Monday, 14 November 2011

So much for Lord Hunt…

Lord Hunt is the Tory peer of the realm who - in a bold and radical move designed to really shake things up - is replacing Baroness Buscombe, the Tory peer of the realm who used to be Chair of the Press Complaints Commission, after an exhaustive search by the recruitment panel chaired by Tory peer of the realm Lord Black (Buscombe succeeded - yes, you guessed it - Tory peer of the realm Lord Wakeham).  

She attacked the Guardian and others for suggesting that News International might be hacking into people's phones and behaving rather naughtily. No evidence at all, she said. How did she know? Well, she'd asked News International and they said they hadn't done it. Case closed. 

This new political time-server hasn't got off to a great start. What's the major problem in media regulation, according to him?
surely the major problems occur because of the tabloids? "No," he replies, "I think the greater challenge is with the bloggers
Right. Because it's people like me who spend our days illegally tapping the phones and computers of our political enemies, conducting surveillance on anyone we don't like, printing 'up-skirt' shots (often of famous but underage females), dealing in insinuation and innuendo to an audience of millions, encouraging mass fear of (declining - though we don't mention that) crime, of immigrants, gays and pretty much anybody who doesn't share our particularly narrow-minded and prurient beliefs. For every Guido Fawkes, there's a racist knee jerker like Richard Littlejohn (that links to a magnificent encounter between Will Self and Littlejohn), climate liar Christopher Booker, climate liar Richard North and sperm-stealer, murder victim's taste-disapproving and top famine reporter (apparently Somalian hotels are awful) Liz Jones prepared to lie, distort, and shriek until our public sphere is a vicious, hysterical dystopia in which science, accuracy and altruism are left by the wayside. 

I'm not saying the blogosphere is lacking in trolls, but perhaps Hunt should read a few newspapers before he gets his secretary to show him how the Internet works.

Is he open-minded about where we go next, given that self-regulation has been a complete failure?
"I have a complete hostility to any form of statutory regulation… I come at the job with a fervent belief in self-regulation," he says, "having seen the downsides of statutory regulation."
Oh dear. Not the sign of a reflective mind. 

On the problems of newspaper editors sitting in judgement on their own practices:
He chooses to praise the code – "there is nothing wrong with it," he says firmly.
…admitting that he knows nothing about the internal workings of newspapers
But that's OK because:
he lived next door to the Daily Mail's late editor, Sir David English, for 16 years in Westminster, calling him "somebody who was the epitome of integrity"
Ah, right. He looks up to the long-term editor of the most vicious, hypocritical, racist, reactionary, misogynistic newspaper in the history of the printed word. Everything's going to be fine.

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