Tuesday, June 05, 2007

EXCLUSIVE: How 'Spinning Gordon' Played Politics With Terrorism

Two hundred and forty three years after the invention of the SPINNING JENNY we seem to have discovered its modern day equivalent, the Spinning Gordon. Earlier today I wrote about how Gordon's little helpers successfully spun his trip on London Underground, conveniently forgetting to mention a few salient facts.

I have now discovered a few bits of interesting information about Gordon Brown's Sunday newspaper spinning operation last weekend. Many of you will have read stories in all the broadsheets about how Gordon was going to get tough on terror. What the journalists writing those stories didn't tell you was how this story got into their papers. As they won't tell you, let me.

Gordon Brown's spin team of Damian McBride and Michael Ellams spent most of Saturday phoning round the Sunday lobby giving them 'exclusive' insights into Gordon Brown's views on fighting terrorism. I believe there was even a document from which the journalists were able to craft their words. Indeed, so similar were the stories in the main broadsheets they had to have been given a document. Click on these stories if you don't believe me - Sunday Times, Observer, Independent, Telegraph. Now, nothing wrong with that until you know what the terms of this 'exclusive' story were.

Brown's spinners told these papers* that they would only get the story if they agreed not to carry any quotes from David Davis, Nick Clegg or any other opposition spokesman. Not only that, they weren't even allowed to tell the Tories or LibDems about the very existence of the story. Now, have a look a those links in the above para again. It's not difficult to spot that not a single one of the stories contains a quote from David Davis or Nick Clegg? Coincidence? No.

At 7.30pm on Saturday night the Press Association got hold of the story from one of the nationals. They hadn't been included in the 'briefings' from McBride and Ellams. They wrote the story complete with an extensive quote from David Davis, yet not a single Sunday paper carried it. Davis pointed out that Brown's intervention threatened to blow apart the cross-party discussions which had been going on between Blair and Cameron, and himself, Reid and Clegg. Newsworthy? I think so.

The fact is that Blair and Cameron had reached agreement on a way forward on using phone tap evidence in court, and Davis had negotiated a way forward with Reid in a number of other areas. It was all set to be announced this Thursday by Reid in a Commons Statement.

Brown's intervention cut across all of this. Reid was left fuming spluttering about Brown playing politics with terrorism and using it for his own purposes. He could hardly be blamed. It is not yet known if Reid will still be making a statement tomorrow, but if he does, it's quite clear that he has been severely undermined.

You won't, of course, read this version of events in any of the mainstream newspapers, because if you did, they'd be struck off Gordon's spinning briefing list. Make no mistake, the media are waking up to the fact that Gordon's spinning regime will be just as ruthless as it was under Alastair Campbell and Peter Mandelson. They are spinning exactly the opposite, of course, which just makes it even worse. One day, perhaps, the lobby will stop co-operating with their bullying tactics.
UPDATE * Patrick Hennessy of the Sunday Telegraph has vehemently denied in the Comments that he received any such briefing along the lines I suggest. He describes this entire piece as "rubbish". I pointed out that I know for a fact that at least one newspaper did receive such a briefing and it was entirely reasonable to assume, given that all four broadsheets wrote almost identical stories, that all of them agreed not to carry quotes from either of the opposition parties. Hennessy further says: "I didn't think the story needed a Tory or Lib Dem reaction". That is of course for him to decide, but I have to say that I find it astonishing that on an issue where Blair and Cameron, together with Red, Davis and Clegg were trying to build a cross party consensus (soemthing Hennessy must have known about), he didn't think it worth ringing Davis or Clegg to see what they thought about Brown crashing in on the issue. Of course, PA carried Davis's fairly strong comments from 7.30pm, well before the Sunday Telegraph's deadline.

157 comments:

Tom Tyler said...

I would never turn up at work with my shirt collar in that shoddy state. Can't the man use an iron?

Anonymous said...

Scandal! Government media operation better than CCHQ. See previous stories in 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006.

tapestry said...

The same Blair-style control freakery without the charisma, and no thought for anyone else - even his own team.

Blair killed British democracy. Brown is just kicking the corpse around. He'll probably kill off the Labour Party as a functioning entity next.

Excellent reporting and analysis, Iain.

Chris Paul said...

Thank goodness Sir Bernard Ingham has finally got a worthy replacement in Andy Coulson and you'll be able to stop grizzling and do a bit yourselves?

Or should we consider this a declaration that Tories will always leave media outlets to manage the news themselves? Bit of a risk.

simon said...

If the Tories had successfully managed to get across a policy message, while cutting out opponents' views, you'd be praising this as an example of tough, modern media management.

Instead of which, your party is busy shooting itself in the foot over grammar schools. I can understand your frustration.

Anonymous said...

That's not all he;s played politics with either, haven't you noticed the horrible resemblance?

Someone really should scotch the rumour that Broon and Sarah posed for the toe cringingly embarrassing 'Bonky'. What utter nonsense, Sarah's far too sensible for that sort of malarkey.

As soon as I saw our stonkingly (or should that be 'bonkingly') embarrassing Olympic logo, I thought, stuff me cromach! That bipolaric fantasy of dismembered androids bonking...its Broon.

Bonky's ill fitting awkwardness and cracked angular silence screeches Broon. Bonky is so clearly a sad metaphor for the inner fragmentation of that troubled politician who's idea of joy is dreaming up yet more stealth taxes.

As cringingly vile as the daub of a drunk with a sauce smeared kebab, all human life is there; social breakdown, civil disturbance, the pain of a deeply fragmented and disturbed mind, nose picking, even the sorrow of that, once, little lad who still refuses to relinquish his vibrantly colourful number twos.

spin spin sugar said...

The man Brown is a sociopath!

synthetic spineless said...

Brown ; no style and patently no substance. Labour have become habituated to spin, they really can't stop. Like all addicts Brown is in denial!

grim party said...

What a fatuous bunch of bull his recent disavowal of the dark arts was. They say one thing and then do exactly the other in the Labour party these days with no pause or shame whatsoever, a kind of insolent almost delibirate hypocrisy. Shambles, and very sad!

pommygranate said...

what an interesting post. thanks

Trumpeter Lanfried said...

Why are our newspaper editors, including the tribunes of the left, so spineless? The agreement not to publish opposition comment was nothing less than corrupt.

No wonder newspaper circulations are falling steadily, year by year. All you get is government spin, articles about Big Brother and fashion features on lingerie.

Actually, I don't mind the last one.

flashgordonnz said...

Cheers, Iain. How deeply depressing. Remind me when the next election is (er, not that I can vote).

Anonymous said...

an apology from chris paul after his comments on your train blog?

Anonymous said...

Ein Volk....ein Reich....ein Fuhrer!!

Joey Goebells eat yer heart out!

Anonymous said...

If - and with what has been on this blog lately that is a huge IF - this is true then I would say the fault lies with the media.

If journalists are so weak and unable to find a story for themselves that they have to be presented with a written statement of which they change a few words, then we do not have an independent media.

If this is true can we now expect you to launch into biased claims againist the Sunday Times, Observer, Independent, Telegraph in the same ways you launch againist the BBC?

If the media are so good then why dont they turn round and say two-fingers to spin and publish only stories that they can find themselves.

Lobby journalists wont stop cooperating - regardless of if labour or the tories are in power - as it would mean journalists having to get off their well paid arses and find stories rather than them being dropped into their laps.

A government will get away with whatever it can - unless people, the media, the opposition etc hold it to account. For the past ten years no one has really bothered.

No one to blame but ourselves.

Anonymous said...

I loom forward to series 3 of The Thick Of It, naturally with more Scots.

HF said...

Ian

Simply a brilliant expose of the gullible media.

penlan said...

Depressing as it is,if the press are so spineless,you can't blame him for trying it on.

Newmania said...

Iain I `m pretty sure I had already read that version of events ( not the deal with the newspapers )but the fact that Brown was only rehashing a load of old stuff .
Why would you be suprised that Brown is continuing to act as he aways has done . Why do people keep implying something has happpened. Nothing has happened Brown and Blair were pretty much in agremeent on a left wing agenda and the methods by which it could be presented

Same Old same Old.

Chris Paul is right though painful though it is to sink into the moral quagmire of new management ,now his Party have degraded poltical life beyond salvation we must dive into the sludge and get our hands dirty.

Bring on The Rocking Horse

Anonymous said...

This is not about who has the better spinning operation. It is quite right that the 'news management guru' or spin doctor sits at the top table. But to jeaporadise cross party agreement on terroist issues is several steps too far. Thank goodness for blogging and the internet. Well done!

Londoner said...

This is the sort of story that absolutely demonstrates how good it is now to have this alternative media. It also reflects very poorly on the newspapers which went along with this (as regards the gagging of Opposition comments). Keep the stoies coming!

gordon tickles their tummies? said...

Good stuff Iain! this cringing submission to the will of Brown by our press is deeply, deeply worrying.

Anonymous said...

Well done Iain for raising this point. Just curious are you going to take a stand againist this and resign from your column at the Telegraph?

Or is paying for your Audi more important than principles?

Iain Dale said...

If you had put your name to that I might have replied inmore detail. But I don't write for the Sunday Telegraph, I write for the Daily Telegraph. But then you knew that I guess...

Anonymous said...

Bullying by Labour politicians eh! must have a word with that Brady chappie, bet it doesn't happen in the Tory party No sirree!!!!

Any chance of you commenting on your pal Danny's piece in today's Times Iain: though provoking?

Peter said...

Iain to be honest I dont really seperate the differences between Sundays and Dailys - yes different editors but same stable etc.

My point is raising these issues is fine; but are you actually going to take a stand againist not only the spin - which you are already doing - but againist the lobby journalists who let the government get away with it?

You have my name now - hope that helps.

Iain Dale said...

Peter, thank you for putting your name to the post.

I think the fact that I have written the story and ended it with these words should allow you to conclude that the answer is yes.

"One day, perhaps, the lobby will stop co-operating with their bullying tactics."

In the end it is down to their editors, isn't it?

EML said...

Excellent post, Iain.

I love the Daily Telegraph (don't read the ST), but sometimes these journalists really do disgrace their "profession".

Mind you, it certainly doesn't show Brown to be very modern and conciliatory. How could he jeapordise emerging cross-party consensus on an issue of such importance?

What a loser. Vote Conservative.

Peter said...

Iain yes ok it is down to the editors. But also down to us mortals - obviously Iain I place you higher than a mortal!

If we keep accepting spin (from both parties) then spin will keep coming.

Why cant politics be about one side having ideas, the other side having ideas and the two of them debating them? Or I am learning for a golden age that never was?

Newmania said...

Iain has made a stand in a small way by writing what he has here . Unless you would prefer him to live in a box in car park he has to make a living and his articles are another good outlet .
I suspect that Iains outspokenness has severly impaired his ability to get past a selection committee already although I`m only guessing . He certainly doesn`t have to be a martyr which is in any case an adolescent fantasy of ther way the world is soon disabused by making a living.

Anonymous said...

"One day, perhaps, the lobby will stop co-operating with their bullying tactics." Pigs might also fly, and bears may stop using the forest for a comfort break..

Mind you, how will Tory HQ look when Steve Hilton bumps into Andy Coulson?

"What's the story in Balaflipping Morey" Or something like that..

Looks like an episode of 'The Thick Of It' is in the pipeline..

Patrick Hennessy said...

You make a great fuss when you think newspapers get things wrong but you are quite happy to make rubbish claims yourself.
I wrote the Sun Tel terror story and I can categorically assure you I received no instructions or threats from the Brown team not to contact the Opposition.
If I had, I would have told them to p1ss off.
Patrick Hennessy
Sunday telegraph

Anonymous said...

Once upon a time politicans bribed the electorate with their own money (ie tax cuts).

Nowadays politicans want to scare us into voting for them - if you let the others in we are all going to die - by terrorism or global warming, or maybe both.

Man in a shed said...

But now there is the interweb thingy and blogs, and this time we will make the bastards pay.

By the way Simon - I and most Torys would rather see all sides of the argument represented. We don't want to win by spin or default, but because we have the best ideas and the most capable team for carrying them out (perhaps this is why Gordon Brown fears David Davis so much ). Happy to be measured against the rancid failure of Gordon Brown's Labour party administration from Mon-Sun thanks.

Iain Dale said...

Patrick, I am very glad to hear it. But you haven't explained why you failed to carry a quote from David Davis or Nick Clegg. Normal practice would suggest that you would get a reaction from one or both of them.

It is not a rubbish claim. I happen to know it to be true in the case of one of the papers I mention. It is not unreasonable when not a single quote from Davis or Clegg appears in the other papers to assume they have been given the same treatment.

HF said...

Ian a good question for Patrick Hennesey, another good question is why there was no statement from the Home Office. Did they not try and contact John Reid for a reaction?

Patrick Hennessy said...

I didn't think the story needed a Tory or Lib Dem reaction...Can't speak for my colleagues on the other papers.
Sorry but your claim WAS rubbish. You said: "Brown's spinners told these papers [including the Sun Tel] that they would only get the story if they agreed not to carry any quotes from David Davis, Nick Clegg or any other opposition spokesman."
They didn't tell me that.

dizzy said...

Patrick old stick, I think you're protesting a little too much.

Patrick Hennessy said...

Dizzy "old stick" - you're confusing me with someone who gives a t0ss what you think.
Got to go and do some work now.
Play nicely children.

Newmania said...

Hey doesn`t that dim horsey girl associated with the "Kite mark " or jounalistic quality work for Hennesey.
You are going to get into trouble Mr. Dale . Hennessey was responsible for the guff she recently wrote as picked up by you and now he immediately turns up now reeking of wounded pride.
Fight fight fight ... Class warfare in fact as no doubt PH is a priveleged insider chivalrously smarting from his proteges recent shame and pitiful " Just because I `m a girl " bleating.

Ian Kirby said...

Iain - As Political Editor for the News of the World I also wrote up the Terror story and your version of events is completely wrong.
As Sunday journalists we do not follow a rolling agenda like the dailies and therefore keep policy speeches from both Conservative and Labour front benches to ourselves until deadline.
I notice you did not complain that Alan Johnson or Sarah Teather were not quoted in our story alongside Graham Brady's article on grammar schools.
Also, Michael Ellam has not taken up his post yet, so he was probably doing something far more enjoyable than ringing around the Sunday lobby.
Like Paddy Hennessy, I am more than capable of telling a special adviser to piss off

Madasafish said...

Well we all know polticians are lying untrustworthy conniving and cheating scum.

It's nice of them to remind us every so often why they are so.

And scum floats to the surface... eventually.

dizzy said...

Patrick, Patrick, Patrick. Now now old chap, no need to get all animated. I would never mistake you for someone that didn't give a t0ss. I might mistake you for someone that was, like me, a fat fingered typer that makes mistakes though.

I agree that we children shoud play nicely as well, so perhaps we can start by picking all your toys up off the floor? Can I borrow your Star War figures?

Marquee Mark said...

Interesting that all these journos crawl out the woodwork when you suggest they may not be in the loop about what their Lords and masters have agreed to in order to land an "exclusive". You'd think they'd all have better things to do with their day than trawl the blogs looking for stories....

Anonymous said...

Why, then, given the comments of the journalists, were the stories so similar and uncritical?

Newmania said...

As Political Editor for the News of the World
....wow who`d have thought there was such a thing. So tell us Mr. Kirby , what does Jordan think the prospect of the break up of the Union ? I would also be interested in the views of Abi Titmuss on the Lib Dems proposals for local income tax.?

Newmania said...

Why, then, given the comments of the journalists, were the stories so similar and uncritical?

Quite Given the choice of scared or crap I think on reflection they would have plumped for the former

Anonymous said...

anon 11.42

nail on head mate

wrinkled weasel said...

You seem to have flushed out at least two relevant hacks, who now seem to be a little ruffled.

I think you touched a nerve. Stand firm and don't be tempted to do a "Guido".

BOF2BS said...

Interesting that PH & IK feel the need to come & defend themselves.

I'm sure Iaian's piece is well sourced & at least some of the story re cross party info was mentiioned by Iaian on Satursy \night on News 24 I think (ie that or Sky).

Other noteworthy point is that having had ten years of it at least some (if not the majority) of us find it wholly unacceptable & the clunking fist's methodology is just that compared to the master of ambiguity's!

Anonymous said...

Talking of gordon spinning, I seem to be seeing a lot more leftie astroturfing since the Blair->Brown transition started. Anyone else noticed this?

supine sops said...

"These are people who do not think of themselves as journalists but as quasi non-governmental policy makers. They affect responsibility by flattering authority and they do not represent out interests."

The always apposite Henry Porter , some while ago.

tapestry said...

you've caught these lazy fools red handed and they don't like it.

Listen to 'em - not me, not me, not me. we write our own stuff, not copy it verbatim from Lord Gordon Brown and lick his arse.

errr - then why are all the stories the same? why no comments from opposition in all the papers? Iain Dale's gotcha.

ChrisC said...

Glad to see that Patrick Hennessy doesn't give a toss about the shrinking credibility and circulation of the "quality" press!

bovine said...

The press keep serving up this dross on politicians behalf, what on earth do they expect? Time these docile, institutionalised and unquestioning cyphers recovered some independence and work ethic.

bovine said...

oh yes and integrity and credibility and honour and so forth...

bang said...

Reprehensible dereliction of duty. Don't like it up 'em Iain!

tapestry said...

Gordon's spinning is all about Gordon. To him there is only one issue - himself.

'Yes I can smile. Yes I can sit on trains with ordinary people. Yes I have a sense of humour. Yes I do watch football matches and remember the names of the players.'

The thing is - he's right. He is the issue.

'I am prepared to be tough on terror and be a strong man - bigger than Cameron. Cameron doesn't even know the names of the English football team.' etc

OK, others spin, but Gordon's working at such a low level. He trying to say 'I am good enough' all the time.

If that's still an issue, he shouldn't be allowed to become Prime Minister of Great Britain. Insecure people in powerful positions are dangerous. I don't blame all these 'independent-minded' editors for obeying his orders. They're afraid of him. I would be too in their positions - the cowardly and dishonest bunch.

Ken from glos said...

Well done Iain, this is why I and many,many others read blogs.

The truth will out as always and I look upon the media with increasing suspicion. They appear to be propagandists and little else.

You have stung !!

Patrick Hennessy said...

The basic point remains this.
Iain Dale said "Brown's spinners told these papers that they would only get the story if they agreed not to carry any quotes from David Davis, Nick Clegg or any other opposition spokesman."
He's now been told categorically by me and Ian Kirby that this didn't happen. Yet he has not retracted his claim or modified it.
Either Dale believes Kirby and I are liars, in which case he is quite free to say so, or he should modify his claim.

Ian Kirby said...

Message to newmania:
Abi Titmuss? Wow that's original ... for an insurance broker.
The last time I heard such dazzling wit was when a broker asked me if being political editor of the News of the World was like being the Pornography Editor of the Financial Times.
On your second point: in your eagerness to grasp at conspiracy theories you're missing the obvious point.
This was a policy story - five facts inserted in a speech. It's not surprising they were similar and I don't think any of my Sunday lobby colleagues were expecting to win a Pulitzer Prize for reigniting the row about 28 days.
"Politician briefs speech" is not as good a rumour as "Brown bullies the lobby", but why let the facts stand in the way of a Tory conspiracy theory?

Anonymous said...

There's a lot of squawking and clucking from Messrs Kirby and Hennessy - no smoke without fire methinks.

I'm surprised to see members of the dead tree press posting at this time of the day - shouldn't you chumps be enjoying a nice free lunch with one of your spin doctor masters from Whitehall?

Anonymous said...

Iain, you do seem to have to reply to the points made by the two sunday pol eds...

Matt said...

So Patrick Hennesy might not be a coward - he is just a sycophant and a lazy bugger. What patrick is essentially saying is "Brron didn't order me not to round out the story by talking to the opposition, I decided all on my own not to check with the"

Edward said...

Mr Hennessy, Mr Kirby: he ought to clarify any suggestion he made to the contrary was wrong in respect of your papers.

Why, though, didn't you report the David Davies comments picked up by AP or any other comment from Clegg and Davies?

Did you even contact them and if not, why not?

Unless you've got good answers to these isn't some suspicion justified?

Iain Dale said...

I refer the honourable gentleman to the answer I gave at 11.04.

"I happen to know it to be true in the case of one of the papers I mention. It is not unreasonable when not a single quote from Davis or Clegg appears in the other papers to assume they have been given the same treatment."

I most certainly would never call you a liar. You are a journalist I have a lot of respect for. The fact remains, however, that none of the four papers I mentioned had a quote from an opposition politician. This seems very odd when we are dealing with terror and security issues - especially the 90 days issue. As I said above, knowing that the threat was issued to one paper, it was not unreasonable to assume that it had been issued to others, as you all wrote more or less identical stories about Brown Getting Tough. You have vehemently denied any such conversations with Brown's people so I am happy to accept what you say. You should still have put a quote in from Davis and/or Clegg and I am surprised you don't see that. I have added a para at the end of the story making this point.

I didn't mention the NOTW in my piece, so your point about Ian Kirby is superfluous.

Madasafish said...

yes I read the DT well I'm not a politician or a journalist but when I see the paers and the BBC carrying the same story about G Brown, same words, and no critical comment,
I ask:
"Are these people independent or just sycophants repeating a story?"

And the answer is obvious to all :-(

And yes I read the DT.

Umbongo said...

You can't find Messrs Kirby and Hennessey guilty just because they defend themselves. That would be adopting a NuLabour version of "justice". However, if Iain is correct that a deal on terrorism had been reached between government and the opposition parties (even if it's a crap deal which, given the quality of the government and the opposition, would be a reasonable assumption) which Gordo - in presumably full knowledge of such a deal - sabotaged, then they both missed the "real" news. Mind you, after, what, 50 years of reading the output of political journalists I'm still waiting for something from the Lobby which hasn't been pre-digested for it by the Whitehall/Westminster PR machine.

Patrick Hennessy said...

OK - thanks Iain. You've accepted you were wrong about the Brown team "threat", in my case at least, and made this clear publicly.
Case closed.

Johnny Norfolk said...

Good one Iain. It is about time someone exposed the Lobby for what they are. In the governments pocket as they dont want to lose access. Why is this not investigated by the Standards Committee as it is twisting the facts.

Well done Iain. Get stuck in.

Johnny Norfolk said...

Iain

Me thinks they do protest to much.

Anonymous said...

To Mr Hennessy at 1.04pm -

How can you say 'Case closed' - you haven't really answered any of the questions/accusations made by the other posters on this blog. Or would you rather just slither off, back into the shadows and hope that these uncomfortable comments just 'go away'.

Journalists like you are as much to blame for the truly woeful state of democracy in this country as anyone else. You have on occasion clearly taken the lazy option of regurgitating without question, the PR drivel churned out on behalf of the crooks in power in Whitehall.

Take a good, long look at yourself next time you're near a mirror and ask yourself if you really like the person you have become, and feel ashamed.

Nick Watt said...

Your claims are not standing up to scrutiny Iain. I wrote the story in the Observer and would like to second the postings by my colleagues Patrick Hennessy and Ian Kirby. I received no instructions from the Brown camp not to contact the opposition.

Nick Watt, The Observer

Iain Dale said...

Nick, could you explain to us why you chose not to get a quote from either of the opposition parties, bearing in mind the points I have made about the importance of Brown's intervention in this debate? I cannot recall any other story where none of the four main Sunday broadsheets, on a story like this, have not quoted at least one of the other parties involved. I am sure you think this is typical blogger conspiracy theory nonsense, and you are entitled to, but I do think you need to look at the way the Sunday lobby operates sometimes.

Anonymous said...

The lobby should be abolish, it's a shameful stain on our democracy.

The journalists within it shame their profession. Sack the lot of them.

EML said...

Nick Watt: so why didn't you ask the Opposition?

Could it be that you journalists are so used to being told what to do by your political masters that it is now second nature for you to just write what you know they will want to hear?

Marquee Mark said...

So take your choice: its either a dictat from Brown - or a dumb acceptance of a press release, with a total lack of journalistic follow-up on a speech about terrorism - admittedly, not a topic of much relevence in this day and age.

Either way, the MSM rolls that bit nearer to the edge of the cliff of oblivion....

HF said...

What then were the "terms" of the Brown story?

Probably no release of the story's contents until maybe 9pm? A time that makes it too late to check the contents with Davis, Clegg or Reid?

Essentially the journalists finished their copy from the text provided and then went home.

Hence the reason why none of the papers were able to check for reactions so it went out as the PR release that Brown provided.

Really good journalists would of course have got reactions and explained the context and opposing views.

chatterbox said...

Just reading through this thread I have to agree with one of the many Anon's on this thread "There's a lot of squawking and clucking from Messrs Kirby and Hennessy".
Why didn't the journalists in question think it appropriate to get a reaction from Reid, Davis or Clegg on this matter? Iain says that they along with their leaders have been working to towards a consensus on this and the journalists in question should know that, also the Conservatives have been advocating admitting phone tapping evidence for a while so might have liked to have been able to point this out?
I would also have thought that this might be a contentious issue among Labour back bencher's and therefore cross party consensus would be needed?
Either way this was Brown's spin team trying to close down the opposition, Blair and Reid from the debate while getting a nice puff piece about their man in the Sunday's or just plain lazy journalism?
Don't knock Iain for asking some relevant questions or highlighting the inadequacies of these articles.

Journalists or PR guys? said...

Nick Watt and Patrick Henessy,

If you are not to admit to outrageous bias, how can you justify running a story based on a Brown briefing on cross-party terrorism co-operation and then NOT including the fact that David Davis said Brown's comments were about to blow it out of the water?

That's an integral part of the story. In fact, it is the story.

Is it your job to uncritically report Brown's press releases, even when denied at the time by the cross-party players involved?

You do realise that saying you weren't leaned on makes your bias more, rather than less, clear?

tapestry said...

Hennessy adopts a ruthless tone.

young pretender said...

maybe...
Once is Happenstance
Twice is Coincidence
The third time is Enemy Action

mitch said...

"political editor of the News of the World" A job more pointless than prescots hahahah your making it up.Does he spell check the gruniard in his spare time.

Newmania said...

Dear Abu Titnmuss`s Shammy leather
" Wow that’s original" ?
I daresay the nascent irony of that riposte is entirely lost on you .” Oh my god “ we`ll keep the Pulitzer on ice for now shall we ?
Love Cratchett
XX



I like the Hennesey comment about call me a liar if you dare . You may recall that Mutley to his Dick dastardly Melissa Kite (The Kite Mark of No Quality) was similarly quick to threaten legal action ( and that’s what he is doing) should anyone speculate as to whether her stuff was drivel. This is a bit of a worrying development and you can see how that sort of attitude would sit well with the Brown Stalinist News Management squad.
I think this goes a bit wider , at the very least this was a pusillanimous piece of coverage and although there may have been no actual threat I don`t need to be told to go and buy my clients lunch. I`d better do it though. . You may all have noticed that all the Papers up to and very much including the Mail, for god`s sake, have been giving Brown the sort of treatment you would expect for a shy new Ballerina not a warty gnarled Pig Napoleon with an attitude to the use of power somewhat akin to Lady Mac beth. I have been wondering what on earth this was going on for a while and now I see . It begins to appear that if they do not sit up and beg like good little poodles then they will not be tossed any further Scooby snacks . If he did it to one then that is evidence that the game is being played along those lines as is the contents of the articles themselves
Hennessey’s schoolgirl `so there` is the most pyrrhic sort of victory.

Mr. Dale on the other hand be festooned with garlands and posies for being in the right .

(Mr. Hennesy and Miss Kite needn`t worry .The average age of the Sunday Telegraph reader is about 73. He could probably print the phone book for a few weeks before anyone noticed.....

Probably has....)

ashley said...

Great work Iain; this is precisely why blogs are becoming people's first port of call for political news. When the lobby regurgitates pre-packaged spin people are rightly put off; this story seems another case in point. If not, it is piss poor journalism. Either way it reflects very badly on the editors that have agitatedly come on here declaring 'case closed', whilst refusing to give answers. It says a lot for the state of the political mainstream today. They're all in it together.

dobby said...

most likely, each of these hacks thought they had the briefing as an exclusive, and didn't call Davis or Clegg because they didn't want them to put the phone down, and immediately get on the blower to every other paper in Britain, as per usual.

Harry said...

I'm sorry Mr Hennessy, but that just won't do. When I was a trainee on a local paper many years ago, the first thing I was told was that when I got a story from a councillor I was to get a quote from the other side - and I was taught by the father of the great Kelvin McKenzie.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who knows Patrick Hennessy will know that he has been covering up for Ed Balls, Ian Austin, Charlie Whelan and Damian McNasty for many years. It's impressive to see that he is now doing this on the web on a Wednesday(where of course he found love) rather than just in print on a Sunday. Well done "Paddy", more stories from the "no spin" team in the months to come!

tapestry said...

I guess TV is controlled in a very similar way.

If Ken Clarke hopes to reestablish the authority of Parliament, it is government's relationship with the media that needs reforming.

The only way to stop this kind of corrupt interplay which Iain Dale has uncovered, is to force all communication from government to be directed via a cross-party Parliamentary-supervised third party, so that threats and special requests are not allowed to pass.

If any paper/TV receives a communication direct, it would have to pass it in full to the controlling authority before acting on it. If a politican/journalist breached the code, they should be fined personally.

Once distributed, the news story must be open to all, and not restricted to papers/TV that the government feels it can persuade to report the story sympathetically or according to terms.

With all this subterfuge as we see described here taken out of the process, we might actually get back to a press service worthy of the name. Seeing how the journalists in question react with total rage shows that they have not much to say.

Somehow the corruption of our media/political system must be dealt with.

Newmania said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mark said...

Iain wrote: "Knowing that the threat was issued to one paper, it was not unreasonable to assume that it had been issued to others"

That is truly lamentable logic.

Look at sports reports, the non-sketch coverage of a parliamentary debate etc etc - simply but there are only so many ways to skin a cat and if newspapers are working from the same material (nothing wrong with that BTW) then of course there will not be huge schisms in the end result.

You have cast serious aspersions on these reporters' reputations without having any decent evidence that what you allege is true in the case of at least three of the four papers you cite.

Count yourself lucky they are coming on here to debate the matter rather than dispatching solicitors letters.

Sunday papers often lead with a feature style piece from a leading politician that is then followed up by the dailies on the Monday. The Sunday Telegraph and the Observer make unlikely bedfellows in any MSM conspiracy wouldn't you say?

Your constant tone of moral indignation is becoming tiresome Iain. Anything happening out there that isn't a 'national disgrace' or ' a shameful waste of taxpayers money'?

Anonymous said...

Ashley at 2.16pm sums it up very nicely - 'this is precisely why blogs are becoming people's first port of call for political news'.

Blogs may be truthful or not, but at least I can make an educated judgement on whether the information I gain is right or wrong FOR FREE.

I stopped buying newspapers when I realised that they rarely contain news rather 'news-speak'. Articles are written either to sell me something or influence me to someone elses advantage. Why should I pay for this?

Sloppy journalists like Hennessy, in their cosy positions, need to be very careful - if papers lose readers like me who are fed up with the drivel they spout, circulations fall, advertising revenues fall, and balance sheets start to creep into the red.

Maybe that's a good thing - they might start practising the art of good journalism then. If it's not too late.

Mark said...

PS

You are angry reporters did not take the trouble to phone Clegg and Davies, and yet you did not phone these same reporters to check if your allegations are true. Guilty of the same oversight?

Anonymous said...

To be fair the Telegraph version (unlike the Times) did mention Tory agreement on phone tapping.

The real story is the resumption of spin and policy reannouncement. Why is the MSM holding back on that?

tapestry said...

Come on 'Mark' whoever you are. This is the blogosphere. You can use the language of the courts if you want - allegation, proof, solicitor's letters etc, but the more you threaten, the less you persuade.

Iain Dale's logic was not lamentable. It is sound. It may be damned annoying to be caught out when these practices are well established, and have been going on for years unchallenged. In that sense lamentable, that some mere blogger can so easily tell what you lot are up to.

The trouble is that the clanking fist is not as smooth an operator as the last lot, and the corruption of the media is now being lowered to another level - incompetent corruption of the media.

Iain explained his thought process very well, and how he came to his conclusions. It's time to stop threatening, and realise how lamentably unguarded the corruption has become.

How low do we want to go? Iain is doing the world a favour by tackling the bullies who twist the most important thing our society possesses - its political freedoms.

We want something better than this. Either deliver it, or move aside. Send all the solicitor's letters you like.

If Brown's an incompetent idiot, why is he about to become our Prime Minister unchallenged? One reason is that he thinks he can hold down his position by twisting the media to support his every utterance.

The corruption of the media needs to be stopped.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

So what this boils down to is that DD is cheesed off that he didn't get his name in the paper, so his little pal Iain decides to go out and spread rumours and misinformation about why nobody gave a toss about what he said.

If he'd had the guts to comment on the grammar school story I am sure he would have been in the papers and possibly even leader of the Tories by now.

Anonymous said...

Iain - you've assumed something and been contradicted by three of the four people you accused of doing it.

If I were you, I'd just apologise now.

If you're calling Patrick Hennessey, Mr Kirby and Nick watt liars, then perhaps you should just come out and say it.

You can't just "assume" that because one journalist said it to you, the others are all telling porkies. Maybe the journo who told you that GB's lot had threatened him was bullsh1tting? Admit it, it's possible, isn't it?

You know how the Sundays work - it's a splash culture - "GB says this, wow, cor" etc. That is the story, not someone's reaction to it. You might not like the fact they didn't quote your old boss, or Nick Clegg but that's life. There isn't always a conspiracy behind everything.

As for PA quoting DD, well,that's PA. They're there to do that sort of thing. Plenty of wires get run on PA and never written up by papers' hacks, all without conspiracy or threats, more likely because they just don't fit the bill.

You've seriously impugned the reputations and integrity of the journalists in question and you might want to consider whether you could back it up in court.

bodo said...

So the jounos involved appear to be saying that *they personally* received no instruction from Brown's bunch about how to write the story. None have denied that their paper/editor were leaned on.

Years of Lab spin should alert us to such subtle 'non-denial' denials.

ordure ordure said...

anon 3.08 What colour is the sky in your world?

Newmania said...

What tapestry said ....

rotten said...

anonymong 3.08 What a splendid demonstration of hopleless astro-turfing in a corner : rationalise, deny and recriminate. How do you venal and mealy-mouthed mediocrities sleep at night? Like babies I bet.

darkness visible said...

Wow Tapestry, excoriating stuff. Good on you!

unkept said...

Who in their right mind finds this kind of relationship between the press and Brown defensible? For goodness sake ! Some journalists really need to look themselves in the mirror and act with some decency and respect for their readers rather than this unbecoming and very worrying obeisance to Gordon Brown and his cult of personality. They're behaving like stooges in a totalitarian regime.

Anonymous said...

as the anonymong at 3:08 - i'm not astroturfing, just seems clear that iain, who gets a lot of things right, might have got this wrong, that's all. jeez.

i'm not saying the sundays are pulitzer prize winning journalism - the sunday papers are what they are, and have been for years - plenty of kites (melissa and otherwise) and leaks and briefings. but equally, you can't say "four papers kowtowed to a brownite bullying" if you've only heard it from one. as an avid reader, the last thing i'd want to see is people like iain or guido closed down by being clobbered in the courts, which is why i think iain might just want be a bit me careful.

as for tapestry's press tsar - talk about throwing the baby out with the bathwater!

mitch said...

Will there be a Dale climbdown in the morning, a-la Greenpeace?

tapestry said...

anonymous (give us a name if you want to join in a grown up discussion), I proposed that parliament be the conduit for the media relationships of governments.

I did not ask for the appointment of another cronie of the PM to a tsarist position of comfort.

Politics must be given back to parliament and taken away from these cretins who abuse the privileged position they are in, to cheat the public. They ensure that governments get away with delivering nothing, and yet still walk around without egg all over their faces.

there is no baby to throw. It's all crap and bathwater. Put Parliament in control, and boot Gordon Brown down to the nursery level he so clearly desires.

These journalists are all running scared to protect their reputations, but it's Brown who's behaving like an eleven year old and putting them in an impossible position.

If he cannot observe any sensible norms of behaviour in his relationship with the media, parliament should remove the relationship from his control - simple as that.

bing crosby's stunt double said...

This is all very entertaining. I too would like to play with the plastic Chewbacca. No, that is not a metaphor.

It's also missing a key point. Fact is, Brown's goons were spinning a set of policy lines that demonstrates how Brown's tenure is going to be full of utterly unimaginative rehash of failed Labour policies. Basically, expect anything that got blocked by the Lords to get pulled out of some stinky basement filing cabinet cos the ideas factory just closed down and got exported to China.

mitch said...

The point about the use of phone tap evidence is the security services have always opposed it's use in court.

I don't see any reason why they would change their mind. Politicians periodically suggest it in order to appear strong but they know it will never happen. What's the point?

english democrat said...

Well done Iain,

I now only get my news from the Blogosphere as the MSM is a bad joke and the socialist broadcasting corp(BBC) is a sick joke!
I fear that you have made yourself a target now as McStalin does not like those who cross him like this.
He is the type to bear a grudge!
I look at the lobby like this-
LOBBY=heroin and the junkies are the lobby hacks.

dong said...

tapestry - "These journalists are all running scared to protect their reputations"

Oh, get a life. Any journlist with an ounce of sense will be bothered by a shrill assault on a blog for about two minutes, before reminding themselves that anybody whose opinion they give a damn about will either (a) not have read it, or (b) have known better than it. And most likely (a).This is the problem with blogs like Iain's, great as they are. They speak to a tiny community, and pretend to be addressing the world.

Gareth said...

Chippy little fuckers these so called professional journos aren't they!

The fact that they have tried to browbeat Iain into a retraction without answering any of his explicit queries or others' implicit ones, suggests a shiftiness and lack of transparency not far removed from the NuLab goons themselves. We trust this lot to report facts and provide balanced analysis, instead they conspire to feather their own cosy nests. I wouldn't piss on this lot if they were on fire.

Patrick, go tell your editor your goonery has lost yet another reader. Although I've never met you, and now certainly don't wish to, your response to Dizzy probably sums you up nicely.

Iain Dale said...

Dong, an interesting point, and you may be right. You say: "And most likely (a).This is the problem with blogs like Iain's, great as they are. They speak to a tiny community, and pretend to be addressing the world."

Well I suppose it depends on your definition of tiny. Blogs do address the world - surely that's the whole point of the internet> Whether the world listens is another matter. I never expected to get a mass readership, but I do have around 50,000 absolute unique visitors a month according to Google Analytics (230,000 unqie visitors). This is a wider readership than the New Statesman and two thirds of the readers of The Spectator. Tony? Sure, compared to a national newspaper it is.

bebopper said...

Patrick Hennesey, you are full of shit.
Last Sunday, you were part of a Sunday Telegraph edition that was pure anti-Cameron, pro-Brown.
Why, I don't know. Maybe Patience Wheatcroft (editor) thought it would curry favour with right-wingers to attack Cameron over the phoney Grammar Schools debate. Or maybe she has decided, like Paul Dacre of The Mail to throww in her lot with the Bogey Picker.
So, Mr Hennessy, along with others on The Sunday Telegraph, you wrote anti-Tory copy last Sunday.
Iain has embarrassed you, hasn't he? And surely if you're an honest man, you'll be thinking: is this why I came into journalism?
BTW Good post Iain; they don't like it up 'em.

Chuck Unsworth said...

A comment here struck me as being entertaining. You were/are accused of casting serious aspersions on some 'reporters' reputations'.

What might they be? Accuracy, balance, clarity of vision, quality of thought and writing? Oh, really? Not from where I'm standing, I'm afraid. And is it 'reporter' or 'journalist'?

Reporters as a breed have a (perfectly justified) appalling reputation of being only a very slight notch above Estate Agents in the public view. So let's not get all precious shall we?

Newmania said...

Tony? Sure, compared to a national newspaper it is.

Its not Tony its bog

Fidothedog said...

...But of course Mccavity was not there...

fnusnuank said...

A very enjoyable blog.

I read all the 'qualities' online at the weekend and most week days, it had become irritating in the extreme to see so many identical stories.

Obviously certain items are newsworthy but it makes you wonder if they don't just lift everything from the web and spend the rest of the time checking to see if anyone's said anything nasty about them on the horrible blogs.

I can't believe they even commented and as one other post noted, they would not answer any of the points made to them, just carefully worded denials that those of us used to the language of spin make us believe that they are disingenous liars, though of course they may not be :-).

They do of course appear childish and pathetic.

An excellent hours entertainment Ian.

georgio said...

It is important to distinguish between the poor / lazy / kite flying / rehashed press release / overly partisan / whatever you want to call it school of journalism (unfortunately the majority) and the much smaller number of inquisitive, original, fair and balanced pieces (and writers) out there.

People need to be critical consumers of the media, and not fall into the trap of thinking 'hey, i saw it on tv / read it in the paper, it must be true!'

You have to always think 'why is this being treated in the way it is, by this particular outlet / journo, at this particular time?'

This is especially important in today's highly mediatised world.

hatfield girl said...

There appears to be a very strong, newspaper wide push to get an acceptance that Brown is perfectly normally taking over from the elected Leader of the elected Party. Of course nothing of the kind is happening. Brown is not an elected Party leader, indeed a great deal of bullying went on for months, if not years, to ensure no challenger would be allowed.

And he's not leading an elected Party. The Party elected was New Labour, and on the promise that its Leader would serve a full parliamentary term; not Brown's trotskyoid supported, corporatist, authoritarian Labour faction.

This destruction of a valuable cross-party security agreement by Brown's faction, rendering worthless the work of current ministers, and their civil servants and advisers , is a typical example of his control-freakery. He's not prime minister yet and his apparatchiks are out wrecking useful measures because he hadn't given the orders and the bogey imprimatur.

Gareth said...

I see the recalcitrant tossers have gone to ground. Too afraid or too stupid to defend their indefensible corner?? We will decide and there's nothing you can do about it Patrick.

Anonymous said...

ChrisC said...
Glad to see that Patrick Hennessy doesn't give a toss about the shrinking credibility and circulation of the "quality" press!


I'm so peed off with the Telegraph and Guardian that I've banned them from my reading list for a while - have to see how long I can bear it! I'm now reading the Irish Independent, excellent newspaper it is too - and it has the knob gags column.

Today the IE carries the tale of an actor who was asked to put his...unmentionable I imagine unless I want to be banned...into a mousetrap for $10,000,000. Of course he did it and it was severely injured and needed urgent medical attention when the trap closed on his manhood.

I've been wondering all day if Broon could have been persuaded to put his manhood in a mousetrap for $10,000,000 or the PM's job. I've reached the conclusion that, yes, he could be that stupid.

Anyone have a mousetrap handy?

Ian Kirby said...

Nick Watt, Paddy Hennessy and I have all been quite clear.
None of us were leaned on over this story.
We have all learned that a call to a shadow spokesman on a Saturday afternoon for a reaction to a policy story frequently means the details end up in the hands of another newspaper or on TV.
When Michael Howard laid out his policy priorities for the first time in the News of the World in 2004 I did not feel the need to run to Downing Street for "balance".
And, as I said earlier, I did not call Alan Johnson, David Willetts or Sarah Teather for a response to Graham Brady's piece at the weekend.
Similarly, when David Cameron's press team told the Sunday papers he was planning to hug a hoodie we didn't need to get any reaction.
On this story, I knew there was no need for a response because Shadow Home Affairs spokesmen would be falling over themselves to air their opinions on Saturday night and Sunday.
I note that people are happy to label Nick and Paddy liars but accept Iain's version of events at face value....
Do you have any documentary evidence to back up your claims, Mr Dale?
People are quick to accuse the lobby of feeding on the scraps doled out by spin doctors but they accept the words of a blogger with no evidence to back up his claims.

Hamer Shawcross said...

Hm.

Iain?

tapestry said...

Iain's on telly right now (18doughtystreet).

Iain had already established that this story was put out with conditions by Brown's people.

Are you saying that Brown would put these conditions to one organ (of the media) of not consulting any opponents, and yet he would not make the same conditions to any other?

why?

The ball is still in your court to explain.

Denials are fine, but they have to convince if they are to be any use, and so far it is clear that your denials are not convincing anyone.

Trumpeter said...

ian kirby [10.24 PM] You say: "We have all learned that a call to a shadow spokesman on a Saturday afternoon for a reaction to a policy story frequently means the details end up in the hands of another newspaper or on TV."

That's it, isn't it? Your biggest fear is that someone else might publish your story. Everything you do and say has to be seen in this context.

I have news for you. The reading public does not give a damn who gets the story out first. Many of us don't read our Sunday newspapers until Monday or Tuesday. The MSM's preoccupation with scoops is just a journalists' thing. You are all up up your own bottoms.

D said...

Now, now. I'm sure Mr Dale made sure he contacted all the relevant journalists before his "deadline" in making this post. After all, he at least clearly thinks they have breached journalistic standards; it would only be fair to offer them the right of reply. Any responsible journalist would do that (whereas a responsible journalist might or might not get reaction quotes from parties A and B re a policy statement from party C - that would depend on the circumstances).

sundaylobbyinsider said...

May I inject some sanity to this bollocks on the Sunday lobby? Iain, as Hennessy (S.Tel), Kirby (NoW) and Watt (observer) have all stated your story is inaccurate twaddle - clearly briefed (assuming you didn't make it up yourself!) from a liar with an agenda. That makes you a gullible fool or a former employee of David Davis and failed Tory MP (both relevant facts in the context of this debate) with an axe to grind. As Kirby repeatedly states, the lobby isn't required to quote Opposition Parties any more than you are in some of the guff you post. Suggest you try to cling on to any last vestige of credibility you still have instead of resorting to rather obvious sock-puppets.

Madasafish said...

SO let me understand finally:
The Labour Party brief the press.
The press quote it verbatim.
The press don't seek second opinions for fear of losing a scoop.
But this is not a scoop because it's a LP briefing.
All the papers say the same thing (with knobs on)

Anyone for freedom of the press? And we criticise Putin?
.

if it quacks like a duck... said...

I see various sock puppets of the press are still on here trying to make out they've behaved honourably.

Methinks thou doth protest too much.

Dale has caught you out blatantly doing Brown's bidding and it's embarrassing isn't it?

Whatever little credibility Hennessy and the others still had left before it's all gone now.

Aaron said...

Just read through this nonsense.

And we wonder why the average Joe is not the least bit interested in politics.

I never thought I'd see so many people make themselves look like morons on one thread. Still, I shouldn't be surprised, should I?

Newmania said...

Iain Kirby

Are those your words or have just cut and pasted from a press release from "Posh Spice" ? Its hard to know ......

Tim said...

I note that people are happy to label Nick and Paddy liars but accept Iain's version of events at face value....

As gospel, Mr Kirby... as *gospel*.

Do you have any documentary evidence to back up your claims, Mr Dale?

Iain is not your researcher.

Trumpeter Lanfried said...

Iain, yesterday [1104 AM] "I happen to know [the allegation] to be true in the case of one of the [four] papers I mention"

Hmmm. Story now denied by Hennessy (S.Tel), Kirby (NoW) and Watt (Observer). That leaves the Independent, from whom, I fancy, we have yet to hear.

Anonymous said...

And much more relevantly the Sunday Times !!!

j.rentoul said...

Dear Iain,

It is unlike you to get stories squew whiff but on this occasion I am afraid your report about a supposed
Brown terror spinning opposition is not right. You are correct to say that we wrote a story about Brown's policy on terror, which I felt was of interest to our readers as we have long been following this issue. However, to my knowledge, neither Damian McBride or Michael Ellam were not frantically calling the Sundays last Saturday (I didn't speak to either of them) but it is not right and insulting to suggest that we were instructed not to contact any opposition spokesmen. Obviously such instructions if they had been given would have been ignored. So sorry Iain, your story is not up to your usual standards.

Marie Woolf
Independent on Sunday

j.rentoul said...

My very kind colleague sent my ungrammatical post from his account because my computer is defunct. (That is the reason for delaying my response.) Hope you get the gist ......

Marie Woolf

Spin doc (retired) said...

All this has done has shown how hopeless the Tories are with the press. It's one thing to whine and moan at the press - all the parties do it and the hacks are well used to it. it's another to do so on a made up or wildly inaccurate basis: that is the way to get yourself shafted.

As a labour supporter I'd like to congratualte Iain for his work in damaging the reputation of himself and his ex-boss with the press. Keep it up old son.

Carl Eve said...

Trumpeter said: "The reading public does not give a damn who gets the story out first. Many of us don't read our Sunday newspapers until Monday or Tuesday. The MSM's preoccupation with scoops is just a journalists' thing. You are all up up your own bottoms."

The head of this story by Iain (which still hasn't come up with any hard evidence other than "I happen to know it to be true in the case of one of the papers I mention") is
"EXCLUSIVE: How 'Spinning Gordon' Played Politics With Terrorism "

So, whose up their own bottom then?

Ian has a pertinent point "People are quick to accuse the lobby of feeding on the scraps doled out by spin doctors but they accept the words of a blogger with no evidence to back up his claims."

I remind you both sides do not have evidence of who's right or honest... but then only one side made the accusation.

And then Marie Woolf provides the slamdunk on Iain.

Ooops.

Can we expect a non-denial denial of an error from Iain soon?

Iain Dale said...

This is all getting very entertaining as conspiracy theories abound.

But one question keeps troubling me. If I kept asking journalists who their sources were they'd tell me (quite rightly) where to go in no uncertain terms.

Why is it though, that I am expected to provide documentary evidence for my sources? Ain't gonna happen guys.

Tim said...

Documentary evidence alone would do. If you can't show it without revealing your source(s), then you probably shouldn't publish. Just a thought.

PS - Iain, yelling 'conspiracy theorist' is an old and tired gambit. Please stop doing it.

tapestry said...

Phew! The Indie's checked in. The other shoe drops....

...a day late, after prompt from desperados running a lynching party.

Carl Eve said...

Iain - conspiracy theory? No - you'll find most journalists work on the basis of cock-up followed by cover-up.
You've cocked up, now you're trying to cover it up claiming conspiracy... shame on you. Even a ex-wannabe MP would know better than that.
I didn't ask for "documentary evidence for your sources". However, I would suggest, that if you are going to act like you're a journalist, you should recognise that you do, on occasion, have to put your money where your mouth is. As an individual you've made a unsubstantiated claim which cast aspersions on four journalists.
Remarkably, they've all taken the time to come onto your holy blogsite and refute those claims.
Your response is not - "ah you're fibbing, and here's the evidence proving it". It's "ah, it's a conspiracy... I don't have to reveal my sources".
Okay, so, don't reveal your sources. Who asked you to?
But reveal your evidence sunshine. And if you can't then perhaps you should go and do the NCTJ course to learn the basic of journalism rather than that glossy 18 Doughty Street media training programme you've got going.

I am disappointed. You can do better than this. It was a cheap-shot story and reveals you haven't yet grasped what journalism is really about.
Politics, yes sir, you've got that down to a T, but the reporting bit needs some work.

tapestry said...

Is blogging journalism?

A journal travels out into the world and is put on sale to the public. People visit a blog. The traffic is the other way.

The idea of a blog is to provide an open diary - where you say what you think, or what you have been told. Then others can come in and visit. They can comment, correct, or offer alternative ideas and explanantions.

On this occasion, the visitors came in bearing threats and insults, providing no enlightenment.

Iain may or may not be a top journalist. I don't see that as an issue.

But this lot are certainly no bloggers. The truth needs no threat, no insult. It writes calmly onto the screen, and has an aura of credibility.

Journalism generally is fast losing that quality.

Blogging provides hope that the truth can somewhere still be found, in amongst the cynicism. Dale's one of the best.

Tim said...

They can comment, correct, or offer alternative ideas and explanantions.

Not always, tapestry. Some site authors greatly manipulate this process. In fact, there are some 'blogs' that run with an official policy of 'no right of reply'.

tapestry said...

The main blogs like this or Guido all offer right of reply instantly 24 hours a day - to the world.

The blogger just starts off a topic, and allows all a chance to correct or comment instantly. You get the wisdom (of lack of it) of crowds effect. The information and ideas are soft. They modify through the comments. The picture at the end of a comment thread can be very different to the one created at the start, if the commenters are persuasive.

A newspaper is definitive. There is no instant right of reply. If it contains wrong information, or incorrect deductions, there is little the wronged party can do. Because blogs offer an instant right of reply, they should not be required to observe the same rulebook as the printed Press, as the 'wronged' party can come in and correct instantly.

People should be freer to theorise on blogs than in other media.

In this case Iain Dale says he can say 'for a fact' that one paper was briefed exactly as he describes. He then points out that it is almost certain that the others were similarly briefed. He should not be made to reveal his sources any more than newspapers. There should be a higher standard for bloggers than the Press.

The problem for Hennessy etc is that no one yet seems to believe their denials, which appear clumsy, angry and threatening in style. Maybe the great clunking fist commanded that these denials be made. Who knows?

If Brown is a control freak, and it appears he is far worse than Blair, it is unlikely this will be the last time that bloggers are threatened for revealing how politicians and journalists interact and try to manipulate the news.

It is interesting how angry nearly all journalists appear to be with bloggers. They obviously feel threatened by the competition, and loss of total control they had previously enjoyed. If they had nothing to hide, would they react as they do?

What will come out next I wonder? The Brown era looks like being a fruitful one for stories of strong-arming the media on the quiet. People will be afraid, but must speak out and write about it, or we are finished. Keep it up, Iain.

Tim said...

The main blogs like this or Guido all offer right of reply instantly 24 hours a day...

No they don't. Guido has often stated that he does not allow the right of reply on his website.

So you're wrong.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Sorry about that.

Anonymous said...

I work with them. The story's bollocks. No response from Iain is now likely to be forthcoming. If you want to see what actually's going on here, check out the comments on guido's related post.

I agree with the comment above that said you have much to learn about journalism - as, let's face it (although you clearly portray yourself as anti-establishment), it's what you'd like this blog to be taken as.

There are some good stories on this site but muck and nonsense like this does you no favours.

Off-topic - doesn't your grey Commons pass entitle you entry to the Members' Lobby? So while you may not wish a lobby pass (and I'm sure i heard the serjeant-at-arms discussing your application...), there's not a lot of need for it, is there??

Iain Dale said...

Anonymous (as usual) above, just to clarify on the pass thing. No it doesn't give access to Members lobby or lobby briefings. Nor would I either want or expect it to. I have made perfectly clear that the lobby pass application was for a representative from 18 Doughty Street and not for me.

You and others keep trying to pigeonhole me as a journalist. I have never pretended to be a journalist. I write opinionated comment. Because it is opinionated, some people don't like it. C'est la vie.

Carl Eve said...

Iain said: "I have never pretended to be a journalist."

Thank feck. I wouldn't want your work to be confused with my profession. It has a bad enough name as it is without your unsubstantiated offerings.

Iain said: "I write opinionated comment"

Not factual reports then. Perhaps the word "comment" should be tagged to the bottoms of your stories then, just to clarify it for anyone who takes it as red that you've cornered the market in accurate, fair and balanced (and evidence-weighted) reports.

D said...

If you publish an allegation as fact, you're a journalist.

If you publish an allegation as fact BEFORE you at contact the people you are implicating, you're a bad one.

Iain Dale said...

Carl, I love you too. Do you work for the Basildon Evening Echo, by any chance?

Could you point to anywhere where I have

a) pretended to be a journalist
b) pretended not to have a party affliation

anyone who reads this blog is perfectly aware of my politics and what I do. It says what I do on the blog banner, so please don't make out I have been anything other than totally upfront about what I do on this blog.

Tim said...

...please don't make out I have been anything other than totally upfront about what I do on this blog.

Well I could say something about that... but I wouldn't want to insult you.

tapestry said...

tim - am i wrong thrice?

I've never had any trouble commenting on Guido. Not sure I understand you. Also CH is open to reply and comment. as are most blogs.

I should have said that bloggers should NOT have to operate within stricter rules than journalists.

Carl Eve said...

Iain said: "Carl, I love you too. Do you work for the Basildon Evening Echo, by any chance?"

Not any more. Which shows how your Googling skills need updating. You should've seen me when I was at the BBC. But now I'm in cheery Plymouth as a crime reporter for a local paper. I'd hate you to think I'm not being honest with you...

Iain said: "Could you point to anywhere where I have
a) pretended to be a journalist
b) pretended not to have a party affliation"

I think the common and popular phrase these days is "I am not your researcher...", but that'd be churlish, wouldn't it.

But for the record, anyone who hosts a "TV show" internet or otherwise, and makes the kind of opinionated claims you do seems to wishe to sail as close to the reporting wind as possible.
Journalist or blogger, take your pick. It still appears as if you got your facts wrong, or at least couldn't back up with evidence what you claimed.
Do that too often, then the shine will come off your site.
Your blog banner says "right of centre commentator"... but let's be blunt here, we can get that down the Coach and Horses or from the back of a black London cab.
What your readers hope to get from you (I hope) is something with a little more weight, a little more substantial... a little more honest, accurate and provable than the stuff you and they criticise the press for being incapable of doing.
If you cannot match up to what you criticise, then you're being a bit of a naughty boy, no? People in glass houses, let he who is without sin, etc, etc, etc.
As for "author, publisher, radio pundit, TV presenter"... no, you're right, that's not even close to pretending to be a journalist. Shame on me. I can't imagine where I got that idea from. Tsk, Tsk. I'll be thinking Mr Cameron's green credentials aren't as sincere as he professes next.

Carl Eve said...

http://theviewfromthenorth.blogspot.com/2007/06/to-seek-reaction-or-not-seek-reaction.html

Iain, you responded "I can't reveal how I know it and nor would any journalist."

But... you're not a journalist?

Looks like I am your researcher after all.

Andrew Yu-Jen Wang said...

Speaking of terrorism:

George W. Bush committed hate crimes of epic proportions and with the stench of terrorism (indicated in my blog).

George W. Bush did in fact commit innumerable hate crimes.

And I do solemnly swear by Almighty God that George W. Bush committed other hate crimes of epic proportions and with the stench of terrorism which I am not at liberty to mention.

Many people know what Bush did.

And many people will know what Bush did—even to the end of the world.

Bush was absolute evil.

Bush is now like a fugitive from justice.

Bush is a psychological prisoner.

Bush has a lot to worry about.

Bush can technically be prosecuted for hate crimes at any time.

In any case, Bush will go down in history in infamy.

Submitted by Andrew Yu-Jen Wang
B.S., Summa Cum Laude, 1996
Messiah College, Grantham, PA
Lower Merion High School, Ardmore, PA, 1993

“GEORGE W. BUSH IS THE WORST PRESIDENT IN U.S. HISTORY” BLOG OF ANDREW YU-JEN WANG
______________________
I am not sure where I had read it before, but anyway, it is a linguistically excellent statement, and it goes kind of like this: “If only it were possible to ban invention that bottled up memory so it never got stale and faded.” Oh wait—off of the top of my head—I think the quotation came from my Lower Merion High School yearbook.