The Samovar

Farewell to Blair
June 17, 2007, 10:31 pm
Filed under: Media, Politics

I was going to do a cartoon on Blair after reading about his criticism of the media. Having read his speech though, I’ve lost the will to do so. Most of what he says is actually quite good even if it does rankle knowing about his own hypocrisy and lies.

Still, this is too funny not to quote:

The result is a media that increasingly and to a dangerous degree is driven by “impact”… an impulsion towards sensation above all else.

… today’s media… is like a feral beast, just tearing people and reputations to bits.

Do read the full thing though, the quote above is funny but by selection conceals what is actually not a bad point.


However…there’s something pernicious underlying the speech. Yes, when the press stick their grubby little fingers into civilians’ lives, this is regarded as A Bad Thing. Press constraint would be popular. On the other hand the role of the press in a free society is to investigate the body politic. In an ideal world, they’d have free access – Freedom of Information, Open Government…basic honesty amongst politicians. We don’t have that, so the press have to go digging.

What Blair seems to be trying to do us conflate tabloid tittle-tattle with good, honest political muckraking. There’s a danger that righteous public indignation over the one will lead to suppression of the other. Now, politicians may come back and say “In that case, the press should get their own house in order.” Maybe. But note that the tabloid/celeb aspects are what sells papers, and successive governments have deliberately courted the big names who, as a side-effect of making money, can make or break politicians.

There’s clearly a blurred line between whether Jade Goody is in rehab, where Ruth Kelly sends her children to school and which corruption charges are and aren’t investigated. It seems to me taht Blair has his own reasons for wanting to blur it even further. (That last sentence is sounds comical in my native accent)

Comment by Edward the Bonobo

Oh…and here’s another reason to hate Alistair Campbell.

He’s contributed in the past to Mental Health Awareness Week, talking about his own depression. “Good for him!”, we might think…until we remember the evil cunt hounded a man to his death.

Comment by Edward the Bonobo

I think you’re right that we do have to be a bit suspicious when reading his speech, and his points about the problems with the media aren’t exactly the ones I’d have made, but when he talks about the problem that news has to have ‘impact’ to be printed or shown he’s on to something. It’s not a new or subtle point, but it’s a real issue and it contributes to an irrational public debate. Things like bird flu and terrorism get blown out of all proportion whereas much more serious ongoing problems like poverty are hardly talked about. He wouldn’t say it like this, but the increased commodification and marketisation of the press exacerbates this problem.

Comment by Dan | thesamovar

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