O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us; To see oursels as ithers see us!
The words of Robert Burns were never more truly spoken than when directed towards our free and fearless press. Indeed, when those who scrabble around the dunghill that is Grubstreet do see how others see them, they are exceedingly reluctant to take the hint.
Cripes chaps, that foreigner rumbled me!
Worse, they are equally reluctant to admit their complicity in the increasingly authoritarian behaviour of alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson and his coterie of ineptitude: indeed, for most of them, Bozo is not to be questioned, but cheered on, whatever the policy, whatever the result. The move that should have seen our media class stop and think concerned a potentially swingeing cut of Civil Service numbers.
Tim Shipman - dismissive
After Beth Rigby of Sky News told “Have it from 2 senior sources that [Cabinet] Office about to do a write round to all permanent secretaries to ask them to model headcount reductions in their departments of 20% 30% & 40%. This follows calls from PM for 20% reduction in staff - 90,000 people - across Whitehall”, one onlooker said what she thought.
Iain Dale - yet more dismissive
Annette Dittert, bureau chief for German broadcaster ARD, responded “Everyone in Britain still acts as if this was a normal government. Instead it is a project of deliberate destruction, of laws, of institutions, of anything that stands in the way of a PM who just doesn’t want to be held to account”. She was right. But the press didn’t want to listen.
Tim Shipman of the Murdoch Sunday Times was one of those not prepared to take reality on board. “More unbiased reporting from our German colleagues. I don't know a single British reporter who would tweet something like this”. Sneering dismissal. And a total lack of awareness of why “a single British reporter” would not say “something like this”.
He was not alone: Iain Dale of LBC followed Shippers’ sneering dismissal, and raised him a few chips of defensive, judgmental whataboutery. “Nice to see you cover our politics in such an impartial, unbiased way. Perhaps turn your fire on your own government's lack of leadership over Ukraine and its craven attitude to Russia. Shameful”. That’s quite some brass neck, given the amount of Russian influence in the Tory Party right now.
At least the responses didn’t include “Two World Wars and One World Cup”, but give it time. Ms Dittert’s point was well made: outlawing peaceful protest, encroachment on human rights, leaning on the Police to investigate opponents, demonisation of lawyers and the judiciary, forced media sell-off for no other reason than vindictive spite, off-the-scale misuse of taxpayer funds, and tacit encouragement of a Prime Ministerial support cult.
Some of that misuse of funds was, by the belated confession of former chief Downing Street polecat Dominic Cummings, expended as sweeteners to that very same media class that is now responding to Ms Dittert with “Fingers in ears, La La La, I can’t hear you”. As Cummings put it, “the newspapers negotiated direct bungs to themselves with him, no officials on calls, then he told officials to send the £ -- dressed up as 'covid relief’”.
Ms Dittert told Dale “You should know that it’s not mutually exclusive to criticise your own government (which I have done extensively if you had read any of my tweets) and realise what’s going wrong in another one”. But whether Dale was listening is doubtful.
The Tweeter known as Steve Analyst observed “Weird how journalists in this country rarely ever call out journalists in this country, but suddenly tonight it's open season on a non-British journalist who had the nerve to question the UK. Our journalism industry is a disgrace”. When Nick Davies, formerly of the Guardian, did call out the tabloids on phone hacking, he was ostracised and denounced. Piers Morgan called him “Judas”.
When SNP MP Mhairi Black addressed the Commons this week and warned that the UK is sliding towards fascism, the press mostly ignored her. The same press that is so heavily invested in The Adoration Of The Boris. One of theirs is in Downing Street. They are right about everything, and so must he be. For them it is one big jolly game.
This is not a cult ...
And what sport it is! Climate change is real? Quick, hire someone who says it isn’t! Someone is so poor they have to travel round on a bus all day to keep warm? Quick, have them investigated and smeared! The EU? Get someone to denounce it! Yes, even Brexit is part of that game. They can always gaslight and ostracise anyone who dissents.
... not a cult at all
There are fewer journalists with any specialist expertise, but this too is not a problem. Denounce experts! Wait for a press release from an Astroturf lobby group! Job Done! Tell the readers what is good for them! Tell them what to think! Demonise any information source that might make them knowledgeable! All power to the Boris!
(c) Martin Rowson 2016
Perhaps - just perhaps - there are some in the media class who know they are aiding and abetting a project of national self-harm, an exercise in increasingly authoritarian rule, a Government based on narcissism, corruption and dishonesty, a country now regarded by others as an object of ridicule, a pariah state, increasingly a basket case.
Lockdown? What lockdown?
But any such realisation is kept quiet: the Mafia-like control exercised by proprietors - like Rupert Murdoch - and managerial tyrants like the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre keeps those with access to the media megaphone cowed and compliant.
But don't step out of line, Rupe's listening
In the USA, Combover Crybaby Donald Trump was removed before he got the chance to totally foul up the country. The Johnson cult is now busying itself making damn sure that doesn’t happen here. Bozo doesn’t want to be accountable, and nor do his ministers. And he wants to stay in power, especially if he can do so without actually doing any work. That is what our media class is there to facilitate. While brooking no criticism from others.
And don't f***ing cross me, c***
That is why Annette Dittert was so viciously shouted down. She should not be surprised if the practitioners of The Dark Arts are now turned on her, such is the press’ sickness.
After all, there has to be someone to blame for our ills. And it won’t be the press.
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