Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The Non-Existent Neo-Con Nonsense

Guido 2.0: Iain Dale and the non-existent neo-cons

Iain 1 - 0 Strawman

Thinking about this, and looking back on previous posts, I've realised that I'd been rather careless in something I'd written last week about 18 Tory Street. I wrote:
Fox News Lite was exactly what it looked like.
This was careless in two ways.
  1. It would be very easy to misrepresent what I meant.
  2. It is possible that some people genuinely misunderstood what I meant.
It was one of those moments where I knew what I meant and didn't clarify the matter because I presumed it was obvious. Careless.

To avoid any possible confusion, here's a clarification of the point I wanted to make. The short version is that 18 Tory Street looks exactly like Fox News Lite in the context of the British political scene.

Fox News is stacked full of neo-cons and various other Republicans talking heads discussing whatever subject from an (American) conservative perspective. Internal memos from the man responsible for the editorial direction of FOX News clearly demonstrate a desire to push the agenda of the Republican Party. They do this under the banner "Fair and Balanced". Satire truly is dead.

18 Doughty Street is not literally exactly like that. It isn't stacked full of neo-cons and various other Republican talking heads. That isn't the point of the comparison at all.

18 Doughty Street is about the Tories, not the neo-cons.
18DoughtyStreet Talk TV launched in October as Britain's first political internet TV channel. It describes itself as "an anti-establishment TV station on the internet" with "citizen journalist reporters" who will be "championing rebel opinions" and "constantly questioning authority". But its five directors are all former Conservative candidates or employees and it advertised for staff in America with the claim that it would be "Like Fox News".

18DoughtyStreet streams up to five hours a night of political chat (talk radio for the eyes) untroubled by Ofcom regulations that require "due impartiality" from broadcasters. And it is not subject to Ofcom's Broadcasting Code that states, "No politician may be used as a newsreader, interviewer or reporter in any news programmes unless, exceptionally, it is editorially justified. In that case, the political allegiance of that person must be made clear to the audience."
It's like Fox News in the context of the British political scene. It's stacked full of Tories and various other conservative talking heads.

Now, you may say that an internet TV station directed by former Conservative candidates or employees is obviously going to strongly favour the Tories and you'd be right.

Sometimes, it can be a good thing to state the obvious. This is especially true when there are signs that "anti-establishment" positioning and use of "citizen journalist reporters" is intended to draw attention away from the obvious and add "real world" authenticity to a venture clearly run by members of the Conservative Party.

(Just to clarify, as well as Iain, I believe that actual real world citizen journalists are also used occasionally. That provides bonus authenticity points. They might not be quite so keen on citizen journalism if someone wanted to make a film about Nicholas Boles using time and/or facilities provided by Policy Exchange to create a home for a personal website with a clear party-political purpose, however.)

18 Tory Street is not currently subject to Ofcom's Broadcasting Code. For this reason if no other, some scrutiny of their activities is almost certainly in order.

Do the directors of 18 Tory Street welcome that scrutiny? Perhaps it's too early to come to a definitive conclusion but one of them doesn't appear to be hugely enamoured by the idea.

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