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