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Thursday 2 April 2015

Telegraph, Tories And Political Interference

After the Telegraph ran its front pageletter” from over a hundred Tory Party supporting business leaders yesterday, it was revealed by Sophy Ridge at Sky News (“first for breaking wind”) that this was not an exercise in investigative journalism: “Understand that Conservative Party co-Chairman Andrew Feldman helped organise today’s letter from business leaders in the Telegraph”.
It's the way they tell 'em

So the Tel was being used to disseminate party propaganda, which is pretty shameless, even given the paper’s usual political leanings. It got worse: the latest issue of Private Eye (#1389, available at newsagents at £1.80 a copy) has asserted that “Aidan Barclay, chairman of the Telegraph group, has assured David Cameron he will do whatever it takes to help the Tories’ election campaign”. There was more.

Accordingly, hated daily editor Chris Evans has been told to live up to the Torygraph nickname and ignore any bad news for Dave and his chums, even it if undermines the paper’s integrity yet further”. The saga of reporter Holly Watt, who took her scoop on tax-dodging at Smythson, a firm with which Dave’s wife Samantha is associated, to the Guardian because the Tel refused to touch it, is given in example.
This is bad enough for the Tel’s reputation, but for Aidan Barclay, when his testimony to the Leveson Inquiry is considered alongside these events, it does not look good. Starting at Paragraph 27, it begins badly and gets worse: “I do not interfere in the editorial content of the newspapers or magazines we own … I am a passionate believer in the vital importance of editorial independence. Editors working for the Telegraph have the freedom to edit their newspapers as they think fit and make alI editorial decisions”.

How does that look when compared with what Ms Ridge and the Eye have reported? Not too good. And yet more of that testimony contradicts the Eye: “Decisions on how to cover General Elections and when and how actively to support a Party with an endorsement I leave to the editors”. Can it get even worse? It certainly can.

Quality newspapers like the Telegraph titles depend on conveying news accurately and fully: that requires dialogue across the political divide”. Not much “dialogue across the political divide” when you’re publishing party propaganda on the front page, is there? Do go on. “I do not regard building or fostering relationships with politicians for the sake of it as a particular part of the job of a newspaper proprietor”. Hmmm.

And then we arrive at the Pièce de Résistance: “No Prime Minister or opposition Leader has ever asked me for a favour. And I have never asked for one … I do not recall that [David Cameron] has ever asked me to interfere in matters of editorial policy”. The Barclay brothers are no strangers to the concept of legal action. So perhaps they will be taking that action, at least against the Eye.

After all, one would hate to think Aidan Barclay might have misled the Leveson Inquiry.


Anonymous said...

Not party propaganda, government propaganda, worse.

Brian Moylan said...

Still http://bit.ly/ukteaparty3.