Blogs, the media and breaking stories

It seems there was a blogger h(or to be more accurate a podcaster’s) hand at the back of Mark Oaten’s resignation from the Lib Dem leadership race. Brian at Samzdata points us in the direction of the Liberal review, which notes:

[W]hen we read our newspapers or turn on our TV screens, what we see and hear might well have been “researched” by searching for dirt on the internet. Of course, the mainstream media will never admit it; the pretence that they are above such things is too important to them. They rely on the impression that their reporters are out in the field, fearlessly digging for details on the major issues of the day, not sat in an air-conditioned office with a cup of coffee and an open Google window. But it’s the truth, and for the sake of their own reputations, it might now be time for them to start admitting that they read the blogs just like the rest of us.

  • Young Fogey

    Guido Fawkes and Recess Monkey are claiming Oaten’s scalp on the basis that last Thursday they did a ‘podcast from the pub’ and while extremely pissed made libellous allegations about LibDem leadership candidates including that Mark Oaten was a ‘paedophile’. This was based on, er um, the fact that Guido and the Monkey were pissed and having a bit of a laugh.

    Guido is trying to claim that the News of the World picked this up from their podcast, checked it out, got in touch with the football top prostitute, ran it past their lawyers, ambushed Mark Oaten and then ran a completely different story in which Mark Oaten wasn’t a peadophile all in 36 hours… yeah, right.

    Guido in particular is turning into a very unpleasant little blogger of the News of the Screws type, except for the fact that a lot of his stories are based on the wildest Westminster pub rumours and even the News of the Screws wouldn’t print them. Given the sort of stuff he prints, the lack of evidence behind it, and the capacity some of it has to completely destroy people’s lives if picked up more widely, I reckon Guido is going to get himself sued into oblivion one of these days. I, for one, will not be sorry to see this alimentary canal of the blog world shut down.

  • Oh do give over. A load of leftie bloggers are claiming that Recess and Guido are claiming, blah, blah… while extremely pissed… blah, blah, blah. Cloppety clop, they blog off on their high horses.

    The only facts are that on the Thursday before the story broke we did a podcast making fun of Oaten being a perv. We did a vaguely related sketch on shitting LibDems. Chinese whispers led to Popbitch referring to the podcast on that message board that afternoon. Then the following Popbitch weekly email referred to shitting LibDem leadership contenders, then the News of the Screws… Now the collective high horse riders of the blogosphere gather up a posse and try to do a fisk of a satirical, piss-taking political podcast in the style of Derek and Clive. It’s surreal.

    Now those facts are not in dispute, the dispute is about the causual nature (or not) of that chain of events.

    Strange that when I took the piss out of Cameron for being a (ex)cokehead they didn’t claim I was a gutter blogger delving into someones private life, but when I called Hughes a lying hypocrite I became a homophobe.

    If I was a homophobe, I’d come out. I’m not. If I was a homophobe why hasn’t the blog outed closet gay MPs? Why did it support the gay Tory candidate in Falmouth, Ashley Crossley.

    The blog is as cruel as possible towards those who aspire to be our masters. It clearly says on the lid that it is a gossip blog that does tittle-tattle. It gets 100,000+ hits a month, so some must find it amusing. Nobody has to read it. All this po faced crap from politicaly correct bores is only encouraging me to wind them up more. They creep on to the blog with their bandwidth wrapped in a brown paper bag, they laugh guiltily, then they bemoan it. Bothered.

    As for innacuracy, sure I make the occasional mistake which I try to correct, and I get the occasional threat of a writ, but so far nobody has sued. Why not?

  • Mick Fealty

    Briefly, though I think Guido makes some excellent points worthy of a fuller discussion.

    I had a phone call out of the blue from an old mate from Belfast earlier today. We’d not spoken for 12/14 years. He’s currently working in Kinshasa. We had a short but animated discussion about Africa (my secret passion), development, human rights, jurisprudence, justice and policing. And the internet was part of the mix.

    One of the aspects of the net he mentioned, was its effect on professional elites, and its new capacity to allow ordinary citizens to unearth their own sources of knowledge and information.

    But there is another. The capacity for elite groups, a political party like the Lib Dems for instance, to form itself into a laager and repel all comers by use of discreet gatekeepers is massively reduced. Political parties of all stripes have to be able to ‘converse’ with an audience at close quarters rather than ‘soliloquy’ their political views with one at a much greater distance. You can’t do that, and be convincing, if you are harbouring major contrarian secrets.

    Though I wouldn’t/couldn’t have done what Guido and Recess Monkey did in the way they did it, I do think the openness of the blogosphere generally has the possibility to lead to a healthier and more open political discourse and public life. That is so long as Google’s (also owner of “Blogger”) deal with China is not the thin end of the wedge.

    Scuttlebutt and gossip is nothing new in politics. But blurring the boundary around the Westminster/Dail/Stormont (when we get it back) Village is. The gatekeepers are not so predictable any more. And we are all of us out in the greater public a lot closer to that intimate space than we were five or ten years ago.

    If that means honesty and openness becomes the safest option, then we all stand to gain in the long run, surely? Ironically it should also allow the fear and loathing felt by too many politicians to subside, and allow them to get back to what we really want to hear about: ie talking politics!

  • Mick,

    The lobby and journalists have a symbiotic relationship, they keep secrets because they want access and a long-term relationship.

    Most of my information comes from research assistants, interns, party workers – not the political elite, essentially the downstairs people not the upstairs people.

    But it does circumvent the gatekeepers to some extent.

    Anyway it has all got far too serious, it’s only blogging…

    Oh, Erin Go Bragh!