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Mr Blair and his ideas on the media

Eddie Mair | 17:27 UK time, Tuesday, 12 June 2007

and for that matter our guests Simon Kelner. Michael Howard and Lance Price...what do you think?


  1. At 05:43 PM on 12 Jun 2007, Paul wrote:

    Mr Mair you have in my opinion just confirmed Tony Blair's ideas on the media. Namely, it acts like a feral beast, tears reputations apart etc. In the report on fighting between Hamas and Fatah this evening you asked a leading question of the reporter at the scene. "How far was Israel to blame". or words to that effect.

    This gives your listener the impression that Israel somehow is implicated in the infighting, However, the reporter pointed out that what is happening is a member of one family is killed because of infighting for power then a revenge killing is carried out and so the cylcle goes on. Revenge killings are cultural. It is reprehensible to attempt to implicate Israel in this situation and highlights your skewed view on the subject. It would be great to listen or read the news without being made aware of the political views of the source.

  2. At 05:46 PM on 12 Jun 2007, Piper wrote:

    Sorry Mr Blair, it HAS to be...

    "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it..."

    (Voltaire) - possibly(?)

  3. At 05:50 PM on 12 Jun 2007, Fearless Fred wrote:

    Well, I'm an Indy reader myself, so bear that in mind when reading my comments....

    To be honest I'm half angry and half chuffed about the singling out of the Indy by Tony Blair. I believe that a prime reason for the singling out is the the Indy has consistently questioned the government line on certain issues (notably Iraq, ID Cards, and Anti-terrorism measures). Yes, the Independent views are sometimes more clear to a casual glance because they use the front page to highlight issues. However it's no more opinionated than other papers (e.g Mail readers think the country's going to Hell in a hand cart, The Express thinks the hand cart was part of the conspiracy to kill Diana, the Telegraph is read by old-school Tories, the Times is read by those who think the country should be run by someone else, and the Sun doesn't care who does what, as long as they've got big t*ts).

    I believe that it is the duty of the press to question and probe the government and parliament in general. Yes, we will see things through the prism of the press that we choose to read/listen to/watch. However, we need these views to enable us to debate and form our own opinions.

  4. At 05:51 PM on 12 Jun 2007, Peter Coghlan wrote:

    Posted this in the glass box as I keep getting a strange 'blocked message'

    As a regular reader of the Independent, predictably I find Tony Blair's comments both ridiculous and insulting. As Simon Kelmer pointed out the political reporting and comment in the paper is factual and unsensational especially when compared to the other 'quality' papers each of whom have a particular axe to grind especially where the Labour Party and Tony Blair are concerned.

    No doubt Mr Blair has a point when he highlights the pressure of a 24 hour 'news lite' media circus but that does not excuse the hypocrisy of news management, the manipulation, obfuscation and mendacity which has been the hallmark of his time in office.

  5. At 05:56 PM on 12 Jun 2007, Minotaur wrote:

    Tony Blair was showing his typical blinding hyocrisy in commenting on the media.
    When New Labour got into power, they made it deliberate policy to manipulate the media.
    Blair used Campbell to deliberately distort stories, and by bullying the journalists, they ensured they got New Labour stories into the papers.
    Remember John Major ? If you do then you will have memories of "John major wears his underpants outside.." That was a "story", a smear, deliberately created by Campbell and Blair and fed to the papers. If you wanted any news from Campbell, he would only give stories to papers that co-operated with him,
    As a result, campbell and blair destroyed John major, the "underpants" followed him around, deliberately kept in the public eye by Campbell and Blair.
    So when Blair talks about "wanting serious stories" in the Press, he was the one who made the public cynical about any stories that NL came up with.
    This is a failed Prime Minister, the worst this Country has had, who is finally being kicked out and is desparetely trying to bolster his failed image by coming out with this nonsense.

  6. At 06:08 PM on 12 Jun 2007, barrie singleton wrote:

    How naïve of Tony Blair to fail to realise that HIS obsession with media has allowed me to watch many of his “performances” and to print out VERBATIM his speeches for careful analysis. His manner, and the words he chooses to utter – whether his own or those of his acolytes – are very revealing. I am more than capable of judging a charlatan from such study. The media play no part in my judgement.
    Would Blair damn ME also, just for seeing through him “first hand”?
    Tony Blair stands dishonoured and today’s speech is a pitiful defence that adds to that dishonour. Britain must not honour him.

  7. At 06:20 PM on 12 Jun 2007, Eddie Mair wrote:

    Paul (1) what I asked was according to my script: "The Israeli government withdrew all of its settlers and its military from the Gaza Strip in summer 2005, but some people consider it's still an occupying force. How much is the current situation down to the Palestinians themselves and how much down to Israel?" I wasn't implicating anyone. And the reporter was not at the scene, he was doing his job as Middle East Correspondent - properly interpreting events for the listener. Had we not mentioned Israel's role in Gaza - which Jeremy did not qualify in the way I did - we would ahve been accused by others of pretending the occupation hadn't/wasn't happening. Oh and you don't know my views! As it happens the question you took issue with was also discussed with senior editors.

  8. At 06:34 PM on 12 Jun 2007, Sue G wrote:

    Lance Price's patronising comments about the 'poor bewildered readers' were typical of the New Labour apparatchik view that all criticism of the policies or style of the current government must be due to media influence. I'm neither poor (in the sense of pitiable) nor bewildered, and I'm completely capable of reading between the lines in the press and in Tony Blair's speeches. What I am is very frustrated that the electorate have no way of convincing the government that it has made mistakes. Not even a resounding defeat at the polls would do that because the government would still convince itself that the press was responsible.

  9. At 06:48 PM on 12 Jun 2007, DI Wyman wrote:


    ..its meeja...not media.

    FF (3)...

    re..Well, I'm an Indy reader myself,...

    .....so, you are the CHOSEN ONE then....good man....a few more and it will have a circulation..

  10. At 06:55 PM on 12 Jun 2007, barrie singleton wrote:

    Further to my comment at No.6, made in sheer exasperation that this man is still “at it”, I have now read the transcript of his latest “work”. About two thirds of the way through, all is revealed. Tony is kicking and screaming because the media have never taken the spotlight off his psychologically flawed reasons to get into Bush’s war. Hence he attacks the media for “doing media wrong”. That’s it – top and bottom. Read the transcript; and if you want to see real deviousness, read Blair’s Sedgefield speech 5th march 2004. There you will find definitive “say one thing to be heard as saying another” admirably demonstrated. This man is dishonoured – he must not be honoured.

  11. At 07:14 PM on 12 Jun 2007, John H. wrote:

    Paul @ 1, do they have spaceships up to your planet yet? Or do we have to use the teleporter?

    I may or may not agree with your comment about the leading question - but for the record, I don't, because "Actually, in this case, not at all, Eddie." would have been a perfectly good answer and would have left listeners in no doubt, were that the case.

    But to liken this to the complaint TB was making is ridiculous. I would go so far as to say that you were more guilty of it yourself - sound-bite-band-wagon-ing - latch onto something and use everything else as an example. Well, it wasn't. The great thing about Eddie and the blog is that he gives you the forum to make your complaint - at least have the sense to frame it in legitimate terms.

  12. At 07:40 PM on 12 Jun 2007, Dr Hackenbush wrote:

    If Mr Blair isn’t going to modify his pronunciation when it comes to ‘id’ and ‘ed’ sounds, then I will defend his right never to speak publically again. His use of the sound ‘urd’ makes for an interesting final syllable in any word that ends ‘ted’...

  13. At 07:45 PM on 12 Jun 2007, john tozer wrote:

    I am STAGGERED by Peter Coghlan's comments about the Independent. To describe the newspaper's content as 'factual and unsensational' is naive in the extreme. I have read all the UK national dailies nearly every day over the past five or six years, and I can say with some confidence that the Independent is one of the most opinionated and hypocritical titles on the newsstands.

    It cares nothing for its readers, as if it did so it would seek to promote their understanding of the world through fact rather than inflame their prejudices through its belligerent moral swaggering.

    It writes specifically for a particular audience, and must do so to maintain its circulation. It is certainly no reflection of the truth, and is transparently not 'factual and unsensational'.

    Mr Coghlan, and other newspaper readers, I believe you have been taken in.

  14. At 08:02 PM on 12 Jun 2007, jonnie wrote:

    Re John H. (and Paul)

    Well as Eddie pointed out - there was no leading question. (Full stop).

    However - in defense of Paul it's easy to hear things - the wrong way, latch on to a particular part of a sentence etc..

    But Paul - you then went on in the second paragraph to say

    "It is reprehensible to attempt to implicate Israel in this situation and highlights your skewed view on the subject. It would be great to listen or read the news without being made aware of the political views of the source"

    Well Paul, as Eddie pointed out - it's a useful reminder that news presenters, like Eddie Mair, are not necessarily voicing their own views or opinions.

    The primary role, as of any journalist, is to voice the questions that we would like answered.

    So the words 'your' and 'source' should have been substituted with BBC

  15. At 08:52 PM on 12 Jun 2007, ian wrote:

    Blair's right. I'm pretty sure it was the media who invented the weapons of mass destruction and invaded iraq.

  16. At 08:59 PM on 12 Jun 2007, Jason Good wrote:

    I was somewhat flabbergasted to hear Mr Blair complain that the media spin things. Of all the hypocrisy I knew he was capable of I didn't think he could go that far.

    I had high hopes for the Independent, especially it's stance on reporting "Royal" stories in the early days. I knew it had failed when the Indy reported the reports of Royal stories instead... I read it from time to time when I need a paper (rare) and the Grauniad has sold out (even rarer) and I find it aimed at the Notting Hill Dinner Party set. Clearly I am jealous.

    Eddie (7): "Oh and you don't know my views!" Funny how I listen to you interview people and present pieces and I assume that your views on everything are the same as mine, based on absolutely nothing whatsoever as you never give away your thoughts (unless the interviewee is called Paddy and he is plugging a show).

    In a similar vein it is funny how some people hear a topic discussed and come away with an impression (such as that expressed by Paul at 1 above) often in the face of the reality.

    What's my point? We can't see you, we can't re-read what you have said and you interview in a very neutral voice so we fill the interpretation space left with our own impressions or prejudices. I think it is one of the things that makes listeners feel some kind of ownership over programmes like PM.

  17. At 09:15 PM on 12 Jun 2007, ken wrote:

    I agree with Tony Blair on his idea of the media acting like "feral beast" etc.

    In my opinion this is what the media stands for

    Trial by media

    Character assasination by media

    Spin, lies and manipulation by media

    A tabloid agenda

    As for the Independent I had to stop reading it 13 months ago because I could not equate most of the news items with reality

  18. At 09:16 PM on 12 Jun 2007, ian wrote:

    Blair's right. I'm pretty sure it was the media who invented the weapons of mass destruction and invaded iraq.

  19. At 09:20 PM on 12 Jun 2007, admin annie wrote:

    Why are we even bothering to discuss this? TB has hit a new low by savaging the media when he spent the first few years of his premiership manipulating, glad handing and generally spinning his way to the next election bictory. There have been some spectacular cases of political hypocrisy in recent years ( anyone else remember Johnathan Aitken and the sword of truth?) but this really is one of he worst. Talk about biting the hand that fed you.

    And like you Dr H I am monkey sick of the 'urd'. And I'm monkey sick of the man who says it as well. He can't go soon enough for me. (I'm also quite annoyed that the counter tenor won tonight's round of Cardiff Singer of the World, but that's another matter).

    Never has John Culshaw's great line as Tony Blair 'Ungrateful gits of Britain...'seemed so true to life.

  20. At 09:39 PM on 12 Jun 2007, jonnie wrote:

    Apologies for the double post - came back to find (Room 502) but should have checked.

    Re: Jason Good and admin annie:- Agree with every word you have said.

  21. At 10:01 PM on 12 Jun 2007, Ruth lee wrote:

    Yes, Paul I wondered how Israel could influence two murderous waring factions to brutalise each other. In my opinion you did not misunderstand the question.

    Excuse me if my English isn't up to scratch I was under the impression that contributing to blogs such as this was based on opinion not education as jonnie (20) indicates, how patronising. Paul I think you've touched a raw nerve here.

  22. At 10:25 PM on 12 Jun 2007, ian wrote:

    Of course the Israelis have some responsibility for what happens in the Gaza strip. Their various sanctions against the Palestinians are designed to make them suffer, and suffering provokes unrest. I remember the west suggesting a similar plan for Iraq a few years back

  23. At 11:02 PM on 12 Jun 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    Ruth lee @21 has me completely bewildered with 'Excuse me if my English isn't up to scratch I was under the impression that contributing to blogs such as this was based on opinion not education as jonnie (20) indicates, how patronising.' not because the English in that sentence is particularly strange but because I haven�t the faintest idea how jonnie @20 is being particularly patronising, or if he is, patronising to *whom*. Please, Ruth, could you explain what you meant? I thought he was saying �Sorry, I didn�t mean to post my comment twice�, which seems to me to be a reasonable thing to do?

    As for Blair, I cannot take as accurate anything said by a man who has described the United States of America as �our oldest ally�. So I am ignoring him as much as possible and waiting for him to stop being Prime Minister and then with a bit of luck stop being in the news at all (unless someone drops a large rock on his head, in which case I suppose he�ll be in the news briefly but at least he won�t be talking).

  24. At 12:22 AM on 13 Jun 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    Like jonnie, I'm sorry if this appears twice but after waiting most of the evening for it to appear I have begun to fear that it has got lost altogether. Anyhow, since I really do want to know the answer to the question:

    Ruth lee @21 has me completely bewildered with 'Excuse me if my English isn't up to scratch I was under the impression that contributing to blogs such as this was based on opinion not education as jonnie (20) indicates, how patronising.' not because the English in that sentence is particularly strange but because I haven�t the faintest idea how jonnie @20 is being particularly patronising, or if he is, patronising to *whom*. Please, Ruth, could you explain what you meant? I thought he was saying �Sorry, I didn�t mean to post my comment twice�, which seems to me to be a reasonable thing to do?

    As for Blair, I cannot take as accurate anything said by a man who has described the United States of America as �our oldest ally�. So I am ignoring him as much as possible and waiting for him to stop being Prime Minister and then with a bit of luck stop being in the news at all (unless someone drops a large rock on his head, in which case I suppose he�ll be in the news briefly but at least he won�t be talking).

  25. At 12:28 AM on 13 Jun 2007, jonnie wrote:

    Don't forget tonight's glassbox thread :-


  26. At 12:28 AM on 13 Jun 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    I'll second that Ian! If there had been no imposition of an ethno-religious state against the expressed will of a two thirds majority of the population and in direct contravention of the principle of self-determination of indigenous peoples (a founding principle of both the League of Nations and its successor, the UN) There would be no problem.

    "The only democracy in the Middle-East" governs a population of which less than half have a chance to vote in its elections, and when the prisoners are allowed to vote for their leadership their choices are completely disregarded.

    The Gaza strip is one of the most crowded places on this Earth with all access and egress controlled by Israeli troops, with open sewers and blown-up power stations and rocket-blasted homes....

    Is it any wonder they are fighting like rats in a barrel? Animal experiments show exactly the same response to overcrowding and misery, and you can bet their Israeli jailers can hardly contain their glee at the spectacle.


  27. At 08:16 AM on 13 Jun 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    A well-known way to clear a building of rats is to drive them into a barrel from which they cannot escape and leave them to it. You only have to kill the last one.

    The Gaza Strip is one of the most overcrowded places on Earth with all access and egress tightly controlled by Israeli troops. There is misery, hunger and open sewers, bombed out power stations and homes ns the Israelis enter at will with tanks and helicopters and send rockets from a 'safe' distance.

    The Israeli government must find it difficult to contain their glee.


  28. At 08:23 AM on 13 Jun 2007, Ruth wrote:

    I've also noticed that any indiviudal opinion as opposed to collective (BBC) opinion is met with vitriol by the usual 'gang' of thought police. People have differing opinions, get used to it, learn to handle , you might get to enjoy it Chris (24). Lighten up.

    Freedom of speech/thought that's what this site ought to be about, not bending to Aunty Beeb's will.

  29. At 09:13 AM on 13 Jun 2007, Jason Good wrote:

    What IS the solution to the problems of the region? It seems stuck in both internal and external strife and a constant round of retaliation.

    I fully support the right of the Jewish people to have a state. I also fully support the right of the Palestinians to have a state. That seems to put me in a minority as the (voiced) opinions all seem to be that one state deserves to exist and the other doesn't.

    The problems that you run into in starting to discuss this include the reaction to any criticism of the Israeli state as being anti-semitic and that most things can be justified as a defence after the holocaust and any criticism of the Palestinians is pro-Israeli propaganda and anything they do is justified by their continued occupation and previous land grabs.

    What I want to see is a peaceful solution to the problems of the region...how would it be possible?

  30. At 09:36 AM on 13 Jun 2007, Belinda wrote:

    I trust politicians about as much as I trust journalists, so I am unable to gain much sympathy with either side of this debate, truth be told.

    That being said, I do trust Eddie to do his job of informing me of both sides of an equation with little or no bias. I have no idea what his personal opinions are about the issues he discusses, in fact, I know absolutely nothing about him (including what the top of his head looks like), and I have been listening to him for a long time now.

  31. At 09:37 AM on 13 Jun 2007, Ruth wrote:

    After the death of Yasser Arafat the Palestinian Authority was set to pay his wife Sufa 12 million pound a year to divulge the secrets of her late husbands 2 billion pound fortune. Pressumably this money belonged to the Palestinian people unless of course Yasser had a part time job.

    This is factional infighting over power, revenge killings, probably a few honor killings maybe some killings under Sharia law. Abba Eban said "The Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity".

  32. At 09:43 AM on 13 Jun 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    Ruth @27

    Please, just answer my question?

  33. At 09:49 AM on 13 Jun 2007, Peter Coghlan wrote:

    I'm not sure what John Tozer is seeking in all the newspapers he reads each of which will reflect a degree of editorial bias, some far more than others. In political terms and unlike the other 'quality' dailies, the Independent appears (to me) to attempt to hold all parties to account for what they say they will do and in particular what they actually do or fail to do which is no bad thing. There are other aspects of the paper I dislike intensely but no invasions have been launched lately because someone's ski outfit was 'so last year'.

    People buy their papers for different reasons and many because their choice reflects their own prejudices good or bad. Regardless of the Independent's attributes, and I suspect in common with many of its readers it is not my sole means of garnering an understanding of the world around us but it helps.

  34. At 10:06 AM on 13 Jun 2007, Val P wrote:

    Chris Fish - I second your request. I think Ruth has misunderstood something in Jonnie's post (ironical really, because much of this thread is about communicating clearly, no?), and therefore jumped on something that he didn't say, but that she thought he did?

    Perhaps she wasn't even intending to refer to Jonnie's 20, but his 14 instead? Although I still can't see anything contentious in that!

    Still, and all, at least we have the opportunity here to clear things up. Not a lot worse than ending up fulminating about something you've read/heard and being left unable to comment?

  35. At 10:15 AM on 13 Jun 2007, admin annie wrote:

    I'm with you all the way on that Jason. And in fact you're probably in the majority rather than the minority. Most of the people who post here at any length on the subject have agendas and align themselves with one side or the other, and they seem to know so much I suspect the rest of us just shut up feeling that our twopennorth isn't worth putting in.

    The basic problem is - two peoples, one land. That's a difficult one also in Ireland, in Rwanda, in Burma and the list goes on. It's a bit like two toddlers and one toy and shows how difficult humankind finds sharing.

  36. At 10:19 AM on 13 Jun 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Hi Jason,
    "What I want to see is a peaceful solution to the problems of the region...how would it be possible?"

    It starts with the recognition that the Palestinians made a giant concession at Oslo in agreeing to recognise Israel behind the 'green line' and accept the remainder (22%) of Palestine for a Palestinian state.

    What ism on offer now? Read the roadmap and the Israeli "reservations"

    How much crawling and licking of the iron boot will suffice?


  37. At 10:27 AM on 13 Jun 2007, Lonk. wrote:

    Blair's strategy is an echo of Oscar Wilde's dictum on publicity: "There is only one thing in the world worse than confrontation and that is not having confrontation."

  38. At 10:57 AM on 13 Jun 2007, Fearless Fred wrote:

    Phew, I'm glad I wasn't around much last night so this is my first chance to scan the blog. I can't believe how much bile is being flung at the newspapers by a few individuals both here and in the Glass Box. I have a suspicion that some of them are heavily involved in politics and are using the speech yesterday from TB as a general spleen-venting occasion.

    I would ask a few questions for general comment and debate:

    1. Why leave this speech until he is leaving office? Whay didn't he make this speech earlier?
    2. Why was the Independent singled out? Was it because it did not accept unquestioningly(sp) what it's told regarding Iraq?
    3. Given that a lot of Government business & plans are released (leaked?) first to the media before they are raised in Parliament, why is this "good" whislt debate and opinion from those with different views "bad"?
    4. On the same basis as point 3, why is information released first to the media, rather than Parliament? Given that one of TBs complaints yesterday seems to be that news outlets don't report Parliamentary business, could it be because the debate has been taken away from Parliament to the media already?

    Oh and 5. John Tozer, can I ask why you were reading all the news papers every day?

  39. At 11:00 AM on 13 Jun 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    Jason Good @28

    I most heartily applaud your views as expressed there in your second and third paragraphs.

    It seems to me that yet again, the problem is what used to be called The Excluded Middle: it is made impossible to express any view that is not one hundred per cent in favour of one side or the other, and everything that is not absolute is ignored or vilified.

    I want *both* these nations to exist, I want *both* to have the water they need for survival, I want *both* to have free and fair elections and for the results of those elections to be accepted each by the other, I want the young people of *both* to be allowed the option of not being forced into armed conflict either by their government or by their poverty.

    And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig-tree, from Dan even unto Beer-Sheba, all the days of Solomon.
    [1 Kings, 4.25]

    It is *possible* for two lots of people to live in that area without any need to destroy the vines and the fig-trees. Where is Solomon when we need him, eh?


  40. At 11:08 AM on 13 Jun 2007, ian wrote:

    Ed (26, 27). At the risk of turning this into a mutual appreciation society, hear, hear! That's just what I meant, except you put it much more eloquently.

  41. At 11:18 AM on 13 Jun 2007, John H. wrote:

    In the absence of a new topic (which will probably appear whilst I'm typing this), I'll have to come back to this one. My thought for the morning is this: if the lecture TB gave yesterday had been given by somebody else, could it have been taken differently, and would it have been? And if it could/would, who might have delivered to result in the different impact? Obviously, it would have to be somebody of "high profile" since I doubt anybody would have cared if, for example, I'd made those comments. And finally, if a person exists who could have created a different impact whilst saying exactly the same words, what does this tell us about the it was received when TB said it.

    I didn't say it was a particularly erudite or profound thought, in my defence.

  42. At 11:55 AM on 13 Jun 2007, Ruth wrote:

    Nice to see the 'thought police' make an early start or should I say the "mutual appreaciation society".

  43. At 12:03 PM on 13 Jun 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    I wish I understood why some of the apostrophes and quotation marks vanish from my posts. They are there when I preview, then vanish somewhere between that and reaching the frog. There doesn't seem to be any pattern to it, and some do get through in some of my posts.

    I can only apologise to anyone who finds their absence irritating. Sorry, froggers.

    Hey, maybe the frog thinks they are flies and eats them?

  44. At 12:09 PM on 13 Jun 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Ruth (42),

    As before I would be pleased to see you or anyone challenge any statement made rather than simply resorting to dismissive ad hominem comments.


  45. At 12:25 PM on 13 Jun 2007, John H. wrote:

    Fearless (38), I think you're taking the comments about the Independent the wrong way. And as I mentioned somewhere else, I think they have been deliberately misunderstood/misrepresented by various people. Blair's comment was:

    In turn, this leads to a fifth point: the confusion of news and commentary. Comment is a perfectly respectable part of journalism. But it is supposed to be separate. Opinion and fact should be clearly divisible. The truth is a large part of the media today not merely elides the two but does so now as a matter of course. In other words, this is not exceptional. It is routine.

    The metaphor for this genre of modern journalism is the Independent newspaper. Let me state at the outset it is a well-edited lively paper and is absolutely entitled to print what it wants, how it wants, on the Middle East or anything else. But it was started as an antidote to the idea of journalism as views not news. That was why it was called the Independent. Today it is avowedly a viewspaper not merely a newspaper.

    Maybe I'm the person who is reading this incorrectly, but I take this to mean that across the board the media routinely blur the boundaries between "fact" and "opinion". As an illustration of how this situation has come about, the Independent is a good example. It was launched with the stated aim of not being the same as other newspapers, and now it is. The fact that this has been taken to be "singled out for particular criticism" is odd - it would be more truthful to say that the Independent was singled out for particular compliment in that it was described as a "well edited lively paper". Surprisingly, it appears to me to be an example of something being represented as something it's not. Or perhaps an example of an opinion about what something "might mean" being reported over what was actually said.

  46. At 12:28 PM on 13 Jun 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Chris (43),

    I think it must be your underwater keyboard. On my display your missing bits appear as a question mark in a tiny black diamond - You might try 'control panel to select which character set it uses, but perhaps Neptune has his reasons.
    How can that be malicious with all those smileys? Is it because they is black?

  47. At 12:33 PM on 13 Jun 2007, Jason Good wrote:

    Ruth (various): I am failing to understand what it is you feel is being "thought policed".

    Please, for the sake of someone interested in understanding your opinions, be less opaque. Who are you accusing of what?

  48. At 02:31 PM on 13 Jun 2007, Gossipmistress wrote:

    Jason (47) yes I've just been reading through Ruth's comments too and a) I'm not sure what she's saying in (21) or b) why she feels she's being *thought policed* in 28 & 31, presuming it's the same Ruth. Ruth - *all* opinions are welcome so long as they are not deliberately malicious, and many lively debates have been had on these pages without falling out.

    Re TB and his speech, I found myself agreeing with *The Count* Howard: TB admitting to some slight failing to show what a *nice bloke* he is and then complaining about the taste of the crop grown from the seeds he sowed when he gained power. Spinning to the media, even as he complains about them. Holding out a juicey steak to the growling dogs.. laced with poison.

    I imagine he singled out the Independant because they've hit a raw nerve in exposing his real self rather than the glossy *all round good christian bloke doing everything for all the right reasons* he likes to portray.

    The sad thing is that I think the relationship between politicians & the media probably could indeed do with a shake up, but mainly because of what TB himself has turned it into.

  49. At 03:12 PM on 13 Jun 2007, Michael wrote:

    I'm amazed that people haven't got on this board and praised Tony Blair for being brave enough to tell it like it is.
    Clearly how you say something very much affects its meaning and words can easily be manipulated to suggest almost anything the writer would like them to.
    If you allign yourself to a news paper then you will defend it like that chap above has done. My point being you will accept what you are told by 'your' newspaper and that kind of intrinsic belief will affect your motivation to question what is said.
    As those in the news media claim themselves to be deliverers of some form of essential public service do they not think it would be better to consider what good a story would have on the public/country/world rather than what good it would have on their ratings?
    I remember watching the BBC News interview holidaying parents in Portugal literally weeks after the kidnapping of the little girl and noting how they feared their own children may be kidnapped. Rather than reporting this as being an absurdly unlikely event and consequently put into perspective they almost encouraged this ridiculous behaviour. About a week later the BBC news reported how the children in this country were be over protected and having their social skills imparied. They didn't even apologise.

  50. At 03:18 PM on 13 Jun 2007, ian wrote:

    Come on Ruth. Can you be perhaps, a little less opaque, as it appears you are accusing me of being a moderator or though police, and I don't really get that?

  51. At 04:05 PM on 13 Jun 2007, Jason Good wrote:

    Michael(49): If Jack the Ripper were to hold a press conference about nasty people harming women I think he would have got the sort of reception that I feel TB's words deserve.

    It is fair enough for people to criticise newspapers - I gave up on them long ago and now only seek out their opinions very rarely and rely on on-line news sources instead - but as the arch-spinner (and I'm not talking Irish music here...) I cannot take TB's complaint seriously.

    Had he been even remotely "normal" in his handling of things-media - and I am comparing him to other PMs so hardly a great sample to start with - then I could accept what he said at face value. Instead it smacks of "you haven't played the game to my rules".

    I think it is way past time he retired.

  52. At 04:46 PM on 13 Jun 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    As one who reads *Private Eye* and has thus developed a healthy disrespect for *all* newspapers and forms of media (sometimes including Private Eye) I certainly find accusations of bias in favour of the BBC party line (whatever on earth that may be), thought policing, patronising, vitriolic comment, and -- I can't be bothered to look for the rest, but Ruth has been being like this for a few days now -- somewhat bizarre. We have now tried several times to get explanations for any of it, but they haven't been forthcoming. If this were a newsgroup, my reaction at this point would be the single word *PLONK*, because my patience has become exhausted and I am bored with being berated.

    Somewhere in the F.A.Q. we find

    "Do not feed "the trolls". If an inflammatory comment appears from a newcomer, then please think carefully before responding. "Trolls", as they are known, intentionally post derogatory/inflammatory messages about sensitive topics in an established online community in order to bait regular users into responding."


  53. At 07:00 PM on 13 Jun 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    heresy tonight discussed antisemitism and antizionism in a pretty goodnatured style. Recommended.

  54. At 08:09 PM on 13 Jun 2007, Val P wrote:

    Heard it Ed - and thought of many of your comments :o)

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