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Posted by Richard Friday, July 08, 2011


Anybody who sets his stall out to defend the freedom of the press, in the terms offered by Brendan O'Neill, now graduated to The Failygraph, has very little understanding of the concept. "The press in Britain", he writes, has been pretty much free since the 17th century".

It will, thus, "be a very sad day for open and honest and unfettered media investigation and debate if that now changes in the wake of the hacking scandal, and if politicians tiptoe into what was previously a no-go zone for them: the hearts and brains of hacks", the man adds, thus reserving his place in the land of the fairies.

The one thing we do know, though, is that the "press" – by which we mean the MSM – loves to elide the issues of its own "freedom" with that of the people's freedoms. A free and commercially viable press gives voice to voiceless readers and protects them from being exploited by the rich and powerful, says The Mail.

In fact, though, all it is interested in doing is defending own its power and privileges, and its monopoly access to the powerful, which it wrongly positions as "telling truth to power".

This day, for instance, we see British Gas hike its prices by eighteen percent, driven to a huge extent by the failure of government energy policies and the obsession with global warming. When it comes to "telling truth to power", however, the Failygraph has been leader of the pack, selling the tired, discredited concept of global warming, making itself a laughing-stock in the process.

It is this newspaper that, more than most, perpetuates the sodden, dispiriting creed of EU "reform" – helping to keep us locked into a monstrous construct that deprives us of our freedoms. Yet those who would fight it, it ignores and marginalises.

For instance, over the many years, it has made a habit of cutting references to UKIP from copy submitted by journalists, and rewriting stories to favour its Tory MEP friends. This is a newspaper that does not tell the truth to power but sucks up to its friends in power, and tells them what they want to hear.

And no single newspaper has done more to suck up to Cameron, the man whose comments on the media Brendan O'Neill now says "should freak out anyone who cares about press freedom". But it was always thus. Cameron has never been a democrat, has never been interested in any freedom but his own, and within his own circle and those he can reach, is known for ruthlessly suppressing dissent.

A newspaper at all interested in "telling truth to power", or even just to truth to its readers, would have said that. It would have exposed Cameron for the disgraceful, low-grade slime that he is. It would have exposed a lot more that is rotten in this society and the putrid ranks of the Conservative Party.

But now, having licked and slurped it way round the powerful, this paper feels insecure. Yet it only has itself to blame. Its own ineptitude and betrayals of its own principles has eroded its own power and authority, alienated its core readership and turned itself into a joke. Now it is whining that a monster it helped create is turning on it.

This is the paper that should die of shame. At least the News of the World made no pretence about where it lived – in the gutter. But the Failygraph, from being a proud, independent newspaper that was a pleasure to read, has betrayed every principle it ever had, and joined the NOTW in the gutter.

Perhaps that is why it feels so threatened. Living in the gutter and seeing one gutter-dweller wiped out, it must feel that it could so easily be next. So it whines about freedom, presumably expecting its readers to rally to the cause. But when we have newspapers – and media in general – that are actually interested in our freedom, then perhaps we might take an interest in their concerns.

In neglecting us, they have sowed the seeds of their own destruction. And all they now have to offer is humbug. They can rot – they should rot. The torch or freedom is – amid the dross – passing over to the internet and the new media. You will not find it in the self-serving pages of the MSM, which is long past its sell-by date. You need not even bother looking.

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