Monday, April 11, 2016

Sleight of Hand

Stage magicians refer to it as 'distraction', when they deliberately and persistently divert the audience's attention away from the main piece of trickery they are performing toward something else happening on stage, so as to hide the mechanics of the actual trick.  There seemed to be a lot of 'distraction' going on in the media over the weekend, as they desperately tried to divert viewers' attention from Dodgy Dave's tax troubles.  They spent a lot of time dangling the Archbishop of Canterbury's true parentage in front of us, as if it was some kind of huge historical sex scandal.  Frankly, it would have been a better story if it had turned out that his real father had turned out to be Winston Churchill himself, rather than just his private secretary.  These sorts of things only really take off if it involves some famous historical alcoholic drunkenly fumbling some young innocent in the stationary cupboard at the 1955 Downing Street Christmas party.  You could even spin out a bit, implying that this drunken liaison was the cause of Churchill's subsequent huge heart attack.  

But I digress.  This non-story, which is really of little interest to anyone other than the Archbishop (and presumably his mother) was pushed incredibly hard over the weekend, even taking precedence, at one point, over the fact that thousands of people had marched on Downing Street demanding Dave's resignation.  Even when the march was mentioned, it was only in passing, with the implication that it was utterly unimportant that so many ordinary citizens were so angry about their rulers' tax hypocrisy.  When it became clear that 'I cuckolded the Archbishop's father' story wasn't going to take off, the media instead resorted to that other standby: the Royal family.  Sunday saw the news dominated by coverage of Kate Middleton and whichever Prince it is that she's married to wandering around India.  At one point on the BBC News Channel, I thought that we were actually going to cut to a more important story, when the presenter suddenly interrupted the wall-to-wall deference to Royalty with news of a breaking Tweet(!).  But it turned out that it was just some Indian cricketer on a bout his meeting with the Royals.  He didn't even tweet anything controversial, like 'Kate Middleton's arse not all it's cracked up to be'.  (It is her arse the press like to drool over, isn't it?  Or am I confusing her with her sister - is it her arse that people like to sycophantically rave over just because she's related to somebody who married into the Royal family.  In either case, their behinds are decidedly average - I've seen far better on commoners).

The worst thing about all this sleight of hand was that one of the worst culprits was the BBC which, bizarrely, was one of the news organisations which had broken the 'Panama Papers' story in the first place!  Yet here they were, effectively attempting to sabotage their own story.  Mind you, from the outset, much of the British press tried to shift the focus of the story onto all those horrible foreigners who had been involved in these dodgy financial affairs, rather than the links to UK politicians and businessmen.  They seemed especially keen to try and link Vladimir Putin to the revelations.  But, despite the media's best efforts to divert our attention, Dodgy Dave and his tax affairs have caught the public's attention, just as the pig business did, in the face of the media's attempts to bury it.  Let's just hope that this story actually goes somewhere. 

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