Friday, March 30, 2007

Guido takes a beating

The political blogger Guido Fawkes this week appeared on Newsnight with a segment attacking the mainstream media for being too close to politicians and thus unable to properly scrutinise their behaviour. After the short film Guardian assistant editor Michael White joined Paxman in the studio with Guido Fawkes - aka Paul Staines - behind them on a screen seen only as a silhouette. Before showing the film Paxman explained that Fawkes insisted on having his identity disguised despite "the fact that you can find his identity in two mouse clicks". And indeed you can. Type "Guido Fawkes" into Google and rather than being faced with endless results about the Gunpowder Plot, you'll find the fourth result is a link to Paul Staines's Wikipedia entry where you can read all about him.

The segment itself wasn't up to much. There's a nice review at Harry's Place - particularly amused by the "
think reformed sex pest discussing past misdeeds" bit.
Fawkes moans on about how Nick Robinson et al can't properly "go for the jugular" because they need to stay on terms with politicians in order to have any hope of future access. At one point he provoked Paxman into blurting out "bollocks" after some inane accusation. He cites an example where a junior reporter at Sky News upset David Cameron in an interview never broadcast. Cameron reportedly took six months of persuading before agreeing to deal with Sky again. Says more about Cameron than the media if you ask me.

In the interview after the segment Guido was ripped to pieces by Paxman, who clearly found his insistence on anonymity highly amusing, and in the face of what he was hearing a clearly nonplussed Michael White. Guido claimed his "disguise" was necessary so that if met any political high-flyers down the battleship, he'd be able to extract information from them using cunning wiles while all the time not compromising his identity. White then pointed out that he'd seen him somewhere before and would recognise him. Oddly Fawkes claimed on his blog that the "in-the-shadows" idea was that of the Newsnight editor. I mean, bugger me, even I feel faintly idiotic writing under a pseudonym. And even more so when I explain it to people I know. In any event both White and Paxman called him Paul more than once.

At one point Fawkes said he'd been voted Best Political Commentator by the Guardian. I assume (I can't be bothered to check) that he meant Best Political Blogger. Whether this was a mistake on his part or a deliberate word substitution, you'll have to decide. A cursory glance through his blog shows that his posts are never weighty or even bordering on anything you could describe as essayist.

I'm also baffled by his premise. He attacks the mainstream media for its puny interviewing style and the debts he believes bind it. I'd have a little more sympathy with his argument if his attacks on politicians were even handed but they're clearly not. His only victims are New Labour ministers and their associates.

I wonder if Michael Howard still felt cosy and warm next to Paxo after that infamous grapple?


At 7:58 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

hilarious clip! i like this blog - nice writing style. Get your link out there in forums etc a bit more

At 1:27 pm , Blogger Finnieston Crane said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 1:28 pm , Blogger Finnieston Crane said...



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