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Toothless media gum to death a blogger?

September 9th, 2010 Posted in Opinion by

Why is it, I wonder, that the apparently toothless media – which has largely been pathetic at holding the government to account in recent years  (with the obvious exception of the expenses scandal which was sold to them)  – and has always been happy to hitch a ride on the back of the blogosphere whenever it can – has turned so violently on one Guido Fawkes?  (Well turned on him – not sure about the “violently“).

Across the last week or so a story has emerged of a cabinet minister sharing a bedroom with a junior aide, then appointing that aide to the position of Special Adviser (breaking his own PM’s rules on the number of advisers into the bargain) without any shred of evidence that this aide has any qualifications or experience that would make him a “must have” in the department. At a time of austerity and declared self-restraint from the Government this is surely a strange appointment?

To any journalist worth their salt this would raise certain questions…why did the Minister break the rule of only two advisers (when swingeing cuts are promised across Whitehall surely this is hypocrisy?)…why was a millionaire sharing a room with a junior aide ( this is unusual behaviour at the very least?)…why was someone with so few qualifications appointed to the post of Special Adviser –  one of the most influential jobs in the land?(this is our money being spent folks and we should expect our politicians to appoint the best qualified – not give “jobs to the boys” like some old- fashioned favour system).

When the Special Adviser then resigns -and the minister in question issues one of the most bizarre press statements witnessed in a very long time – totally unforced and widely considered ill-advised…one has to conclude that something is not right. And this is potentially very serious indeed. One of the most important portfolios in the country –Defence Foreign Office – is acting oddly. Should not the journalists smelt a whiff off something? Should they at least consider the possibility that this is a matter of serious concern? Should we not all be concerned?  Has the minister behaved inappropriately?  Has there been blackmail? Has the office been infiltrated by a terrorist network?…OK I grant you that this is probably not likely given the checks that people have to go through to get appointments approved. But then who would have thought that a Government would sex up a document , lie to us and then take us into an illegal war? A weapons inspector may have been murdered and the incident covered up by Government officials. Let’s be right “unlikely” stuff can happen.

So given the importance/sensitivity/security issues surrounding the department in question, the curious circumstances of the appointment and then resignation of the adviser and the frankly odd behaviour of the minister in question you would have thought that the national media would be all over this story like a rash?

Yet what we have witnessed from the established news media, is almost incomprehensible. First they ignore the story. Then they seem to have  put  the man, who placed the information in the public domain, on public trial …reporting the story, with a sort of shrugged embarrassment, that “this” blogger is asserting “that”. Well sorry…but the BBC alone employs scores of political journalists, has vast resources at its beck and call, spends hundreds of thousands on so-called “political-reporting” and yet the best it can do is invite the blogger in question onto a radio talk show for HIM to explain to the BBC why HE thinks it’s a story… What on earth has happened to the BBC that it cant see a story when it slaps them round the chops , let alone be the ones uncovering it in the first place?

For the record I do not know Guido Fawkes that well. I have no personal axe to grind here. But I do read his website. This man shows no signs of being homophobic as has been suggested elsewhere.  He shows every sign of being one of the last men standing in the country who has an ounce of journalistic instinct – and the courage of his convictions.

It is inconceivable that the Government has “lent” on the whole of the national media to put a stop on this story gaining traction. So what can explain the reluctance of the national media to treat this with the seriousness it deserves?

 Is Guido Fawkes so far off the mark on this one that they are only reluctantly reporting at the fringes because they “know” that he is just plain wrong on this? If so why not say it?

 Have the national media truly got too cosy to those that they are supposed to be reporting on that they can’t see beyond getting the next “exclusive interview” with some important bigwig in Government? 

Have they been shown up one too many times by Mr Fawkes (this is not the first time that the blogger has been the one to break the story) and are down on their knees praying he his wrong. Because to conceive that  he has been first (and right) again would be simply too shameful for words?

Is it, afterall,  a sign of  the inevitable growth of the blogger and the inevitable decline of “traditional” political reporting?

Well time will tell … the truth will out eventually. In the mean time I hope that the so-called established media get their act together. Because whether Guido is right or wrong on this (and I do really hope he is wrong)  his instincts to ask the questions must surely be correct?

7 Responses to “Toothless media gum to death a blogger?”

  1. Andrew Says:

    Whether right or wrong, at least Guido and the BBC’s “scores of political journalists” would correctly place William Hague at the Foreign Office rather than at the MoD, unless of course I have missed something and Liam Fox has been sharing a room with ACM Stirrup.


  2. Angela Harbutt Says:

    good point andrew – juggling too many things I guess. Or may be there are indeed more rumours to come out – though I doubt that one ! Corrected and thx


  3. Old Holborn Says:

    First rule of Main Stream Media. Do not talk about Main stream Media. Second rule of Main Stream Media. Do not talk about Main stream Media.


  4. paul barker Says:

    Guido was simply following up slanders already hinted at in the MSM, saying things they were afraid to, because they can be sued. This is the normal story of the MSM making stuff up for fun & profit, promoting bigotry & in this case, following the agenda of the Tory Right.
    WTF are people calling themselves Liberals doing joining this nasty little witch-hunt ?


  5. Hywel Says:

    There is no reason why Guido can’t be sued


  6. Angela Harbutt Says:

    Paul – I am absolutely NOT joining a witch hunt and your question has no relavance to the post I made. It is about having a robust press willing to ask the right questions.


  7. Dave Atherton Says:

    What is the issue here, that Guido has done some investigative journalism and found the facts wanting?

    Guido certainly is not homophobic but potential conflicts of interest from the Foreign Minister and his choice of advisor I think are worthy of publishing.