A lobby of Heathers?

I rarely get cross about political coverage. I’m rarely peturbed by the way in which politics is covered and reported in this country.

But, today, today… I lost it a little.

As a result, I have the following message for the elite of British political journalism.

YOU ARE MAKING ME STUPIDER WITH YOUR INANE
SELF-ABSORBED WORD-DUMPS.

IF I HAVE TO READ ANOTHER CALORIE FREE COLOUR PIECE I WILL GO POSTAL ON YOU ALL.

HHHnnnghghghgh.

That’s better.

I know that political journalism is closer to Heathers than the disinterested search for truth.

I know that if you’re up you get sycophancy and admiration, and if you’re down you get mockery.

I know that if you lock 30 journalists in a limited space for several hours they begin to go a bit cabin crazy and strange things result. Sometimes you want this (like if you can induce Stockhom syndrome, as the Bush 2000 campaign did so brilliantly). That’s why one of my most imporatnt jobs in the 2005 election was ensuring there was never any shortage of edible treats for journalists. Distraction, you see.

So I knew what sort of coverage to expect from the Brown-Obama visit. I know that complaining about this is as futile as whining about gravity.

I can even give you chapter and verse on ways in which political hacks try to manage the media in order to avoid that kind of clusterf*ck. (Though you’d be better off listening to Alistair Campbell, David Hill or a whole host of others who’ve actually done this stuff rather than me, who just watched them do it)

So I knew the coverage of the Obama trip would in all likelihood be in the order of Alice Miles piece in the Times today. I even predicted it.

I just hoped that I’d be wrong, this time it would be… ..better.

The world is in economic melt down. Ford and GM posted production numbers down 50% today. AIG posted a loss of sixty-one billion dollars. Japan is either deflating or on the precipice.

So what do we get endless reporting and analysis on?

Press conferences.

Not what’s going to be said in them, but whether they’re happening, what the length of them means, and how the body language of the people at the press conference could be interpreted.

Let me make me absolutely clear. I don’t care.

I don’t care about body language, I don’t care about location, I don’t care about how long they spent over coffee.

I care about what they decided in the meeting and what the chances are they’re horribly wrong or wonderfully right.

The resulting press conference could have been conducted in a broom cupboard with President Obama speaking from under the floorbaords in the voice of Elmer Fudd while Gordon Brown held forth wearing only a pair of swimming trunks and a pair of flippers and I would not care.

For once in our miserable political lives content matters. For once content is the only thing that matters.

Gordon Brown could have made a pass at Mrs Obama while the President tried to punch him on the schnozzle, and I wouldn’t be bothered. As people I couldn’t care less about them right now.

I am marginally interested in them as the leaders who get to make decisions that effect the whole world, though.

If it wouldn’t be too much trouble. I’d like to hear a bit more about that, please.

To be clear:
Press Conference or “Pool spray”?
I DON’T CARE AND NEITHER DOES ANYONE ELSE.

Response to possible Global economic cataclysm?
WORTH A BIT OF IN DEPTH COVERAGE I THINK

I think I understand the problem. After all, what do Rachel Sylvester, Nick Robinson, Oliver Burkeman, Alice Miles or most political correspondents and columnists know obout economics? 0. Nil. Nada.

They’re people like me, who get their kicks from knowing what David Davis thinks of Dominic Grieve. They’re just not equipped to write an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of a set of economic proposals. They don’t know their TARP from their IT’S A TARP!

So they write what they know, which is inside politics and the horse race. Normally, that’s good enough. But not now. Now we need a bit more meat.

So get rid of them. Give them the hook from the press plane and send Martin Wolf instead. Send Evan Davies, Send the entire economics staff of the FT, Send Hamish McRae. Hell, send that guy from CNN with the wierd voice and the interesting sexual preferences.

Christ, send John Redwood and the shades of Friedman, Keynes and Strauss and let them have a spectral bunfight on the Press plane over who’s right.

Just give us something that will make us feel smarter after reading it, not dumber.

Please?

16 Responses to “A lobby of Heathers?”

  1. pregethwr

    Sailors and the sea, Hopi, sailors and the sea.

    Not that you are wrong this time, mind.

    Reply
  2. newmania

    Is it the lask of analytical coverage you do not like or the fact that Brown is not getting the Churchillian press he craves . I `ll answer that , the latter.
    Brown has been spitting out his stats and obfuscation for years . We now know he knew nothing . It just sounded clever , its too late for that.
    With such a lot of tragedy let us have a bit of farce and thats all this is . A Vicar in the cloakroom , lost my trousers , wheres my tennis racket , where .

    Reply
  3. Labourboy

    Glad to see I’m not the only one frustrated by the press overnight. I was desperately searching online last night for some proper coverage.

    Thankfully it’s a tad better today, but as I say on my own blog – we’ll only know the success of this meeting after the G20 (in many respects) and how Obama approaches the global crisis.

    Reply
  4. Tom Freeman

    I LIKE TEH WAY BROWN AND OBAMMA WORE TEH SAME SUIT N TIE YESTRDY. BARRACK IS GR8 AN NOW I RECKON BRWON IS TO , I WILL VOTE FOR HIM NEXT TIEM.

    Reply
  5. bigmacsub

    The best part about banging your head repeatedly against the wall is….?

    come into the light Hopi…

    the wall isn’t worth it….

    ( I’m talking about backing Brown, you get that don’t you?)

    Reply
  6. hopisen

    Well, I feel better now. How about you all?

    eriously though, This morning I watched the BBC, read the times, telegraph, independent and guardian political coverage, at at the end of it, I felt worse informed about the world than I did at the beginning. I knew a lot more about the relative length of presidential press conferences though, so the effort hadn’t been entirely wasted.

    Liam, in his post says it’s not hard to find Krugman, Roubini et al – it is if you read our national media, not their websites.

    Reply
  7. Liam Murray

    We’re muddling issues here.

    I stand 100% behind you in any call for a more informed & intelligent debate – my point is a commitment to that cause shouldn’t be conditional on what’s politically expedient. And I doubt very much if those calling for it now were as enthusiastic to change the tone & standard of national debate when the press were broadly on message – its just a consistency thing.

    Reply
  8. Brian Hughes

    Polly Toynbee and I (he added modestly) amongst others have for years been telling anyone who’d listen that we have the worse press in the world in the UK. A bold claim that I can’t substantiate but perhaps she can. The only evidence I can come up with is France and the US. In both these countries I’ve found the level of news coverage and debate in their serious newspapers to be of a far higher standard than any on offer in the UK. French TV and radio news is, in my limited experience, also far less narrowly focussed than that in the UK.

    Our media’s obsession with the UK and with personality based trivia is depressing.

    But joy, someone gave me a DAB radio for Christmas and I can listen to the BBC World Service for the first time since moving too far west to receive it on medium wave. If they can cover both UK and “foreign” news matters in depth on that why can’t they do it on their UK services?

    Sorry for the rant, I’ll go away now…

    Reply
  9. Andrew F

    HEY. GUESS WHAT.

    Gordon Brown got 17 standing ovations from Congress – which is less than Blair got but still not too bad. Now, err, what did he say again?

    Reply
  10. CS Clark

    This story in the Washington Post shows that it’s not just the UK press. Although that said, he’s a) a sketch writer and b) taking his lead from people like Nick Robinson, which I suppose is a case of the bland leading the bland.

    Reply
  11. Kate Lord Brown

    Hello Hopi – glad to have found you via the Beeb. Couldn’t agree more – it’s Dumb & Dumber country. Tabloids, ‘slebs … time to emigrate.

    Reply
  12. Will M

    Fully agreed. One of the few good things the BBC has done in the last year is bring Evan Davis into a regular slot on the Today show.

    Reply

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