Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Smoke, Mirros and Feral Foolishness

As anyone who reads the papers will know, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair thinks the press has become increasingly cynical, a "feral beast", in which muck-raking journalists hunt their "victims" in packs.

Cynical, eh? According to the online dictionary at, "cynical" is an adjective meaning, "bitterly or sneeringly distrustful, contemptuous, or pessimistic." Now, why on Earth would the British media have any reason whatsoever to be cynical about anything Tone has to say?

Could it have something to do with a dodgy dossier, perhaps? Cash for Honours? Cherigate? The death of David Kelly? Using 9/11 to bury bad news? From its earliest days, the Blair government has manipulated the media to an incredible degree, often leaking fake or meaningless stories to distract attention from embarrassing issues.

Did Mr Blair think the public wouldn't notice? Or didn't he care? Either way, his cynical - yes, cynical - manipulation of the media amounted to nothing less than an attempt to deceive the British public. And he wonders why the media treats him with cynicism in return!

Well, we did notice, we weren't fooled and we most definitely weren't impressed. Just because a story is published in the papers doesn't mean we automatically believe it - that's something that both Mr Blair (and his equally dubious successor) and the press need to learn.

For, despite the howls of derision coming from just about all quarters of the media, we must remember that the vast majority of the media were accomplices in their own manipulation. They were willing, even eager, to print just about anything the Blair / Campbell spin machine could dream up, no matter how banal - or deceptive.

Whether that was because they were taken in by the Blair grin, or were too lazy to look behind the facade, I don't know. But while their indignation is a little misplaced, it doesn't take away the sheer hypocrisy of a Prime Minister who blames the media for no longer being taken in by his deceit.

Indeed, so brassed off is our soon-to-be-ex Great Leader, that he's talking about regulating the media. And don't mention the Internet to him - apparently, it's where the conspiracy theorists hang out. Of course, as is often the case with politicians, he's never really liked, or even understood the Internet. Remember the fuss over Jack Straw's son, and the futility of attempts to gag the British media because the story was available on international news websites? Unlike the regular media, it's practically impossible to control, or police, the Internet; people - ordinary, everyday people - can, and do, say what they like about who they like - must be a politician's worst nightmare!

Naturally, the regular media is in a real tizzy about Tone's desire to regulate them, and quite rightly too. Until very recently, British journalists were happy to voluntarily distribute a heap of fresh, steaming spin / propaganda with every edition of the daily papers, and only bit the hand that fed them when they finally realised how dirty it was. Belated, for sure, but at least it happened. Can you see that same thing happening in a state-regulated media? Me neither.

But isn't this all a little too predictable? Tone, the biggest spinmeister ever, publicly accuses the media of being cynical and wants to regulate them. What would you expect the media reaction to be? Anger, outrage, uproar, thousands of column inches devoted to the "big story"? In fact, what you would expect to happen is exactly what did happen, just as Tone himself predicted (to the media, yet!) it would.

I smell a damn big rat, and, this being the Internet, I'm going to advance my very own conspiracy theory: Tone is as far ahead of the media as he always was. This whole event was nothing more than one final, gigantic smoke screen, of the same kind that he's used so many time before, designed to divert attention from something else.

So what's he hiding? Could be anything - if he's done his job properly, the media will have missed the true story completely, and Joe Public won't get to find out about it until it's way too late. Whatever it is, though, you can bet it won't be popular.

Billy Seggars

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