Thursday, 31 July 2008

EDITOR: septicisle (Beat: politics and ethics)

Who am I?

My name is septicisle. I live somewhere in the United Kingdom and have been blogging since the bad old days of just after 7/7.

What will I be writing about?

I'll be concentrating on the Sun's politics and the ethics of the paper's journalism. Along with Tim, I'll probably be the one here making the most posts.

Why am I doing this?

In the words of Dennis Potter, there is no one person more responsible for the pollution of what was already a fairly polluted press than Mr Rupert Murdoch, and the pollution of the press is an important part of the pollution of British political life, and it's an important part of the cynicism and misperception of our own realities that is destroying so much of our political discourse.

The Sun has been key, not just to the success of Thatcher and Blair in this country, but to the success of Murdoch himself worldwide. He had the nous to buy what was a decent but failing newspaper (the Daily Herald), to not tinker too vastly with its politics to begin with, but once he had succeeded in building it up, he then turned it into his own personal propaganda vehicle. Rather than involving the paper's readers in anything even remotely approaching discussion on the direction of the paper, the editorials instead dictate what they should think. Anything that threatens Murdoch's business interests, whether they be politicians, the BBC or Facebook, will be attacked habitually and without mercy.

Due to the paper having the largest sale of any British daily paper, it still has immense power across government. It doesn't matter whether the readers of the paper themselves agree with its politics; they are held up, due to the fact they buy it, whether they do so for the sport, the celebrity news or for the pitiful political reporting, as supporters of the editorial line. This means that any politician who has even the slightest aspiration of at some point gaining power has to follow the Murdoch line. As long as they are felt not to be a threat to Murdoch's businesses, deals can be made. This happened first under Thatcher, with the paper becoming the biggest cheerleader for Thatcherism in the entire country, while under Blair it meant that the newspaper supported the Iraq war to the absolute hilt, demanded that he constantly crackdown on crime regardless of the consequences we now see, such as the immensely overcrowded prisons, of which it still demands yet more, and has called for the harshest measures on terrorism that this country has ever seen, supporting first 90 day detention without charge and more recently 42 days.

If you want an example of just how the Murdoch empire works, you should know that every single Murdoch-owned newspaper, even if they were Chinese, supported the Iraq war. His argument for it was not the emancipation of the Iraqi people from a vile and murderous dictator, but because he thought that it would lower the price of oil to $20 a barrel. Without his support, it seems doubtful that Blair would have survived for as long as he did. Even now the support the paper is giving to Gordon Brown is effusive, as Murdoch has yet to be convinced by David Cameron. When he eventually is, it will be as if New Labour never existed.

If the Sun's methods were pure, it wouldn't matter so much. But they are not. They routinely lie, distort, invade the privacy of members of the general public on the slightest whim and perform hatchet jobs on those who oppose it. Along with the other tabloids, in recent years it has been directly responsible for the hysteria over paedophiles, the terrorist threat, gun and knife crime, and now over the so-called broken society. The paper in short, doesn't just report on misery: it helps to create and perpetuate it.

Some will argue that the Sun, unlike say the Daily Mail, is declining in influence. It's a view I'm sympathetic towards. The Sun, unlike the Mail and the Express, has been attempting over the last few years to move with the times. As the recent Dispatches documentary on Islamophobia showed however, it still remains one of the most intolerant and pernicious newspapers on many fronts. As long as it stays the biggest selling newspaper in the country, it deserves special attention.

My own blog has over the last few years been attempting to redress the balance, however slightly. I'm humbled and pleased to have been asked by Tim to contribute to this blog, dedicated to doing just that.


Tim said...

Feeling a little humbled myself, mate; that's a hell of a post.

Welcome aboard.

BenSix said...

It must have been heartbreaking for Potter, especially as he'd written for the Sun when it was a broadsheet.

An excellent post and a fine looking site.

Anonymous said...

Looking forward to some cracking posts from you, as usual.

Ethics? You'll probably be the busiest Editor here.

Tom said...

Excellent endeavour.