Sunday, March 17, 2013

Oh Yeah? Well, Regulate This!

Oh no, the liberal-left has gone berserk again!

We're talking about Nick, of course, so it's worth recalling that for him, "the liberal-left" is "going berserk" roughly 99% of their waking lives, and that when he says "berserk" he usually means something like Saying rude things about Sarah Palin or Thinking that having massive wars with everyone is a silly idea.

To go berserk then is basically to disagree with Nick about something.  Quite how being rude about Sarah Palin is some kind of 28 Days Later rampage is anyone's guess, but there it is, in black and white.

Today, we're "berserk" because some percentage of us agree with proposals for press regulation, a stance which strikes Nick as a kind of parade of suburban Mussolinis crushing human freedom.  This represents a form of progress for Nick, given he's usually more fond of dressing people up in SS uniforms and making them march about for his amusement, as opposed to comparisons with Hitler's more slapstick Italian accomplice.

You'd be forgiven for missing the freedom aspect of course, since a skim-reading would leave you with the impression that the topic is "My God those liberals are bastards and I hate them all, the verminous wankers that they are", as opposed to a Tom Paine-esque defence of liberty.

Sharp-eyed readers will spot that the bodycount from all of these berserkers is zero, while many of Nick's own pet projects are now buried under a sky-scraping pile of skulls.  We might question whether somebody who has a long record of hemming-and-hawing and reluctantly-concluding on the issue of  torture might have a bit of a cheek to accuse anyone else of enabling oppression, but likely to no avail.

Well, I'm agnostic on Leveson.  I think it's entirely right and just that the press should be held accountable for their behaviour, but I'm not convinced that these proposals are the right way to go about achieving that.  These proposals may in fact be terrible idiocy, and Nick may well be correct to oppose them.

But let's just observe how odd it is that most of the hacks I've seen really shitting their legs off with rage over press regulation are the type who are prone to making sweeping generalisations about the inherent villainy of entire demographics.

I mean, I'm not saying it's impossible that Nick is particularly offended by encroachments on human freedom.  It's not the kind of thing that usually bugs him, since he's been entirely on-board with just about every major bit of loony Star Chamber legislation aimed at "protecting the public from terrorism" of the last decade, and an enthusiastic booster of pretty much unlimited, omni-directional war whenever the option has presented itself.

Maybe Nick is trying to alert us to our voluntary adoption of our own disenfranchisement.  I'd say it's also at least possible that Nick is chewing the cushions because press regulation might make it more difficult to call people pro-genocide dictator-fellaters and so on without then getting publicly reamed by the regulator for disseminating bullshit.

And you can probably imagine why somebody like Nick would find that an alarming prospect.


Mr. M said...

Nick has been on top form this week.

In his review of Lenin's (Richard Seymour's) book on Hitchens he accused Seymour of being someone who "makes an allegation in the daylight of the main text and withdraws it in the gloom of the small print."

I haven't checked but I don't think Nick proclaimed it from the rooftops (or even noted it in the small print) when he was caught maligning Edward Said saying he hadn't condemned the 9/11 attacks, when Said had in fact condemned them strongly in a column that appeared next to Nick's in the Observer immediately after the attacks (see here):

Balls of brass that boy. Or an incredibly short/selective memory, one or the other.

flyingrodent said...

He didn't exactly advertise when he got caught telling porkies about Nick Davies either. Much like the "Why won't anyone listen to Ahmad Chalabi/Hassan Butt" etc. stuff, it's all quickly forgotten.

organic cheeseboard said...

I think the exchange here in the comments sums Cohen up pretty well.

He's quite convincing, when not overdoing it, about what journalism can do, how great it is, etc. But his practice of it - and indeed the practice of most of the journalists he admires - is appalling. The post on Hitchens linked to above is telling. Therein we find Nick making excuses for Hitchens's obvious plagiarism, along with using invented quotations (which don't even work as analogies), claiming to not have been bothered to discover their provenance, and using a one-minute conversation with someone in marketing at Verso as if it were an hour-long talk with a managing director. Also hidden within that is a whine about not getting royalties - which is, itself, pretty much a brag about being rich.

In the worst thing he's ever written, a piece on Lynne Featherstone for the Spectator Blog, he managed to comprehensively smear her with a Daily Mash headline (that wasn't even an attack on her), for her crime of - er - suggesting that a woman who is not size zero might be a good body image for young women.

In his piece on Leveson he manages to completely fail to explain what his issues are with the actual proposals both HackedOff and Labour/LibDem are making, while simultaneously conducting sleight of hand by pretending that no other country has a similar system to the one Leveson proposed. He also therein manages to once AGAIN unite the personal and professional by slandering people he opposes in the weakest possible way ('priggish'?). He lost me at that point - if your cause is valid and in the tradition of Milton et al, you shouldn't have to start calling people names. But that's all he's good for now.

He also manages to misrepresent Leveson's remit - the end paragraph, abysmally written in a series of questions, clearly wants to shame us into agreeing about how AWFUL Leveson really is, but the two examples don't even work - 'Jeremy Hunt escaped punishment' - well, kind of, but he was removed from Media as soon as humanly possible because the evidence against him looked so bad, and he'd already failed the one thing he HAD to do by then anyway; Nick also notes, as some sort of clincher, that NI remain 'in control of BSkyB' - as if Leveson had the remit and power to stop that, and as if nobody would remember what Sky had, in fact, wanted to do with BSkyB, which Hunt encouraged, and which was only stopped from happening because of the revelations about tawdry NI journalistic practice. Also - with that - if Leveson SHOULD have removed NI from control of BkyB - which Nick implies he should, for the reason, I'm guessing, of stopping any one person having control over a publication/broadcaster (?) - then, for example, he should also have forced the Barclays to stop owning the Spectator. Now, where does most of Nick's writing these days get published?

This weird division of ideals and actions is exactly why he's pretty much the single worst person you could want to bang the drum for a free press and the abolition of libel laws. A hysterical, personal rant which ignores everything Leveson actually proposed in favour of tedious 'liberal-bashing' is the least useful thing possible in terms of trying to change anyone's mind about Leveson. But then again - that wasn't the point, just as What's Left wasn't actually designed to change minds either.

gilbrt wham said...

I'd like to see it mandated that retractions go on the front page of the paper, with a 72 point headline. That'd go some way to reining the fuckers in