The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

Posts Tagged ‘media bias’

The Knives Are Out

Posted by The Futility Monster on April 22, 2010 @ 10:11

Adam Boulton looked like an onion even then. Just slightly browner on top.

Today’s handful of newspaper front pages (as seen here) show that the media have had enough of the Clegg love in. What surprises me is why it took so long…

The groundwork is clearly being laid for an assault on everything to do with the Lib Dems. The fact that the Telegraph was desperate enough to go back into its expenses CD demonstrates that fully. And yet, this little gem was about the best they could do. A few hundred pounds per month from a few private donors, all fully declared.

Desperate stuff. And, if it’s played wrongly, could easily be used by the Lib Dems as a sign of how the “establishment” from the “old politics” is ganging up on them. Mr Cameron’s friends, Mr Murdoch, and Alistair Campbell’s old boys all getting their favours called in by their masters in order to preserve the corrupt and cozy establishment which is feeling threatened by the surge of the wave of change heading its way.

I should be a political strategist. That one’s for you, Nick, and I hope you use it well. No charge, this time.

So bollocks to the media and their “have become the subject of intense scrutiny” lies, as if they are the neutral third parties bravely reporting the scrutiny of others.

And bollocks to the other parties too.

But I think they’re going to be much more clever.

Amidst the endless obsession with some volcanic ash, you may not have realised that tonight is the second Prime Ministerial Debate. Another 90 minutes of fun is headed our way.

Will Brown and Cameron get the knives out for Clegg?

They can’t. Only one of them will be able to. If they both do, Clegg will once more play the blinder he did last week: indict them all in an establishment conspiracy.

But which will go first? Whoever gets the luck of starting will surely make it clear from the outset that Clegg is not the change the country needs, and then yadda-yadda about a “dangerous” plan to scrap Trident, and a love for all things European.

Cameron has to attack, to rescue his damaged reputation from last week. He has to rescue his severely dented image, which last week was exposed by him standing there, absorbing all attacks and not dishing any out. His authority took a knock. He will be out to correct that.

Brown, instead, will throw in some sly digs at Clegg, which may be more successful. After all, he won’t want to get his hands too dirty in the mud-slinging. He will want to look… well, Prime Ministerial. And if Clegg overreacts by playing the establishment conspiracy hand too early, especially if Brown isn’t explicit or is very polite about it, it might weaken his standing as a level-headed, composed leader.

There are severe dangers for a front runner: all the focus is on you, and you have to live up to those expectations. It’s why David Cameron struggled so much last week.

But fortune is on Clegg’s side. The debate topic: international affairs, so the silly media agenda on expenses is out of order. Opportunity: Iraq, Iraq, Iraq. Strengths: Blair and Brown’s performances at Chilcot; a debate format that will only allow broad questions; Adam Boulton as moderator will not be able to further media agendas; and Cameron and Brown cannot ask questions of Clegg either

Clegg showed his skill as an underdog last week. Brown has been trying it for weeks, to some degrees of success, but hit his glass ceiling.

If Clegg can show he’s comfortable: by rising above the other two, by sticking up for his point of view, and by once more showing how different he’ll be, and giving another confident, calm performance, he will once more persuade viewers that he’s got what it takes. There’ll be no fireworks, but there’s no need for it. The good work has already been done.

Remember the Obama lesson: the first debate proved he was no bogey-man, but a sober, thoughtful, rational individual. The other two debates did nothing to change that narrative, and the more people looked, the more they liked.

The moral of the story: more of the same please, Nick. Don’t let the bastards grind you down.


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The Media Never Takes The Union’s Side

Posted by The Futility Monster on March 22, 2010 @ 23:03

There's two sides to every story...

Whilst perusing the Metro this morning, I was struck by the cartoon that appeared on the front.

For those that didn’t see it, it showed two air traffic controllers having a discussion about the latest figures from Unite, which talked about how many union members were on strike, how many phoned in sick, etc. The caption read:

I’ve got a flight BA0124 from Bahrain preparing to land but I don’t know whether to believe him…

That is very revealing. These days, the media is very much trained to treat the union’s point of view as suspicious at best. Meanwhile, the management side of the dispute is frequently portrayed as the dispassionate observer, because they are the poor ones who are being forced to suffer so much from the strike.

It puzzles me when this change happened. When did the media decide that telling the story from the point of view of the workforce was not interesting to us? Or maybe they’ve always been that way.

Union officials are always interviewed in a hostile manner. They are accused of not caring about the business’ future. They are shown as backward, as unwilling, and inflexible to the demands of the global world. Luddites in a modern age where “progress” is rendering them out of existence.

This is usually contrasted with the interview with the bosses, who say it’s not their fault, and these are the times we live in. They sigh and say they’ve done their best to work with the unions, but they just cannot afford to meet the “unreasonable” demands.

Then some film of picket lines, of strikes, some rather rough looking workers. Then, usually, a few vox pops from Angry of Tunbridge Wells, who has missed their flight because of a callous and selfish workforce.

This may be an exaggeration, but it’s not far off the truth from what I’ve witnessed.

Why is the media so unquestioning of business when it comes to industrial disputes? Why has no one investigated the strong-arm tactics of Willie Walsh and BA? Why do we never find out exactly what it is that makes train drivers want to strike so often? So too of the Royal Mail. And, inevitably, of the civil service.

We’re expected to assume that the managers are indeed acting in good faith, and that their figures can always be trusted.

That doesn’t seem fair to me.

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“Il Cavaliere” Or Why We Shouldn’t Always Trust Democracy

Posted by The Futility Monster on November 23, 2009 @ 09:54

The picture says it all...

Our friends over in Italy have the pleasure/misfortune (delete to taste) of being governed by the formidable Silvio Berlusconi. An ageing lothario, botox-filled, with hair and teeth that can’t possibly be his own any more. Some of us forget that he’s now 73, but still a slip of a lad when compared to the “thrusting” Ming Campbell.

Sorry, Ming. That was unfair. He is, after all, only 68. Anyway…

Berlusconi is now into his third attempt as Prime Minister. The first one was a short-lived disaster. The second one a much longer period of disaster. And the third? Well, that’s also a disaster.

However, I’m biased. Seriously biased. I am, after all, a liberal, yoghurt-knitting leftie. I despise Berlusconi and everything he stands for. The man is seriously corrupt, and has spent all his periods of office attempting to cover his tracks, shield himself from prosecution and, worse, legislating to further his businesses and passing immunity laws to thwart investigations into his activities.

As for his personal life… his taste in women is indeed fine, but to be continuously in the headlines for it must make it rather difficult to concentrate on real matters of state in this modern media age.

But perhaps that doesn’t matter. Berlusconi has never been about anything other than feathering his own nest. The Italian people seem to appreciate that level of honesty in their politicians. They know they’re all crooks, so why not elect someone who is rotten to the core, but at least has fun with it and keeps everyone entertained in the process.

Meanwhile, Berlusconi’s media empire, enhanced by years of legislation in its favour, keeps the populace distracted with an agenda that is almost unceasingly in his favour. And where his media organisations lead, the rest of them follow, even ones that are apparently neutral as they are owned by the state.

Berlusconi’s presence is such that any kind of attack on him now is brushed aside as a mere inconvenience;
the usual suspects “in the establishment” once more trying to get one over an old enemy. He has this marvellous way of diminishing his opponents by accusing them of trying to settle old scores and turning everything personal. It usually works.

The sad part of all this is that there is almost nothing anyone can do. This is democracy. It isn’t easy. It throws up results we don’t like.

The last refuge of the left is usually to say democracy isn’t always right. Even more so now in the modern media age, where celebrity, personality and trivial facts are what’s important to the media. Like it or not, Cameron will win the next British election largely because he is seen as “more in touch” with the British people than Gordon Brown. More likeable. More personable. Less aloof.

And so it worked for Berlusconi.

Democracy is distorted by such manipulation of the agenda. Even more so in the case of Berlusconi because of his media empire.

There is, however, one saving grace.

Maybe the Italians are – finally – starting to see the light.

Let’s hope that democracy gets it right in the end.

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Lib Dems Should Ignore The Media Echo Chamber

Posted by The Futility Monster on September 28, 2009 @ 06:34

Libby after eight cans of Stella

Libby after eight cans of Stella

Over on Lib Dem Voice there was a thread a few days ago bemoaning the “disaster” that was the recent Lib Dem Conference.

The only problem with the crux of the article is that, since conference has ended, there have been no fewer than four polls putting us up between two to five points.

I’m not going to criticise the author, though, because I had broadly shared his opinion. I had watched the conference fairly closely this year, but I mostly viewed it through the eyes of the media.

A media which, it seems, are extraordinarily hostile to the Lib Dems. My vehicle of choice was usually The Daily Politics, and one particular morning Andrew Neil was chatting to Steve Richards (Independent) and Matthew Parris (Times) – and both of whom did their level best to tell us that the conference had been a disaster. Andrew Neil joined in the attack. It made me wince. A disaster for my party. I shed a small but not insignificant tear.

The problem was the consistency. Those two journos had both said the same as Quentin Letts (Mail) and Simon Hogg (Guardian) the previous day. It was all adding up to be a confused mess of conflict and miscommunication. I even picked up the theme a little and criticised Clegg for it in his final speech. It all turned Andrew Neil into his miserable best, attacking every Lib Dem representative that came on the programme for presiding over such a shambles.

Meanwhile, the press were having a field day. Any chance to dethrone Vince Cable could not be missed. The headlines were pretty negative, and the above writers wasted no time in repeating their TV opinions in print form.

But, it seems, we were wrong.  Four polls, all pointing in the same direction, don’t lie. The chances of them all being a statistical anomaly are very small.

Why are the media so hostile to us? Is it because we’re a distraction for them? Is it because we’re an inconvenience to the coronation of David Cameron? After all, media narratives work best when they have a binary opposition. We upset that, and it doesn’t fit neatly into yet another Lab-Con story, tacking on a rent-a-quote moment from the Lib Dem spokesperson right at the end of the film/article.

Or are they just lazy? Are they filled with the usual cynics (like me!) who think we’re never getting into power and so what’s the real point in bothering?

Polling and elections have shown time and time again that when we get our fair share of coverage, the public respond. OK, maybe we would have done even better if we’d been truly united and consistent in our message. But – come on – we’re Lib Dems. That was never going to happen!

What we need to start doing is attempting to go over the head of the media. More on that next time…

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