Bitch Bitching or Briefing Brownies?

Fink thinks Rosa Prince has blogged for the Telegraph a clever bit of speculation about Shaun Woodward’s limited career prospects. Kevin Maguire has been given the same steer from a Brownie as his former Mirror stablemate Rosa, so perhaps there is something in it other than “clever speculation”.

As Lobbybore asks in this blog’s comments, is the speculation actually firmly based on briefing, “or is the post from the Telegraph blog from dopey Rosa Prince motivated by malice? She used to slave away under the Mirror’s political editor Oonagh Blackman who now works as, you guessed it, a special adviser to Mr Woodward!” Guido would like to think it based on both bitching and briefing…

Incidentally, Guido lived for a few happy bachelor years in a luxury riverside apartment complex opposite parliament, the neighbours included spooks from Thames House opposite, Carol Vorderman, richer parliamentarians and security conscious Russians. Guido’s smugness with his panoramic pussy pad was dented when he discovered that the Woodwards had an apartment in the complex just for their butler, who serviced their £5 million penthouse duplex above him.

Blogging Brogan Applauds Disgraced Blunkett

Benedict Brogan on his blog quotes approvingly the disgraced Blunkett giving a speech to the assembled hordes of the Dead-Tree-Press at the What the Papers Say awards shindig. “Bloggers sometimes but rarely know what they are talking about, sometimes but rarely talk sense.” “Hear hear” says Brogan of the always sensible Daily Mail.

To get this into the proper perspective one should know that David Blunkett told the head of the Prison Service to call in the Army and “machine-gun” rioting inmates to regain control of a jail in 2002. Martin Narey, then director general, said the then Home Secretary told him he did not care about possible deaths during bids to retake Lincoln prison. This was at a time when the Daily Mail was lauding him as a great Home Secretary, but before he was exposed (by the Daily Mail) for fathering a son with another man’s wife, fiddling his expenses and fast-tracking for his mistress her nanny’s visa. All covered in detail on this blog…

Bye Bye Westmonster, Hello Whirlwind

We say farewell to Sadie at Westmonster. Her star shone bright briefly before Guido saw her off. Whatever happened to the Honourable Fiend?
We now say hello to another girly political gossip from the Westminster Whirlwind (a.k.a. Katy Taylor-Richards). Her new blog for the Express this week takes a look at some of Dessie Swayne’s moves.

They do say write about what you know…

Et Tu Maguire

Things must be really bad, Kevin Maguire is now channelling Guido and putting his pseudo-working-class boot in

…cheap stunts like shamefully pouring tea for Maggie Thatcher [don’t] look so clever when you’re in trouble and desperate for friends. Fair-weather right-wingers Brown wooed are long gone, firm backers he recklessly took for granted no longer prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt. Brown will pay dearly for repeating Tony Blair’s mistake, neglecting Labour’s core while pegging his big tent on the shifting sands of floating voters. A premier who unwisely blew then blew some more into an election bubble that burst his authority, looks dangerously clueless now the going’s got tough… Can you think of three good things to say at the moment about Brown’s Government? No, me neither.

Might be nearly time to back Labour at the bookies…

Stat-Porn : Give Guido the Crown Back Iain

Normal service has returned, Guido has got the crown back from Iain, with 305,624 unique visitors making 423,598 page loads last month. More people visited Guido than any other comparable political website.

The biggest referrers are (in order) Iain, ConservativeHome and PoliticalBetting. As Big Media becomes more blog-centric it is interesting to see how they are faring comparatively – it implies their relative traffic. The BBC is the biggest source of Big Media traffic from their politics pages and the Newsnight site. They are followed by the Times and the Speccie courtesy of Comment Central and Coffee House.

This suggests that Ben Brogan, Sky’s Boulton & Co and the Telegraph political blogs are critical but not box office successes – yet. For what it is worth, Guido suspects the Telegraph is making the same mistake that the Guardian made with CiF – too many bloggers. Successful blogs need strong personalities and a clear voice. Readers faced with multiple authors and too many choices of variable and unknown quality decide to click on what they know best, rather than waste time clicking on the unknown. There is a time cost to information overload even when “comment is free”.

The other pressing question is, are these blogs commerically sensible? Paying journalists to write on low traffic blogs is not a commercially sustainable model. Politics is not popular outside the political elite, far more people watch Sky Sports than Sky News, Murdoch runs the latter as a loss leader. With losses at the Guardian, Telegraph and Indy’s online operations continuing to mount without end, the penny will drop with proprietors eventually. Big Media can do it, can do it well even, but who will pay the elephant to dance?

On that note, Guido would like to thank his advertisers this month for their support and contribution to profits.

Amazon – The Bumper Book of Labour Sleaze will fit in a Christmas stocking.
Anne Summers – Get your sexy Christmas stockings, and something for her as well.
Argos Online – They deliver toys.
Backlash – Kinky libertarians.
Betfair – Clegg or Huhne? Place your bets.
18 Doughty Street – See you next year in your new form.
eBay – For everything.
Hamleys – Forgotten that present for your Godchild?
La Senza – Christmas is coming.
Laithwaites – Booze to the door.
Lastminute – Go Ski, go Caribbean.
Norwich Union – Socially responsible, unlike Guido.
Total Recall – That Alastair Darling ad was the best of the month.
War on Want – Have a right on, ethical winter festival.
Westminster Live – Studios overlooking Parliament.

To advertise on this and many other fine political sites contact MessageSpace.co.uk on 020 7107 2280.

Sun’s Clever Trevor Now Predicts Brownies Doomed

Trevor Kavanagh is the sage of Wapping. Today his regular Monday Sun column says definitively

“Gordon will never govern in his own right as an elected Prime Minister.”

Trevor Kavanagh appears to have done an about turn. Cast your mind back a few months (Monday, July 23rd) Kavanagh told us equally confidently that

“Gordon Brown is going to win—and win big. In the process he will likely set Labour up for a fifth term and 20 unbroken years of socialism.

Guido suspects that Mystic Meg’s job on the Sun is safe…

Now Indy Plagiarises Entire Blog Concept

Guido has just noticed that the Indy has a new blog, Open House. The distinctively chocolate coloured blog has a certain familiarity about it, running a daily “pick of the commentators”. It is early days but it must be somewhat disappointing that the posts are comment free. Post after post has “0 Comments”. Clearly nobody is reading the blog.

Why should they? The Open House blog is a complete rip-off of the format of Danny Finkelstein’s Comment Central blog, which lists comment from The Times and then comment from other papers. His team do it somewhat better and more comprehensively, which might explain why one of their posts got 1000 comments. The Indy is really going through a poor patch, cutting ‘n pasting government press releases for the front cover and stealing ideas from rivals which it then executes inferiorly. Sad…

Not Clever, Not Confident

Sir Michael White @ 10.06 on the Guardian website

Did you hear Admiral Lord West, GB’s newly-recruited security minister on Radio 4’s Today, scene-setting for the PM’s security statement to MPs? He is supposed to be an amateur politician, a refugee from the hearties at the MoD. Yet he was clever and confident. He ducked all the tricky questions without sounding naff or cross, and he said he wasn’t yet persuaded of the need to extend the 28-day pre-charge detention option.

Turned out to be a little less “clever and confident” later in the day didn’t he? He was very quickly persuaded…

Dacre’s last Days?

Paul Dacre has been off work for the last three weeks with “gastric flu” (trans. his heart condition is playing up). In fact his absences this year have been numerous. Rumours are flying around that the dark days of the Dacre regime may be coming to an end at the Daily Mail. The colony of ex-Mail hacks at the Telegraph is speculating feverishly that an announcement could be made as early as next week. Dacre would they believe be moved upstairs, keeping all perks, as is the tradition since Sir David English.

Betting is that his replacements could either be Peter Wright (editor of the Mail on Sunday) or Veronica Wadley (editor of the Evening Standard). Peter Wright’s MoS has been the scourge of Gordon with barely a week passing without Labour being lambasted on the front-page. Veronica Wadley is also known as Mrs Bower, her husband Tom being the author of an unauthorised biography of Gordon Brown which the Brownies regard as a hatchet job.

Gordon will be further depressed by either outcome, after cultivating and bending towards Dacre’s special world view for so long and at such cost, it seems tragically likely that his great ally in the right-wing press will no longer be in a position to boost him. The end of the Dacre regime will be particularly welcomed by Cameroons who have not appreciated the sniping from their right flank. Gordon’s luck really has run out…

New Media versus Old Media

The news that the Telegraph lost £10m last year encourages Guido to believe that in the coming years the truth will slowly dawn on loss making media moguls. Comment is just a click away. Good quality comment is free of charge at places like ConservativeHome, PoliticalBetting and UK Polling Report. The value of your paper pundits will therefore decrease to zero. The “we know best” gatekeeper mentality just won’t do.

To all those media executives shaking their heads, don’t forget that this blog is more profitable than the Telegraph, Independent and Guardian combined. Better value for readers as well…

[See also Henry Blodget’s fisk of a speech from AP’s Tom Curley.]

Stephen Glover was one of the founders of the Indy and he still writes a weekly media column for the paper. All credit to him for this morning in his column covering and criticising the editor of the paper for Indy-gate. Some thought it amusing that it had been unmentioned in his column of last week. (Guido did inquire of Glover if he would be covering it when it went without comment).

“You can’t expect him to criticise his own editor in the paper” Guido was told by other hacks. Well he did. Independent? Glover is.

Dacre Officially Enters Gordon’s Tent

In what many think is designed to provide Dacre with a “public service” excuse for his peerage, Gordon has appointed him to oversee a review of the 30 Year Secrecy Rule.

Dacre’s other public services; warning the public about gypsies, immigrants, alco-pops and such-like are deemed not good enough to earn him the ermine. Guido thinks editors should sup with politicians with a long spoon, getting in their tent and having a cozy breakfast in the morning with them is unwise. Perhaps it was secrecy that they discussed over the breakfast kippers

Is the email working at the Indy? The phones definitely seem to be playing up, last time Guido called to talk to Andy Grice the line went dead. So just in case Guido’s email to him on Monday went astray, here it is for him to read here:

From Guy Fawkes
To a.grice@independent.co.uk
Date Oct 22, 2007 12:52 PM
Subject Hi ya

Andy,

Obviously this issue about the recycled FCO briefing is of great interest. I have two quick questions.

Could you give me an on the record quote as to how you independently verified the truth of the FCO briefing?

Can you confirm that you have never recycled for publication a press briefing verbatim in the past?


Guido Fawkes Esq.

Of course if another example of Grice recycling press briefings and passing it off as journalism were to be found, it would be a bit of a personal disaster for his reputation and credibility. He wouldn’t have done that, would he?

Incidentally, in the U.S. the National Review has picked up on Indy-gate. Well, you know how stuffy Americans can be about journalistic integrity.

Indy-Gate Scandal at Independent

The Indy-gate scandal is gathering momentum in the media following Kelner’s un-apology.
  • Dan Hannan in the Telegraph is derisory about the Indy’s misinformation.
  • Roy Greenslade in his widely read (by hacks) Guardian blog returns to the issue for a second time.
  • James Forsyth over at the Speccie’s CoffeeHouse wonders “What would The Independent say if another newspaper had done the same on Iraq?”
  • Iain Dale doesn’t think this over yet. “Not by a long way.” Nor does Guido.
  • Melanie Phillips thinks Indy-gate “a practice associated with the unfree press in totalitarian societies. Once again, the blogosphere has shown its power to hold the mainstream media sharply to account and inflict real damage to its reputation.”
150_not_indyThe newspaper’s readers surely deserve to know the truth. Is it now the editorial policy of the Independent to reprint lengthy government press releases word-for-word if Andy Grice* agrees with them? Shouldn’t the Indy flag up when it is re-printing government press releases – “This information was supplied by the government, we are reprinting it in its entirety on the front page because we agree with it.” Perhaps a little “Government Approved” logo would suffice?

*According to Simon Kelner “what we printed was a collection of facts, which our political editor independently verified.”

Indy-gate : Issue is About Journalistic Ethics, Not the EU

The Indy’s editor-in-chief Simon Kelner, attempting to defend the reprinting of an FCO press briefing as original journalism, claimed that “The Eurosceptics, who have monopolised this debate for so long, appear to be shooting the messenger because they don’t like the message… I am completely unapologetic about our attempt to explode the myths that have been allowed to develop in what has been an extremely one-sided debate…”.
This is an attempt to distract from the substantive issue – which is a question of journalistic ethics. No one can accuse the Indy of being one-sided on the issue, they have laughably flipped and flopped on the referendum issue:

18 June – a leader calling for a referendum, “The question is whether or not a package of fairly weighty changes that will undoubtedly affect Europe’s shape and destiny should – in this country at any rate – be decided in a referendum. The answer is simple: it should and it must.”25 June – a leader opposing a referendum,

“Having dangled the prospect of a referendum last week, Mr Brown was right to bat it smartly away.”12 September – a leader calling for a referendum,

“The case against a vote on the treaty is weak. The Government’s argument that the new European treaty is significantly different from the European Constitution that was rejected by Dutch and French voters in 2005 is unconvincing. The name may have changed but it is essentially the same document on which Tony Blair promised a national plebiscite shortly before the last general election… This newspaper wants a referendum for different reasons.. Rather than trying to evade the moment of truth, Mr Brown should concentrate his energies and those of his Government on campaigning for a yes vote.”18 October – the piece

cut ‘n pasted from the FCO briefing opposing a referendum.Source : OpenEurope.org

Kelner’s credibility on this is zero. We can completely ignore the Indy’s position on the EU Referendum, it is as irrelevant as it is changeable.In America, where journalists take professional ethics more seriously, there would be resignations if a journalist plagiarised a government briefing wholesale. The substantive issue here is not whether the Indy is for or against a referendum, it is whether the Indy is a credible source of honest independent journalism, or a rag which reprints press releases uncritically. Which is it? Indy readers have a right to know if they are being peddled government spin as independent journalism on the front page.

Indy-gate : Fax Over A Press Release -If It Is True, We’ll Put It On the Front Page

The Indy’s editor-in-chief, Simon Kelner has finally given a comment to the Guardian :

“What we printed was a collection of facts, which our political editor independently verified. The source doesn’t really make a material difference. What matters is whether those facts are accurate or not. And no one, as far as I can see, is doubting the truth of what we printed.”

Neil O’Brien, who spotted Indy-gate, is not so sure about the somewhat partial “facts”. The only sure fact is that a government press release was presented to Indy readers as original journalism. It wasn’t original, it wasn’t journalism. It was almost word-for-word a reprint of a government briefing.

The paper’s staff might be embarrassed, but Kelner should be ashamed – he has discredited the name “The Independent”.

Comrade Maguire’s Obsessive Maggie Death Fantasy

The Mirror’s Kevin Maguire has a pseudo-working-class-warrior writing style requiring him to always refer to “Druggy Dave” the Bambi-killing Etonian toff. His incisive analysis of the political dynamic clearly owes a lot to a youthful close reading of the Beano. In his columns he talks down to his readers in a patronising style that assumes Mirror readers are stupid in a manner that, by way of contrast, Richard Littlejohn would never dream of doing. It is not a style that he uses in the Guardian or the New Statesman. It is all good knock-about stuff, Maguire is after all a Labour party propagandist first and a journalist second. He is, without doubt, far better at the former than the latter.

His pathological hatred of the Tories becomes totally unhinged when it comes to Margaret Thatcher. Time and time again he shares his death fantasies with readers. Today again, under the pretext of a theatre review, he reminds us that he will celebrate her death. He describes her as a harridan who should not be afforded a state funeral. His poisonous “death to class enemies” attitude reveals all you need to know about Kevin Maguire’s politics and nature. In another time and place you sense that as a commissar he would have happily dealt out revolutionary justice to class enemies – with a bullet.

Dacre’s Breakfast with Brown

Guido overheard last night a smirking Labour MP boasting that Paul Dacre, editor of the Daily Mail, had breakfast with Gordon yesterday. Which perhaps explains the discordant leader comment this morning. It actually praises Darling’s tax and spending plans.
Guido understands that Dacre told a rebellious editorial meeting yesterday “I couldn’t give a toss what you lot think.” Lord Rothermere, the Mail’s owner, on the other hand might well give a toss. Particularly in view of the recent circulation slide…

Mirror’s “Red” Rosa Joins the Daily Labourgraph

After the virtual collapse of the Telegraph’s political team, the new direction the Telegraph is taking will have traditional readers choking on their toast. The latest hire is Rosa Prince from the Mirror. She will, says the Telegraph, add a “new dimension” to their reporting.

You bet she will if previous form is anything to go by…

The Daily Labourgraph

The Telegraph is a shadow of what it used to be, it was the unofficial house journal of the Conservative Party. Of late it has changed complexion, it is seems no longer a critical friend but a hostile enemy of Dave’s party.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

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Quote of the Day

Scruton reflects on Twitter’s vigilantes…

“We in Britain are entering a dangerous social condition in which the direct expression of opinions that conflict – or merely seem to conflict – with a narrow set of orthodoxies is instantly punished by a band of self-appointed vigilantes. We are being cowed into abject conformity around a dubious set of official doctrines and told to adopt a world view that we cannot examine for fear of being publicly humiliated by the censors. This world view might lead to a new and liberated social order; or it might lead to the social and spiritual destruction of our country. How shall we know, if we are too afraid to discuss it?”

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