Douglas Carswell

20 MAR 2017

Politicians and press have become indistinguishable

George Osborne's appointment as Evening Standard editor says a lot about the state of the press. It ought to be perverse for a politician to be a journalist. But, when many so-called journalists do little more than push a political agenda, what's the difference?

The idea of journalists as brave, independent scrutineers of politics may be appealing, but it's not accurate. The relationship between the Fourth Estate and the political class is actually far too cosy.

Because politicians trade access for positive coverage, many journalists end up going native. Instead of exposing the governing elite, they act as its cheerleaders.

"That's nothing new," you might think. "Newspapers have always had a clear bias."

Of course, there has always been an editorial point of view. The difference now is that there is little but opinion. Subjective analysis now masquerades as news.

During the referendum campaign, for example, it was striking how both print and broadcast media reported George Osborne's Project Fear narrative as objective fact. No matter that none of it has turned out to be true.

Pundits frequently make out that established media are losing market share because consumers are now more interested in fake news than truth. The people, we're told, are at fault.

The reality is the opposite. People are losing faith in established media because they see through the false pretence to objectivity. There's a market for truth which the press is failing to deliver. Rather than cater to the public, pundits have joined the oligarchy.

Osborne will no doubt use his perch at the Standard to push the same spin he did as Chancellor. Far from being unqualified, he's taking up an all too familiar role. That's the problem.

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