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article imageOp-Ed: Press walkout on Johnson means a lot more than it looks

By Paul Wallis     Feb 4, 2020 in World
London - Boris Johnson has a knack for disaster. In this case, journalists were invited to No. 10 Downing Street for a briefing, rather than Westminster. The journalists refused, even the pro-Tory invitees. It’s a pretty bizarre story.
The story is that briefings in Westminster are open briefings. Anyone can come. Briefings at No. 10, however, are selective, and anyone can be filtered out. The journalists didn’t like it. Nor, evidently, did their publishers.
Johnson’s gigantic gaffe has been called an attack on freedom of the press, which it is, in several ways. He’s even been slammed by such Shakespearian traditionalists as The Sun, The Daily Mail, and other endlessly Tory newspapers and media.
The selective briefing, in fact, cuts to the heart of press freedoms. The press must be free to, report on the activities of government. Any exclusion of journalists is the exact opposite of that very necessary basic tenet.
Somehow, and it can’t have been easy, Johnson managed to antagonise his own media supporters. These are news outlets which have been pro-Boris since he hatched politically. …And they’re infuriated with him, with good reason.
This apparently wasn’t all. Other dances on news media toes were also part of the mix within a few days of each other. For example - Downing Street did its own media production of a Johnson speech on Brexit Day, and sent it to the news media by email. The BBC and everyone else snubbed it.
Why, you ask? The traditional method is for an outside independent broadcaster to do the production. The BBC rather brutally said through a spokesperson that it broadcast content “based on its news value”… A statement for anyone but someone with Johnson’s bricklike social sensitivities which is roughly the equivalent of being sent back to kindergarten at the age of 55.
Why do news media tolerate these clowns?
I’ve often wondered about the relationship between the media and political conservatives. It seems these news outlets are basically herding pigeons. Rupert Murdoch, for example, has been around a lot longer than just about every politician on Earth. He knows quite a bit more than they do, too. They come and go all the time; he and News remain.
…So why does the news media pander to these passing fruit flies? Is it a feelgood thing? Is there some huge charitable exercise among publishers? So Johnson looks like all he needs is a school cap to regress to his actual mental age. Why not just adopt him? Why make him Prime Minister?
Talk about briefings; you could have him all to yourselves, and the rest of the world would never know. Just think of the years of sparkling sincerity and depth of character to come.
Does this elegant suggestion by any chance make the point that the media should NEVER take sides? Thought it might.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Boris Johnson, Johnson media walkout, Freedom of the press, BBC snubs Johnson Brexit Day address, Rupert Murdoch
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