Benedict Brogan writes paradoxically…
“Britain’s bond yields are the sheet anchor keeping us afloat in the storm.”
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.
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…
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…
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.
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:
SIR – Sally Bercow has entered the Big Brother house. The smart money is now on her husband being evicted from the Speaker’s House.
Petts Wood, Kent
As a previous Assistant Editor of the Telegraph, Andrew should know about the audience crossover with the Mail…
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.
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 that “The 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’s “Hubris, 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.
Dylan Jones, editor of GQ, is telling people that Johann Hari was dropped from writing for the magazine because he concocted copy that mixed fact and fiction. You don’t say…
Elsewhere more left-wing men of letters are breaking cover and saying openly what they have been muttering over the olive ciabatta in Hampstead and Islington. Martin Bright, who was an Orwell Prize judge this year, has come down hard tempered with mercy. In a tone which echoes Guido’s headmasters before a caning he writes:
Simply put, Johann Hari has let the side down. Several sides in fact. He has let down his fellow journalists, he has let down fellow liberals and he has let down the Orwell Prize… I feel a genuine sympathy for him on a personal level. There is something psychologically peculiar about attributing quotes in the way he did. And now through his arrogance he has drawn his editor and the Orwell Prize into this appalling mess. Johann Hari has disgraced himself. The Orwell Prize must come to its own decision about his prize. I hope his career survives this because he would be a loss to journalism. But if anyone is to believe what he writes in future he has to stop making excuses and simply explain his mystifying behaviour, honestly and openly. That is a piece I would read.
Elsewhere the novelist Jeremy Dun demands Hari admit he is a plagiarist and is scathing about Mark Lawson’s defence of Hari in the Guardian, which reads as if Lawson isn’t aware of the fullness of the allegations. Guy Walters in the New Statesmen (where Hari got his first break and had problems with deputy editor Christina Odone over his expenses) identified 42 cut ‘n pastes from Malalai Joya’s own book. Not all were in inverted commas, making them a problem of attribution, much of the text is presented as Hari’s own words. Classic plagiarism.
Left-wing academic Professor Norman Geras is balanced yet mildly scolds Hari’s defenders. Worth reading the Telegraph’s Damian Thompson for his take on events. He reckons it was the Kindle wot done For Hari…
UPDATE: The blogger who caught this little scene-setting Hari lie in 2009 made Guido laugh, it dates back to the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Conference: “Johann Hari Hates Big Macs But Tells Whoppers“. In itself a trivial lie to sex up an anti-capitalist piece. These kind of lies are the reason why Polly Toynbee and Laurie Penny et al are so keen to excuse him. Shame on them.
Guido doesn’t usually quote articles verbatim, but since this isn’t online and in the interests of doing a full “intellectual portrait” here it is:
It’s clearly not plagiarism or churnalism, but was it an error in another way?[…] Read the rest
Yesterday we reported exclusively that Bob Roberts will be appointed as Ed Miliband’s news spinner. The Guardian followed it up with “There were unconfirmed reports today that Bob Roberts, political editor of the Mirror, is to become Miliband’s director of communications…”, note the lack of attribution to the unconfirmed report.[…] Read the rest
In what is a bid to soothe ruffled LibDem feathers, rather than in response to the looter’s protest, the government has just announced a new clamp down on tax avoidance. Guido mentioned at the weekend how quiet the left were about the Guardian’s tax avoidance in contrast to their attitude to Philip Green.[…] Read the rest
Euro-Socialist and Green MEPs have tabled a motion calling on Ireland to double corporate tax rates as part of a quid pro quo for a bail-out. Not a single Irish MEP has supported the motion. Ireland should just tell them to “feck off”…
Commentariat celebrities Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and Rod Liddle are duking it out in column inches.
She has a letter in today’s Sunday Times objecting to Liddle calling her “boring” and “stupid” last week. To think that if only Rod hadn’t been convicted by the PCC thought-police of casual racism he could have been editor of the Indy and Yazz’s boss.[…] Read the rest