What about the real news?

Today’s Daily Mail editorial condenses all of the basic arguments that have been trotted out by their ever-so-compliant columnists in the past week as to why we should all forget about hacking and move onto something else: ‘Never mind phone hacking, what about the real issues facing Britain?‘ [istyosty.com link].

In the real world, bleak economic storm clouds are gathering.

The euro crisis, which has already cost the beleaguered British taxpayer £12.5billion in bailout loans – an average of £600 for every family – deepens by the day.

Italy is the latest debt-ridden Eurozone country causing panic in the markets and even the credit-rating of the USA may be cut, which would spark a major crisis on both sides of the Atlantic.

In Britain, rampant fuel and food inflation cripple household budgets, unemployment remains around 2.5million and there’s fear on the High Street as big names like Habitat and HMV go under.

Despite empty promises from Business Secretary Vince Cable, the banks – whose criminal recklessness and greed created this crisis – cynically starve small businesses of vital funds they need to help kick-start the economy.

Even when loans are given, interest rates are usurious.

Mortgages are almost impossible to get for first-time buyers, leading to sclerosis in the housing market. Growth has stalled and we may even be back in recession by the end of the year.

In a sane world, politicians would be working round the clock to help rectify these dire problems. But sadly, they are far too busy enjoying a frenzy of vengeful score-settling against the Murdoch press.

It’s an insidious argument and the editorial reads as if it was written by Richard Littlejohn. One of the key narratives that the Daily Mail has tried to sell for the last week is that the phone-hacking story is only of interest to politicians or those in the media. Richard Littlejohn referred to the ‘politico/media village’ exploding into a frenzy as if the story had no impact outside of this sphere. In today’s editorial the writer falls back on one of Littlejohn’s favourite turn of phrases: ‘In the real world’. Basically this argument is used simply to dismiss one topic by implying that there are far more pressing problems to deal with – it is also used to again distance a topic from being in the public interest. In this case the editorial is clearly suggesting that only money problems impact upon its readership, whilst hacking is something that only politicians or the BBC care about (because it does not take place in the real world).

Clearly, the phone-hacking story is no longer about the actual hacking itself, but rather it is beginning to look at the utterly unchecked power held by a morally reprehensible press. This impacts all of us because we all realise that we are just one incident away from becoming a victim – whether we are a landlord of a murdered girl or the relation of a missing girl or dead soldier; we are all just one piece of bad luck or personal tragedy away from being hacked, smeared or otherwise invaded by a rampant press. This story is real, it is important, it dramatically affects the real world in which we live. The media for far too long have been completely free to lie, distort and attack anything that suits them, vastly impacting on political process and societal harmony. If phone-hacking is the foot in the door that allows us to tackle the wider unaccountability and ethical bankruptcy of the press then it is quite simply one of the most significant stories of our lifetime.

All of this is obviously ignoring the staggering hypocrisy of the Mail editorial telling us what is ‘real world’, important news and what ‘in a sane world’ would be ignored. This is, after all, the newspaper that regularly leads with stories about wheelie bins – followed up by ‘special investigations’ about them:

Tabloid Watch has also covered this as well, go read it.

7 thoughts on “What about the real news?”

  1. Interesting to note the Mail’s creative use of economic language: ‘bailout loans’.

    Compare this from an article in the Graun yesterday (a reprint from the LRB) about the Greek financial crisis (http://bit.ly/qtMNgq ):

    ‘First, the “bailouts”, as they are always called, are no such thing. Taxpayer-funded capital injections into otherwise bankrupt banks were bailouts. The Greek “bailouts” are loans, pure and simple.’

    In other words, you can either have a loan, or a bailout. And loans, as the Mail acknowledges within the same very article, have to be repaid. Often at ‘usurious’ interest rates.

    I wonder if the Mail would consider any interest rates applied to UK/EU loans would be similarly unfair?

  2. All just a roundabout way of saying “Please, readers, don’t pay much attention to this when our name crops up in the investigation” from the paper which is up to its neck in this more than most.

    They’re desperately hoping no-one reads the Information Commissioner’s reports from 2006, especially the 2nd “What Price Privacy Now?” (goo.gl/E5h4K) where the Mail is top of the table (p9) of “customers driving the illegal trade in confidential personal information”

  3. Bins. How did I know that when the Mail speak of issues in the “Real World” they mean bins. Never mind the newspapers gross invasions of privacy lets moan about frigging bins again. And again. And again.

    I suppose if you are an upper middle-class newspaper editor with more money than sense and an army of fawning followers then bin collections are all you have to worry about. At the moment I couldn’t care a less if I had to take my own rubbish to the tip. I’m more worried about the power that irresponsible newspapers have wielded for so long.

  4. They’ve got a point though, haven’t they? Yes, it does look like the Mail are trying to move the debate on quickly before any alleged misdeeds of theirs start to emerge.

    That said, there ARE a lot of other things going on at the moment. The news agenda this week is absolutely hectic, and it’s a nightmare keeping up with it all. I’m hoping for a quiet weekend so I can catch up with it, but I don’t see it happening.

    The phone-hacking scandal does deserve a lot of coverage, but when there’s so much other stuff going on, the wall-to-wall coverage is unnecessary and more likely to have people switching off.

    1. @ The Grim Reaper

      But the phone-hacking coverage is uncovering fundamental issues of trust in the press. The press largely control the news agenda, so how do we know this week that other big stories are being reported accurately and honestly without a clear political agenda?

      We know the Mail in particular have a very clear agenda and that the press in general rely on a form of censorship to control and form debates set within the limits that the press wants. If the phone-hacking story does not lead to a wider evaluation of how the press functions in this way then it will be a huge failure in terms of improving the democratic environment in this country.

      That the press – who keep screaming about the importance of press freedom and for no formal regulation even after all of the hacking revelations – try to censor or shut down debate in this way is laughable.

      Yes, lots of important things are going on in the world, but as I pointed out, this doesn’t normally bother the Mail when they spend a lot of their editorials / front pages dribbling on about wheelie bins, elf ‘n’ safety, the public sector and so forth – or when they dedicate almost their entire online presence to the photographing of celebrities doing the most inane things.

  5. Not sure I agree with the distinction between Greece and the banks, many of the banks were bailed out with loans just like Greece. And they have paid us back with interest. Other banks had the Government purchase shares, which is similar as either those banks will buy the shares back at an inflated price or the Government will sell them on.

  6. Hear hear, uponnothing. This is about much more than ‘just’ phone hacking. The press are regularly smearing, slandering, censoring, distorting and outright lying. They destroy lives, censor debate and undermine democracy. Those who control the media have a terrifying amount of power and influence. Anyone who publicly challenges them is hit by a tidal wave of bile and venom. The only forms of recourse against the press are suing – prohibitively expensive for most, or the PCC, which is almost laughably useless. We have an opportunity to change things here, and I’m damned if I’m going to let the self serving tabloids diminish my anger. I just hope everyone else feels the same.

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