Hacking democracy

Barry Gardiner MP got grumpy with Nick Robinson last week because the BBC Today Programme had read out the Sun’s stupid headline ‘Crash bang wally’ insulting Corbyn on a day of mishaps on the election trail. Rather pleasingly, Gardiner kept misquoting the title, not sure if intentionally, as ‘crash bang wallop’, so the cheap pun was lost. We should see more of such subversion of the gutter media – it is the kind of verbal play which Baudrillard, Lyotard and Derrida would philosophise about, in their poncey, gorgeously inaccessible ways.

Gardiner was just being grouchy, a bit Prescotty, and I don’t think he really advanced The Cause. He might have hit a genuine home run if he’d said that The Sun, just like the Mail and the Express, is filthy lie-strewn bum fodder whereby foreign tax-dodging elites wage a propaganda war on the Tories’ behalf which distorts English democracy, and that the BBC are tacitly colluding every time they read it out the bile which is spewed in their pages.

But it also made me wonder why on earth in 2017 the BBC and others continue to fixate on and promote the traditional print media, which has always been fawning cheerleaders for the Conservative Party. Printed newspapers are virtually irrelevant in the digital age – instead of privileging the old Fleet Street rags, public interest broadcaster had better read a balanced selection of the headlines of popular online news sites – the Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, even RT or Breitbart – not necessarily a problem so long as there is balance.