Film, TV and the Arts

Film, TV and the Arts

Friday, 15 July 2011

The Great Distraction

In grave times, this soap-opera should fall from the front pages

This morning, the excellent Philip Collins in The Times (£), which (as they keep reminding us) is owned by News International, stands up for “the people” by making the two points that no-one in the disgraced media classes or the sanctimonious political classes has cared to make: the people are not stupid, and this story is of little importance to them.
All through this week, the news coverage has been dominated by the hacking scandal. Amazing, as Collins points out, in a week were there were horrific and foreboding riots in Belfast, a new nation was recognised by the UN, and there were important pieces of news on the economy at home (unemployment and inflation figures) and abroad (Italy). Britain’s politicians and editors could only concentrate on the one story. Important though the hacking scandal is, it is not as earth shattering as this week would have had you believe.

More importantly, Collins highlights what “a form of snobbery” in how “the people” are portrayed. The fact is, as Daniel Finkelstein (£) said in the same paper this week (and, yes, it’s still owned by News International) that the people are much more intelligent than the media and political figures often seem to think, and, they also have their own concerns. After weeks of this coverage, I think most of them are still more worried about whether they’ll be employed at Christmas.

The sanctimony of figures such as Chris Bryant, who as I type is being incredibly self-congratulatory himself on Sky News at the revelation of Rebekah Brooks’ resignation, is difficult to bear, particularly in Bryant’s case (and, of course, in those of other politicians) as he had his serious ethical “mishap” with his expenses claims and his liberal flipping of his first and second homes.

The public realise that this case is more complex than the media narrative would suggest and that the actual effect of it is not as wide as the level of coverage has suggested. There are more important things at this time than this media soap-opera, particularly as we wait for inquiries of all sorts to get going and follow due process.

The story remains of import, and it should not be forgotten, but the people of Britain do have much more to worry about.

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