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Samizdata quote of the day

“Bent British newspaper hacks are indeed a curse. Nobody anywhere in the world thinks Britain’s tabloid press does a good job. But the slimiest, most gin-sodden Fleet Street hack who ever lived isn’t as dangerous to Britain as the bland, responsible, respectable people who decided to set up a government-backed press board. Britain can thrive in the 21st century, but it will surely fail if the British people allow their brain dead but well groomed establishment free rein.”

From The American Interest.

The eroding liberty of the UK is getting noticed.

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8 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • llamas

    I don’t disagree with the direction. But this

    ‘Bent British newspaper hacks are indeed a curse. Nobody anywhere in the world thinks Britain’s tabloid press does a good job.’

    is nothing but pious, holier-than-thou posturing.

    “Bent British newspaper hacks” are a curse – on who? Who has been ‘burthened in his goods, or in his person’ by the activities of the British red-tops?

    Answer – Nobody. Are their activities impolite and sometimes-embarrassing? They most-certainly are. But a curse? Not really. So they made gleeful fun of Hugh Grant and his poor social choices – so what? Hurting people’s feelings, or holding them up to ridicule, is what the press is (sometimes) for. And you don’t get to pick and choose. Hint to Hugh – if you don’t want your LAPD mugshot for soliciting to outlive you, as it has – arrange your life with a little more circumspection, instead of giving the press the very tool with which to endlessly irritate you – on a silver platter.

    If we’re to accept that ‘nobody’ thinks that Britain’s tablod press does ‘a good job’, then we first need to define what is meant by ‘a good job’.

    Personally, I think they do an excellent job of wallowing around in the muck of public life. Apparently, the millions of people who buy and read these papers every day think so, too. And it’s a job that needs to be done. If you’re not prepared to wallow in the filth, you’ll never find the rats that live there.

    These sentiments are those (so typical of many commenters on this subject) who consider what the UK tabloids do to be crude and uncivilized. People like us would never root around in somebody’s trash, or sit out in the rain with a telephoto lens waiting for some footballer to slip out the back door of a house of ill-fame. How dreadfully infra-dig. They are, in effect, showing themsleves to be a part of that very ‘well-groomed establishment’ they decry when they preface their opinions with sentiments like this.

    There’s more than a whiff of superiority about this whole article – a sense that the author was holding his nose as he regretfully felt himself compelled to defend these rather-unpleasant people. He would certainly never invite any of them for sherry. If only all journalists could be more like him. It’s such a pity.

    Just for once, I would like to see a whole-hearted defence of press freedom which enthusiastically-embraces the UK tabloids, recognizes that they reflect the sentiments of a large segment of the population, and recognizes that most of the activities that they engage in (apart from the specific crimes, which formed a miniscule part of their activities) are fundamental to any realistic idea of a free press. Instead of this damning-with-faint-praise, wishy-washy paternalism.

    llater,

    llamas

    As I’ve noted before, most of the things that the chattering classes despise when done by the UK red-tops, they hasten to praise when done by people whose motives they approve of – People Like Us. Cf Julian Assange, Woodward/Bernstein, hacking Sarah Palin’s e-mail, and the list goes on.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    As I’ve noted before, most of the things that the chattering classes despise when done by the UK red-tops, they hasten to praise when done by people whose motives they approve of – People Like Us. Cf Julian Assange, Woodward/Bernstein, hacking Sarah Palin’s e-mail, and the list goes on.

    Totally agree. The hypocrisy is revolting.

    I don’t think hacking phones of individuals is “harmless” though – in one case, it might even have compromised a murder investigation. The issue is that such actions are already crimes, and those responsible have been, or are going to be, punished, including jail terms. The problem is that the UK political classes, with hardly any exceptions, has created this mess of a regulatory system largely, I suspect, out of misplaced belief that it is necessary and also to settle a score with a media that has, such as over the abuse of expenses issue, made life uncomfortable for members of parliament.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    “Never pick a fight with a man who buys ink by the barrel and paper by the ton.”

    If the British press doesn’t make an object lesson of its censors, then probably its loss of freedom doesn’t matter very much.

  • newrouter

    mead is a ruling class clown

  • chip

    And to think a large majority of the UK public approve of the press law.

    Ridicule the ruling/political class all you like. The country’s problems are far more fundamental.

  • Michael Jennings (London)

    The News of the World often did great investigative journalism, in that it was willing to get its hands a little dirty in order to catch people paying and receiving bribes, and stuff like that. For me, that was clearly a good thing. Illegally invading the privacy of celebrities in order to find out about their sexual proclivities and stuff like that, much less so. On the other hand, the key word in that is “illegally” (which certainly included the phone hacking). Publishing dirt about celebrities that had been obtained legally and was on the public record should be entirely legal though. Nobody should have the right to shut the media up merely because they don’t like what it says, assuming that what it says is both true and has been found out legally. Anything that happens in or can be viewed from a public place, or which happens in a private place in cases in which the people reporting it are not trespassing should legally be able to be on the public record. (Finding out things by phone hacking is akin to trespass and should clearly be illegal. No problem with that).

  • Michael Jennings (London)

    chip: that’s the most depressing thing. Over the last few months I have heard a great many people criticise David Cameron for not taking away enough of their civil liberties. It’s astoundingly depressing. Do they genuinely think that the press is a greater danger to them than the government is? (No need to answer that).

    Saying that these are often the same people who read the NOTW and savoured the allegations that it reported is also close to being unnecessary, too.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    mead is a ruling class clown

    That’s a stupid remark. Why not comment on the substance of what he said?