Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Budget Bluff

There has been an extraordinary amount of pre-briefing of this budget, allegedly because of the necessity of the coalition’s components lobbying for their policies out in the open. The pundit class has been confidently staking out their “informed” takes on the budget. Guido can’t help noticing that different papers are saying different things will happen on the 50p top rate. For example The Guardian’s  Patrick Wintour splashed on the front page that the rate will be cut to 40p and The Telegraph is reporting it will be cut to 45p. Do the pundits really know or are they just, y’know, bluffing?

If Osborne really wanted to wrong-foot the two Ed’s response, he could just leave it at 50p for now…

Monday, February 20, 2012

Michael Woolf is a Busted Flush

Since last summer, self-proclaimed Murdoch expert and Vanity Fair contributing editor Michael Woolf has been telling anyone that would listen that this was the end for his nemesis. For some reason he’s gone very quiet. Guido was gently teasing him over the weekend about his prediction that James Murdoch would have been forced out by the end of July 2011, but it was Friday’s performance on Sky News that has shattered his already tarnished reputation:

The media pundit’s money quote was:

“No I do not think we will see a Sun on Sunday, not now, not ever.”

Oops. Time to let it go Michael…

 

By the way, has anyone else notice he’s slowly morphing into his muse?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

We’re Off, But Before We Go

Guido is, Aer Lingus allowing, off to the home country this weekend and Neo-Guido is off to Russia, so there is not likely to be anything posted this weekend. Nevertheless Guido is sure co-conspirators will enjoy passing the time reading Toby Young’s patient and fair-minded shredding of Mehdi Hasan’s Debt Delusion, available for £1.79 from Amazon. It is worth enriching Mehdi in a small way to enjoy how his forcefully made assertions have unravelled as the Eurozone debt crisis has worsened. Mehdi’s central claims have been shown by the worsening debt crisis to be false within months of being made.

In the piece Toby notably draws attention to argumentative Mehdi’s often used trick of appealing to the authority of others to back up his opinions, committing the classic fallacy of argumentum ad verecundiam. Guido suspects that is because Mehdi is not confident that his argument stands alone on its own shaky foundations. Toby doesn’t mention thin-skinned Mehdi’s other trait, which reflects badly on him, of just dismissing an argument because someone he finds disagreeable makes it. He will describe the opponent’s argument as “hysterical” or “desperate” when in reality it is just contrary to his own. Mehdi does the converse of argumentum ad verecundiam when he seeks confirmation by disapprobation, dismissing an opposing argument because the proponent is someone he holds in disdain. Mehdi should resist his tendency to do this and take on Toby’s critique head-on.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Friday, October 21, 2011

Despair on the Left

Gaddafi provided support over the years to not just the IRA but a rag-bag of left-wing fringe groups. There were many on the left who were not keen on taking on the tyrant in Tripoli. The New Statesman’s Mehdi Hasan was lamenting the dictator’s demise and the “imperialist war” waged by the West last night. That kind of thinking is common on the left.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Chris Bryant Replaces Richard Ingrams at the Indy

Guido has a sense that the Indy has, post-Hari, improved under the new editor Chris Blackhurst, the news values seem to have sharpened up a bit. It is somewhat questionable however that it is really as free from proprietorial interference as it claims on the masthead. Chris Bryant seems to have replaced Richard Ingrams as an Indy columnist, sadly his column isn’t quite as good as Ros Taylor’s parody of him, over which he threatened to sue the Guardian. Coincidentally Chris is a friend of Lebedev’s son Evgeny and was at a recent dinner party with the oligarch’s offspring. Evgeny “speaks regularly” to Chris Blackhurst, no doubt about the weather…

It is also said that the new editor is looking at the cost of the strip cartoon by Sally Ann Lasson. The current editor doesn’t find her as funny as the old editor Simon Kelner did, but then he is married to Sally…

Elsewhere the Telegraph is said to be contemplating hiring the Guardian’s feminist writer Tanya Gold for their political team. It would never have happened in Heffer’s day…

Thursday, September 15, 2011

FT Editor Wants to Tax and Regulate Guido

The FT’s cerebral editor Lionel Barber gave the Fulbright Lecture last night about media matters of concern to the chatterati (The Future of News and Newspapers in the Digital Revolution). Barber joins the chorus for a Media Standards Commission, with teeth, to replace the discredited Press Complaints Commission.

Of interest to Guido was that he wants the regulator’s remit to cover blogs:

Should the new system embrace new media such as the Huffington Post UK or individual political bloggers such as Guido Fawkes?  My answer is Yes, not simply in the interests of a level playing field but also because the distinction between old and new media are rapidly becoming meaningless in the new digital eco-system.  New media is moving into reporting. Old media is blogging and tweeting, and using social media to promote and distribute news and analysis around the world.

If bloggers don’t cooperate he wants “a statutory levy on advertising revenues for non-participants, with such levies being used to fund the new body”. Good luck with that, because it will require some extra-territorial innovations in international law. It is never going to happen, you’ll have to prise the keyboard out of Guido’s cold dead hands…

 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Andrew Pierce Goes All Hari On Us

Guido has often highlighted the magpie tendencies of Mail columnist Andrew Pierce. He has been known to shamelessly lift content from this blog, now however after regular highlighting of this habit, he has stopped. It seems however that Andrew has found new pastures for “inspiration”. Pierce writes today:

The excellent BBC Radio 4 series The Reunion brought together five past pupils of The Courtauld Institute Of Art, whose most famous director, Sir Anthony Blunt, was sensationally exposed as a  Soviet spy.The former Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures was unmasked by Margaret Thatcher’s government as a member of the notorious 1950s Cambridge spy ring. Blunt’s pupils told listeners that they were worried Blunt would be remembered not as an  art historian but as a spy. Most people, surely, will remember him for what he really was — a traitor.

Which strangely reads just like a letter from yesterday’s Telegraph:

The Blunt fact

SIR – A group of worthies on Radio 4’s The Reunion were concerned that Anthony Blunt may be remembered not as an art historian, but as a spy.
They need not worry. Although his Soviet controller was indeed a spy, Blunt himself was not.
He was a traitor.

Jon Ball
Dronfield, Derbyshire

At first Guido thought this was just a coincidence, but then he had a look at some of the other snippets that would have been filed after lunch yesterday. Pierce writes:

The ludicrous Sally Bercow has entered the Big Brother House. What are the odds now on her husband soon being evicted from the Speaker’s House?

A good point, well made, in Saturday’s Telegraph:

Housemates

SIR – Sally Bercow has entered the Big Brother house. The smart money is now on her husband being evicted from the Speaker’s House.

John Axon
Petts Wood, Kent

As a previous Assistant Editor of the Telegraph, Andrew should know about the audience crossover with the Mail…

Sunday, July 10, 2011

World’s End Shouldn’t Cost Freedom of the Press

Guido has read the News of the World since he was a paperboy in West London over 30 years ago. Those who don’t read it think “The Screws” is all titillation, randy vicars and soap stars. It is that and also great popular campaigning journalism at its best, reflecting the concerns of people other than Islington Indy readers.

Politicians, the corrupt and evil feared it, today is a good day for them. Unfortunately when the drive to get the story crossed over into illegally hacking the phones of victims of tragedies, the good guys became bad guys. It has always been the case that the best stories often have a dubious legal provenance involving deception, subterfuge or law breaking, that is done to get at the truth that wrongdoers are hiding. Investigative journalists everywhere, including this blog, do it because it is the only way to get the truth. Using the dark arts to sell more newspapers with ghoulish tales is, as many have said, disgusting and unacceptable.

Momentum is building for press regulation, politicians of all parties are keen to tame the feral press. Public opinion is shifting towards them. This would be a mistake. The rich and the powerful in this country would like nothing better than to have a craven and beholden press. In many countries this is exactly what they have and ordinary people are worse off for it. Privacy laws are a trojan horse for censorship.

Privacy from intrusion by the state or journalists who break the law by stealing photographs, hacking, climbing over the wall into your back garden, that should be protected. Privacy laws should not be a means to hide embarrassment for those who can afford to hire Schillings. That way lies an untouchable ruling elite.

In the end Murdoch closed the News of the World because he feared an advertiser and consumer boycott (plus to try take the heat off the Sky takeover). If you disapprove of a newspaper don’t buy and read it. That is simply the most powerful restraint you have on newspaper proprietors in a free democracy. Even Rupert Murdoch fears his customers.

Restrictive press laws will be circumvented in the borderless internet age, however Guido would rather not have to try to expensively fight the good fight from permanently offshore. Meantime Guido wishes both his friends and enemies at The Screws the best of luck for the future. Oh, and thanks for paying the kids’ school fees.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Oborne Flip Flops Again


Yesterday Peter Oborne in The Telegraph blasted Cameron for being in the sewer with Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson and James Murdoch. It was a terrific piece that Guido and everyone in the Westminster politico-media Village enjoyed immensely. Tim Montgomerie reminded us that it was just over a month ago that Oborne thought Cameron was on the verge of attaining “heroic status”.  Guido is second to none in admiration for Oborne, his books The Triumph of the Political Class and The Rise of Political Lying are the most compelling analyses of the failings of the British political class and client media. If he has a failing it is that he is a man who hopes for better and expects better of our political class, it is this that leads him to lavish praise on politicians whom he has high hopes for, thus he lauded praise on Cameron and then when Cameron, inevitably, disappointed him he turned and lashed him. When it comes to this hope and disappointment cycle he has previous.

At the begining of the Brown premiership when David Miliband mulled over a coup he wrote an article explaining Why none of them are fit to fill Gordon Brown’s shoes, in which he argued thatThe Labour Party’s only hope is to rally behind the man it idolised for so long when he was Chancellor”. Within a year he was warning of Brown’sHubris, hoopla and claims that were false, cynical and very, very dangerous“, calling Gordon Brown a cynical, dishonest liar. Quite a volte face.

Oborne gets into this situation because he wants to think the best of men, Guido on the other hand starts with the view that politicians are probably lying or crooked, or at least venal. This policy towards politicians makes for fewer about turns.


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