This is well understood by those in and around Downing Street; those serving both alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, and all those media organisations. What has also become clear in recent years is a lack of willingness from pundits to interrogate their sources for fear of losing access to supposedly exclusive information.
So it was that someone on Bozo’s side set a propaganda hare running yesterday evening, and BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg dutifully followed it. “Sounds like Brexit talks have gone worse this afternoon ... A senior govt source says ‘at the eleventh hour, the EU is bringing new elements into the negotiation. A breakthrough is still possible in the next few days but that prospect is receding’”. Did she ask what the “new elements” were?
Did she heck. But there was more. “Source on EU side says talks are 'extremely sluggish' + have got very difficult on how to regulate shared rules and standards … UK + EU sources both suggesting real sticking point over how those rules are policed - who sorts it out if there is a disagreement, with EU pushing for tough independent regulator to adjudicate”. So there are no “new elements”, just the EU wanting us to play by the rules.
But look, she must be on to something, because “And there are claims tonight, (also from [the FT]) that France has upped the ante in terms of demands”. The Twitter feed she referenced has nothing about the talks right now. In any case, she then conceded “However nothing official on the record from either side”. Just gossip.
But that was all she needed to boast “Brexit: Have trade talks taken a turn for the worse?” on the BBC website. In turn, the desperate Brexiteer part of our free and fearless press took that as their cue, with the Telegraph claiming “Brexit deal on line over French fishing”.
The supporting article was all nods and winks. “The leaders are at odds over the right to fish in British waters with senior Downing Street sources unsure as to whether the French President might ‘torpedo’ the proposed Brexit deal at the last possible moment”. In other words, the Tel is making it up. But keeping up with the Beeb, and all that.
Yet more desperate is the Daily Brexit, still called the Express, howling “France throws a spanner in the works with fresh Brexit demands … WHAT A CHEEK! EU BLOCKS TALKS AT 11TH HOUR”, and going on to claim “The latest round of talks ‘did not go well’ after Brussels shifted position to appease France over rules on state aid subsidies and standards. British negotiators were thrown when the EU side introduced ‘new elements’ that further complicated sealing a deal”. And so it gets more creative in the retelling.
All started by Ms Kuenssberg taking dictation once more. And we never did get to find out what the “new elements” were. For the Telegraph and Express, there was no need: their readers hate the French; therefore it was the French Wot Done It.
Why do fewer people over time trust the BBC? It’s quite the propaganda puzzle, isn’t it?
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