Just a couple of brief thoughts on today’s U.K. Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee hearing.
Firstly, in many ways it was exactly what was expected: politicians demonstrating that they are not often elected on merit or ability; those summoned pleading almost universal amnesia or simply skirting around answering questions with a stream of waffle or even trying to claim that they don’t understand things which they clearly must. In many ways they can get away with this behaviour because it is exactly the same behaviour used by politicians whenever they face similar hearings. One could conclude from such largely pointless prodding that our democracy is very weak.
Secondly, on a slightly more positive note it was interesting to see many, many people watching, listening, blogging, tweeting and generally being proactive in following the hearing. It was, after all, public outrage that got us here in the first place, so it is good to see this not appearing to wane. Although, it must be admitted that my timeline was always likely to make me feel this way because I tend to follow those people who might be interested in such things. However, the trending topics seemed to imply that it was more than just that.
Thirdly, it demonstrated how easily distracted we are by small events, or events that seem much larger due to their unexpected or dramatic nature. I am referring, of course, to the shaving foam ‘pie’ incident which did get everyone interested as Twitter demonstrated with ‘WTF’ trending soon after the incident. Rightly the perpetrator was roundly condemned for their actions, taking the emphasis away from Murdoch et al’s amnesia tactics or any of the good questions they had stumbled over by those politicians up to the job today.
However, let us not place all of the blame on the ‘pie’ slinger here, sure, he gave the press an open goal with his actions, but the press don’t have to take it. It is not the moronic actions of one individual that writes the headlines, it is the editor of each respective newspaper. They must take sole responsibility for their frontpages tomorrow. It will be interesting to see which editors can rise above the irrelevant actions of one man to focus on the more important, significant and serious events of the day and which ones will choose a screen grab and a silly headline. I really do believe that each pie-centric front page will be seen by many as just another example of how our press fails in its coverage of politics and thus weakens our notions of democracy.
And finally, Melanie Phillips might want to reconsider her comments on the BBC being obsessed with the story when she sees the Mail Online home page:
Whilst the Mail does offer extensive coverage of the days events, it is sad to see them place such prominent emphasis on the ‘pie’ attack instead of relegating the perpetrator to the obscurity he deserves.