Saturday, 29 November 2008

More powers please!

Carrying on from yesterday, the Scum is at it yet again. Without there being any conclusive evidence whatsoever to yet link any of the attackers in India to this country, the security services and police must immediately have new powers:

"Nobody knows how many Muslims here today are plotting mayhem.

That is why we must give our security services the surveillance powers they require.

And we must let police detain suspects for as long as they need."


Just below, without any apparent causation or irony, the paper attacks the arrest of Damian Green in the following terms:

"THE arrest of Tory immigration spokesman Damian Green is a terrible blow to our democracy."

When giving the police utter impunity to arrest anyone in a similar way as they would a genuine terrorist is obviously not.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Being offensive


The Guardian:
A cheeky ad by the Sun gloating about Britain winning more medals than Australia at the Beijing Olympics, using a twist on Australia "Where the bloody hell are you?" tourism, has been banned by the advertising regulator.

The ad featured as a giant billboard on a truck comparing Britain's 19 Beijing gold medals alongside Australia's 14 with the strapline "Where the bloody hell were you?".

One complaint was received by the Advertising Standards Authority that the language in the ad was offensive and could be seen by children.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

New Labour killed by socialism!

Might have spoken slightly too soon on the pact between the Sun and New Labour. The Sun's piss-poor political editor, George Pascoe-Watson, has written a hi-larious obituary detailing the death of New Labour:

"THE tragic death of New Labour has been announced in No 10, Downing Street.

New Labour passed away after a 14-year battle with socialism."

It seems that a 45p rate of income tax on those earning over £150,000 a year equals socialism, in spite of everything else. Perhaps Pascoe-Watson's more concerned with his own predicament: chances are he earns over a six-figure sum, as does his partner, the equally piss-poor Sky News presenter Kay Burley. Rebekah Wade, the Sun's editor, almost certainly does, as of course does little Jimmy Murdoch, Rupert's son in charge of News International's European and Asian operations.

As we could expect from a newspaper whose editor is a close friend of the former prime minister, he receives the customary arse-licking:

"Its heartbroken father, Tony Blair, was too upset to comment.

The former PM spent 13 years in charge of the party, fighting off Left-wingers’ demands to soak the rich with tax hikes."


Pascoe-Watson also has some bizarre ideas on why New Labour was so popular:

"It won three General Elections with huge victories by befriending big business and encouraging wealth-creators to set up thriving firms."

Surely by convincing the middle classes that it could be trusted to run the economy, whilst being as right-wing on social policy and crime as it possibly could get away with? The befriending of big business was just a bit part, which became all encompassing and helped in the economy's downfall when the light-touch regulatory system, established by Gordon Brown and indicative of socialism, turned out to be a completely non-touch regulatory system.

Of course, this is just another indication of the Sun's betrayal of its own readers. Very few Sun readers will be affected by this onset of "socialism"; the 2% of the population which earns £150,000 a more or year generally don't read tabloids, or at least not the red-tops. They in fact will be the ones that will gain most from the pre-budget report, with only the rise in NI in 2011 likely to affect the majority, and it's still not clear whether those earning under £40,000 will be too badly affected by that. True, the government could have gone a lot further in helping the poorest, but if it had the Sun would have doubtless decried that as even more evidence of socialism. Murdoch's business interests and the amount being siphoned off by the state in tax, at least when his companies actually pay it, are as always the Sun's real paramount concern.

Profiting from knife-crime

Once again the Sun is whipping up hysteria over knives.

Yet the Sun does not seem to have any problems in profiting from the sales of it:



They must be covering the story to cynically profit from it. It's "utterly irresponsible"!

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

The Sun's take on the pre-budget report.

If you want an indication of how stupid the Sun imagines its readers are, then you could do worse than see them again turning to Thunderbirds in order to explain the economics of yesterday's pre-budget report, capitals and bold used throughout.

We're not especially interested in that though, more in whether the PBR has shifted the Sun further from its embrace of New Labour towards the Conservatives, as has seemed evident since their praise for David Cameron's piss-poor conference speech.

Their leader, headlined the "death of New Labour", is perhaps not as critical as you may have expected:

"BRITAIN is apparently so close to meltdown that the nation must be plunged deeper into the red to avoid catastrophe.

Gordon Brown says it is not his fault that we are worst placed in the Western world to weather this storm.

We must blame America’s chaotic mortgage crisis — not our own overblown housing bubble or badly-run banks.

And it will take seven bitter years before we get our heads above water again.

But the Prime Minister cannot wash his hands of responsibility like that.

Yes, the whole world is suffering.

But Britain’s special weakness is, at least in part, down to Labour’s reckless 12-year spending spree on bloated and inefficient public services.

...

But make no mistake. It marked the death of New Labour.

In one emergency splurge, a beaming Mr Brown reverted to Old Labour’s natural big government tendency to big government tax, spend and borrow.

The clue is in the tax changes.

All the CUTS are temporary.

All the RISES are permanent.

Britain is once again a high tax economy. VAT will shoot back to 17.5 per cent after 13 months, with sharp hikes in petrol, booze and cigarette prices.

But the new 45p rate for high earners will remain — if Labour stays in power.

In hard times, few would argue against the wealthy paying their whack.

But who would bet this new rate, welcomed ecstatically by Labour MPs, will stay at 45p.

We are back on the slippery slope to the 1970s.

Other changes, including higher National Insurance and personal allowances, will hurt low and middle earners — and small business.

Yesterday, we saw the battle lines drawn for the next election.

If Gordon Brown succeeds he may well lead Labour to a fourth term.

If he fails — as Shadow Chancellor George Osborne warned — he will have mortgaged our future in an unforgivably reckless Budget.


It's not the job of the Sun to offer alternatives, but it's instructive here to note that it doesn't suggest a single different policy to the ones which Labour are pursuing. The Tories too, only get the one reference, and that's to George Osborne, who also offered few alternatives yesterday. If this truly is the death of New Labour, and that they have had to, out of desperation raise income tax, isn't really indicative of the party being over, then the Sun isn't as upset as you might expect it to be. Our bailouts, likewise, are small beer compared to those in the US, Rupert Murdoch's adopted home, where another $800bn has just been announced by the Fed, nearly 2 months before Barack Obama gets to the White House to introduce his own stimulus. For all the meetings and sucking up towards Cameron, Murdoch will doubtless expect him to come up with some sort of plan before he puts all of his eggs firmly in one basket. New Labour isn't yet dead, and neither is the pact the party has had with the Sun.

Shock: Prisoners eat proper meals

Once again the Sun has been blatantly stoking the anti-Muslim feelings within its readers.

MUSLIM prisoners at a top security jail were bought £3,500 worth of takeaway curries, it emerged last night.

The Sun seems to think that prisoners should have to subsist on bread and water... The prison
holds 458 people
(which the Sun does confirm), and according to the Sun one-third of whom are Muslim, i.e. 152 people. This works out at £23 each which is not an unreasonable amount for a proper curry from a restaurant.

Prison officers drove 40 miles to a restaurant after inmates moaned jail meals were not tasty enough.

The Sun doesn't say whether or not this is a round-trip. However, I admit that does seem to be something to complain about, as surely there must have been a closer curry house. Unfortunately, I'm unable to locate the prison and its neighbouring restaurants.

A non-Muslim ex-inmate at Whitemoor jail said: “They tried to do the curries in-house but the prison chefs couldn’t meet the budget of £1.80 per prisoner — and the Muslim inmates complained that it tasted rubbish.

That's probably because you can't even do a cheap and nasty curry on that amount of money. I know that to make one dirt-cheap you're talking at least £5.00.

And the curries were not checked for smuggled weapons on the way into prison in case they got COLD, sources said.

After all, a garlic naan bread is the most likely place to stash a gun.

I wonder if the Sun would have a similar article about the amount spent on Passover meals or Divali, never mind Christmas lunch.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

The Sun supports the rule of law?

There is a very strange article in the Sun today.

Once again the Sun is outraged, which in itself is nothing new. This outrage has been sparked by the fact that a police officer - who was suspended for saying (on Facebook for bonus marks) that suspects should be beaten up - is to be allowed to go back to work after being fined an at tribunal and will be going back on full pay after having a year off. Again, the fact that it should be outraged by someone being allowed to do their job again after 'getting off lightly' (not a quote, more of a paraphrase) is also nothing new.

What is odd is that it calls the guy "vile" for what he did. I have no views on the case, as I don't actually know what happened, but this must be the first time that the Sun has ever condemned about anyone being part of the string-'em-up/hang-'em-an'-flog-'em brigade, see for example, its own coverage of the L. B. Harringay "Baby P" case.

Has the Sun seen the light when it comes the concept of innocent until proven guilty and also how to deal with people who are merely suspects? Only time will tell.

Monday, 17 November 2008

The continuing fallout from the Baby P case.

Rather sensibly, considering that the names of those involved in the Baby P case, protected by a court order, are currently flying around the internet like the latest unfunny meme, the Sun has closed down the comment sections on all its stories on the case, including on the article involving the suicidal social worker who was being told to kill herself by large proportions of those leaving messages.

It had first shut down comment on its message boards proper on Friday, a day before the article appeared, perhaps before the level of messages with their names proper included had reached their height. Predictably, although other sources are highlighting the Sun's original role in the names being distributed, Sky News is primarily blaming Facebook, although undoubtedly that site (which has a faintly terrifying 200,000 members in the Justice for Baby P group) has had a major role in it being made known. Other news sites that initially had the names of those involved available due to original articles on them being charged still existing online are also sensibly removing them, or are at least making them unavailable until the court order is rescinded. Only one major newspaper seems to be slow on that score.

Interestingly also, the Sun seems to be narrowing its targets in who should "pay the price for his little life". Originally it wanted all the social workers and the doctor involved sacked, as well as Sharon Shoesmith, the head of children's services in Haringey. In leader columns today (currently AWOL) and tomorrow it instead just wants Shoesmith to go. Could this possibly be because one of those it originally fingered, Sylvia Henry, has since been revealed to have wanted to take Baby P into care, but was apparently overruled by those above her? Similarly, the woman who the paper at the weekend described as being "suicidal" but nonetheless let readers comment on the article to urge her to go through with it, has also been described as having 18 cases on her books, more than the maximum 12 which they were supposed to have. It would be nice to think that when the facts change newspapers similarly change their opinions, but it'd also be nice to think that newspapers wouldn't run witch-hunts against such people when the whole facts are not known. Hopefully Henry and Ward will be forgiving of the paper for the letters, bricks and other nasty things that have probably been coming through their doors since their "naming and shaming".

(Cross-posted, word for word, from mine.)

Supporting our boys

Defence of the Realm has taken apart a bit of reporting by the defence editor Tom Newton-Dunn.
Political editor George Pascoe-Watson, of The Sun needs to talk urgently to the paper’s defence editor (or vice versa).

On 11 March of this year – to the evident approval of the newspaper, GP-W announced a "£40m kit boost for our heroes", telling us in an "exclusive" report that British soldiers in Afghanistan were to get "72 new Mad Max-style troop carriers in tomorrow's Budget".

Although the story had a picture of the early version (unarmoured) - with photoshopped grenade launcher - amd acaption, "Tough ... Supacat armoured vehicle", it seems that defence "editor" Tom Newton Dunn (don't they have reporters anymore?) does not agree.

Preferring instead a vehicle that cools the occupants using a fan and some rubber hose up the trousers.

Pay cut or a pay rise?

The Telegraph:
...[David Blunkett's] income from The Sun has fallen from a peak of £105,000 per year for a weekly column to no more than £50,000 for an annual contract for 12 feature articles.

The quality of his feature articles had better be good. They're costing twice as much each as his weekly column did.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Readers think tabloids are cynical and untrustworthy shock.

Martin Kettle draws attention to some rather unflattering survey findings:
"The survey asked the public how much they trusted 17 different professions to tell the truth. Top of the list as usual were family doctors, trusted by 94% of the public, followed by headteachers (83%) and judges (82%). Ministers and MPs indeed trailed far behind, trusted by 27% and 26% respectively - as the red-tops were quick to point out. At the very back of the line, though, came another group, tabloid journalists, who were trusted to tell the truth by a miserable 10% of the population. Yet this particular finding has not been published in any newspaper until now.

Even this, though, only scratches the surface of what this striking survey revealed about public attitudes to the media in general and to the tabloids in particular. Tabloid readers, the survey found, are more likely than the readers of broadsheet papers or of no newspapers at all to believe that standards of conduct in public life are low, are getting worse, and to think that the relevant authorities are not upholding the right rules. Given their exposure to the sort of stories quoted above, perhaps this is not exactly surprising.

What may surprise, though, is the scepticism of readers towards tabloids. The survey asked their opinion of the papers. Do they "do a good job of keeping politicians accountable?" Yes, said 43%. What about "help the public to learn about what is happening in politics?" Not so sure. This time only 31% of readers thought they did.

Then the figures become really dire. "Generally fair in their representation of politicians?" Only 13% thought that applied to the tabloids. "Look for any excuse to tarnish the name of politicians?" A massive 90% agreed with that one. "Focus on negative stories about politics and politicians?" Almost the same, 87%. And finally, "more interested in getting a story than telling the truth?" This time an overwhelming 82% of tabloid readers concurred."


This is in line with what we've argued here from the beginning: the readership of tabloids, including the Sun's, is both far more intelligent than many give them credit for and also thinks a lot of what they get up to is damaging to politics as a whole. The question this then poses is why do so many still then buy the tabloids when they dislike much of what they do? Is it masochism? Is it because they've always bought them, or their parents did? Is it for what else they produce, as Paul Dacre suggests, on entertainment and being entertaining? Or did those polled lie to the interviewers?

Whatever the answer is, tabloid editors ought to be far less confident and cocky than they are. For all their bravado about giving their readers want they want, this overwhelming shows that on politics are least, that is exactly what they are doing. All the more reason for them to be held to a far higher standard of accountability than they currently are.

(From an extended post which also goes into the reaction to the Baby P case.)

Friday, 14 November 2008

Dangerous populism

The inconsistency of Mr. Gaunt

On the 3rd of this month I wrote about how "Jon Gaunt is the most appalling hypocrite". I pointed out that even though Gaunty had spent years railing against New Labour's "nanny state", his own moral politics demand even greater state control over our lives.

In this week's column, Gaunt's confused and duplicitous idea of state intervention was evident, as he tackles the tricky subject of Baby P - a story that has dominated the news cycle ::


A child needs a mum and a dad if possible.

[...]

The doctrine of always trying to keep the “family” together is garbage.


Jon walks his carefully constructed nuance with the words "if possible" and "always". He carefully checks the box marked "golden rule of rightwing social populism: the traditional family unit is best", and qualifies it by claiming that in fact this premise is "garbage". So which is it, Jon?

Also, this "doctrine" you speak of?

Social services remove children from their unfit parents all the time, usually to the righteous indignation of rightwing populists like as Gaunt. That the nuclear family is best, and that social services merely meddle in people's lives, has always been The Sun's default position.

Never has there been a doctrine of keeping kids with abusive parents. As one of our writers wrote this week, working in the Social Services is a thankless career. You're criticised for interfering in family life, yet you're crucified in the national press if you're too cautious in breaking up a family and a case turns into a criminal one.

Indeed, without even the slightest awareness of his own inconsistency, Gaunt for the second time in as many columns, refers to the Social Services (who he's arguing weren't strict or interventionist enough) as the "SS" - unsubtly comparing the department to Hitler's Schutzstaffel (this was also, no doubt, a little dig at his current personal woes).

You can't, in all seriousness, allude to the SS and then accuse the Social Service system of being wishy washy.

Now Jon Gaunt grew up in the care system. So he should be forgiven for having a complex view of the role of social services in our lives - but let's be frank, a careful and informed opinion hardly fits Gaunt's bombastic populism, does it?

This is the problem with this brand of lazy commentary: Gaunt and others are allowed to flit between attacking the nanny state for its social excess and demanding that heads roll when they're accused of not interfering enough.

Commentators never adhere to the same consistency they demand from politicians: a blatant disregard for the privileged position they hold in our society.

Bringing politics into the debate

Also in the same column; Jon Gaunt condemns Gordon Brown for accusing David Cameron of trying to score political points, during a PMQ session that featured a heated exchange over failures in the case of Baby P.

There was no party politics. But Labour have been playing at social engineering for the past 11 years. I believe the ultimate responsibility lies with them and the Guardianistas that they have created in every section of public life.


So in the very same paragraph where he argues that Cameron wasn't attempting to bring party politics into the debate, Gaunt launches into a partisan tirade against who he blames for the baby's death.

Hypocrisy? Gaunty? Never!

So it's not with the abusive mother and boyfriend, where the "the ultimate responsibility lies", or indeed the Haringey social services, but with the government and those loathsome Guardian readers [meme alert!].

Of course everyone directly involved in Baby P’s case must be sacked.


How very big of you Jon. Without knowing the outcome of either the police or government investigations, Lord Gaunty feels qualified to demand the immediate termination of everyone involved.

Is this not lynch mob journalism at its very worst?

Thursday, 13 November 2008

A price to be paid for his little life.

Today's Sun provides a salutary lesson in just how its journalism works. Here's its editorial:

"SHAMEFUL, disgusting, cowardly and disgraceful.

There are no words strong enough to express Sun readers’ anger at the buck-passing and blame-dodging over the horrific death of Baby P."

What evidence is there provided that this is in fact what Sun readers think? A whole five comments, presumably left on previous stories, which it reprints in its main piece.

It continues:

"The scandal is down to Haringey council, the same one that let little Victoria Climbie be tortured to death eight years ago.

This time, platitudes and inquiries simply will not do. We’ve heard all that before.

Sun readers demand SACKINGS for all who share responsibility for allowing Baby P’s appalling death."


Are Sun readers demanding SACKINGS? Err, no, the paper clearly is, as again the main article states:

"As ALL defiantly carry on working today we call on our army of outraged readers to join our crusade.

We urge you to sign our petition for them to be kicked out of their jobs."


This is the ultimate example of how the newspaper hides behind its readers, whether they themselves agree with its leader line or not: the paper has decided that all involved should lose their jobs, regardless of any evidence that they were personally responsible for the death of Baby P. Its readers might now agree and might now sign their petition, but for the paper to pretend that it's been motivated by its readers into demanding sackings is clearly abject nonsense.

Almost chilling are the last three lines of the leader:

"Mr Brown can make up for being caught wrong-footed yesterday by showing he DOES share the nation's outrage.

Baby P will NOT be forgotten by The Sun.

A price must be paid for his little life, and we will not rest until that price has been paid by those responsible."

A price must be paid for his little life. The price is further ruining the lives of those that are already no doubt traumatised and anguished by their failure to protect a little boy that was in their care. Witch-hunts seem to be all the rage at the moment, and this one has the potential to be the nastiest yet. But it's not what the Sun wants, it's what its readers want.

The PM, the editor and the media mogul's son-in-law.

A story in the Guardian about Elisabeth Murdoch, Rupert's eldest daughter, and Matthew Freud, her husband, reveals a little about ex-prime minister Tony Blair and his relationship with the Murdoch's and in particular, the Sun editor Rebekah Wade.

This excerpt shows how close Tony was with Wade and how she and the Murdoch's seemed to work together to manipulate Tony.

Well, you would too if you could.

A Freud-Murdoch soiree held in 2006 provides glorious proof of this, complete with Blair in jeans, and the Wade connection. Back then, Freud was working with the Texan billionaire Philip Anschutz and South African casino magnate Sol Kerzner (who created the infamous apartheid-era resort Sun City). The pair had teamed up to try and win approval for a giant gambling venue at the Millennium Dome. There had already been a flurry of headlines when Freud had apparently used a private dinner to introduce the then culture secretary, Tessa Jowell, to Anschutz, but on September 20 2006, his jockeying on their behalf entered the realms of the absurd.

That evening, Blair had been having dinner with Wade at Cecconi's restaurant in Mayfair, owned by the Freud client Nick Jones. Wade apparently convinced Blair to come with her to a house party thrown by Freud to promote another of his clients: the Red credit card, launched by U2 singer Bono and American Express, and aimed at raising money to fight disease in Africa. With a year to go until he left office, Blair was - to quote one insider - "at the stage of 'Why not?'", and the pair duly arrived at Freud and Murdoch's west London home. "You go first and I'll follow," he told Wade, whereupon the pair entered a throng that included Bono, 50 Cent, Claudia Schiffer, Alicia Keys - and Kerzner. The story was, said one PR industry high-up, "classic Freud". "In one hit he publicises the restaurant and shows Kerzner rubbing shoulders with the prime minister. Blair was used."

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Would you like any ketchup with that?

Virginia Wheeler. Now there's a reporter that's cropped up before here. And not for good reasons.
This time Virginias' been caught out peddling 'PC gorn mad' rubbish.

The Sun:
THE Red Arrows have been banned from performing at the 2012 London Olympics as they are too BRITISH.

Barmy organisers claim the popular RAF display team’s military background “might offend other nations”.


RAF Red Arrows:
We are very happy to tell you that the story is complete rubbish!


Oh and I would love to see someone eat their computer.
Sun Hack Virginia Wheeler had announce the RED Arrows had been banned from the Olympics opening ceremony for being too British. But They will. When they do, Virginia has said she will eat her computerPicture: Private Eye.

Clarkson? Insensitive? Really?

The Mail failed to get Jeremy Clarkson out of the BBC, but maybe London's Greek community and the PCC will have more success getting him off the Sun's staff-list.

The London Daily News:
The BBC Top Gear and Sun columnist Jeremy Clarkson angered the Greek population of the United Kingdom with racist and insensitive comments made in his weekly newspaper column in the Saturday edition of The Sun, were describes Greece as a "toilet".

In an article "Holiday ad cuts a'tache" Clarkson refers to a recent campaign by the Greek National Tourist board in London, were a women is pictured with Clarkson referring "and a girl who didn’t look all that Greek either. She didn’t have a moustache for instance".

Clarkson referred recently to lorry drivers murdering prostitutes and was given a warning by the BBC, but to insult an entire nation in this manner is way off the mark.

The London Daily News has formally written to the editor of The Sun and a formal complaint is being made to the Press Complaints Commission which has strict guidelines over accuracy:

"i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures.

iii) The Press, whilst free to be partisan, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact."

Had these comments been made about Muslims or African-Caribbean’s there would have been calls for Clarkson immediate dismissal in any case The Sun has not made any remedy to date.

The London Daily News calls for Clarkson to be sacked from The Sun for making these comments

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Even stopped clocks...

...are right twice a day. And today is one of those times.

Jon Gaunt:
I’VE never smoked but I HAVE been in care and I know what it feels like as a kid to be alone, completely alone, with no one to love you.

So that’s why I know that the politically correct twits (with an A) at Redbridge council, East London, who have banned smokers from fostering children are completely and utterly wrong.

Tonight in Britain more than 60,000 children won’t have a special person to tuck them in at night, read them a story or take an interest in what happened during their day at school


But Jon just couldn't help himself:
TalkSport presenter Jon Gaunt has been suspended by the UTV-owned station after he called a London councillor a "Nazi" during a live debate.

Sony award-winning Gaunt, who writes a column for the Sun, also called the councillor an "ignorant pig" during the discussion about a local authority plan to ban smokers from fostering children.

Godwins Law, anyone?

Hat-tip, Scaryduck

Update 18/11/08:
Jon got the sack from Talksport.

Rebekah Wade on Dacre's speech

Rebekah Wade's view of Paul Dacre's attack of Justice Eady (from Press Gazette):
Graham Dudman, managing editor of The Sun, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: “The issue here is that [Mr] Justice Eady is unelected and unaccountable. Parliament has not made these decisions, one man has.”

The Sun's editor, Rebekah Wade, agreed with Dudman. She said: "I think a lot of people will be surprised that he sat alone in the Max Mosley case because there's no jury in privacy cases. As a paper we agree with everything [Dacre] said. It is long overdue - in a democratic society with a free press it cannot be in our interest that one solitary judge is setting legal precedent."

Again, distortions half truths. Justice Eady is not making them up as he goes along, he is applying a law. There are higher judges that can overturn his decision.

What we do not want in this country is a press that is free to publicly, arbitrarily punish people that does not fit into its' fluid definition of immoral.

Friday, 7 November 2008

"This is no time for a novice"

An excellent little sound bite,isn't it. But where did it come from?

Some say Rebekah Wade. Bare knuckle boxer, editor of the Sun and now Gordons' speechwriter.

Pandora:
"It was during a dinner the night before Brown's speech in Manchester," I'm told. "Ed Balls muttered it while we were chatting about Cameron. No one picked up on it except Rebekah, who quite rightly thought it was dynamite and suggested he might want to get it into the speech quick-smart.

"Ed, like a loyal little terrier, duly scampered off back to his master with his tail up and the rest is history."

Wade has so far refused to take credit for it, unlike Alastair Campbell, who has boasted about coining some of Tony Blair's best soundbites.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

It all depends on the joker in question...

With Ross and Brand having blown itself out, the next target for the permanently outraged was Jeremy Clarkson, having joked on Top Gear about truck drivers murdering prostitutes. While the Mail initially went to town, it toned the outrage down after the public failed to get behind it in a similar way to the former scandal. It wasn't helped, as Five Chinese Crackers points out, because the Sun, unsurprisingly considering it employs Clarkson, decided that the joke was funny.

Murdering prostitutes though is one thing; dead babies are obviously quite another:

"INTERNET sickos who mocked DEAD BABIES were banned last night after protests from grieving mums.

...

Lauren Elliott, 20, of Belper, Derbys, who has suffered two miscarriages, said: “It’s upsetting to make fun of such a heartbreaking subject.”


Could the fact that these jokes were being made on Facebook, the direct rival to the News Corporation owned MySpace possibly have anything to do with the Sun's apoplexy? Surely not.

A very special occasion

I understand that some people won't be welcoming the news of Barak Obamas' election as good news but likening it to terrorist activity is going a bit far.

AP:
Readers of Britain's popular Sun tabloid got a surprise Wednesday: When they opened their paper, they found a photo of Barack Obama instead of the traditional topless "Page 3 girl."
[...]
"It's not done very often," said spokeswoman Lorna Carmichael. "It has to be a very special occasion. We only do it after very dramatic news, like the 9/11 attacks or the London transport bombings, things like that."

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Them and Us

The Guardian, TV & Radio blog:
...there can hardly be anything else to add [to the Ross/Brand 'affair] right now regarding what my colleague Charlie Brooker described as the "gitstorm" - other than to remember how very close to real trouble Jeremy Clarkson and the Top Gear team came over Richard Hammond's near-fatal crash in September 2006. Clarkson, however, had columns on News International papers. He was on their team, which effectively caused that newspaper group, and all the others, to think twice and thrice before putting their steel-toecapped boot in to his kidneys. Perhaps if Jonathan Ross had kept his film review column on the News of the World, the Sun would have wondered about buying up the Max Clifford-ghosted outrage of Georgina Baillie. Perhaps this connection with News International would have caused Fleet Street's indignation to falter short of the tipping point.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Cameron and Murdoch sitting in a tree....


David Cameron has never seen a bandwagon which he hasn't wanted to jump on. Accordingly, he just couldn't contain his thoughts on the whole Jonathan Ross/Russell Brand/Andrew Sachs debacle, and following the News of the Screws' feeble expose on BBC executive pay, he put pen to paper. Which newspaper though quickly decided his scribblings were worthy of publication? Why, that would be the Sun.

Just a couple of weeks ago after all we learned that Cameron had, thanks to Murdoch's son-in-law, visited Rupert himself on his yacht prior to jetting off on holiday. Whilst registering this in the members interests, he somehow forgot to mention he was going to see Murdoch himself. Still, these things can slip the memory.

If there was some sort of deal done on the floating fortress between Murdoch and Cameron, and the Sun's apparent swift praise for Cameron's conference speech suggests there may well have been, then Cameron's article isn't completely overwhelming in its sycophancy towards Murdoch's interests. He is if anything perhaps overly defensive of the BBC, including its current methods of funding, and whilst paying lip service to the idea that the corporation is biased, you have to wonder if his heart's fully in it.

One of the big points he makes though is over the pay issue, and how Mark Thompson, the BBC's director general, earns over £800,000 a year. As I point out in a somewhat extended version of this post, this is less than his ITV and Channel 4 equivalents earn by quite some margin. How much though, for example, is Rebekah Wade paid? Answer: we don't know, as the Sun is one of the few newspapers which doesn't have its pay deals fully open to scrutiny, unlike the Daily Mail, where Paul Dacre has previously earned well over a £1 million for his stewardship of the paper. Wade is reputed to earn less, but is it less than Thompson? Perhaps a clue is provided by how much James Murdoch, Rupe's son, is paid by BSkyB (PDF). In 2008 he received roughly £1,357,000, down from almost £3 million the year before after he stepped down from being CEO to become a non-executive chairman, having effectively taken over from his father his role as head of News Corp in Europe, or at least in this country.

The other obvious point to make is that the BBC stands in the way of Murdoch's complete domination of the media in this country, hence why it so loathes the corporation and is attacked by Murdoch's interests at every opportunity. For Cameron to have received Murdoch's apparent backing, he will have had to have guaranteed to not harm Murdoch's business interests, and also to be prepared to intervene on Murdoch's behalf if necessary, as it was revealed at the weekend Blair did. While Cameron will then have not gone anywhere near as far as Murdoch would have liked him to, Cameron still can't burn his bridges with the corporation until he is in a position where it won't make any further difference. Today's article will almost certainly be a further step towards Cameron gaining the affections of one of the few people who really matter, and the fact that he isn't even a British citizen and does all he can to pay as little tax in this country as possible doesn't matter one jot.

Gaunts' Britian

Talking of Jon Gaunt...

Matthew Norman:
In Brits we trust

On the op-ed page of The Sun are extracts from Gaunty’s Best of British: It’s Called Great Britain Not Rubbish Britain, and many thanks to Rebekah Wade for offering the choicest cuts from an opus on which I still haven’t lavished £18.99. Included in this saliva-inducing amuse bouche of Gaunty faves are not only the great British summer fete, pork scratchings, saucy seaside postcards, queuing (“What is it with us Brits and queuing?”), HP Sauce, marmalade and the NHS (no direct comparison with the French system, but we take the point).

Also making the cut is tolerance.

Jon Gaunt is the most appalling hypocrite

Oh this really got my goat.

Having spent the last few years railing against the "nanny-state", Jon Gaunt wrote in his most recent column about how the parents of Danny James (who was left paralysed after a serious Rugby injury) travelled with him to Switzerland, in order for Danny to visit a euthanasia clinic.

After vilifying Danny's loving, and no doubt grieving parents, Gaunty points out that "Assisted suicide is a crime in this country and it should remain so."

That may be true, but it doesn't make it right. What right does the State really have to force a person to suffer a life they find unbearable? Surely the ultimate line between state authority and personal liberty is one of life itself.

Jon Gaunt is all very well bitching endlessly about the Labour government's interference in our daily lives, but then he takes utterly illiberal positions like this. I know I say this every time, but the guy's a 24-carat gold hypocrite ::

But no, his parents took him to Switzerland and instead of truly confronting the horror of their actions, politicians are now turning a blind eye to the death clinics and refusing to even have the moral debate in this country.


This is not a theocracy, Jon. I couldn't give a monkeys what politicians think about this, there is no "moral debate" worth having. The State has no legitimate right to block suicides - assisted or not.

Taking their son to Switzerland must have been a harrowing experience, but Danny's parents understood that his fundamental human right is to self-determination.

It was Danny's wish to die. That's all we need to know.