Wednesday, April 22, 2009

today : so so so scandalous

Here's what I don't believe. That all politicians are self-serving, superfluous vermin. Of course, some of them are.

But some journalists are, as are some welders, some cheese-makers, some zookeepers, some everythings.

But to look at the press recently, you would think that our current government is morally bankrupt.
There is, of course, no perspective involved when people announce this conclusion again and again. The fact is,there has been little abnormal or unexpected in the Blair/Brown government. In fact the number of people caught in financial/sexual scandals and botched cover-ups has been
remarkably low.

The thing is - giving a brown envelope of hush money to the madame of a brothel, whilst proclaiming outrage at the country's moral decline is worthy of comment. Having a husband who once watched a cable TV porn film whilst not passing moral judgement on other peoples' sexual behaviour is not.

Similarly, is anyone surprised that political advisers might shoot the breeze making up smears about their opponents. even if I accept that Damian McBride was serious and not just having a private joke (which I don't really accept, given that there is no evidence of it), is there any shock involved?

The sight of tabloid journalists and editors jumping desperately on the bandwagon of mock outrage is funny and unedifying. How terrible is it when you are smeared?
Ask Robert Murrat, or anyone who has been trapped in the tabloid sights and shot down for fun and profit.

Each and every minor incident is blown up out of all proportion. MP behaviour consequently is
like those massively magnified pictures of bed bugs or fleas. They look scary until we realise that they are microscopic and harmless.

The accumulation of all this : the 'scandal' of MPs expenses, the ridiculous focus on every questionable aspect of politicians' behaviour is to create a mythic truth. An accepted wisdom that all politicians are self-serving vermin.

Like much of what's passed off as news these days the story feeds itself. Questions are asked..."Send us a text, call up if you have something to say about this scandalous behaviour". Suddenly what the media thinks becomes what the public thinks.

That section of the press that operates by preying on peoples' bitterness and sense of failed inadequacy kicks into action. 'They' are doing better than you and it must be
by cheating. (see also immigrants sponging off our welfare, teachers sitting with their feet up whilst everyone else is at work, celebrities overpaid for having no talent)

Another fine example of this is the policing of the G20 protests. One policeman pushed Ian Tomlinson to the ground and by dint of awful luck it looks like it might have led to his death. One policeman hit someone with a baton, one other used his shield as a weapon.

All of these incidents look pretty appalling and, of course, should be properly dealt with.. But that's three out of several hundred or even thousand police. There is no focus at all on the successful, non-violent cops, who were seemingly in the the vast majority.

And the spin machine - eager to turn the page, draw a line and avoid negative stories lasting for more more news cycles then absolutely necessary - responds.. Action is taken. Reviews are announced. Rules are changed. Legislation is proposed. Anything to make it go away.

Real scandals are rare. We should beware the media created variety.

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