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Wednesday, 16 June 2021

GB News - Ultimate PR Fail

UK Broadcasters who are not the BBC depend, in part at least, on advertising revenue for their income. Getting big name brands on board, and keeping them sweet, is the name of the game, whether those broadcasters like it or not. So when your content makes some of those advertisers a little, shall we say, nervous, what would be the sensible course of action? What would a sensible person have done? What would Nietzsche have done?

This thought has not yet been allowed to enter at new broadcast entrant Gammon Broadcasting News (“Bacon’s News Channel”), where the efforts of campaigners such as Stop Funding Hate have resulted in the channel - just three days into its tenure of the airwaves - losing several high profile names from their advertising portfolio.

But GB News are not even considering stopping and thinking why this might be: they, and their pals in our free and fearless press have gone on the attack, full of aggression, bluster and just a hint of menace. This “spend with us or my mates will trash your lousy brand” strategy unfolded as soon as the first dominoes began to fall.

As Press Gazette has reported, “Drinks companies Kopparberg and Grolsch, skincare company Nivea and the Open University have all distanced themselves from the new channel … They were later joined by Swedish retail giant Ikea and Ovo Energy”. So the main man at GB News, former Murdoch editor Andrew Neil, went on the attack.

IKEA has decided to boycott GB News because of our alleged values. Here are IKEA’s values - a French CEO who is a criminal with a two year suspended jail sentence for spying on staff”. Who did Brillo work for when he edited the Sunday Times? His attack was later joined by former Screws and Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan, who declared that IKEA were “pathetic virtue-signalling twerps”, and that he would now be boycotting them.

This became popular with the less savoury part of the right-leaning punditerati, with Brexiteer floor-crosser Kate Hoey claiming “I certainly will not purchase anything from IKEA until they lift their boycott of [GB News]”. Washed-up has-been Tony Parsons added “[IKEA] happily do business in a country where there is the death penalty for being gay and yet the pious flat-pack furniture merchants clutch their pearls at the idea of doing business with [GB News]”. Deeply unpleasant former Sun editor Kelvin McFilth joined in.

Despite global protests Saudi Arabia has just beheaded a young man they arrested for rioting when he was 16. Ikea's local management kept quiet but over here the firm pulled ads from anti-woke [GB News] saying the station didn't meet their ‘humanistic values’. Hypocrites or what?” None of these less than totally august individuals stopped to think that many would rather like a visit to IKEA if it meant not encountering any of them.

The result has been all that a free marketeer could have wished: Vodafone and Octopus Energy have joined the exodus, with insurer LV considering its position and Deliveroo being lined up by campaigners who point out that the brand is an England football team partner - and GB News hosts claim taking the knee is “waging a culture war on fans”.

The latest response from the media establishment is the Spectator (chairman - guess who) getting a droid from the planet Spiked to attack campaigners. But it won’t work. Brillo and his pals don’t have the clout they think they have. The slippery slope has already arrived.

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Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Daniel Morgan Panel - Tory Inaction

At noon today, the report of the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel was finally published: this signalled the start of the process by which Morgan’s family continue to seek justice after all these years, while those who would rather they stop asking questions and just go away try and spin, bully, project, gaslight and just lie to put them off.

Daniel Morgan

Silent thus far have been the Metropolitan Police, whose commissioner Cressida Dick has been on the receiving end of a significant amount of criticism, not least over the claim that she obstructed the Panel’s work, and the wider conclusion that the Met is (note present tense) institutionally corrupt. So one suggestion is now being widely made.

And that suggestion is that Part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry, done away with by the Tories as part of the deal they have struck with the devil that is our free and fearless press, should be revisited. It was suggested to Priti Patel, inexplicably made Home Secretary by alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, in the Commons today.

SNP MP Stuart McDonald “asks if Patel will make a statement about the implications of the report for the media. And he says the report backs the case for phase two of the Leveson inquiry to be allowed to go ahead” told the Guardian politics live feed. She declared “The government formally consulted Sir Brian on whether to proceed with part two, decided that it was no longer appropriate, proportionate and in the public interest to proceed given the potential costs and the amount of time that had been spent on part one itself”.

This suggests Brian Leveson was in some way agreeing with the decision, but he was not: Matt Hancock tried to make that claim and his flagrant lying was called out, including to his face by now former Labour MP Ian Lucas. Leveson Part 2 remains the only way of being as certain as we can be as to “who did what to whom”. And, indeed, on whose behalf.

You're not getting sacked in the morning

Former PM Theresa May was in no doubt about the significance of the panel’s conclusions, especially those on the Met and potential corruption. She “says the report provides yet another example of ‘an organ of the state, whose job was to protect the public, prioritising the reputation of the institution over the delivery of justice’”.

So the question had to be asked: would someone not unadjacent to the top of the Tory Party like to give us some small hint of action, perhaps putting in motion the process by which Cressida Dick is moved rather closer to the exit door? Sadly, “Asked if the prime minister still had full confidence in Dame Cressida Dick during a Westminster briefing, his official spokesperson simply replied: ‘Yes’”. In Bozo world, no-one resigns.

Smugtastic, politics pickers

So the Tories are already circling the wagons, in the process creating yet another holder of high office who owes them for their continuing hold on that office, at least in part. Cressida Dick could of course head off any accusation of being dependent on Bozo and his cronies by doing the right thing, admitting her conduct fell short of that required, and resigning.

Priti Patel is writing to lots of people in the wake of the Panel’s report. She says its conclusions are “deeply alarming”. But don’t expect her to do anything about it.

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GB News - Rant TV Has Landed

Those of us of A Certain Age can still remember the launch of BBC Breakfast Time, the first of the wake-up TV genre, more than 38 years ago. Put together in a matter of weeks, partly to get the jump on TV-am and its array of big-name presenters, the show worked from the word go. Set design, presenters, graphics, all went together seamlessly.

Gammon Broadcasting ...
... and its top presenter. No, don't laugh

This showed that it was not rocket science. But all those years later, and with millions thrown at it, GB News launched on Sunday evening with sets that looked dark and austere, sound quality was poor, and despite claims of audience share, it was abundantly clear that many viewers had tuned in just to see how bad it was. Some viewers were only watching with one eye on gathering enough evidence to submit a complaint to Ofcom.

The feedback was damning, with Count Binface musing “They were so preoccupied … they didn’t stop to think whether they should make it look like the Honey Monster ranting in a shipping container”. James Mc Manus was equally unimpressed. “[GB News] looks hilariously budget. Also why is it being broadcast from inside a giant PS4?

Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, who you can tell as she’s a doctor, asked “Why is #GBNews a mess? The design/audio/video are so substandard I'm quite shocked. It’s so not on par with CNN/Sky News/BBC. Granted it’s Day 1 but its technical issues are amateur hr … Don’t get me started on content … attacks on #MeghanAndHarry etc. This is News?

And Sam Bright had something to say about the content. “Dan Wootton has just spent five minutes on #GBNews broadcasting conspiracy theories about coronavirus being a ‘scare story’ … I’m old enough to remember an hour ago, when Andrew Neil promised that his new network wouldn’t spread baseless fake news”. He also called out the hypocrisy.

‘I was totally out of touch when I was based in London’, says former MP Gloria De Piero, from the #GBNews HQ in Paddington, London”. As to Wootton, Ian Fraser was not persuaded. "Dan Wootton's opening rant was something else: I've not witnessed such a prolonged display of ignorance and bigotry on British TV before”.

Dipstick Dan then brought on Alan Sugar to pontificate, most likely believing his guest to be in tune with the Gammon Broadcasting™ zeitgeist. It did not go well. “This Alan Sugar interview isn't going according to plan … Wootton out of his depth here” observed one Tweeter. By yesterday, there was another problem. “Interesting spelling of freedom”.

The good news, though, is that there is a full list of advertisers available for those who want to lobby them over being associated with GB News. Moreover, “Kopparberg has suspended its ads with #GBNews 'pending further review of its content’”. There will be others. But a warning also needs to be sounded on how Ofcom is being played.

Sol Hughes cautioned “GB News is likely to get round Ofcom 'Balance' rules by having a stable of 'stooge' liberals as the 4th guests on their right-dominated chat shows”, giving a link to examples, something Dawn Foster confirmed. “They asked me repeatedly to so a weekly slot doing precisely that”. Dan Wootton already pulled that one on Sunday.

Not since Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse) made that claim has there been more transparently fraudulent pretence of impartiality. This is hard right propaganda.

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Sunday, 13 June 2021

Harry Cole Marr Whopper UNRAVELS

In yet another futile attempt to appease the Murdoch mafiosi, the BBC went into truly barrel-scraping mode this morning and allowed the odious flannelled fool Master Harry Cole, a pretend journalist who has been made political editor of the Sun, to appear as part of the paper review panel on The Andy Marr Show™. The result was all too predictable.

Claims to be a journalist. No, don't laugh

Cole, who is incalculably stupid - and equally dishonest - took an alleged news item from the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph under the headline “Macron triggers Johnson’s fury by by claiming Northern Ireland is not part of UK”. This, he proclaimed, was a diplomatic gaffe demonstrating how the dastardly foreigners didn’t understand the UK.

But, in true Cole style, or rather lack of it, the claim was not only not true, but was soon unravelling. Sadly, in the meantime, not only Marr, but also the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg, had allowed the claim to be passed off as fact. This enabled alleged Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to whimper that the EU was being “offensive”.

Raab went on to claim “Various EU figures here in Carbis Bay, but frankly for months now and years, have characterised Northern Ireland as somehow a separate country and that is wrong. It is a failure to understand the facts”, while Ms Kuenssberg, not for the first time, excused the behaviour of alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson by claiming that the Northern Ireland ruckus was not really a major topic of G7 conversation.

This excused Bozo and the Tories from having the BBC’s audience informed that just about every other leader at the G7 had ended up with little short of disdain for Bozo and his bluster. And all the while, no-one on the Marr Show so much as peeped at Master Cole using the Beeb to propagandise for the Government. Some clearly had short memories.

It was less than six years ago that Cole secured his first Sun front page lead: the story, claiming that then Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn would have to be sworn to the Privy Council on pain of his party losing its allocation of “Short Money” was totally untrue, and, yes, it was soon unravelling. And that’s what the Macron claim has now done.

The Elysée has, as Reuters has reported, told that “the prime minister queried how [Macron] would react if French courts prevented the shipment of Toulouse sausages to Paris … The president said that Toulouse and Paris were part of a single geographic area and that Northern Ireland was on an island … The president wants to highlight that the situation was quite different and that it wasn’t right to draw this kind of comparison”.

So the Telegraph claim was bunk - another former paper of record that now needs its supposed “news” coverage backed up by a reliable second source - and the BBC allowed Master Cole to talk well, but lie badly. Meanwhile, Bozo gets away with timing his press conference at the end of the G7 so that it clashes with England’s opening Euro game against Croatia. And our supplicant media class will let him get away with it.

This morning’s Marr Show, given the information which was most likely already there providing someone had asked the question, and which is now all too widely available, was not the BBC’s finest hour. That’s what you get for inviting an unprincipled liar to speak.

And it still won’t stop the Murdoch press trashing the Beeb. I’ll just leave that one there.

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The Clickbait And The Other Clickbait

And so we arrive at launch day for GB News, the new broadcast media entrant better known already as Gammon Broadcasting (“Bacon’s News Channel”), which claims not to be a UK copy of Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse), although, by mere coincidence you understand, it has modelled itself rather obviously upon FNC.

Demonstrating its British credentials, by being significantly funded from outside the UK, and having its lead presenter, former Murdoch editor Andrew Neil, located at his retreat in the south of France, the new channel has already let slip how it intends to attract viewers - by a mix of contrarianism, foreigner-bashing, Muslim bashing, and culture war clickbait.

Both the contrarianism and foreigner-bashing were revealed by “historian” Neil Oliver, the world’s worst Eric Cantona impersonator, who has told anyone not yet asleep that the lockdown response to the Covid-19 pandemic was “the biggest mistake in world history”, which demonstrates a magnificent disregard for history up until, er, maybe last week.

And like Brillo, he is well-versed in putting the boot in on the SNP, which has already played well with the Daily Brexit, still called the Express, but has been ridiculed by outlets like The National, where his historical revisionism also got short shrift. That, though, is to miss the point - which is to attract enough attention to get potential viewers to tune in.

The Muslim bashing was signalled after Ed Husain, formerly part of Quilliam along with Maajid Nawaz, made the claims reported by the Mail as “British towns that are no-go areas for white people”. Colin Brazier, now at GB News, took this one and ran with it. “As someone who grew up, and still has family in Bradford, the idea of parallel communities that - increasingly - have little in common rings painfully true”. And there was more.

Thanks to the tireless [Ed Husain] for shining a light onto a story that will shape all our futures”. So that’s the kind of guest that Brazier & Muroki will be inviting on. Then comes the culture war strand, but with a twist: footballers taking the knee before matches has been decreed a suitable target by GB News. But not just by mouthy white men.

As iNews has reported, “England fans who boo players taking the knee should not be dismissed as racist, Nana Akua, a leading presenter on GB News has claimed … [she] said some of those jeering England players were expressing disapproval of a ‘virtue-signalling’ gesture, rather than rejecting the campaign to drive out racism”. Do go on.

Ms Akua … told i: ‘I instinctively couldn’t support taking the knee because it was so closely linked to Black Lives Matter, which is clearly a far-left Marxist pressure group and political organisation’”. Except it has been pointed out, not least by England manager Gareth Southgate, and a host of current and former players, that it isn’t.

So now every not-really-racist-honestly can say “the black woman says we’re not racist, so BOOO! BOOO knee taking!!” Add that slice of attention seeking to Brillo’s determination to sneer “woke” at those who oppose his alleged “common sense” approach, and you have the GB News playbook revealed even before this evening’s first broadcast.

But there is a gulf between generating viral clickbait and monetising it sufficiently to keep a seriously expensive operation afloat. Especially if the advertisers begin to take flight.

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Saturday, 12 June 2021

The Sun Is Worthless

Today’s front page lead in the Super Soaraway Currant Bun tells you all you need to know about the fall from greatness of this once massively successful, profitable and indeed feared newspaper. “Don’t Let Covid Beat England … SHOCK & ROAR … Freedom day ‘delayed 4 weeks’ … Calls for fans to make more noise” it tells its remaining readers.

A confused front page, a non-exclusive ...

Under the by-line of the odious flannelled fool Master Harry Cole, who would not be able to identify journalism if it jumped up in front of him and kicked him in the undercarriage, is a story claimed as an “Exclusive”, but which was trailed by the Murdoch Times yesterday, and is also the lead item in both the Mail and Telegraph this morning.

The Sun’s so-called journalism nowadays relies on posh creeps like Master Cole pretending that they understand ordinary working people. Hence his reliance on “footie” instead of “football”, and talking about going down the pub, while he and his pals frequent upmarket cocktail dispensaries. This might wash if the paper made money. But it doesn’t.

... which was in yesterday's Times ...

News Corp Holdings UK and Ireland, which oversees News UK, which oversees News Group Newspapers, has posted its annual Report and financial statements for the year ending last June. And the news is particularly grim for the Sun, which lost an eye-watering £201 million for the year. As the Guardian noted, “It was not able to stem losses despite cutting sales and marketing costs by 40%, and cutting staff numbers from 605 to 546”.

So where’s the money going? "More than 80% of the Sun’s losses, about £164m, were one-off charges mostly related to phone hacking. They included £52m in fees and damages paid to civil claimants, double the £26m paid out in 2019, and a £26m in costs accounted for as ‘UK newspaper matters’”. Phone hacking was cheap. It staved off libel claims by enabling stories to be stood up. But down the road has come the reckoning.

... and today is in both the Telegraph ...

The Murdoch mafiosi don’t want any of those phone hacking claims to come to court; they pay upfront to get rid of claimants; the bills mount up. The Guardian also notes that “The Sun paid a substantial sum on Thursday to settle a phone-hacking claim brought by the former Liberal Democrat MP Simon Hughes, who claimed reporters wanting to out his sexuality had targeted him illegally”. There will be more. And the conclusion?

In the kind of news that Master Cole and his equally talentless colleagues will not be reporting, “[News Group Newspapers] wrote down [the Sun and Sun on Sunday’s] value to zero. The £84m non-cash ‘impairment of publishing rights’ essentially means the publisher does not believe the titles will return to positive growth”. One of old Fleet Street’s fattest cash cows has, in the Boston Consulting Group vernacular, become a mere dog.

... and the Mail

The Sun is no longer worth even publishing. Its continuing presence on news stands serves only as clickbait for other Murdoch group enterprises, and as a right-wing propaganda sheet. Many of those 546 staff are not receiving the obscenely inflated remuneration enjoyed by those at the top. But all are now candidates for the dole queue.

And one more question enters here: if the Sun is now worthless, what about the rest of old Fleet Street? After all, so many of them indulged in the illegal information gathering that has returned to bite the Murdochs where it really hurts - in their wallets. This may not signal the end of our free and fearless press. But you can see it from there.

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Friday, 11 June 2021

Sun Phone Hacking CONFIRMED

As all those lawsuits against the Murdoch mafiosi have come and gone, with all of them thus far being paid off before coming to court, the line taken by those in the Baby Shard bunker has been consistent: the late and not at all lamented Screws, they concede, did the phone hacking, but there was no corresponding admission concerning the Sun.

Simon Hughes - outed and smeared

So there was only rumour and suspicion: the Super Soaraway Currant Bun didn’t do it, honestly. But those who had worked in and around the Murdoch empire, and who knew a little about The Dark Arts, consistently asserted that the Sun had for some years followed the trail blazed by its former Sunday stablemate. And now has come the confirmation.

The latest revelations concern the outing of then Lib Dem MP Simon Hughes, by the Sun, in 2006 at the time he was running for the party leadership. That outing was set against the 1983 Bermondsey by-election, when Hughes first became an MP: his Labour opponent, Peter Tatchell, had been the target of a viciously homophobic media campaign.

As Byline Investigates has now reported, “In 2006, The Sun had found out phone numbers which the ex-Shadow Home Secretary called frequently, call times and durations … The sensitive data was bought from a notoriously illegal private investigator firm called ELI … ELI (Express Locate International) was a private detective company, which has been linked in other litigation to phone hacking, and which sold illegally-acquired private and personal information to newspapers across Fleet Street”. And the hack who ran the story?

You’ll love this one. “Rupert Murdoch’s top parliamentary journalist Trevor Kavanagh then outed the MP as gay … It is not known whether Kavanagh, who later went onto serve on the press regulator IPSO, knew that the story tip he was working on was derived from an unlawful private detective”. Didn’t he ask where the information came from? Tut tut.

What did she know and when did she know it?

The outcome was all too predictable. “In the middle of a leadership contest in January 2006, Trevor Kavanagh told Mr Hughes that they had obtained private and sensitive data, but did not reveal how … Based on this, the journalist said the paper was going to publish a story that Hughes had engaged in homosexual activities … Hughes ‘believed that with or without his agreement,’ The Sun would publish”. So he co-operated with the paper.

He felt that ‘he had no choice but to cooperate and this resulted in a front page article on January 26 2006’ … The story ended-up misrepresenting Hughes’ sexual orientation”. The article also notes “The way in which The Sun used the private data to manipulate Hughes into cooperating with the paper has been described by critics as ‘blackmail’”.

So who knew? ”ELI relayed the call data, which included a list of phone numbers called from Mr Hughes’ landline, to The Sun News Desk, which then passed it up the line to Sun bosses. The information was sent first to News Desk Executive James Clothier, who in turn informed his line manager, Head of News Chris Pharo [who] emailed this confidential call data to the Managing Editor Graham Dudman”.

The Sun’s editor at the time it ran Kavanagh’s outing of Hughes was Rebekah Brooks. It seems less than totally credible that she would have been kept out of the loop.

Simon Hughes concluded that “it went right to the top”. I’ll just leave that one there.

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Thursday, 10 June 2021

Biden Bollocks Bozo

The grownups have taken over in Washington DC, with Joe Biden getting on with overseeing hundreds of millions of Covid-19 vaccinations, getting the US economy moving, and ignoring the low moaning sound emanating from Combover Crybaby Donald Trump. This has begun to impact on the antics of alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson and his pals, and especially his Brexit negotiator David Frost.

Biden takes a particular interest in the Northern Irish peace process: any action that he perceives as endangering all those years of progress and stability meets with his disapproval. And ahead of the G7 summit at Carbis Bay in Cornwall, Bozo and Frostie have discovered that the disapproval has been ratcheted up to the max.

One would not always take the Murdoch Times on trust, but today’s FT has a lead story so similar that it confirms US irritation at the UK Government’s attempts to play fast and loose with a Brexit deal they signed less than six months ago. Attempts to ignore the provisions of the Northern Ireland Protocol will not get past Joe.

While the FT tells readers “Biden to pressure Johnson on ending bitter Northern Ireland stand-off … US fears for peace deal”, the Times goes much further: “US President ordered rare diplomatic rebuke for Government over Brexit customs row”. Do go on.

Yael Lempert, America’s most senior diplomat in Britain … said she had been told to take the step of issuing London with a démarche, a formal diplomatic reprimand seldom exchanged between two allies … Government minutes … reveal that Frost was told of Biden’s ‘great concern’ over his stance in a tense encounter at which [Ms] Lempert was said to have ‘slowly and gravely read her instructions … aloud’”. There was more.

She warned that the increasingly bitter dispute … over the protocol was ‘commanding the attention’ of Biden before his first bilateral meeting with Johnson today … the US ‘strongly urged’ Britain to come to a ‘negotiated settlement’, even if it meant ‘unpopular compromises’ … the US was increasingly concerned about the stalemate on implementing the protocol. This was undermining the trust of our two main allies””.

And the pill Frost and Bozo will have to swallow? “She said that if Britain accepted demands to follow EU agricultural standards, Biden would ensure that the matter ‘wouldn’t negatively affect the chances of reaching a US/UK free trade deal’”. Biden intends to raise his objections both in private with Bozo, and in public at the G7 summit.

Accept EU rules? But Brexit was all about taking back control! How dare those meddling Yanks stick their bugle in to OUR dispute with the dastardly Eurocrats! But while the likes of Nigel “Thirsty” Farage and his fellow Gammonistas work themselves into a state perilously close to spontaneous combustion, they need to bear one thing in mind.

The USA is a signatory to the Belfast Accords. So Joe Biden is duty bound to take any threat to the peace process seriously, and indeed act upon it if he deems it necessary. The EU will stand behind Ireland. And Bozo and Frostie will do as they are told.

As an EU member state, the UK had clout. Now, as it isn’t, it doesn’t. Sad, really.

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