Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The British and the American Press.

Every so often an incident occurs which highlights the stark difference in the way politics are conducted here in the UK as opposed to in the States.

Take the case of Damian McBride. He sent an email suggesting that certain smears be published on a pro-Labour website which told utterly made up stories about certain Tory MP's:

The government has defended its response to the e-mails scandal, saying the prime minister had "taken action".

Mr McBride stood down on Saturday, after it was revealed that he had sent e-mails in January to former government spin doctor Derek Draper, containing allegations about Mr Cameron, shadow chancellor George Osborne and Tory MP Nadine Dorries among others.

It was suggested the smears be published in a proposed Labour-backing, gossip-led website called Red Rag. The idea was later abandoned.
So, over here, the fact that McBride could even suggest doing something that underhand has resulted in his resignation and - even now - the Tories insist that Brown must apologise for something which they know he never did.

Again, and I emphasise this, these stories - disgraceful as they were - were never actually published, but the mere fact that such dishonest tactics could be ruminated upon resulted in McBride's dismissal.

Contrast that with Karl Rove actually setting out the rumour that John McCain had an illegitimate black child.

Eight years ago this month, John McCain took the New Hampshire primary and was favored to win in South Carolina. Had he succeeded, he would likely have thwarted the presidential aspirations of George W. Bush and become the Republican nominee. But Bush strategist Karl Rove came to the rescue with a vicious smear tactic.

Rove invented a uniquely injurious fiction for his operatives to circulate via a phony poll. Voters were asked, "Would you be more or less likely to vote for John McCain...if you knew he had fathered an illegitimate black child?" This was no random slur. McCain was at the time campaigning with his dark-skinned daughter, Bridget, adopted from Bangladesh.

It worked. Owing largely to the Rove-orchestrated whispering campaign, Bush prevailed in South Carolina and secured the Republican nomination. The rest is history--specifically the tragic and blighted history of our young century. It worked in another way as well. Too shaken to defend himself, McCain emerged from the bruising episode less maverick reformer and more Manchurian candidate.

So, yes, McBride's proposal was distasteful and outrageous, but these weren't smears which were ever carried out. And yet McBride was forced to fall on his sword.

Rove actually carried out his distasteful and outrageous smear and faced no calls for his resignation, instead he earned himself the nickname "Bush's Brain"; which is an oxymoron, I know.

Rove's behaviour was in many ways secretly admired, or at least taken as proof that he would go as far as was needed to win, a quality which Republicans always applaud.

There are some things, which in the British system are considered utterly unacceptable, which we all accept that the Republicans do as a matter of course.

Even the Tories would feel shame behaving like the Republicans do, but in the US the media never seem to hold the Republicans to the same level of scrutiny that our press do to our politicians. By which I mean, Rove's action elicited little revulsion, and a fair bit of Republican admiration.

The British press wouldn't allow either political party to indulge in such underhand tactics, either Tory or Labour, and over here the very fact that McBride even suggested what he did has dominated the press for the past few days.

Until the American press employ something approaching that British sense of fair play, then the Republicans will continue to behave like the immoral monsters that they are.

In the last election McCain and Palin were allowed to tell outrageous lies for weeks, before the sheer scale of their mendacity became impossible to ignore.

No British party - on either side of the aisle - would ever be allowed that much rope before they hung themselves.

The difference between the US and the British media is highlighted by the case of McBride and contrasting that with Rove's behaviour.

Over here it spelt McBride's ruin. In the US Rove's ruthlessness won him grudging respect.

That's wrong. (And it favours the Republicans.)

Click title for full article.


PFL0W said...

and then, of course, there's the fact that the Bush camp attacked a military veteran--John Kerry--4 years earlier, in the 2000 campaign, by questioning his service AND his patriotism.

First, there's the outrage that the Republicans could, would and did do such a thing and then there's the fact that the American press let them do and get away with it.

Stupid. Irresponsible. Tragic.

Mo Rage

Kel said...

The American press do seem to allow the Republicans an astonishing amount of rope as far as I can see.

It appears that there is very little which is unacceptable.