The right-leaning part of our free and fearless press long ago lost its ability to hold its favoured politicians to account, and the Murdoch Sun has been a particularly good example of the decline in standards, confirmed when non-bullying political editor Tom Newton Dunn was caught on camera obediently lapping up everything that Messrs Cameron and Osborne wanted to tell him. And now has come a further decline.
Yes Tom, you've been had. Again
On Tuesday evening, a speech was pre-briefed on behalf of alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, in which Bozo The Clown would accuse Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn of “political onanism”. In other words, Bozo would call Jezza a wanker. This so excited Newton Dunn that he wrote it up and Tweeted it out immediately.
“STIFF WARNING … Election: Boris Johnson warns voters that Britain faces ‘political onanism’ of Brexit under Jeremy Corbyn” read the headline, with Newton Dunn telling anyone who was listening “Tomorrow the Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury will call the Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition a political wanker. Literally”.
But when the time came for Bozo to make his speech, he said no such thing, a point not lost on Peter Oborne, who passed severely adverse comment on Newton Dunn. “Johnson didn't call Corbyn a political wanker. This is humiliating for the Sun's political editor Newton Dunn, who has been made to look a fool. When will political editors like him scrutinise what they are told by Johnson's briefers and not just repeat what they are told?” Quite.
Newton Dunn was stung into responding. “I don’t think you heard my question to PM just now, Peter”. He reminded Bozo of the pre-briefing. Bozo smirked and waffled. Newton Dunn didn’t get it. Oborne did. “Are you happy to publish any old rubbish because one of Johnson's briefers tells you it's true?” Newton Dunn had been played for a fool.
That was not lost on Krishnan Guru-Murthy of Channel 4 News: “So a sniggering school boy line is briefed to media who respond with excitable predictability making it needless for the politician to say the words himself, blaming it on a ‘stray early draft’. Hats off. They are playing the newspapers like turning on a pianola”. And there was more.
Peter Geoghegan of Open Democracy was on the same page: “This Boris Johnson #onanism is a textbook example of how easy British political media is to game. Brief a ball of nonsense. Get media all talking about it. Trump 101”. Will Black added a coda.
“Boris Johnson talks of #onanism. That's Boris Johnson who said he has ‘so much spunk’ he needed to cheat on all his partners at uni … Boris Johnson, who called police investigating rape ‘spaffing money against a wall’ … And Johnson, who doesn't even know his many kids he has”. It was obviously something Newton Dunn should have queried.
He didn’t. He’s supposed to be a Real Serious Journalist™. But when push comes to shove, he just reverts to stenography instead. As a result, he’s chucked Bozo’s dead cat for him, and proved that there is only one wanker in the story - himself.
The finest journalism money can buy. The Tories have bought it. Don’t buy the Sun.
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