Thursday, July 14, 2011

Fair and Balanced

In the comments to the last post, Flying Rodent tells us that Dave appeared on Sky News with Adam Boulton in one of those studio talking heads things. All present agreed "that this is all getting a bit out of hand and a bit silly, and we all need to calm down." (FR's paraphrase, using, I assume, the Deborah Orr/Will Self 'we'.)

Sky News reporting on this has been very good. Its commentary less so. (Have you noticed that all the reporters wear trench coats? In July. That's rather sweet.)

I couldn't find the Adam Boulton chat video, but here's a fairly impartial piece. Until you get to the second video, which is Andy Hayman bitching about his treatment by the House of Commons Select Committee.

Here on the Sky site is a video of that treatment. It's the third video of the 'accused'; I can't link to it directly. There's much the same video on the Guardian site.

He talked to camera about "courtesy they should be showing people." They did laugh at him.

The Tory Michael Ellis, his voice swooping up and down with astonishment, said: "You made a judgment call to accept hospitality from the people you were investigating?"

Hayman: "Yeah." (Mocking laughter) He added: "Not having the dinner would have been potentially more suspicious than to have it." (Louder laughter.)

"I dunno why you're laughing … we would never, ever have a dinner that would compromise the investigation."

Simon Hoggart's sketch.

Mr Vaz asked about the fact that he had taken a job as a columnist with News International, the very firm he had been investigating. "That is a private matter for me and the Times," said Hayman primly, to startled surprise.

There's more. Tabloid Hack Attack on Royals, and Beyond, New York Times.

Andy Hayman, who ran the case for Scotland Yard, has since retired. He declined to comment for this article. He is currently a columnist for The Times of London, where he has written in defense of the police investigation and maintained there were “perhaps a handful” of hacking victims. The paper is owned by News International.

But, as we all know, the Times and Sunday Times, despite sharing premises in Wapping, are only connected to the Sun and now defunct News of the World, by sharing an owner.

All times writers smell of roses. You heard it from a policeman. OK, he may have got some simple words mixed up. I assume he meant there were more than a "handful" rather than "perhaps." But that's a simple typo, police officers don't do touch typing. Nor can we expect him to count to "more than a handful".

It really is a lot of fuss over nothing, isn't it?

Update 9:40 pm Timothy Garton Ash really is very good here. I expect to see attacks on him and Bianca Jagger from the usual quarters over the next few days.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Times writers are innocent? Not according to Brooke Magnanti/Belle de Jour:

So on the day of the book's release in the UK, I logged on to a public library computer in Clearwater, Florida, and had a look at that old account. There was a new message from someone I didn't recognise. I opened it.

The message was from a journo at the Sunday Times. It was short, which struck me as unusual: Come on Belle, not even a little hint? There was an attachment. The attachment started downloading automatically (then if I remember correctly, came up with a "failed to download" message).

My heart sank - my suspicion was that there had been a program attached to the message, some sort of trojan, presumably trying to get information from my computer.

Nor according to Zoe Margolis/Girl with a One-Track Mind, which sets this post of hers from 2009 in more context, especially the email from the Acting News Editor of the S/Times that states the paper has her birth certificate and education details.

Roses? Yeah, right.


7/14/2011 08:43:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Dave's on Newsnight. Don't know when Rupe said he wouldn't sell, though.

Thought 1. Who would he sell to?

Thought 2. Why should he not sell if he hasn't got a satellite network his papers can pimp any more? A few freebies usually does for film promoting.

And Sky apparently announced that Sir Paul Stephenson was being investigated. He isn't. However, dum dum dum di-di dum dum, he is under pressure. So will it be "Porridge for Boris's copper over Wapping Whoppers"?

Sky's main headline now is FBI Launches Inquiry Into Phone Hacking. (Can I say that I think this 9/11 victims story is total BS and hangs on the word "may"?) I think we can count on Rupert and James showing up before the HoC Select Committee. Things are rather hot in the US at the moment apparently. Well, it is July.

How long has Dave covered politics? And yet he still trusts assurances from those in power. That operation was on his Aarse wasn't it? They didn't go near his head, I hope.

7/14/2011 09:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First Anon, so long as we're going back in time, here's an article I quite liked:

7/15/2011 05:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't know when Rupe said he wouldn't sell, though.

Presumably in the WSJ where he raised his head above the parapet yesterday?

But why is he relieved? Does DA really think Murdoch is the only person who should own the Times?

7/15/2011 05:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The reporter in both the Brooke and Zoe/Belle and Abby Lee cases is the same guy, Nicholas Hellen, who I mocked on my blog a few years ago. He had a speciality in harassing bloggers.

Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

Also, what's the betting this piece with reference to Justin McKeating is actually Hellen's sockpuppet?

7/15/2011 11:11:00 AM  
Blogger Dan Hind said...

I thought it would be fun to put the words Voodoo, Histories, massive, conspiracy and Wapping in close proximity on my blog.

DA has made his feelings about the piece clear on Twitter.

7/15/2011 10:31:00 PM  
Anonymous skidmarx said...

"The last few scandals are a sign of what a scrutiny society we've become"
OD on Sunday Morning Live on BBC1 as I write explaining that everything is going to be alright.

7/17/2011 09:08:00 AM  
Anonymous skidmarx said...

And Nick Cohen has a classic sub-heading in the Observer:
"Although Chomskyan self-delusion has all too often blighted public life, the downfall of Ratko Mladic and Rupert Murdoch gives cause for optimism". When he says "I drag up memories of this shabby affair because..." I was assuming "that's the shabby guy I am" would follow, but no.

7/17/2011 10:09:00 AM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

Is it worth reading Cohen any more? The shorter version of today's column. "It's Chomsky's fault for persuading the politicians and police that Murdoch had influence." Puhlease.

7/17/2011 03:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Witchsmeller Pursuivant said...

From the Cohen "article" -

Chomsky's most dedicated followers are, however, our politicians and police officers.

Who knew?

7/17/2011 05:28:00 PM  
Blogger Phil said...

In Nick's reluctant defence, that's clearly not meant literally - it's a variation on his recurring theme of "these so-called lefties with their so-called leftie ideas are actually reactionary, in some sense or other, which logically implies that they're actually on the Right, which is why true leftists like me write for the Spectator".

Having said that, the idea that (a) the police and the leaders of the two main parties act as if the propaganda model is true, but (b) the events of the last fortnight show it isn't, is a bit more substantial than the usual smorgasbord of Livingstone, Galloway and Judith Butler. It doesn't really work, though: the Murdoch-Downing St-Met triangle clearly was a rather substantial reality rather than an erroneous working assumption. On the other hand, I'm not convinced it really fits the propaganda model. So the column's a bit of a mess - just not quite that much of a mess.

7/17/2011 06:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh good grief! That could be Nick's worst this year.

For instance, what is it with the statistics? The voting numbers are fine, but the press stuff is meaningless. If there were only two papers in the country, the Sun and the Independent, would the latter constitute 50% of the media? How do you weigh Aaro and Caitlin Moran, neither of whom hide their preference for Labour against the rest of the Times?

I think the Chomsky case is far more subtle than Nick acknowledges. NC defends heterodoxy. I've not read the stuff in question, but if NC says that facts are cited, I'm apt to take his word over Nick's "everybody knows" explanation. It was evil (© Norman Geras)! Somehow 1. Voldemort 2. A miracle happened 3. Everybody died. I tend to believe people en masse are crazy and opportunistically violent, but it's always worth assuming that reports of deaths are exaggerated (as they were after 9/11 for example), and looking for mundane exigencies and proximate causes.

On a somewhat different note, if the Holocaust is sacred, and nothing compares to it, why is it OK for Nick to compare a press baron mostly known for giving us tits in colour with the author of the worst genocide since 1945? (Or was that the sub ed? In any case: WTF?)

CAPTHA: feles

Dave Weeden

7/17/2011 08:08:00 PM  
Blogger Phil said...

it's always worth assuming that reports of deaths are exaggerated (as they were after 9/11 for example)

You reckon? After 9/11 the casualty estimates started at 50,000, fell quite rapidly to 8-10,000 and were revised downward more slowly to ~4,000. After Srebrenica the casualty estimates started at 8,000, and they've stayed there ever since; I don't think I've seen a figure lower than 6,000 from a source that wasn't openly partisan.

Chomsky's specific comments may be defensible, but I think in general Nick's justified in suspecting revisionism. "Do those estimates need qualifying?" is a legitimate question. "Has anyone come up with a lower figure, might some of those people have got away and not been counted, and what about the attacks from the other side?" isn't.

7/17/2011 10:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Asteri said...

The Srebrenica victims estimates were always within 6,000 - 9,000, but an exaggerated figure of 250,000 was endorsed for the entire 1992-95 war, for some years before the figure of 100,000 was excepted.

Its pretty cheap of Nick to exploit the memory of these atrocities just to squash them into completely irrelevant articles (yet again) for the purposes leftist bashing. The 26 meetings in 12 months with Bekah Brooks and the whole business of the PM hiring a former editor of NOTW as director of communications looks slightly more concrete than a paranoid fantasy.


In the past, hasn't Nick cast doubt on the casualty figures of the Lancet study? I may be completely wrong about that but y'know glass houses.

7/18/2011 12:46:00 AM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

Cohen's piece is a crass caricature.

the evidence that partisan newspapers and broadcasters do any more than preach to the converted is weak, to put it mildly. Weighted by circulation, 74.8% of the press backed the Tories at the last election, but just 36.1% voted for David Cameron. Only 13.3% of the press supported Brown, but 29% of the electorate voted Labour

so media bias = telling people who to vote for rather than framing issues and personalities and distorting factual content. It's obvious, but if these figures were to be of any use at all (which they wouldn't be anyway since only correlation) he'd need to compare the figures for previous elections. Might have some idea of an effect size less than 100% then.

Current scandal leaves me pretty cold - little I didn't have expected already and the proof of the pud - just like banking crisis, expenses - will be in what happens, which will be approx. bugger all; a minor setback for NI.

I think Chomsky's propaganda model is simplistic, underdeveloped - tho also geared to the US rather than some island off the coast of Yurp (BBC?).

Of course there's an interplay and jockeying between political parties + backers, permanent state, meeja, business, finance, others groups, yea, even voters. That's the whole point of making it look good: boundary conditions rather than strict totalitarian control.

Cohen just doing the usual straw-man-beating based on caricature of (yep) 'CT's, populism, paranoid style etc which btw is to an extent self-fulfilling because marginalising.

Murdoch a crass and highly visible personality, and News Corp big enough to count as both media and business interest (and Fox of course very blatant - the rump of US population more crass than here - for now and foreseeable future.)

But beyond that, he's interchangeable. A self-link with little of my own burblings in it: "The possibility of becoming the most powerful man on the planet is irresistibly beguiling to many rich men".

Even the Bilderberg capitalist steering committee only has as much sway as its combined membership can muster given the degree of cooperation it can muster. Which is a lot, but if you look closely you can see rivalries and infighting, failures, confusion, etc. What else? 'Don't let them see us - don't tell them what we are doing' - are these the words of the all-powerful boards and syndicates of the world?

Chomsky on Srebrenica - what of it? Cohen should do some percentages on Chomsky's error (if he did err, I dunno) rate. Both ulterior motive and objective justification can be true: opportunism, they call it. The test is to check for consistency v bias. It's all a numbers game, not simple iron laws.

7/18/2011 10:04:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Just a note, but I think on here in the past we've concluded that the main manual for Cameron and his chums was Alastair Campbell's diaries. Presumably that was where they learned that Murdoch press support is vital, and I'm not sure many would eny its importance; but I'm pretty sure Blair would have been more careful and would not have appointed Coulson. (though that enthusiastic embrace seems to have been caused partly by Murdoch's reluctance to back the Tories even with Cameron at the helm - iirc he had to be persuaded by Rebecca Brooks to do so).

Maybe this current furore represents the true end of Blairism, since the 'appease the Murdochs at all cost' tactic was embrased TOO wholeheartedly?

7/18/2011 10:21:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeesboard said...

Oh and you think Nick's Chomsky column was tedious and lazy?

Check this out:

7/18/2011 10:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone interested in another episode of 'scum watch' can turn to the comments on HP. They are appended to a reasonable post by Edmund Standing: it's the comments that are the problem.

Chris Williams

7/23/2011 12:56:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Now there's a novelty.

7/23/2011 03:48:00 PM  
Anonymous darkhorse steak with bernaise sauce said...

Somewhat off-topic, but for some reason, the BBC turned to Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens for 'expert' opinion on why Oslo was targeted by al-Qaeda (whoops).

Approximately 1m16s in on this Youtube recording of the report

7/23/2011 05:41:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

There's been quite a few old AW friends about today and yesterday: the Henry Jackson Society, Peter Beaumont, Denis MacShane....

7/23/2011 07:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BTW, I'm seeing if I can get the more sane of the HP proprietors to reconsider their role in the project.

Chris William

7/24/2011 09:20:00 AM  
Anonymous skidmarx said...

DA was on the BBC News Dateline programme last night, warning his fellow panellists that they would be tainted by sitting with him, that we "have gone beyond the useful stage of this [News Intl.] story, and onto the droppings", that the story had now widened out (so the focus on NI has gone), and that the Scrutiny Revolution has made everyone more accountable since the days when policemen would happily beat his demonstrating head in and then charge him with assault(has he got a record for this sort of thing?).

7/24/2011 09:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Story so far from HP.
1. They are solid above the line
2. Their comments moderator Alec M is stuck in reverse: he can't (or won't) moderate the nazis, but it very happy to slag off 'the left'.
3. I am still trying to be polite to those of the HP gang with obvious brains, esp Sarah AB, in an attempt open a channel of communication with them. I think that there's a good chance that the enormity of this crime could give some of the fellow-travellers of the decent project pause for thought. There a number of less toxic directions at which 'muscular liberalism' could point and it's probably worth a bit of effort and pride-swallowing to persuade them of this.

Chris Williams

7/24/2011 01:46:00 PM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

Nice try Chris

Alec M's comment (you know the one) is beyond contempt.

7/25/2011 09:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rodent was right: I wrong.

Chris Williams

7/26/2011 07:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although I've been having a bit of guilty fun with them this afternoon. Will-you-condemnathons are fun. It's wrong, I know, but I can't help it.

Chris Williams

7/26/2011 03:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, that's a shame - someone's blocking my posts on HP. Still, it's probably for my own good, on balance.

Chris Williams

7/26/2011 05:30:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

If only the whole of HP had one single post and I had my cursor on the Delete button...

7/26/2011 06:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I've just signed off from it for the night, following a myseterious resumption in my ability to post, after a last try at saving some souls. The nazi drive-bys are bad, but the HP fanboys are just irritating. They're not even _good_ at it. OTOH, watching them dig themselves into holes is sometimes entertaining.


7/26/2011 09:51:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

Nick Cohen on, you know that thing where some nutter killed a bunch of people:

the story reminds us to never ignore the conspiratorial screams that echo around the madhouse of the Web, or believe that they do not need to be answered roughly and with hard arguments. Every now and again, they kill

7/26/2011 09:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


"[conspiracy theories] kill"

Yes, this is true. I remember a big one involving Saddam Hussein and WMD and al Qaeda.

7/27/2011 01:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sure that Standing is right to say (as he does in that post CW links to) that some on the left are making sweeping judgements after this horrible event in Norway. However, instead of providing examples, he simply smears leftists in general, which seems to me to commit the very fallacy he's complaining about.

The other problem is that he ignores a more sensible criticism. For instance, here's the start of one comment under that post by Ross:

"Critics of multiculturalism have nothing to apologise for"

This is correct in a literal sense (asking for apologies is a little Decent-esque). But some (and I'll detail below precisely who) are in a small way responsible for this tragedy.

Take "critics of multiculturalism". What does this even mean? What does it mean to criticise "multiculturalism"? It's nothing but a dog-whistle.

I don't expect most people to get things right or not have irrational beliefs, but I do expect prominent people in the public eye (journos, politicians etc) to be careful with what language they use, to base what they say on evidence, and not be cynically self-serving, or so quick to reach judgement.

This is plainly not what a Mel P or a Michael Gove does. This is plainly not what any tabloid does.

Breivik clearly got his ideas about Muslims outbreeding us from somewhere. And plainly many if not most conservatives are not at fault in any way here. But the idea that the likes of the Daily Mail or Western governments since 9/11 are pure "Nothin' to do with me, guvnor" innocents over the popularity of the far-right is ludicrous.

For instance, immigrants don't "steal" jobs. The idea that they do is obviously dangerous - never mind far-right terrorism, simple day-to-day discrimination and xenophobic hassle is bad enough. Those in power have a responsibility to get their facts straight before propagating such ideas.

7/27/2011 02:15:00 AM  
Blogger flyingrodent said...

I don't know why you're surprised, Chris - it's all entirely in-character.

The charge of "hypocrisy" and "being nastier about the other side than your own" is one that pretty much all of us are guilty of, no matter how even-handed we try to be. I'll admit to it right now, and I imagine most people would.

Not so at the Sauce, where any criticism is an all-out, guns blazing attack that has to be ferociously resisted. By far the easiest and most honest thing to do would be to say well, maybe e.g. David misspoke there - here's examples of him saying the opposite, and those remarks don't represent the opinions of all of us.

But then, you can't be a maximum ballbag and ferociously smite your critics with fireballs of indignation while simultaneously admitting to an error, any error. Ever thus, and it surprises me that there's anyone left who imagines it could ever be different.

7/27/2011 05:07:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Anon. I'm not sure that Standing is right. I actually commented on that thread, and asked for links to examples of this. No one has replied, although others have also asked for evidence. Where have I seen the right-wing criticised lately? Osborne's mysteriously disappearing economy. (Nothing to do with multiculturalism.) Cameron's dodgy choice of advisors. (Ditto.) US politicians being dicks. And so on. I don't believe anyone is using Breivik as a stick to beat the right with: we have enough sticks already.

I see Brownie is still trying to deny that Clark Kent isn't Superman, sorry, I mean that David T isn't Lucy Lips.

7/27/2011 05:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Sarah AB said...

Oh Chris, flattery will get you everywhere!

Flying Rodent - I have in fact said something along those lines just now - but before reading your comment.

7/27/2011 06:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not usually an admirer of "Mettaculture" but in that thread he provides a pretty devastating critique of Standing's position (obviously it being a comment from Mettaculture I can only provide a short extract)


[Breivik] is not principally obsessed with Islam, Muslims, anti-Islamisation or immigration, his obsession hinges around a form of Marxism that he, using contemporary vocabulary used by, among many others, Hitchens and Standing, labels ‘Cultural Marxism’.

Cultural Marxism for him is synonymous with Social Democracy, liberal-leftism, feminism, anti-colonialism, internationalism and multiculturalism, in short the core political views that he sees
as hegemonic.

Now Edmund Standing claims that one cannot tar conservatives with the terrorist brush of Brevik simply because they may share some of his political beliefs is correct but then he systematically avoids the central political obsession of Breivik that is to see a leftist hegemony dominating and influencing out of all proportion modern culture and contemporary social thought itself.

Yet even in Standing’s post he can gobsmackingly claim;

I, for example, argue that leftist hegemony in post-war Western intellectual life has been a bad thing. The fact that Breivik believed that there is some kind of Marxist conspiracy in the West doesn’t invalidate my position.

My view is that the answer to leftist intellectual hegemony is to create a conservative intellectual counter-culture

No Edmund Standing, no, no, no. Do you know what hegemony means? It necessarily strongly implies a conspiracy among members of a group to gain and maintain a dominant position.

You are claiming a leftist hegemony on Western intellectual life. This is your current term but it is synonymous with cultural marxism which is a term you are studiously avoiding from the current discussion even though it is the operative term in Breivik’s screed and a term you have used with similar meaning previously.


7/27/2011 11:41:00 AM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

Sorry, that last comment was from me

7/27/2011 11:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

CC, I will reply on the (official) open thread.

7/27/2011 12:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ta for being polite, Sarah. It's better to keep talking, even to people we disagree with. Generally, more information gets exchanged when the temperature is lower.

Chris Williams

7/27/2011 05:03:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

I see Brownie is still trying to deny that Clark Kent isn't Superman, sorry, I mean that David T isn't Lucy Lips.

Is, surely?

7/27/2011 09:34:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Quite right, is. I got caught between "assert ... isn't" and "deny ... is". Thus, half-hearted early morning revisionism.

7/28/2011 02:01:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

It necessarily strongly implies a conspiracy among members of a group to gain and maintain a dominant position.

No it doesn't.

7/29/2011 08:38:00 AM  

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