Posts Tagged 'Journalism'

Did Bureau of Investigative Journalism pals network get the David Leigh story pulled?

Arriving late at this party I know, but better late than never.  Having not paid any attention to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (origin of the false Newsnight claims against Lord McAlpine) before today it was interesting to glance through the Who’s Who of that organisation.

The Daily Mail is giving the impression its hacks also haven’t paid any attention to it before today, citing information dating back to 2009 lifted almost verbatim from Roy Greenslade’s blog.  But that’s another story.

What is interesting is that some people taking a first glance see a spider’s web of connections enjoyed by the Bureau’s staff, which appear to transcend the supposed left-right media divide.  But then the left-right divide only exists in the battle of the columnists.  The hacks themselves are, by a huge majority, the usual bunch of socialist ‘intelligensia’ craving advancement to the lavishly paid ranks of the self regarding media elite.  Their track record is one of going after Tories and people on the centre-right of politics.  In fact it’s hard to find anyone the Bureau’s team have gone after where the attack hasn’t come from the left.

This blog has previously highlighted an initially inexplicable Daily Mail decision in August last year to publish a story about David Leigh’s own phone hacking exploits and the news he was facing questioning by police, then completely remove it and attempt to erase it from the public record without explanation or retraction.  The suspicion was that someone at the Mail or with strong influence at the Mail who was close to Leigh had got the story removed.

Now we see that one of the Mail on Sunday’s favourite daughters, Rachel Oldroyd, who spent 13 years at the MoS rubbing shoulders with fellow media travellers, is the Deputy Editor of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.  Jumping back to Greenslade’s blog we note that another luminary of the Bureau is none other than David Leigh, who was kept company there by his Guardian sidekicks Nick Davies and Mark Hollingsworth.  In fact, having worked on Julian Assange for days to get him to hand over the Wikileaks files, Leigh saw to it the Bureau of Investigative Journalism was given access to them – something that Oldroyd then wrote about.

In the newly recognised best tradition of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, we do not need any actual, you know, evidence in order to give the impression that Oldroyd may have influenced the Daily Mail on behalf of Leigh to get the story taken down.

But it does raise a question.  Is the Bureau of Investigative Journalism really an entity devoted to exposing the truth?  Or is it just a network of old hacks who cover each other’s backs to stop stories reaching the public domain?  We will leave it there and let readers decide for themselves.

Update: The Mail has now updated its story after we pointed out the Greenslade blog post dates back to 2009 they have now put in that caveat (you’re welcome) – but interestingly the revised piece adds that David Leigh, Nick Davies and Heather Brooke all deny any involvement with the Bureau. This is all the more intriguing because as avid Guardianistas who rub shoulders with Greenslade, are we to believe he never mentioned their alleged involvement to them?  If Greenslade was wrong, why did they not correct Greenslade’s assertion in 2009?  Something doesn’t add up.  Perhaps they should now investigate themselves?

The assault on free speech and wilful media ignorance

It’s fair to say I am not John Kampfner’s biggest fan.  But despite his observations of free speech being presented through the prism of media self interest, this piece he had in the Barclay Brother Beano on Thursday; ‘The global war on free speech’ makes some very good points that all readers would do well to absorb:

… We need anti-terrorism measures, but not the outrageous Communications Data Bill currently being discussed in Parliament, that would give not just the security services but dozens of lesser public bodies the right to demand emails and social media traffic from any citizen in the land.

… We need libel laws, but not those that for years have indulged sheikhs, oligarchs and other super-rich figures, preventing anyone from writing about them.

… Everywhere around the world, it seems, the right to take offence has been elevated into a human right. Usually, but not always, this “right” is exercised through religious belief. Most cases are seen through the prism of “insults” to Islam. But this “right” now seems to be exercised by whoever wants it.

… Whose interests are served when local councils know that planning decisions and other dodgy dealings will go unreported? The same goes on a national scale, not just about politicians, but sports stars and their agents and businesses on the take. Investigative journalism takes time, requires patience and indulgence from editors, and costs money. That is the area that is being cut back most of all – to everyone’s detriment.

… But I have worked in many countries – not just under authoritarian regimes – where journalists are seduced by the offer of a seat at the top table, or are persuaded not to ask that extra question. “Go easy, we don’t want trouble” could all too easily become the mantra here.

However this necessarily takes us off at an important tangent.  From a blogger’s perspective, why should it matter than any of Kampfner’s points are presented as media centric matters?  Because it should be recognised that some bloggers/citizen journalists are already adding value in this area by shining a light on instances of misbehaviour and dodgy dealings that were previously the preserve of investigative reporters.

When the likes of Kampfner readily accept journalists are manipulated and effectively bribed and show deference to those with ‘prestige’, it should be a warning sign that government ministers are only interested in working with journalists on matters of openness and transparency, as evidenced by this tweet from the Cabinet Office on 17 October, quoting Francis Maude:

The glorious media is playing right into the government’s hands and is in lockstep when it comes to excluding ‘the people’ – the ordinary man in the street.  But for the sneering journalistic condescension directed at bloggers by the self professed media elite, more examples of these type of stories published on blogs could be brought to a national audience by the legion of lavishly remunerated hacks. However, instead of the media working with bloggers they see them as little people, the great unwashed, whose stories are unworthy of exposure, so only a comparatively small number of people get to find out about them.

If the likes of John Kampfner genuinely want to champion free speech and bring attention to the murky activities of the powerful and the rich, locally or nationally, they could make an immediate difference by giving up their delusions of prestige and ending their policy of deliberately ignoring stories that common or garden bloggers uncover and publish.  Not for nothing do we assert the media is not an ally, but a fully assimilated part of the establishment.

Peter Hitchens, what about raw bias?

It is somewhat ironic that Peter Hitchens, so often a man who reminds us he can see what is going on where others are unaware, used his blog yesterday in the Daily Mail to say he has now discovered he is almost the only journalist who didn’t know that Jimmy Savile was a child molester.  He must be feeling quite left out among the media pack.

Hitchens goes on to ask, ‘If they all knew, why didn’t they tell you?’ before going on to declare most profoundly that:

Well, let them explain all that. What’s much, much more important is that you now know that there is a lot going on that nobody tells you.

They don’t tell you because they’re scared that very rich men can use the libel courts to ruin those who tell the truth about them.

Well there is something in that but it goes far deeper.  As Richard North observes, Hitchens is only partly right:

Hitchens suggests that the omerta owes much to our punitive libel laws, and there is some truth in that. But there is a great deal more to it than that, not least the sheep-like behaviour of the media pack, and the power of the narrative.

Too often, journalists (and their editors) want to stay in the comfort zone delineated by the herd. Once a “line” has been established (the narrative), they will not depart significantly from it. There is no need for censorship or libel laws here. This is what the media does to itself.

North is bang on the money and there is plenty of evidence to support it – including, amusingly, the behaviour of Hitchens’ paymaster itself, the Daily Mail.

For example, perhaps Hitchens would care to investigate why the Daily Mail, without any explanation, deleted a story it published about David Leigh of the Guardian in relation to his own phone hacking exploits?  The story was accurate, but nonetheless the Mail pulled it soon after publishing and deleted all reference to it.  That’s an instance of people not being told something the media decides to keep out of the public eye.  Leigh, unsurprisingly in the incestuous world of the print media, has friends at the Mail. Go figure.

Then there is the example of the Met Office being caught out lying about no longer doing seasonal weather forecasts, as uncovered by this blog.  We dug up documentary evidence in the form of Minutes from the Met Office board meeting where the decision was taken, at the suggestion of Chief Executive John Hirst, to ‘rename’ and ‘manage the presentation of these longer range forecasts’.  AM gave this completely free and without condition to a reporter at the Daily Mail and an editor at the Daily Express.  Neither paper chose to tell the story to their readers.

Neither of these stories were libellous.  There was nothing for the papers to be scared of.  Unless the Guardian is now a powerful commercial interest.  They just decided it wasn’t something the public should know about.  They self censored for their own purposes because of narratives they prefer to follow.  So if Peter Hitchens wants to play the ‘honest broker’ card, perhaps he should tell the whole truth about the reality of why there are things the media don’t tell us.  It’s not all because of fear of a consequence.

Guess this makes it official

If the great Stephen Glover of the Daily Wail says so, then it must be so.  Four days after this blog highlighted a low profile and barely noticed story in the finance pages of the Failygraph that referenced the myth of public spending cuts, the Great Glover has weighed in.

Of course it would be churlish to criticise him for being only four days behind, after all he is very important and busy and highly paid and says he has been saying this for months.  So perhaps we should point to the fact this blog, in the slipstream of the excellent Richard North at EU Referendum, was exploding the myth of public spending cuts as far back as October 2010.

It’s nice someone in the media has noticed and used their powerful pulpit to preach the ‘news’.  But it would be better if they were using their time and vast resources to explode these myths first instead of trailing in the wake of the far less important and resource-free blogs.  At least Glover offers some value by reminding his readers to ignore the BBC and Labour.  That is always sound advice.

An alarm call for democracy? Oh please…

There is a collapse of trust in those in charge, and especially in our politicians, which should thoroughly alarm all who care about democracy.

So says Max Hastings, writing in the Daily Mail in response to George Galloway’s by-election win in Bradford West.

As is so often the case, Hastings manages to miss the point in stunning fashion.  It isn’t an alarm call to those who care about democracy, it is the result of the absence of democracy.

Restricted to going through the motions of a democratic process – which is essentially meaningless because we do not live in a democracy, the people have no control over their ‘elected representatives’ and in any case the real governing is performed by a self selecting elite that is neither elected by nor accountable to the populace – the people have done the one thing they could in the circumstances and elected the candidate who had the appearance of being anti establishment.

Never mind that Galloway is one of the more base examples of the vile, self serving and opportunist pondlife that slithers its way around the streets of Westminster.  Just the notion of being outside the establishment, combined with playing racial identity politics, was enough to see votes flood his way and send him back to suck some more at the public teat.

While Hastings prattles on in his uniquely arrogant and condescending manner, about government failing to address ‘passionate public sentiment’ about things such as human rights legislation, unrestricted immigration, perverted justice system, overbearing Health and Safety and youth unemployment, you will find not one reference about the EU’s role and power in these areas – or that this country’s MPs have emasculated themselves and refuse to take back power from the Brussels bureaucracy.

You will also find not one reference to the fact this country’s businesses and people pay more than enough tax to provide for good essential services along with a sound safety net for those vulnerable people in our society who cannot fend for themselves independently, and those who fall into hardship.  The real problem is skewed spending priorities and wasteful use of our money on discretionary programmes or ideological whims.

When these foundational issues such as these are absent from a supposedly comprehensive assessment of what voters were doing in Bradford West on Thursday, why should we pay any attention to what this pompous fool has to say about democracy?

Hastings is no different to the grubbing climbers he is writing about.  He is every bit as much part of the claque inside the bubble that insulates itself from the reality of the world outside Westminster, yet which deigns to lecture us about our condition, our thoughts and our wishes.

Journalism – the new exclusion zone

The Leveson Inquiry has long since ceased to be something worth watching carefully.  The self righteous bleating of celebrities, whose currency is column inches and photo coverage, about the behaviour of the media; and the weasel words and distortions of the media editors and hacks themselves, is simply too gut churning to put up with.

However, the odd snippet of news worthy material does emerge now and again and one such item has been picked up by the Guardian and covered by FleetStreetBlues and the Press Gazette.  It concerns the evidence yesterday of the editor of the Daily Mail, Paul Dacre.

The inquiry was always likely to give an opportunity for the government seize upon the British capacity for unthinking, emotionalised outrage.  What was it Macaulay said?  ‘We know no spectacle so ridiculous as the British public in one of its periodical fits of morality’.  Leveson is the outcome of one of those spectacles.  Well now we see the consequences, an agenda to impose regulation on the media in a way that would suit the media’s own interests.  But it was always likely to provide the mainstream media with an opporunity to shore up its position and make journalism a closed shop – an exclusion zone.  Dacre’s suggestions are merely the articulation of this self interest.  This sycophantic cloak wrapped around vested interest needs to be seen for what it is.

Editors such as Dacre not only allowed, but encouraged their journalists to behave in an appalling manner to generate column hectares of tittle tattle.  They have all but eliminated investigative, public interest journalism.  That has been sacrificed at the altar of immediacy and servicing the 24 hour news cycle with showbusiness gossip and shallow circus politics that intentionally keeps people in ignorance of matters of governance and state control.  It’s a cosy arrangement that suits the newspapers and the people they should be looking to hold to account.

These days, Dacre and his ilk simply preside over teams dedicated to churnalism – lifting copy from the wires of a small number of press agencies with largely anonymous and unaccountable staff, who provide the MSM with copy to cut and paste wholesale into print or digitial form as a ‘news’ – with no effort devoted to fact checking, looking into the sources and their motivations (which are primarily pubic relations companies working for clients), or providing essential context that shows the story in its true light.

Now, having helped dumb down the nation by flooding it with sub-literate huff and puff, Dacre is turning his eye to shutting the door on anyone who might upset the cosy arrangements that are in place.  Self preservation is the key, keeping out the upstart citizen bloggers and young turks who would upset the apple cart of cosy co-existence with the nation’s political and corporate ‘elite’.  That is the agenda. All that is required is for editors to enforce ethical behaviour among their journalists.  But of course, no crisis must be allowed to pass without taking the opportunity to secure some kind of benefit for the tribe, so the excessive ‘solution’ to a very simple problem just so happens to suit the interests of the fourth estate.

Dacre is proposing to make official what was only custom; putting a protective shield around those who are ‘on message’ through a system of approval and certification, ensuring only the hand-picked and vetted can ever identify themselves as a journalist and – more crucially – access the mainstream channels to sell their stories.  It is the last charge of the dead tree press.

In the United States, where regulation is a dirty word for many, there is less deference to the establishment and (rightly) less trust of official and semi-official sources.  Citizen journalists are much more widely read and rewarded.  It inspires more people to put quality news and analysis into the public domain, which in turn attracts more readers.  However, in the United Kingdom and elsewhere in Europe, people have become too reliant on the establishment and a kind of fear holds them back from questioning and challenging in the manner many Americans do.  There is a deference to ‘prestige’ that makes people shun the unofficial and unsanctioned.

For reasons passing understanding, too many people in this country have accepted the establishment’s mantra that as it is ‘official’ and has ‘authority’, it alone can and should be trusted.  That is why our citizen journalism is so far behind that in the US and why the media of which Paul Dacre is a part is so craven.  The establishment has thus been afforded the space to build a security wall around itself to keep ordinary people at bay and Dacre is helping to man that wall in return for some titbits from the table that can be used to entertain the readership – and now working actively to ensure the journalist ‘guards’ he employs can be relied upon to do the same.

This will either further entrench the rancid ineffectiveness of the media, or finally wake more people from their slumber and encourage them to look away from the establishment and its lackeys and seek the information the MSM chooses to ignore or omit from its narrative.  One can only hope it is the latter, but that hope is very small indeed.

It’s Groundhog Day at the Daily Mail… again

From the Daily Mail yesterday came this story, one that will undoubtedly have had patriotic Britons opposed to EU membership and governance up in arms.

However, if you’re reading this and thinking, ‘this sounds rather familiar’ don’t worry, you’re not imagining things.  It must have been a quiet day on Planet Dacre yesterday, because the Daily Mail ran a version of this ‘story’ back in November last year.  It was even written by one of the journalists who produced yesterday’s copy.  Here’s the headline from back then…

To find out just how much of a rehash the story is, we ran it through the Churnalism engine.  Lo and behold, we discover Friday’s article gets over half its content, lifted word for word, from the story in November.  The Churnalism output can be seen below – click to enlarge.

Actually, if you subject yourself to the additional pain of reading the Daily Telegraph, the story will be even less of a surprise to you, given that paper ran its own version of this ‘EU contentious plans’ story back in July last year…

But even then, as now, the story wasn’t news.  The origins of these proposals date back to 1984 (how apt) as part of a wider plan to build the public’s sense of European identity that had been developed by a working party led by a former Italian MEP, Pietro Adonnino.

This was explained on the EU Referendum blog by Richard North in July last year in response to the Telegaph’s sudden realisation of something that was set in train a great many years earlier.  Of course, North could have shared the details of this plan to use sport to further the European identity earlier…  Oh, silly me, he did!

On EU Referendum back in September 2006, he explained in detail how this European plan had already been partly realised by way of golf’s Ryder Cup competition, which had become a Europe v US event, having formerly been a Great Britain v US one.  Adonnino, North informed us, had reported back at the Milan Council in 1985, suggesting a Euro lottery, an EU driving license (agreed in 2005 and again covered by North), the adoption of the blue flag with gold stars… and the creation of European sports teams.  This is just a step change en route to that destination.  It may not happen for decades, but the patient salami slice approach is still in use.

Despite all this information being presented and evidenced for everyone to see and understand, the Daily Mail demonstrates it is still incapable to putting their story into proper context – even when they run it twice in the space of three months.  Perhaps they feel that because the information has been presented on a mere blog it does not possess the required prestige for these grand, highly paid cut and paste merchants to learn from it and refer to it.

When it comes to our media, nothing seems to change.  It truly was Groundhog Day, in more ways than one.

Where is that?

Busy busy busy at the moment. But just spotted this in the Failygraph.  Is it any wonder sales are falling when the nation’s supposedly leading broadsheet boasts such basic errors as these?

If there is such an evident lack of attention to detail in the copy by highly paid professionals, how can we trust the paper not to lack attention to crucial details in its news reporting?

Year on year the Failygraph’s average daily circulation is down 7% to below 590,000.  It’s even worse at the Financial Times and the Guardian, where year on year average daily circulation is down 14.4% and 13.1% respectively according to the Press Gazette.  There are a number of reasons for the decline but it is not helped by the freefall in standards and factual news reporting.

December’s newspaper circulation figures…

Another example of lazy journalism failing the public – Burwood School

What is the point of journalists?  Increasingly in this country we see reporters publishing stories they have not written, and to which they add virtually nothing.

A story doing the rounds today is a glaring example of this churnalism.  Picked up from the newswires by the BBC, national papers and a raft of regional titles, is the story of a 10-year-old boy who has been arrested for allegedly attacking two of his female teachers at his school in Orpington.  One has facial injuries, but the other has a broken leg and dislocated kneecap.

All the reports and headlines are virtually identical, as you can see from the Press Association (the likely origin of the story), the BBC, the Independent, in The Sun, the Metro and more besides.

But all of these outlets miss the opportunity to put the story into all-important context.  For while they content themselves to repeat a police spokesman’s words saying that police attended a school in Avalon Road, Orpington, and detailing the injuries sustained, none of them name the school and therefore help the audience to understand more about what happened.

The only school on Avalon Road is Burwood School, which describes itself thus:

So the incident has not taken place in a run of the mill mainstream school, but in a boys only establishment made up of around 44 youngsters with various problems who are not suitable to be in maintstream education.  Not only that, but an establishment placed into special measures by Ofsted for two years in 2007 and was subsequently forced to reduce the designated age range of its pupils so it could no longer accept youngsters aged between 7-10-years-old.

While this information does not detract from the seriousness of the incident and the apparent extreme violence meted out by a mere 10-year-old, it is clear the school runs a higher risk of violent incidents taking place due to the troubled nature of its pupils.  Although it came out of special measures in 2009, the 2011 Ofsted inspection‘s key findings clearly show standards at the school have a lot of improvement to make:

The Ofsted report goes on to mention that concerns have been raised by a minority of parents and carers about safety in the school, something which appears to have been dismissed by the inspectors who state:

‘Burwood is a safe school’

and go on to add that:

‘students are unanimous in confirming that they feel safe in school’

The students? Since when does their opinion trump that of responsible parents and carers?  It is interesting therefore that this information is shared in the report given Ofsted confirmed in their introduction that their inspection was somewhat devalued (my description) by the fact that:

There were limited opportunities for lesson observations because Year 11 students were out of school on study leave throughout the inspection, and two of the five remaining classes went on an educational visit for the whole of the second day.

Given the incident that has taken place, that assessment finding should surely come in for substantial scrutiny – something any half decent media would be focusing attention on.  As should the feeling running through the report that pupils determine too much of what goes on in the school at the expense of formally planned and disciplined educational activity.  There are clear issues here that are of public interest, but will likely go unexplored because the media has failed to provide all the information.  The media is leaving the public in possession of only part of the story,  resulting in a very misleading impression of the circumstances.

The question is, why did none of the journalists who published this story take a few minutes to uncover and report these important details before making the story live?

We already know the answer.  This is yet another example of our media being lazy, derivative and unfit for purpose , therefore ill-serving the public audience.  No doubt it will fall to blogs to tell the story the media is incapable or unwilling to research and publish, and serve the public interest.

Rocket attacks on Gaza – school and house hit, civilians injured

If you keep a close eye on reports from the Middle East you might be wondering why you haven’t seen news broadcasts and pages of coverage on the BBC and CNN and in the Guardian and New York Times about these attacks that are harming Palestinians.

Perhaps this insightful blog post will explain why there has been no coverage about this outrageous onslaught.  It is food for thought about the media and its agendas.

Guardian duo cover backs on Milly Dowler hacking story

In the reader comments on our previous post about the incestuous relationship between the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, his close friend and mentor and Guardian contributor, Geoffrey Robertson, and the Guardian’s David Leigh, ‘DB’ brings our attention to a story in today’s Guardian concerning the Milly Dowler phone hacking story.

It is accepted that messages left on the mobile phone voicemail belonging to Milly Dowler were listened to by private investigators or journalists working for the News of the World.

However the claim that sparked more anger and revulsion than any other in the whole phone hacking saga, and which swept around the world in news reports, was that News of the World reporters deleted some of Milly Dowler’s voicemails after listening to them in order to free up space for more messages to be left by her distraught family and friends, so they could listen in to those as well.

Milly Dowler’s mother has been widely reported explaining how messages being deleted from Milly’s voicemail gave her family hope that Milly was alive and listening to them.  No one could have been failed to be moved by such emotive comments, and feel contempt for those NotW staff who were responsible for those actions.

Only, it has now emerged that police have concluded that the NotW were not responsible for the particular deletion which caused her family to have false hope that she was alive.

This has forced the Guardian to race into print with what ‘DB’ rightly describes as a nothing-to-do-with-us article by Nick Davies and David Leigh.  Before revealing in the article that…

Evidence retrieved from Surrey police logs shows that this “false hope” moment occurred on the evening of Sunday 24 March 2002. It is not clear what caused this deletion. Phone company logs show that Milly last accessed her voicemail on Wednesday 20 March, so the deletion on Sunday cannot have been the knock-on effect of Milly listening to her messages. Furthermore, the deletion removed every single message from her phone. But police believe it cannot have been caused by the News of the World, which had not yet instructed private detective Glenn Mulcaire to hack Milly’s phone. Police are continuing to try to solve the mystery.

… Davies and Leigh try to maintain the ‘NotW did it’ meme in the third paragraph, which reads:

It is understood that while News of the World reporters probably were responsible for deleting some of the missing girl’s messages, police have concluded that they were not responsible for the particular deletion which caused her family to have false hope that she was alive.

It is a spiteful and desperate effort to cling to the most damaging claim despite the reality that, as things stand, there is absolutely no evidence for this claim.

It is possible that NotW journalists inadvertently caused the deletion of messages as evidence has now revealed that Milly’s phone would automatically delete messages 72 hours after being listened to.  But nothing revealed by the sources shows that the original police claim that journalists had deliberately deleted some messages because Milly’s voicemail box had filled up, and they wanted to be able to listen to more.

Now all we have is the Guardian’s slopey shouldered duo of Davies and Leigh retailing speculation in the absence of evidence. These chuckle brothers are cyncially using the Dowler family lawyer as cover for their face saving actions, as shown by the inclusion of this in their article:

The Dowlers’ lawyer, Mark Lewis, said last night that although Mulcaire had not been instructed by email at the time of Sally Dowler’s “false hope” moment, it remained possible that the voicemails had been deleted by a News of the World journalist, or that Mulcaire had been instructed earlier by phone.

‘Probably…’ ‘possibly…’ it’s all a far cry from the certainty with which Davies leaped upon what now amounts to ill informed claims by police who seem to have kept the latest revelations under wraps for some time. Even now they cannot let the facts get in the way of their narrative.

So what are we left with? The Guardian’s bestselling author of Flat Earth News, a book about falsehood and distortion in the media, engaged in maintaining a smear against rival journalists despite the lack of any evidence – aided and abetted by the Guardian’s investigations executive editor, a self confessed phone hacker and ‘blagger’ of information who without any sense of shame or irony puts his name to this piece which includes a tut-tut reference to a NotW journalist blagging confidential phone records.

No doubt they will be expecting another media industry award from their fellow dissembling hacks.

Our lazy press and its appeals to authority

Scenario.  You’re a highly paid journalist working for what is considered by many as a heavyweight broadsheet with an international reputation.

The world economy is convulsing and an entire currency is sliding towards collapse, barely being held together by political interventions and actions that increasingly bind nations using that currency into fiscal and political union.

You secure an interview with one of the chief architects of that currency to talk about how this currency crisis came to be and whether he got it the design wrong.  It is time to prepare.

Do you:

a) Revise by looking back in detail as far as the interviewee’s report in the 1990s which formed the plan for the currency

b) Go back to the origins of the bigger project of which the single currency was merely a milestone, and the method of implementing change without stirring the people into revolt

c) Rock up to the interview with pad and tape recorder, ask if he got it wrong and accept whatever answer he gives as truthful fact and report it accordingly

If you answered ‘c’ then the Barclay Brothers might be interested in hiring you to work on their comic. It would explain the uncritical acceptance of the comments made by Jacques Delors in this piece by very grand Charles Moore (whose bio states he covers politics with wisdom and insight!), which is notable for the lack of any challenge of the points Delors makes.

There is a reason this blog describes the Telegraph as the Barclay Brother Beano, and Richard North’s tour de force on EU Referendum brings it into sharp relief.

While Moore faithfully relays the answers Delors provided to his lightweight questions – demonstrating a classic appeal to authority and lack of journalistic rigour – North does the job Moore should have done and gets into the history, the detail and the methodology to put into proper context what is happening now and why.

It puts a very different hue on Delors’ deceptive attempt to rewrite history and keep the masses in ignorance of the nature of the beast he loves and cherishes.

Update:  The BBC News is leading with the Delors interview furthering the ‘faulty execution’ line.  This is the derivative, unthinking media at its worst.

But what really stands out is how UKIP’s Nigel Farage has jumped into the story – spectacularly missing the point of the strategy behind the plan – to use Delors’ interview comments as evidence that the Euro was always destined to fail.  When Farage blows it this badly it vindicates my decision not to support his party.

How to stoke the fire of an economic crisis

Lesson 1: Call yourself Andrew Verity.

Lesson 2: Get a job as financial journalist on BBC Radio Five Live.

Lesson 3: Join in an interview with the Chief Secretary to the Treasury live on air.

Lesson 4: Ask said politician if they have heard talk/rumour that a European Bank is bust.

Lesson 5: When said lightweight politician avoids giving a straight answer, ask the question a couple more times.

Lesson 6: Leave studio and connect to the internet.

Lesson 7: See how long it takes for the rumour to gain traction and spread around Twitter and the Blogs.


You have now successfully given a low key rumour of unknown origin a huge shot of steroids and prepared the ground for world’s biggest ‘news’ organisation to fill a news cycle with more speculation; promoting fear that the banking sector of an entire economic area, is on the verge of collapse.

More Daily Mail EU posturing

This is one of the headlines in today’s online edition of the Daily Mail. The article comes complete with boilerplate comment from Nigel Farage, the standard mention of Tony Blair giving up part of the UK’s budget rebate won by Margaret Thatcher and the usual reference to Eurosceptics’ hand supposedly being strengthened.

But what is the point?

What many Mail readers, and others, do not realise is that after October’s failed effort in the House of Commons to secure a Bill presenting the British people with a referendum on EU membership, the Mail published an editorial – ‘The country has had enough of deception. It’s time to close the yawning gap between the ruling and the ruled.’  Anyone who wants the UK to withdraw from the EU and thinks the Daily Mail is on their side should read this comment:

Let the Mail lay all its cards on the table. This paper has no desire for Britain to pull out of Europe — and particularly not at a time like this, when withdrawal would add immeasurably to the uncertainties threatening our recovery and rocking the confidence of the markets.

Remember that.  The Mail pumps out column inches bemoaning the EU, its cost, its power, all appealing to those who want us to leave.  Yet the Daily Mail is Europhile.  Like nearly all the media members of the establishment it is with the EUstices and Heaton-Harris’ of this world, who want to stay firmly in the EU and who believe in the renegotiation fairy at the bottom of the garden.

When you understand the Mail’s editorial position you start to understand their anti EU tirades are all piss and wind designed to humour readers whose views they do not even support.

The BBC is by far and away the worst offender

When it comes to cutting and pasting press releases from the Environment Agency to use as ‘news’ pieces, the BBC is in a class of its own.

Katabasis, the blogger who contributed to the exposure of the Met Office winter 2010 forecast scandal, has undertaken a labour of love to uncover the extent of ‘churnalism’ exhibited by our lavishly funded public service broadcaster and its legion of highly trained churnalists journalists when it comes to environment and climate change stories.

Reading the whole piece on the Katabasis blog is absolutely recommended!

More Tory Eurosceptic delusion and bullshit

It’s enough to make you wonder if DC Comics have taken over publication of the Daily Express.  Once again we have a Tory reaching out to readers to spin the line that actually, the Tories are mainly Eurosceptic.

The tribalism in Westminster politics never ceases to amaze and depress in equal measure, as once again the electoral interests of the Conservative Party are put before the national interest of the UK with an unchallenged throwaway comment turned into a news item.

There is panic at CCHQ that voters are deserting the Tories as they finally realise Cameron is a liar, his Tory MPs are quislings and Conservatives want power over this country to remain in Brussels.  Instead of seizing the moment, a leading Tory ‘Eurosceptic’ has been rolled out to help hold the line.

For, despite all the evidence to the contrary, today’s Daily Express has a piece by Tom Morgan that claims:

HALF of all Tory MPs want Britain to pull out of the EU, it emerged ­yesterday.

More than 150 – nearly twice as many as those who voted for a referendum last week – want the UK to free itself from the shackles of Brussels ­interference.

Conservative rebel Mark Reckless claimed as many as half of the 306-strong Parliamentary party were in favour of total withdrawal.

No, that really is bullshit you can smell wafting down your internet connection.

The voting records of MPs shows most of the Tories who voted for the motion for a Parliamentary Bill to call a national referendum have voted in favour of measures that pass more control to the EU.  Media interviews had many of the ‘rebels’ saying they wanted to ‘renegotiate’ our EU membership – i.e. stay in the EU and reform it.  Yet now we are enjoined to believe that most of them – including many who voted against the motion – actually want the UK to withdraw.

This is brainwashing the Moonies would be proud of.  Freedom is slavery, war is peace, ignorance is strength, Tories are Eurosceptic.

As always the lack of elementary understanding of EU membership is laid bare as Morgan describes Brussels’ rule over the UK as ‘interference’.  The EU’s governance of Britain is no more interference than Westminster’s illusory governance.  The EU is not an outsider meddling in our affairs, it is our supreme government determining our affairs.  The Express professes it is spearheading the campaign to get us out of the EU, yet its journalists can’t even grasp the nature of the thing.

If the Express wants to sit up front on the ‘Leave the EU’ bandwagon they have belatedly jumped aboard, perhaps it should ensure its journalists understand the EU and the control it has accumulated over this country.

Compare and contrast with the UK media

The German newspaper Spiegel’s online arm today runs an English translation of an interview conducted with the German Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, following the European ‘summit’ on the financial crisis.

Reading the first question put to Schäuble, below, it is easy to form the opinion that this is going to be one of those fawning ‘volleyball’ interviews where the journalist performs the set for the politician to spike the ball over the net and win a point:

Mr. Schäuble, politicians and economists around the world are hailing the recent European Union summit as a success. Has the euro now been saved?

However after a few questions it becomes clear Schäuble is being challenged on his points and not being able to make airy fairy assertions without being called on them.

The interview is notable for the incredible contrast to the fawning approach we see in the UK media whenever Ministers are questioned about such important matters.  It also stands out for the way in which the interviewers push for an answer to the question asked rather than mindlessly accepting whatever PR generated line the politicians spins out, which is now the norm in this country.

No matter what your political persuasion or viewpoint on the EU and the bail out fund reported last week, the interview is well worth reading.  At the very least is demonstrates how dumbed down and ineffective our media is in comparison.  It is also instructive for those who wish to intelligently challenge politicians at all levels in this country in an effort to hold them to account.

Peter Hitchens and the Europlastics

These days one never can tell how much of what is published in a newspaper comprises the complete original thoughts of the columnist.  In the last few weeks I have seen the original drafts of a renowned Telegraph columnist and a Daily Express columnist, and on both occasions the published piece has been edited down to remove some of the most salient elements of the respective pieces.

So when reading the Peter Hitchens column in the Mail online today I cannot be sure that everything ‘Hitch’ wrote was published.  Nevertheless, what is attributed to him suggests he too has been taken in by the Europlastics.  Consider this passage and in particular the sentence directly above the photograph, the footnote beneath it and the last sentence shown in the image:

How is it that someone like Peter Hitchens, who is supposed to be a genuine Eurosceptic, can sit at his keyboard and write something this misleading?  How can the likes of Bill Cash be described as a man of principle when the European Scrutiny Committee, which he chairs, waved through the EU’s Integrated Maritime Policy which will remove British control over our own waters?

How also can Hitchens allow people to take the impression that all the 79 Tory MPs who voted in favour of a Bill to hold a referendum are actually Eurosceptic?  How could any Eurosceptic Tory vote in favour of establishing the European External Action Service (EU’s version of the Foreign Office)?  Based on what Hitchens is saying then surely around 79 Tories will have voted against the EEAS measure.  How many actually did?  See for yourself.

Looking at the vote information above, where are all these ‘Eurosceptics’ that Hitchens refers to?

It seems even those who profess to stand outside the bubble still manage to sow the official misinformation that positions Tory MPs who wish to remain firmly inside the EU as sceptics.  One cannot be Eurosceptic and vote for increased integration, something that someone like Hitchens should know all to well but fails to make clear to his readers.

Daily Mail hack’s shock as psychic career lays in tatters

The psychic career of Daily Mail journalist, Nick Pisa, lays in tatters this morning. It ended in stunning fashion after it was revealed he doesn’t really get messages from the other side.

Max Farquar has the full story and screenshots explaining how Pisa wrote the story that would have been published if Amanda Knox’s appeal had been rejected.  That would have been fine.  Only how could Pisa have possibly got the quotes he uses in the story from Italian prosecutors, given that Knox was successful and her conviction quashed?

Anyone looking for the article on the Daily Mail website finds this page in its place… or if you read it carefully, at least this is the page the Daily Mail should have on display in the interests of honesty and transparency…

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