Saturday, October 05, 2013

With enemies like these...

Ever had a disagreement with someone and then remembered too late something you could have said that would have been a witty and winning line? One of the fun things about teaching is you get to go back and do it over and over again: a comment that seems sharp and spontaneous has actually been honed with practice. Medhi Hasan's 'smack down' of the Daily Mail on Question Time so obviously belongs in that category. It's this that makes the subsequent revelations about some of his - how to put it? - job-search history seem not merely embarrassing but positively bizarre. When he was rehearsing his lines for Question Time in his head, can he really have forgotten about this?
"Dear Mr Dacre, 
You might find it odd that the political editor of the News Statesman is asking you for a job. That's understandable but I've been comparing the long lists of people we don't like and I've found there's more of an overlap than you might think..."
People taking the piss is the least Mr Hasan can expect but although what he's done is pretty funny, it's annoying too because no doubt the Mail and its supporters will feel it undermines the - in my view, completely justified - outrage about their disgraceful piece on Ralph Miliband. First Alistair Campbell and now Medhi Hasan; they must be thinking, "With enemies like this, who needs friends?"  And people with better things to do with their time than to follow this in any detail will now be more inclined, if they're aware of it at all, to think that all papers and the hacks that write for them are just as nasty as each other.  Which can't possibly be true.  All the ones that agree with me about stuff are largely decent, honest and nice.  But just in case...

Maybe someone other than a journalist could have been invited onto the telly to criticise the conduct of journalists?  Like a politician, for example.  How about Nick Clegg?  All this has also had the unfortunate effect - or fortunate, depending on your point of view - of making him look good by comparison. He said what Medhi said but it was better for a couple of reasons:

a) The charge of hypocrisy doesn't - at least on this issue - stick, since he hasn't, as far as I know, ever asked the paper he's criticising for a goddamn job.

b) He has a better claim to tolerance credentials than Mr Hasan on account of the fact that he doesn't - again, as far as I know - go around describing people who don't share his world-view as 'cattle'.

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