as ever, and clowns like Hawkes do themselves and their readers a disservice by pretending otherwise.
Pay money to read hacks like Hawkes? I wouldn’t pay him in washers.