Mrs Leveson’s Enquiry

OK SO! I finally buckled yesterday.

Well buckled isn’t the right word is it. I mean I was hardly under a stream of unrelenting pressure. I just … well … did what I wanted to I suppose.

What am I talking about?

The Leveson enquiry of course. The words on the tip of the tongue of every media blogger and commentator out there for as long as my junk smashed brane can remember.

By rights I should have been tuning into the live feed daily like a stupid salmon migrating home to spawn and die. It’s a chance to finally hold the press that I deride to account for all the godawful shit they make the public put up with. It’s covering everything: phone hacking, privacy invasion, celebrity stings, churnalism and all the other gutter spewing tactics the media resort to in order to bolster circulation and propogate their murky political agendas.

Yeah. I should be all over Leveson like bark on a tree. But it was only yesterday, after months of ‘meh’ that I actually took an interest.

“WHY???” I cry back to myself (punctuating each of the three question marks with a shrill little echo). Well two reasons. First I been buzzy. Like panicking myself into a fuzzy ball of vomit buzzy. EVERY DAY. When I started this blog weekly updates was the aim but fuck me that’s hard when ‘the man’ is out there slamming you into the coal face with a cricket bat every day. Jesus!

All work and no play makes me want to kill humanity one by one

But that’s not worth going into. Second is because the whole Leveson thang has left me feeling a bit ‘meh’. Perhaps it’s just that I got Leveson fatigue really quickly. Following @hackingenquiry on twitter (who bizarrely have an avatar resembling a highwayman’s mask) meant that my feeble feed of daily mush got flooded with bone dry platitudes.

So what is this? A mask? A tape? An old school instant camera film?

Platitudes that were compounded by tonnes of analysis and commentary from other twitter feeds. Add to that the ubiquitous live blogging and streaming feeds from the Guardian and it was like being smothered under a big Leveson shaped blanket. Even without paying any attention at all I felt I knew what was going on. Like when you don’t watch a soap opera for a year, then go back and the same characters are saying the same things in the same way.

Steve's looking a bit tired these days

The enquiry quickly lapsed into groundhog day with most of the people repeating the same sentiments. Only Leveson hasn’t learned to play piano and sculpt ice like Bill Murray. On top of that the man Leveson didn’t fill me with confidence. I’m prejudiced because whenever I hear the word Leveson it reminds me of the Mrs Levinson characters in a league of gentlemen, and it’s hard to respect someone when you have that in your head.

Would you let this man run a press enquiry?

Leveson also irked me when he said that he wouldn’t be drawn into a witch hunt.

These aren’t witches you idiot they’re journalists. A much more devious enemy. If you don’t hunt them down they’ll eat your SOUL

There have been highlights sure. The wronged celebs queuing up to vent their spleen. Cannon fodder car crash hacks like Paul McMullen checking in to patter out their hasty orisons. But til yesterday it didn’t grip me like a gristle.

Stay Classy Paul

WHY? (again with the shouting). Well. Dacre of course! The warm up acts were there to soften us up for the big bout. But in all honesty the Daily Mail Editor was a big draw. Finally a chance to see the nemesis of the left-wing media squirming in a chair under a rigorous cross-examination of righteous anger. What would happen? Would he melt under scrutiny? Would he reveal himself as a shape-shifting lizard intent on controlling humanity? Would he somehow evangellically convert all his critics into fans and secure some sort of Daily Mail led fourth Reich?

MY secret hope was for a Jonny Marbles style pie incident – but a pie secretly laced with Sodium Pentothal so that Dacre would be unable to help himself and the truth would come pouring out like a lumpy tearful haemorrhage leaving the mouths of the watching world agape as Dacre confesses to crimes we didn’t even know existed.

Yeah. Grant and McMullen were fun but Dacre was serious and far more likely to be entertaining than the bland and fully lawyered up Murdoch clan.

The weird thing about tuning into Leveson is that it’s actually a bit like listening to an audio book of a tabloid newspaper. But one that’s delivered in dry legalistic tones. Listening to Dacres warm up acts of Dan Wootton and Nick Owens was almost literally a list of celebrity gossip speculation being sombrely related from a transcript . Like… you know when they read out the  name of every person who died on 911 on the tenth anniversary? Well it was like that but without the emotional heartstring pulling sobs – instead a dry soulless narrative.  Oh. And also without people’s names being read out – but instead little titbits of celebrity tittle-tattle instead. So nothing like the 911 readings then. Bizarrely that’s more diverting than it sounds. Who could fail to stifle a giggle as cross examiners danced carefully around Kerry Katona’s Kocaine (sic) hell or as they drily read sweary transcripts speculating over the imaginary cosmetic surgery stories Chris Atkins made up for Starsuckers.

It was almost as though lesser journalists were just being called up to be laughed at for a bit at the ludicrousness of their profession then sent home chastened with the knowledge that what they engaged in was pretty stupid. When NOTW showbiz gossip Dan Wootton boasted that he kept a copy of the PCC code in his wallet at all times I had to laugh out loud.  

BIG BOX LITTLE BOX BIG BOX LITTLE BOX

Dacre himself was much more of a difficult beast to cage though. Unlike the others, he gave the impression that he actually believed in what he was doing. And that all this broo-ha-ha was little more than an irritating diversion from his day job of running the world. Any difficult question he could swat away like a bug by saying he didn’t have involvement or wasn’t in the office. Funny how editors are always out of the office when all the big stuff goes down. Funny how someone like Dacre takes personal and excessive credit for the Stephen Lawrence prosecutions – but had little or no involvement with legal actions from the likes of Neil Morrissey. Also funny how he can’t remember half the things he said about Hugh Grant but is happy to launch into a full apoplectic rage when picked up on his mendacious smear comments.

There were highlights – Dacre’s slip of the tongue when he implied that he sought to prevent legislation that would have made the UK the only country in the world that imprisoned journalists (erm – that would be “world” in Daily Mail terms of Dacre’s back yard then?) and the semantics of a conversation about whether turning on the bathroom light at night could cause cancer. However, Dacre’s appearance was ultimately disappointing. It was like having your grumpy old uncle over for Christmas Dinner – the one who is secretly an alcoholic and wants to be down the pub knocking back shorts instead of telling everyone what he got for Christmas and whether he believes Santa Claus exists.

Dacre highlights the problems of the Leveson enquiry to me. While the lower minions and hacks feel the full force of national ridicule in the face time Leveson grants them, the big guns are too busy, too savvy and too “mock” disinterested to give themselves away. Unless someone does start making up a Sodium Pentathol pie quickly Dacre, Murdoch et al will represent trawlers that the gulls can’t get Sardines from.

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