Gobsmacked by the media By William Bowles

14 July 2011 — — Strategic Culture Foundation

Update 20 July 2011

Events move too fast! I wanted to update this piece on Monday but I thought I’d wait until the hearings yesterday, 19 July but aside from the plateful of shaving cream in the Digger’s face and one admission via an email that David Cameron knew all about the dirty dealings in the Dirty Digger’s empire, nothing much happened at all (and even this was not pursued). But then what can we expect from a totally complicit political class?

Y’know, sometimes you have to admire the nerve of the BBC and the corporate press, they have no shame, none whatsoever as they crow loudly that now the Big Bad Wolf has been defanged, they can all pat themselves on the back for what a good job they’ve done in exposing the malfeasance of News Corp.

Four years after Rebekah Brooks (now arrested) blurted out (later ‘corrected’ by Andy Coulson) that the News of the World was backhanding the cops thousands of pounds for the inside dope on stories and who knows what else, the media’s silence on the subject was deafening. This admission should have been grounds for an immediate criminal investigation of the NotW for bribery and corruption but nothing happened. Blink and you missed it.

Following those parliamentary hearings two men went to jail for phone hacking; one an employee of the NotW, the other a private investigator hired by the NotW. End of story? Not exactly, unless of course you got your news from the BBC.

Four years on 14/7/11 BBC News found the presenter asking this very question: Why did the press not pick up on this story (see below for more on this)? The story didn’t have enough ‘weight’. But you get the sleight-of-hand used here: it’s like suddenly the BBC is not the media! Why didn’t the BBC pick up on the story? Why not indeed? Brilliant; in a single sentence the BBC disassociated itself from any responsibility for not doing its job. It’s an outrageous abrogation of the BBC’s legally mandated charter to inform the public!

The BBC’s lead propagandist for maintaining the status quo, political editor Nick Robinson continued in the same vein when he had this to say about the News Corp debacle:

On the morning after the night the Commons broke the spell of Murdoch some are hailing a new era.

Never again, they say, will our political leaders be swayed by the charms and the threats of Rupert or James or Rebekah or, indeed, the owner or boss or editor of any paper.

To which I say: Clear your head, stop and think and stop fantasising. Politicians and the press are fated to be locked perpetually in a loveless embrace.

Our elected representatives crave favourable coverage. Newspapers are bought by men not to make money but for power and influence. It has always been thus and politicians have always resented it. — ‘A new era for politics and the media?‘ Nick Robinson political editor, BBC News Website, 14 July 2011

You bet! For a start Robinson’s job would be on the line. Once again, the Beeb outdoes itself with its newsspeak. Politics is reduced to personalities. Economics reduced to the whim of (powerful) individuals. And Robinson’s hoary old saw about ‘it’s always been this way’ is not only incorrect, it doesn’t justify the BBC not doing its job.

And once again the BBC engages in disassociating itself from the job it is meant to be doing. It’s a straight-up, strident bleat to preserve the status quo whereby ‘professional’ journalists conduct a merry dance with the political class, all the while absolving themselves of any responsibility for the (lack of) useful outcomes of their dalliances!

Yet only the day before Robinson told us a very different story, that:

“…built bit by bit and layer by layer. It was ignored by most as it showed no sign of moving. Gravity, though, cannot be defied forever.

“The hacking scandal became a political avalanche which has swept aside the News Corps bid for BSkyB as well as the News of the World. It is now heading fast for the secretive network of relationships between newspaper proprietors, leading politicians and the police.” — ‘This phone-hacking avalanche is still moving‘, BBC News 13 July 2011

Thus Robinson alone defies gravity? But the ‘public’ doesn’t have any ‘gravity’ with which to access to the political class. ‘We’ don’t get invited to garden parties at 10 Downing Street to talk things over with the PM about being unemployed or how to pay the mortgage.

It’s a sick relationship whereby trained media professionals are essentially whoring themselves to the political class and justifying it by arguing that they need these intimate relationships with politicians and businessmen else they won’t get the ‘inside dope’ and we’ll be left ignorant of what our masters are up to.

Robinson spells it out: ‘power and influence’ but that’s what happens when the press is owned by giant corporations who maintain power by using the press to influence the kinds policies the government enacts. And moreover, make sure that they get the kind of government friendly to the interests of big business which in turn makes damn sure that the BBC falls into line.

Thus Nick Robinson himself personally has a vested interest in maintaining the status quo because he too is now a ‘personality’, a VIP. So it’s not just the money for Nick Robinson either. Thus the relationship is cemented between the media and the state on the basis of mutual admiration and suckupmanship.

And Robinson is (finally) correct when he says nothing will change. A search of the BBC’s Website for Rebekah Brooks was quite illuminating. 251 stories mention her name but the earliest is 8/8/2009 and one on 26/3/2010 then an enormous gap to March 2011 but bulk of the 251 messages cover the last few weeks and there is no single article that deals with the original 2007 appearance of Brooks at the Commons. Instead, I offer you this video, an interview with Labour MP Tom Watson who alleges that the BBC ‘under-reported hacking allegations’.

At one point in the interview the BBC interviewer says to Watson:

“To be fair to everybody…when you have the man [John Yates]…who is charged with investigating whether there was any truth in the original claim…when he can find no evidence of it…we were all perhaps naive to take him at his word? But you must be able to understand why we were where we were?”

To which Tom Watson responded:

“No I don’t, I think perhaps the BBC was slightly intimidated by News International” — BBC ‘under-reported hacking allegations’, BBC News 13 July 2011

And neither do I. Well, out of the mouths of babes and sucklings… Watson even says that “Nick Robinson missed the story of his life”. There then followed an embarrassing attempt by the newscaster to further justify why Auntie Beeb didn’t pursue the story with some blather about “every news organization having its own agenda”, and you can guess what that means, and he quickly tried to move the interview on to ‘more important things’ namely ‘one man’s power’, Murdoch’s over News Corp. But the interview was decidedly not about Murdoch per se but about the BBC’s under-reporting of the scandal and why.

Watson’s suggestion that the BBC ‘was slightly intimidated by News International’ is pathetic and just goes to show that in the midst of a new-found media ‘transparency’ there is still opacity on all sides.

The Media Lens piece observes, quoting Julie Hyland:

‘The relationship between the two main parties and Murdoch is based on a common economic and political agenda—one forged in the early 1980s, as the ruling class set out to destroy the social rights won by working people in order to give free rein to the corporations and the City of London.

‘Murdoch backed Thatcher to launch the anti-working class offensive, then switched to Tony Blair and Labour to deepen it, and switched back to the Tories and Cameron to finish the job of destroying the social gains of a century of working class struggle.’ — ‘Avalanche! Media Hyperbole On News Corp, The ‘Free’ Press And A ‘Berlin Wall Moment’‘, Media Lens 14 July 2011

‘Berlin Wall’ moment indeed! What has the ruling elite running scared is precisely what the media have not been doing, namely investigating ‘without fear or favour’, the shenanigans of our ruling elites. So we wait with baited breath for the results of Nick Robinson’s charge headlong into the media maelstrom now that the ‘Digger’ is not looking over his shoulder.

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