A British “scandal” shows us how the Guild works and toward what ends.
The editor of the Daily Mail understands how to fight back when the Guild throws a hissy fit.
So which is the REAL sin: to criticise the Marxist views of Red Ed's father or to help terrorists and put British lives at risk?
PAUL DACRE, Editor of the Mail, answers the paper's critics
Out in the real world, it was a pretty serious week for news.
The U.S. was on the brink of budget default, a British court heard how for two years social workers failed to detect the mummified body of a four-year-old starved to death by his mother, and it was claimed that the then Labour Health Secretary had covered up unnecessary deaths in an NHS hospital six months before the election.
In contrast, the phoney world of Twitter, the London chatterati and Left-wing media was gripped ten days ago by collective hysteria as it became obsessed round-the-clock by one story a five-word headline on page 16 in the Daily Mail.
The screech of axe-grinding was deafening as the paper’s enemies gleefully leapt to settle scores.
Leading the charge, inevitably, was the Mail’s bête noire, the BBC. Fair-minded readers will decide themselves whether the hundreds of hours of airtime it devoted to that headline reveal a disturbing lack of journalistic proportionality and impartiality but certainly the one-sided tone in their reporting allowed Labour to misrepresent Geoffrey Levy’s article on Ralph Miliband.
The controversy reveals how journalists and editors fight the battle for “explanation space”.
Central to that battle is defining what is newsworthy. As we saw in the last election, Mitt Romney’s dog and Ann Romney’s horse were newsworthy. President Obama’s relationship with the Stalinist Frank Marshall and the terrorist Bill Ayers were not.
In Britian today, the Guild has decreed that mentioning that the Leader of the Opposition grew up in a Communist household is beyond the pale.
One might think so, but the Journalist Elect know that such an examination is wrong.
Surely, we reasoned, the public had the right to know what influence the Labour Leader’s Marxist father, to whom he constantly referred in his speeches, had on his thinking.
Why, you might ask? That’s the tricky thing about explanation space. Journalists love explaining the world to their readers; they most emphatically do not like explaining their decisions.
The volume and tone of the excoriation of the Daily Mail surely requires some explanation. After all, as Dacre points out, it seems all out of proportion given the other critical events taking place in the world. Moreover, does the BBC et.al. really believe that mentioning that Ed Miliband’s father loved Stalin and once hated England (to the point of wishing it would lose the war against the Nazis) was the worst thing that a British paper had done this fall?
Actually, they probably do. Other Britons might disagree.
The over the top reaction is a feature not a bug. To defend the Guild’s monopoly in explanation space, renegades must be ignored if possible, and exiled if the public happens to notice them.
This week, the head of MI5 subsequently backed by the PM, the Deputy PM, the Home Secretary and Labour’s elder statesman Jack Straw effectively accused the Guardian of aiding terrorism by publishing stolen secret security files.
The story which is of huge significance was given scant coverage by a BBC which only a week ago had devoted days of wall-to-wall pejorative coverage to the Mail.
Again, I ask fair readers, what is worse: to criticise the views of a Marxist thinker, whose ideology is anathema to most and who had huge influence on the man who could one day control our security forces …. or to put British lives at risk by helping terrorists?
In this country we have watched this happen to individuals like Lou Dobbs, Juan Williams, Glenn Beck, and Don Imus. All of them became “controversial”, were forced out of their jobs, and were deemed unemployable by respectable outlets. In contrast, Keith Olbermann, Amanda Marcotte, Piers Morgan, and Al Sharpton became controversial and were then given lucrative positions in the MSM.
Even after the hive expels the rebel, they continue to enforce the banishment with thumbnail signifiers. Andrew Breitbart must always be linked to Shirley Sherrod and an edited video. It is bad form, though to mention the Jimmy Savile scandal when discussing the CEO of The New York Times.
Renegade organizations like Fox News or The Daily Mail receive similar treatment. They are excoriated by the Guild. The public must be made to understand that these outlets are not respectable.
Policing explanation space is not a matter of debate, logic or facts. The boundaries of acceptable journalism are enforced with hissing outrage and juvenile ridicule.
Epistemic closure is only a problem for the rube outsiders. It is a job requirement for the deciders in the media elite. Dacre provides another reason journalists love twitter:
Once again, sauce for the goose is decidedly not sauce for the gander.
The hysteria that followed is symptomatic of the post-Leveson age in which any newspaper which dares to take on the Left in the interests of its readers risks being howled down by the Twitter mob whom the BBC absurdly thinks represent the views of real Britain.