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  • British blogging’s Dan Rather moment

    by Sunny
    11th July, 2006 at 12:54 am    

    They may be Tories but I think respect is due to Guido Fawkes and Iain Dale for helping shine a big light on British political blogging through their constant hounding of John Prescott.

    In case you are not fully familiar with the story, Guido had mentioned John Prescott’s alleged third mistress for quite a while. From what I can gather, Iain, Unity and others recently started turning up the heat on Prescott’s meetings with the American billionaire Phillip Anschutz. As that story gained traction on political blogs and in the media, so did rumours of Prescott’s alleged affair.

    Bloggers say (Westminster) lobby journalists don’t really want to investigate rumours that are quite widespread among political circles. Journalists such as Nick Robinson hit back saying blogs were simply publishing unsubstantiated rumours that cannot be printed in newspapers.

    I suspect both accusations apply to some extent. Though it’s interesting that most of the media coverage around Prescott and blogging rumours (today’s Media Guardian had lots) has been very defensive over bloggers - as if newspapers never print rumours or try and get away by publishing allegations in diary columns by not naming names. In fact Observer magazine carried a feature this weekend on the gossip columnists of fleet street and the extent they go to for tidbits. How are some political bloggers any different?

    Nevertheless, if John Prescott is forced to resign (and I really hope he does), then British blogging will have arrived in the way American blogs are constantly referred to for taking Dan Rather’s scalp.

    Update: Unity elaborates in the comments, saying: “What’s largely happening now is that the MSM are playing up Guido and Ian because it suits them to label bloggers as purveyors of tittle tattle on this one while trying to claim the real story - which is the casino, for themselves.”

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    Filed in: Media,Party politics

    17 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs
    1. All About Nothing » Blog Archive » Ministry of Truth

      [...] In the recent furore over blogging it’s the one blog that’s diligently been digging away with little credit. Oh sure, Prescott may like to blame Iain Dale and the Guardian types may love quoting Guido but Ministry of Truth also deserves recognition. [...]

    2. Clive Davis


      The UK Press Gazette ponders the Westminster follies, and discovers the journos are in fighting mood: [The bloggers] have just put on the web something about a name that everybody knew about, but had no evidence on. That’s neither brave…

    1. Sunny — on 11th July, 2006 at 1:02 am  

      If anyone has a different understanding of how the events played out, please feel free to let me know so I can make amends.

    2. jonz — on 11th July, 2006 at 1:08 am  

      They may be a Tories but

    3. Sunny — on 11th July, 2006 at 1:24 am  


    4. Unity — on 11th July, 2006 at 1:26 am  

      You’re not so far off on the timeline, Sunny.

      To some extent the story begins more than 12 months ago, when Alex at the Yorkshire Ranter that the casino was the dealbreaker on Anschutz’s deal for the Dome - all he missed at the time was the precise reason why.

      The MSM get the credit for first flagging up Prescott’s meetings with Anschutz, although their main interest was in the matter of whether it should be declared as an interest.

      Next up, Guido piled in with the third mistress story, which Iain linked to - that pushed their profile right up.

      Meanwhile both Iain and myself started (independently) to try an unpick the detail of the casino story - Iain got the what, it terms of Prescott meeting with AEG execs after the trip to the ranch - I got into the why, which amongst other things amounts to a 15% kickback to English Partnership as their share of the profits if Anschutz gets the casino licence.

      Whta’ largely happening now is that the MSM are playing up Guido and Ian because it suits them to label bloggers as purveyors of tittle tattle on this one while trying to claim the real story - which is the casino, for themselves.

      For example, it wasn’t until Sunday that anyone in the MSM pointed out the massive conflict of interest in the Dome/Casino deal (Matthew Ancona in the Torygraph), which I spotted and posted on on Wednesday.

      That’s not to say that the MSM isn’t finding new material - Matthew Norman in today’s media section in the Indy has pointed out that Anschutz hired Matthew Freud to handle his PR in the UK, who conveniently happens to be married to Elizabeth Murdoch (yep, Rupert’s daughter). Norman also states that Freud arranged for Anschutz attend a dinner party with Tessa Jowell - where they ‘obviously’ didn’t discuss casino licences as that would entirely inappropriate for the Minister at DCMS, which is overseeing the award of the licence.

      THe whole thing stinks of vested interests all the way and doesn’t stop at Prescott and Jowell - for one thing there’s no way that English Partnerships could have cut a profit sharing deal on the Dome without Treasury approval, nor, indeed, would responsibility for casino licencing have been moved from the hard-line Home Office to the ‘soft’ DCMS without approval right from the top.

    5. leon — on 11th July, 2006 at 1:39 am  

      My only hope is this new blogging power doesn’t stop when the Tories get back in power (and they will at some point).

      It’d be a fucking shame if the Brit blogging scene turned out to be nothing more than rightwing sycophants.

    6. Unity — on 11th July, 2006 at 7:27 am  

      No chance of that here, Leon.

    7. Leon — on 11th July, 2006 at 9:47 am  

      Man I’m a grumpy sod at that time in the morning! But anyway, yeah for sure and stuff. Erm…*goes to get morning coffee*

    8. sonia — on 11th July, 2006 at 10:28 am  

      Politicians doing dodgy deals is one thing - mistresses another.

    9. Billy — on 11th July, 2006 at 11:31 am  

      “My only hope is this new blogging power doesn’t stop when the Tories get back in power (and they will at some point).

      It’d be a fucking shame if the Brit blogging scene turned out to be nothing more than rightwing sycophants”

      Hopefully by then they’ll be enjoying it too much to stop. And they’ll be joined by many others.

    10. Unity — on 11th July, 2006 at 11:50 am  

      Billy, I should point out that while right-wingers like Guido, and to a lesser extent, Iain, have been tracking the mistresses, mots of the bloggers tracking the casinp deal are from the left-wing.

      I’m actually a member of the Labour Party.

      What creates room for optimism in all this is that there’s a sizable body of political bloggers who, whatever their party alliegances, are first and foremost democrats who believe strongly that all governments, of what ever party, shoudl be held to account.

    11. Kismet Hardy — on 11th July, 2006 at 12:56 pm  

      Hug a Blogger, anyone?

    12. Nyrone — on 11th July, 2006 at 5:32 pm  

      The power, sway and influence of blogs is making waves these days, so bloggers must be doing something right. However, an alternative to news? That’s coy at best.

      There will forever be people with opinions who rant about things without having to check the facts or back up their story…

    13. Leon — on 11th July, 2006 at 10:48 pm  

      Interesting piece on all this here: http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/article/110706/political_blogs_john_prescott

    14. Leon — on 14th July, 2006 at 1:18 pm  

      Should journalists, bloggers and activists be held responsble for what others do with the facts they make public?

    15. Leon — on 14th July, 2006 at 3:34 pm  

      And another piece relevant to this story:

      When the mainstream gets over the “shock of the blog”, it will better understanding the real value of the blogging revolution.

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