The press establishment is forever telling its devoted readers not just what it thinks they should read - the collected outpourings of Themselves Personally Now - but also what it thinks they should not. And what our free and fearless press thinks its readers should not read is left-leaning blogs like The Canary, Evolve Politics, and Skwawkbox.
To press home its advice, the press establishment and its hangers-on has indulged in a series of attacks on these sites, notably by the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, where newly anointed teaboy Alex “Billy Liar” Wickham called Skwawkbox “liars”, thus enjoying his own pot and kettle moment.
The Mail and Sun, meanwhile, attacked Skwawkbox via its main man Steve Walker, making a number of creative accusations about his business. And although the Sun later apologised, even issuing a “clarification”, the message was clear - blogs like this were not to be trusted by the news-consuming public. Well, until today, that is.
All those right-leaning papers are having trouble getting the Labour leadership to take them into its confidence, meaning that Jeremy Corbyn and his team have seen them coming. But there is a need to generate anti-Labour copy, and so some of those papers have resorted to making it up. And those making it up now includes the Murdoch Times, which made a totally made-up story its front page lead today.
“Hard left in plot to oust Labour No2 … Corbyn supporters target Watson for removal” shrieks the headline, going on to tell “Hard-left Labour supporters are plotting to depose the party’s deputy leader over what they see as disloyalty to Jeremy Corbyn … the activists are pushing to replace Tom Watson, a centrist, with Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, who is close to the party leader”.
The only problem is that the “disloyalty” cited by the Murdoch goons is from some time ago, and the best citation they can muster is “a Labour source”. But the story was clearly of sufficient interest to be shared with the rest of Rupe’s empire, and so the Sun has lifted it, telling readers “RED MAN WALKING … Corbynistas plotting to oust Tom Watson as Labour debuty [sic] leader – and replace him with Emily Thornberry”.
So how do they stand up the story, add an air of credibility to this routine smearing of a mainstream centre-left party as “Hard left” in the style of Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse)? You’ll love the hypocrisy of this.
Here’s the Times: “Skwawkbox, a pro-Corbyn blog, wrote this week about the re-emergence of reports that Ms Thornberry could mount a challenge”. The Sun agreed: “Pro-Corbyn blog Skwawkbox talked up Ms Thornberry’s chances of a challenge this week”. Praise the Lord, Skwawkbox is redeemed in the name of the Lord Murdoch!
This is not just jaw-dropping hypocrisy, but also flagrant dishonesty: as I had to point out to the Fawkes rabble recently, Skwawkbox has NEVER had any contact with Jeremy Corbyn’s office. The Times and Sun have run a fake story, so fake that they have been forced to U-Turn on the press’ view of Skwawkbox in order to stand it up.
The Murdoch press is utterly devoid of principles. But you knew that already.