A comforting caricature.

The News of the World didn’t go far enough.

Wikileaks editorial

If the closure of the News of the World has confirmed one thing, if it needed confirming, it is that in society today the main momentum for censorship and curtailing press freedom is now ensconced comfortably at the left end of the political spectrum. Just as forty years ago the right had to resort to censorship because they didn’t have anything to say against the unravelling of social hypocrisies at the time, the left are now just as prone to censor because they don’t really have much to say about anything.

Whether it’s denying an audience to climate sceptic charlatans like Lord Monckton, or stopping the pernicious influence of right-wing tabloid rags, the motivation is the same, to prevent them from swaying the more susceptible minds of the masses – an influence from which they seem strangely immune, but we are never clear why (education? good breeding?).

That this has more to say about the bankruptcy of the left than the idea that the readership of the News of the World ever read it for much more than entertainment, is shown just as clearly on the occasions when the left do stand up for phone-tapping. Wikileaks, which rather embarrassingly has argued that NotW didn’t go far enough, can dump a whole truckload of sensitive documents without the left being able to make the slightest political use of it at all.

But as Wikileaks’ very inability to differentiate illustrates, it’s not that such press freedom really means that much these days anyway. As the hollow gushing over the Wikileaks revelations and now the Murdoch fiasco both show, the media and the political class are squabbling all the way down the same hole.

One of the most unedifying sights, in a week full of them, has been the spectacle of celebs and politicians crowding back into the nation’s television studios to use the understandable public outrage over the tapping of a dead girl’s mobile phone to get some more me-time and sympathy over their own phones being tapped, which no one gave a stuff about the first time round. One example was John Prescott, former Labour Deputy Prime Minister, who had made a political career out of being the token working class accent in Blair’s New Labour government, an act slightly spoiled when he accepted a Lordship at the end of it (his wife made him do it, apparently).

Prescott not only had been a victim of phone-tapping, which no one cared about, but also had some payback for the tabloids that had revealed an affair a few years ago (another paper). Unfortunately this time round, the BBC journalist interviewing wasn’t still much interested, but wanted to know what type of influence Murdoch had over the Labour government that was in power when all of these phone-tappings were going on.

In claiming that he argued that Murdoch’s power was exaggerated, however, Prescott made a salient point: Murdoch’s ability to move the public’s political opinion was never really tested, as he never backed a party at an election that wasn’t ahead in the opinion polls in the first place.

This goes to the heart of Murdoch’s business model. Not actually manipulating public opinion, but convincing an insecure political class that it could. This influence over the political class was not merely a delusion, but the result of the detachment of political parties from the electorate that meant that the media was the only real way they could relate to it. (This obsession with the media reached its height under Blair who made a virtue of his detachment from the old by sticking a ‘New’ in front of it, an act that continued until he was dumped and replaced by someone seen as closer to the party, but who shortly after flopped with the electorate. There are of course no parallels with Australian politics).

This was why Murdoch preferred paying sometimes high prices for high profile but loss-making newspapers, as a means of influencing the political class for favourable treatment for the real business, his television interests. This use of newspapers as mere pawns in the main game was why someone widely seen as an old fashioned newspaper man can just as easily shut down a 158 year-old paper, even if one of his most profitable.

That revelations about these squalid intrusions into the misery of others has come out now, years after they happened, but just at the time of what would be one of Murdoch’s most important deals, the take-over of BSkyB, might not be just a result of the noble search for truth and justice. The end consequences are highly unlikely to be. There are too many arses to be covered. It’s not just the political class, both the Tories in hiring NotW editor, Coulson, and Labour, who were in power when these wire-tappings happened and were known by the authorities at the time, but the authorities themselves, especially the police.

One wouldn’t know by the Murdoch-obsessed commentary, but we know there are at least two players in this – the tabloids that paid for personal information, and the police that sold it to them. Certainly some in the public seem to think so. The celebs and politicians on Question Time last week only wanted to talk about the News of the World, but as one of the audience noted they were skirting around the other issue, the role of the police in all of this.

Just what information about victims was sold by police to the journalists by those supposedly trusted to look after them has not been clarified, nor how it was that the NotW managed to get hold of a girl’s private mobile number while the police were still supposed to be looking for her killer, nor why when they knew the phone had been hacked they did not tell the parents who thought the deleted messages meant their daughter might still be alive. The BBC reported that one of those tapped by NotW was so distantly related to the 7/7 bombing victims that the number could only have been obtained from a police list. But it seems to be clear that even the police tasked to protect the Royal Family were selling telephone numbers to journalists – who else’s numbers did they sell?

We probably won’t know, but just as the Royals were the only one to get journalists arrested for phone-tapping the first time round, getting satisfaction on this will start from the top and work its way very slowly down, if at all. Given that the laws already exist to lock up those who tapped private phones, but were not applied except for the Royals, any new ones that will be introduced will only be pay-back for those that make them.

Certainly the public think this as well. The first poll since the NotW was closed found a staggering proportion of the public didn’t trust the media generally (80%) and were equally concerned about wider corruption of the police (77%). While more trusted Cameron to deal with the problem than Labour’s leader, half did not trust any party leader at all and over half did not believe they would root out corruption of the police. It would be convenient if it was all at the level of the Murdoch-hating caricature as some commentators would like to portray it, but the public know full well, even if the left don’t, that it’s not.

Posted by The Piping Shrike on Wednesday, 13 July 2011.

Filed under Media analysis

Tags: ,


40 responses to “Rats get caught in the same mess – London edition”

  1. Dr_Tad on 13th July 2011 9:06 am

    Sensible post, TPS. The ideology of an “all-powerful right-wing media” is much more powerful than the right-wing media actually is.

  2. Mr Denmore on 13th July 2011 9:52 am

    I think you’re way wide of the mark here Piping Shrike.

    No-one that I’m aware is asking for greater press censorship. They ARE asking that existing law apply to News Corp as with everyone else.

    Last time I checked, bribing police, wire tapping, forgery and interfering with evidence were illegal activities.

    You haven’t supplied any evidence that this “bankrupt left” is arguing for censorship, which suggests to me the arguments are all in your own head.

  3. Damian on 13th July 2011 12:38 pm

    One issue in this whole scandal that seems to have gone unnoticed is how easy it is to hack into someone’s mobile. The fact that senior politicians are not immune to this kind of interference would suggest that there are inadequate quality controls in the configuration of these little wonders.

  4. Mahaut on 13th July 2011 2:50 pm

    Good piece, Piping. There are many culpable parties in this dreadful business from News Int, through police, politicians who ‘bent the knee’, companies that bought advertising space in the paper and, eventually the readers who bought the stuff. But everyone feels good getting back at NI and perhaps British media will be a little less brutal for a while, that could be a good result.

  5. The Piping Shrike on 13th July 2011 5:19 pm

    Mr Denmore practically every left commentator I am reading thinks Murdoch has too much power and that it ought to be curtailed – when any objective reading of the social influence of the press would surely conclude that it has never been more discredited and less influential than it is now.

    The only real influence it could have is over an enfeebled political class but even here it is limited. When was the last time that all UK political parties voted to block a media owner from doing a deal as they are doing today? Yet in the past the UK press was guilty of far worse than tapping into a dead girl’s phone, to the point where if the police had found Millie’s killer, the press would have happily made him rich.

    To me the mythical power of the Murdoch bogeyman is more the prism through which the left understands (and explains) its own declining social relevance.

    I also saw quite a bit of cheering from the left about the closure of yet another paper. It’s not something I especially care about, the NotW was a significant contributor to progress. Freedom of the press as an abstract concept is not something that has great meaning for me. But let’s stop the pretence that it has for the left either.

  6. Graeme on 13th July 2011 6:11 pm

    This post is built largely on matchsticks. At least when I lived in London, no-one thought the NOTW was especially right-wing. Indeed it was seen at least as much as the National Enquirer in a different format as populist.

    Why should any group – whether they be politicians or celebrity royals – not condemn what amounts to arms of a media conglomerate running a quasi-secret police, mostly to break privacy laws and pursue personal grudes, but occasionally to further a political agenda? (The NOTW and now Sun/Times allegations are more than faintly reminiscent of how the special branch behaved in Joh’s days).

    Wikileaks is so self-consciously avant garde it is no surprise that it would take a quixotic line. But it seems to me we are living, more than ever, in an age where media accountability is a serious issue, and that is precisely what these revelations and inquiries are about.

    The funny thing is this. All the worthwhile talk about baseless parties and an often clueless media driven by infotainment and temporary self-serving interest (ref: ‘Sideshow’, aspects of this blogosophy) misses a third strand in this contemporary malaise. Most of us lap up the scandalisation served up by the media whilst simultaneously mouthing generic cynicism about journaliasts. Yet when exposed to actual revelations about how the scandal sausage is made, we experience almost touchingly naive mortification.

  7. The Piping Shrike on 13th July 2011 6:33 pm

    I think bribing corrupt officers of the state is getting mixed up with the state itself. This is one that ran an undercover shoot-to-kill policy which the Murdoch press, among others, helped to expose. So I think perspective is needed.

    I think it has gone beyond just public entertainment for titillation, revelations have become confused with something politically meaningful. The attitude of Wikileaks is not an accident, but very much part of its ethos, which its supporters are now choosing to dismiss when we see where it leads.

    By the way, absolutely agree that wire-tapping and phone hacking are illegal, and why it was never pursued by the police we are now starting to see (look at the testimony of the police officer in charge of the original investigation, Andy Hayman, it’s highly enlightening) – which is why any new laws or regulations will be for another purpose. But again, the use of illegal activities to get information is also not a thing that worries the left generally. Wikileaks?

  8. Alex White on 13th July 2011 11:07 pm

    Re: attitude towards voters/general public and politics: Might be worth reading this article about research into how people make political decisions.

  9. Alex White on 13th July 2011 11:31 pm
  10. Mr Denmore on 13th July 2011 11:36 pm

    Piping Shrike, Methinks you’re analyzing this through own rather limited prism.

    This isn’t about left versus right. It is about revulsion at the amorality of the Murdoch empire. Both right and left have condemned News Corp’s behavior.

    AS for the supposed myth of Murdoch’s power, you yourself should be able to appreciate that power is as much about perception as about reality.

    If politicians of all persuasions jump at Murdoch’s bidding – and I think there is bountiful evidence that they have and that they do – that is power and he has exercised it very successfully to secure his commercial and ideological objectives over many decades.

  11. kymbos on 14th July 2011 9:46 am

    This is a weird piece. Why is condemning a business for widespread illegal acts tantamount to censorship? Why is the belief that market share should be limited equated with censorship or the curtailing of press freedom?

    Reducing the market power of large media players should increase the number of different views expressed in mainstream media, not reduce them. Even when looking through your lens (and I don’t advocate that we do), the logic should run the other way.

    Decrease the market share of Murdoch in the British press, increase the number and size of alternative voices in the media, reduce potential ‘censorship’ as you put it.

    Otherwise, I would have congratulated you for writing a whole piece without using the term ‘bankruptcy of the left’ but, there it is – para 3.

  12. nick on 14th July 2011 1:15 pm

    agree with some of the criticisms of denmore and kypbos pike

    Think your off the mark with this one

    Murdoch press is a toxic force in australia imho

    I’m pro market and don’t like unnecessary govt interference but am starting to reconsid whether the state needs to start increasing its regulation of the media, through restrictions on ownership to force a level of diversity

    Also starting to consider case for a new regulator to ensure laws are adhered to by journalists and for laws pertaining to journalists and the media to be reviewed ….

  13. Riccardo on 14th July 2011 4:17 pm

    Nup, TPS definitely on the money with this post.

    You can’t imagine the Jack Langs or Arthur Calwells cowering before media, any media. It’s not that the media aren’t powerful, or that Rupert isn’t the son of Keith and Kerry had a father named Frank, neither of whom gave any let up to the ALP.

    It’s that if Ben Chifley came in with a mountain of votes and a plan to do something with them, no Franks or Keiths made much difference. But when your party is running on empty, you are knocked over by feathers.

    Imagine, just for a minute, Chifley wanted a Snowy Mountains Scheme, and Frank/Keith didn’t. Even in 1947 you could have assembled a posse to oppose it: wise British lords, useful American Experts, disgruntled farmers, racists who feared all the dagos brought in to do the work, and average suburban joes who just thought the whole thing a waste of money. Or a Communist conspiracy. Or a diversion from what really mattered, that the price of bread had gone up another 2p.

    But when you’ve won an election, made a plan and everyone knows your plan agrees with your basic world outlook, why should you fail? No need for focus groups or opinion polls, at least for a good 2 1/2 years.

  14. Riccardo on 14th July 2011 4:24 pm

    It’s also an existential problem. Political party ‘meaning’ fails when modern life lacks the same.

    When the middle class really doesn’t have much to argue about, they then argue about trivialities.

    When the rich will stay rich no matter which party is in power, they’ll back their friends.

    When the poor and disenfranchised are – to be obvious – disenfranchised, their voices don’t count and their needs don’t matter.

    I think the real thing is – give Australians something to actually have a position on, the political system might respond by offering these choices.

    But the existing political system, built as it was in the 1890s to respond to 1890s issues, has failed.

    We don’t do shearers’ strikes, sunshine harvester plants or collect tariffs at posts along the Murray River, so it beggars belief that we need a political system that sorts these issues out.

  15. nobby on 14th July 2011 5:12 pm

    riccardo,chifley did not have to deal with the huge volume of negative propaganda that comes out of talk back and tv 24 hours a day now.

  16. Dragon Roars on 14th July 2011 5:57 pm

    i usually agree with PS, but not this time. This matter is not about left vs right, but all about ethics and a proper exercise of power – power that is sanctioned by the community through laws and regulations. In the UK, the powers that be (government, public service, police) turned a blind eye to News Corp practices because they were fearful of the repercussions of opposing one man. Both left and right (or what is left of the “left”)in the UK cowered in terror of what News Corp would publish about them. A reasonably diverse media presence (e.g.The Guardian) eventually won the day. Where is such a diverse media presence in Australia? Are we the only democratic country that doesn’t care that 70% of its print media is owned by a foreign company? That there is no escaping the Murdoch media in most major cities in our country? PS, how about concentrating on the abuse of power in our nation rather than dress it up as a censorship issue between the right and a mythical left?

  17. The Piping Shrike on 14th July 2011 6:03 pm

    kymbos, I’ve never understood censorship as a market share issue, it used to be a question of the state control over the media. Everyone agrees that laws exist against phone-tapping and that they ought to be applied (although I don’t know whether readers agree this is true for Wikileaks as well), so what do readers think of the UK government now looking at additional regulation when it didn’t apply the laws that already exist?

    I don’t hear any great outcry over this from the left, in fact there seems to be support for such regulation. Why?

    Mr Denmore, we seem to be inching towards agreement, although I don’t think there is such a gap between perception and reality. The media is widely agreed as lacking credibility for reasons you have written about yourself. So if it has little credibility then I can’t see how it can have that much influence over the public either. It does have influence over a weak political class, as you agree, and all sides in the UK have wanted to take the opportunity to distance themselves at the moment, but surely we can agree that the main condemnation has come from the left.

    By the way, the political bogosity award must surely go to Gordon Brown who has told us of the anguish he and his wife suffered with News International publishing details of their son’s illness, an act so despicable that, er, Brown not only did nothing about the phone tapping when he later became PM but attended Rebekah Brooks’ wedding (although he probably didn’t spend too much on the prezzie).

    Finally a pretty sensible piece on all of this in the Guardian, I thought.

  18. Dragon Roars on 14th July 2011 6:04 pm

    And BTW, Riccardo, bringing up Jack Lang and Calwell proves just how difficult it is in this country to stand up to powerful vested interests (read: money). Remind me – how long did Lang stay in power? And how successful was Calwell in his attempts to win government? And how long did Chifley retain power?

  19. Riccardo on 14th July 2011 8:01 pm

    Yeah, but it wasn’t bad old Keith or Frank who brought them down.

    Chifley dusted off an old policy he had locked away in his brain since his childhood – socking it to the banks.

    Calwell just wasn’t a runner, the Simon Crean of his day. And Lang, he was somewhere between Latham and Bob Brown – never likely to be a long term proposition.

    Look for the actual performance of the pollie, before worrying about media plots.

    And anyway, the idea of ‘left’ or ‘right’ is as much likely to be about Wikileaks type issues than socialism or neoclassical economics. Ideas of anarchism or libertarianism have a resonance with the left while ideas of control and ‘knowing your place’ with the right.

    So there is no contradiction between shutting down Murdoch but not Assange, just as there is no contradiction for rightists like Abbott between rural socialism and urban economic rationalism, or between carbon taxes that don’t stop climate change – and his direct action policies that also don’t. Coz it ain’t about economics any more.

  20. Mr Denmore on 14th July 2011 8:45 pm

    Piping Shrike, regarding your thesis that the criticism of Murdoch is coming overwhelmingly from a ‘bankrupt’ left, you might want to read Conrad Black’s profile of Murdoch in today’s FT.

  21. The Piping Shrike on 14th July 2011 9:33 pm

    .. yes I should have added … and (former) business rivals. Character assessments from Conrad Black are especially amusing. Is he out of prison yet?

  22. The Piping Shrike on 15th July 2011 10:49 am

    I see Tim Dunlop has picked up on this post but mis-reading what I am saying; of course Murdoch has influence, but more over detached politicians than society overall, where indeed the media’s influence has probably never been less.

  23. Skeeter on 15th July 2011 2:05 pm

    Strawman, Mr PS.

    Nobody I have seen is arguing for Murdoch and his empire to be “censored”. Though he certainly should be censured.

    They are arguing that he has too much power, and uses it in an unacceptably partisan and self-serving way, that does not bode well for public debate on important issues. They are asking that the concentration of media ownership, and the relationship between that and his excessive and undue political influence, be properly debated and addressed by the political class.

    They are very legitimate and real requests.

    I also think your claim that he has only modest influence, in Australia at least, is clearly nonsense. He may or may not be able to directly make or break a government here, but with 70% of the print media he comes damn close to it, a lot closer than he is entitled to. His minions are certainly doing everything they can to bring down the current government, in often blatantly mendacious ways. A role that is totally inappropriate for the media.

    Is that level of concentration of media ownership healthy, in your view? If not, then what do you propose should be done about it?

  24. Dr_Tad on 15th July 2011 3:08 pm

    I think people protest a bit much about TPS creating a straw man here. Bob Brown is going down exactly the road of speaking up for regulatory measures and greater “rights of privacy” (which will only be able to be accessed by those with expensive lawyers) that have been tossed about in the UK debate.

    The main problem for me is not that the media acts as what it is, a corporate or state mouthpiece, often also trying to make a buck. It’s the powerful interests behind the media that are the problem, and targeting the scurrilous activities of their editors and reporters through greater control/regulation/censorship will do pretty much nothing to rein in that power.

    Isn’t that real social power what the Left used to claim to challenge?

  25. The Piping Shrike on 15th July 2011 6:14 pm

    Absolutely Dr T. This is not the case that the state wants to censor anything in particular, as we saw with pronouncements over Wikileaks, they are too weak to argue it, but that they want to lay the ground for greater control so they can.

    It is sticking out like a sore thumb now that Brown is using this as a means for greater influence over the direction of the media in Oz, something that Keating supported on Lateline, when there is no evidence of any hacking except for The Age. Greater government control over the media is far less healthy than that newspapers are concentrated in too few hands.

    Keating and Brown are from the left, they are arguing for greater restraint over the Murdoch press because they are too critical of their parties, that is censorship.

    But I had hoped to go beyond what I had thought was the bleedin’ obvious and make another point with this post. I wanted to question the nature of the political class and media these days, because in a way such censorship doesn’t really matter. Far from the media having greater influence over what people think, any poll you look at would show that the media has less influence and credibility over the public than before. They are becoming equally detached as the politcal class to which they are getting increasingly caught up in. The left are blind to this because it is the supposed power of the press that is the only explanation they have for their own lack of social influence.

  26. Skeeter on 16th July 2011 12:29 am

    “Keating and Brown are from the left, they are arguing for greater restraint over the Murdoch press because they are too critical of their parties, that is censorship.”

    No, it is because their criticisms are all too often blatantly fact-free, dishonest and partisan. Pointing that out and asking that something be done about it is not censorship, it is accountability, which cuts both ways. The media are not and should not be absolutely free to just make shit up, accountable only to the profit bottom line. (Even that much is a joke at times, given Murdoch’s long standing cross-subsidisation of certain flagship titles, such as The Oz. Clearly that is all about gaining influence over the political class, and that behaviour should always be held to serious scrutiny.)

    And I hardly think Keating is from the left. Centrist would be more accurate.

    The condemnation of and demand for accountability in the UK about Murdoch’s practices and influence seems to cut right across the political spectrum, and goes well beyond the political class, and a handful of criminal acts.

    Sorry, but trying to paint this just a vengeful fetish of the spurned Left, is simply wrong.

    “Greater government control over the media is far less healthy than that newspapers are concentrated in too few hands.”

    This debate is about regulation of concentration of ownership (diversity), not regulation of content (censorship).

    You do yourself no credit by failing to acknowledge this important distinction.

    Trying to excuse it all by saying, ‘well the media doesn’t have much real influence anyway, so it is not really a problem’, is not very convincing.

  27. The Piping Shrike on 16th July 2011 9:28 am

    This is just about concentration of media not content, but the trouble is that they are partisan and “make shit up”. No, don’t get that.

  28. nobby on 16th July 2011 1:01 pm


  29. nobby on 16th July 2011 1:02 pm

    sorry about the caps

  30. The Piping Shrike on 16th July 2011 7:35 pm

    State restrictions on the press was the usual way censorship was understood. What you refer to was bias reporting – which by the way used to be a hell of a lot more than today. As I wrote in a post a while ago, a relatively non partisan press is a fairly recent phenomenon in Australia. One reason was that as the voice of business interests they had good reasons to be anti-Labor. Given where Labor is today, I’m sure they generally couldn’t care less.

    I am making no comparisons between which is worse, it’s the left who bang on about censorship not me. It’s why they made such a cause celebre over Wikileaks, despite its lack of real significance, and why they are so blithely ignoring Wikileaks view that NotW did not go far enough.

    If some want to redefine censorship to mean something else, OK, but it looks like word games to me.

  31. nick on 18th July 2011 12:26 pm

    can’t see the view that Newscorp is not more powerful in this country than ever

    Own 70 % of newspapers and really seem to set the agenda in this country

    Backed abbott to the hilt in his campaign to wreck and talk the country and this govt down in order to effect a change of govt

    Don’t let the facts like 4.9 per cent unemployment and escaping the gfc get in the way

    Of course the govts panic last year didn’t help and obviously fed into the hysteria and undermined any hope they had of being re elected in their own right

  32. Riccardo on 18th July 2011 1:08 pm

    You will all find life easier when you relax assumptions about freedom and democracy being virtues in themselves. They are instrumental in a better life, but do not confuse means and ends.

    Wikileaks ends up in this sort of morasse because socking it to the man is a one-trick pony. Freedom can be instrumental in having access to the information that sank Nixon, but digging up diplomatic gossip is of no value in working to a better life.

    Democracy ditto – can help you get rid of Mubaraks or Gaddafis who might be salting their countries billions away in private accounts and torturing their opponents, but precious little use in actually getting you a decent government.

    Must look at the ‘raw material’ that goes into such governments, not how it was delivered.

  33. Eddie on 19th July 2011 9:34 am

    There is a Petition online regarding an Inquiry into the Australian Media. http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/inquiry-into-australian-media.html

  34. The Piping Shrike on 20th July 2011 10:40 am

    Ricc I think what we are seeing is the hollowing out of the content of traditional democratic concepts like freedom of speech, which is why the left are fabricating restrictions on the press in the name of diversity.

    In itself this diversity doesn’t have much content behind it either which is why, as in Eddie’s petition, it is hiding behind hacking, when in Oz it would surely pertain to The Age.

    Actually in historical terms, it’s not even that, as within the narrow confines of the current political spectrum, the Australian press is editorially more ‘diverse’ than it was fifty years ago.

    This is really a political campaign by proxy. But then, as shown by today’s political/security farce in London, these things work themselves out.

  35. Riccardo on 21st July 2011 3:09 pm

    The sharemarket seems to think Murdoch is in the clear, which to economists’ thinking means the ‘smart money’ or the insiders believe its all sorted.

    The thing I’ve liked about this blog, but would be keen to see TPS outline more on, is Australian exceptionalism, and why some of the mundane and unpleasant trends in overseas countries miraculously, according to the political class, don’t apply here (and conversely – sensible policy and outcomes that also happen overseas aren’t relevant to Australia). Both propositions are ridiculous if you understand Australia to be a mediocre, also-ran of a country.

    But as Kimbo kept saying, we should be punching above our weight (and maybe he was doing his bit to help). Delusions of grandeur.

  36. Riccardo on 22nd July 2011 10:16 pm

    One thing about Monckton – the left must be insecure because so obvious a clown and fool as him should not be censored, but promoted and pilloried as much as possible.

    He must know he’s a fool.

    In saner times the right would have been crazy to rely on people like Monckton for their debating points – but they’ve got the measure of the left if they’ve got them worried.

    This is what I don’t get.

    If it was creationism or abortion or something and the loony right were out in force, they could be easily pilloried by mainstream media and no one would think twice. But climate change…the right should be on the ropes but the left are terrified of a fight with the clowns and loons.

  37. Dr_Tad on 23rd July 2011 2:33 pm

    The official Left’s obsession with Monckton reveals its own inability to understand climate politics as politics. No amount of challenging his pseudoscience on the basis of rational argument is going to win if abstracted from a battle against the powerful interests who want climate action sabotaged.

    The more the mainstream Left backs policies (i.e the carbon tax) that look like they will be ineffectual (at best) in addressing the problem the easier it will be for the science to be undermined.

    Gillard seems committed to making life as easy as possible for Abbott. Sigh.

  38. The Piping Shrike on 23rd July 2011 4:24 pm

    I’ve always seen Monckton’s appeal being an anti-political “you can’t trust the government” than the power of his critique on climatology. The left prefer to focus on the latter because 1) they have a soft spot for straw men and 2) anti-politics is tricky to deal with.

    As a means to deal with climate change the ETS is just silly since it relies on letting the market decide when, as we know, the market is incapable of making a decision about anything.

  39. Dr_Tad on 23rd July 2011 5:52 pm

    As a means to deal with climate change the ETS is just silly since it relies on letting the market decide when, as we know, the market is incapable of making a decision about anything.

    Killer comment. Loving it.

  40. j-boy on 24th July 2011 12:20 am

    is Rebekah Rosebud….

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