BY JAMES BEMBRIDGE
The gotcha inquisitions that have come to form so much of our broadcast news, more suited to cheap tabloid talk shows than serious journalism, offer few answers to a public fearfully in need of them. To witness the intemperate tantrums of Piers Morgan is to mourn a time when television was innocent of the social media revolution, journalism now reduced to 30 second clips of obnoxious outrage – our attention spans not even stretching the full ‘two minutes of hate’ envisaged by Orwell. Polls taken over the lockdown period show that trust in the media has plummeted whilst approval of the government has bolstered, so why do journalists persist with their weary charade?
That journalists now fall foul of public opinion – this fact won’t concern these activists when there is the inverted reality of Twitter to ask who is the fairest of them all. Their egos, so fatted from an endless stream of likes and retweets, give them the conviction that it is they who are the stars of any interview.
Fortunately, beyond the smug, sour dough-munching blue ticks of the London bubble, there exists a Twitter peasantry ready to see them in stocks. It is why the fifteen minutes of shame suffered by journalist Robert Peston enjoyed such a wide circulation. The white van men, those in communities blighted by failed attempts at multiculturalism, the patriots who remained patriots, long after the BBC told them that it was out of fashion – for those people, Peston represents that meddlesome headmistress figure that our media has come to be. Though it is trite to make any Orwell reference, let alone a second one, it could be said that the dour faces of Peston, Maitlis and Marr – against the current dystopian Covid backcloth – make up the ubiquitous Big Brother posters. With their indignant stares a permanent feature of our television, there is the feeling that our natural instincts to procreate, protect the family and, to a larger extent, our nation, are in constant judgement from these toads.
It’s unsurprising that a narrative has formed of ‘the Media Class vs the People’. With a danger that threatens not just our country but our species, Britain is in search of unity and hope. In such an environment, the cynical negativity of those who shame what once was a respected Fleet Street looks like a strategy well past its sell by date. Media class does not adequately describe the nebulous force that menaces our traditions: that force is an ultra-liberal, nannying, bureaucratic officialdom that thrived, and was conceived, during the Blair years. Yvette Cooper’s stung and plate-shaped face makes the perfect gorgon for it.
Whilst most of the London media are still consumed by this noughties way of thinking, COVID-19 has acted like the Brexit plebiscite and revealed the New Labour PC culture for the relic that it is. Through the pretence of ‘holding government to account’, these people seem to seek to dowse their rejected Utopianism even further, even daring to suggest delaying Brexit. The BBC gave us a series of supposed NHS whistle-blowers who turned out to be nothing but Labour lickspittles blowing for socialism. Channel 4 gave us some raving loon demanding apologies from Priti Patel for things clearly outside her influence – his chinless face mercifully masked by a Marxist, spit-speckled beard.
If journalism is to survive, then it must act as the informative source that people expect of it rather than a pulpit for the moral panics of middle-class pansies.