Robert Murdoch threatened the monopoly of the BBC…and boy are they taking the rope now that one of his companies were caught with their pants down. But as Simon Jenkins at The Guardian writes, when does this become more than just reporting? When does this become a hysterical sideshow?
Britain has gone mad, or at least the tiny patch of Britain round Westminster. The Pentagon would call it a clusterfuck, an all-embracing, uncontrollable chain reaction that appears unable to cease. The new ecstasy theorists call it “whooshing”, when reason loses out to passion, and thought to imagination. As after the death of Princess Diana, every politician and commentator cries: “The world will never be the same again.” The world usually is.
Today Rupert Murdoch and his son were summoned before parliament, and gave an eerie performance as an ageing father who had vaguely heard his son had done something regrettable in the family woodshed. Meanwhile the British prime minister, David Cameron, was forced to return from a foreign trip, like a tottering dictator called home by the politburo. The country’s top policeman and top counter-terrorism cop were forced into resignation. Two government judicial inquiries have been set up. Two commons committees are in continuous session. The police are everywhere. Journalists and MPs are lying on the floor, kicking their legs in the air with glee.
Has anyone been murdered? Has anyone been ruined? Is the nation gripped by financial crash or pandemic, earthquake or famine? Are thousands homeless or millions impoverished? A squalid surveillance of the sort long conducted by the tabloid press went beyond what in this business is laughably called good taste and constituted a crime.
That everyone knew journalists and the police were engaged in petty barter does not make it acceptable, let alone legal. Nor is it edifying to know how far politicians and editors are in and out of each other’s houses. But it is not the fall of the Berlin Wall or the Nuremberg trials. The downtrodden are not marching against their great satan, Rupert Murdoch, “the most evil man in the world” as reported by the BBC Today programme. They are more likely mad at losing their favourite paper. There is a limit to how much significance any event can carry without imploding into daft hysteria.
Oh, it’s beyond daft hysteria now.
UK military report on Afghanistan. “How much time have you given this report today?”… Silence.
Or how about the news that the European Union is on the verge of collapse?
EU leaders would like to confine their summit to the details of debt buy-backs or “selective defaults” for Greece, or cuts in the penal rate on rescue packages, but the crisis is once again a step ahead of politicians. Fear that Italy and Spain may be tipping into double-dip recessions as global growth falters has changed the landscape, threatening the debt dynamics of both countries.
The International Monetary Fund said there is now “serious risk” of eurozone contagion with “large” potential knock-on effects worldwide. “Market participants remain unconvinced that a sustainable solution is at hand,” it said.
Suki Mann from Societe Generale caught the mood in a note to clients, asking whether it is “all over”. “Eurozone politicians don’t – or don’t want to – understand that the eurozone as we know it is on the precipice. Greece appears beyond repair, Italy is on the brink, and the chances are that the euro might be no more very soon,” he said.
…”We are approaching the endgame for this part of the European sovereign crises: the number of cans that now need kicking down the road would challenge the left foot of Lionel Messi,” said Gary Jenkins from Evolution Securities. “The chances are that the EU will only take the step of fiscal union or common bond issuance at one minute to midnight on a weekend when it is clear that the system is close to collapse.”
Naw…what’s to worry about, the money will be found somewhere. I mean come on, we have news that reporters were getting tips from the police and that some phones were hacked.
Now THAT’S important. War? Collapse of the European Union?
More Richard North:
…there has been far more media coverage today than was given in the newspapers to the outbreak of the Second World War.
Yesterday, incidentally, was the 71st anniversary of Hitler’s “Last Appeal to Reason” speech in Berlin, addressed to the British people in the hope that they would force their government to “see sense” and sue for peace. I don’t know if there is a foreign dictator up to doing the job now (appealing for reason), but he would be wasting his time, I fear. In 1940, reason prevailed – contrary to Hitler’s expectations. It has now departed.
…I dunno if everyone is like this, but I always have the greatest difficulty recalling what I say when I broadcast, but I am pretty sure the words “fantasy” and “bubble” passed my lips. In particular, I spoke the single issue obsessions in the media – that while the entire media was peering obsessively under one stone, hundreds of other stones were left unturned.
The phrase “lost it” also may have escaped once or twice. However important it might be as a story, this one is not so important that it should be reported almost to the exclusion of all else.
And while they exclude reporting on more important stories, they have also decided to exclude opposing ideas:
Opponents of global warming should be given less coverage by the BBC than the climate change lobby, the corporation will rule.
The BBC is set to publish a report tomorrow on its science output announcing changes to rules on impartiality.
Following the overhaul, programme makers and broadcasters will be compelled to give less prominence to those who oppose the scientific community’s majority view.
According to the Daily Telegraph, the report draws heavily on an independent review of BBC coverage by Steve Jones, a professor of genetics at University College London.
Now that’s reporting!
You see…government run media conglomerates really do care about impartiality. Because we all know how censoring certain facts, ideas and thoughts is what makes a media outfit impartial.
No wonder these outfits are facing extinction.