Tony Blair calls major media ‘feral beasts’

Mick Gregory

Even the UK Labor Party PM knows that the media are feral pigs.

I would vote for Mr. Blair for president over John McCain or Hillary/Obmama at this point. Maybe he could be VP to Guliani.

In a sweeping critique of the newspaper industry, Mr Blair claimed papers, locked into an increasingly bitter sales war in a 24-hour news environment, indulged in “impact journalism” in which truth and balance had become secondary to the desire for stories to boost sales and be taken up by other media outlets.

He admitted that his own attempts to bypass traditional media through websites and press conferences had been “to no avail”. He also conceded that he was partly to blame for the predicament, saying his determination to convey the Labour message in the period of opposition and early years in government had made him complicit in the decline in news standards.
But he said the fierce competition for stories had led to the media now hunting in a pack. “In these modes it is like a feral beast, just tearing people and reputations to bits, but no one dares miss out.”

He added that distinctions between comment and news had become so blurred that it was rare to find newspapers reporting precisely what a politician was saying. It was incredibly frustrating, he said, adding that politicians had to act immediately to rebut false charges before they became fact.

Mr Blair said he was describing “something few people in public life will say, but most know is absolutely true: a vast aspect of our jobs today – outside of the really major decisions, as big as anything else – is coping with the media, its sheer scale, weight and constant hyperactivity. At points, it literally overwhelms.”

The damage that can be done “saps the country’s confidence and self-belief”, he said. “It undermines its assessment of itself, its institutions and above all, it reduces our capacity to take the right decisions, in the right spirit for our future.”

The consequence was a fall in morale in the public services, a loss of trust between politicians and media and even a climate of fear in which those in public life dare not attack the media’s sensationalist culture for fear for the media’s counterblast.

In a world of 24-hour news and huge diversity of outlets, he said, it is impact that gives a competitive edge. “Of course the accuracy of a story counts. But it is secondary to impact. It is this necessary devotion to impact that is unravelling standards, driving them down, making the diversity of the media not the strength it should be but an impulsion towards sensation above all else.”

“News is rarely news unless it generates heat as much as or more than light. Second, attacking motive is far more potent than attacking judgement. It is not enough for someone to make an error. It has to be venal. Conspiratorial.”

29 thoughts on “Tony Blair calls major media ‘feral beasts’

  1. This is why I take a peek at the major news of the day and do my own research rather than take what the mainstream puts out as “set in stone”. Most of it is filled with either one side of the story or fluff pieces to try and attract a certain demographic.

    I have to say that I too think very highly of Blair, and hate to see him go. He has been a very good ally to the U.S.

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