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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Tony Blair on the feral beast « Previous | |Next »
June 14, 2007

In the dying days of his political career Tony Blair has a few words on the media. Much of what he says is true. He is critical of the 24 hour news cycle, instant forms of journalism, views the media as feral beasts that eschews balance or proportion, and raises the need for more regulation and accountability.

The result is a media that increasingly and to a dangerous degree is driven by "impact". It is all that can distinguish, can rise above the clamour, can get noticed. Impact gives competitive edge. Of course, the accuracy of a story counts. But it is secondary to impact. News is rarely news unless it generates heat as much as, or more than, light. Second, attacking motive is far more potent than attacking judgement. It is not enough for someone to make an error. It has to be venal. Conspiratorial.

The fear of missing out means today's media, more than ever before, hunts in a pack. In these modes it is like a feral beast, just tearing people and reputations to bits. But no one dares miss out.

Blair acknowledges that the media is deeply into interpretation of what a politician says and devotes reams of commentary to its significance.

It is true that the media face intense competitive pressures; that commentary trumps facts; that a politician's error always becomes part of a venal conspiracy; and that hidden meanings matter more to the media than what a politician actually says.

What Blair doesn't address in his speech to the Reuters Institute is the way some sections of the media engage in politics. In picking in the Independent in the UK he ignores the way the Murdoch Press in Australia and Fox News in the USA frames issues for a conservative audience, beats them up and does so by aggressively casting the other side as enemies to be destroyed. Oh, and the media stars use of anonymous sources in the Canberra court to further the right wing agenda; or the way they are more interested in influence than reporting.

Blair was largely dismissive of the democratising, diversifying potential of new media, preferring to emphasis its downside; ignored the way ministers leaked to selected journalists, downplays the politicians' more manipulative approach to supplying news; or lied about the Iraq war dossiers and the Hutton report.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:55 AM | | Comments (2)


Blair does not consider the role of the press in the cultural wars. An example is the Australian's recent editorial Reality bites the psychotic Left which claims that the left is 'trapped in a parallel political universe out of touch and far removed from the mainstream where the real Australian discourse takes place'. It then says:

The silencing of dissent thesis tells us more about the current health of the cultural Left than it does about the health of the nation. While the Left is still fighting the intellectual battles of the 1970s, the rest of the world has moved on. Progressive only in their own, inflated self image, the commentariat finds itself stranded on the outer fringes of the national debate, stuck in an intellectual cul-de-sac without the courage or confidence to retrace its steps. Their voices have not been silenced, they have simply lost their relevance. While the mainstream debate is conducted elsewhere, the progressives are stuck in the corner, muttering darkly among themselves. Seventeen years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, they are rebels without a cause still trapped in dialectical Marxist maze.

The Murdock Press in Australia has waged that kind of war for a decade or more.

there is more in that editorial --Reality bites the psychotic Left:

Irritatingly, the marginalisation of the self-styled progressives has only served to reinforce their unshakable belief in their own moral superiority. This conceit informs the kind of rigid political correctness that shuts down debate. To question multiculturalism is racist, to suggest that Aborigines would have a better future if they were participating in the mainstream economy is assimilationist. To challenge the precepts of political Islam tis to demonise Muslims and to demonise any minority group is failure to recognise the superior virtue of the oppressed... The only acceptable prejudice is anti-Americanism, which gives today's left-wingers some strange bedfellows from Cuba's Fidel Castro to the fanatical Islamists in the middle east.

It is pretty strident stuff. The political unconscious of the conservatives is being disclosed for all to see. The Murdock press is saying that it cannot speak because of the political correctness of the psychotic Left!