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Monday, 3 September 2012

Trust No One, Especially the Media

Gerard Tubb of Sky News believes he got a "scoop."  By all appearances on Twitter, he seems to be incredibly proud of his exposé.  That's his word, by the way. Exposé.  I like that.  It makes it sound all kinds of "journalistical," like Tubb had battled the dark telephonic forces of evil, risking his life and his eternal soul to ferret out the truth for the greater public good. 

You see, Gerard Tubb, with his immense investigative reporting skills, claims he has reported a previously unknown fact.  I'm not certain which planet Tubb has been living on the past few decades, but if he has only now just uncovered a fact that all of us have known for yonks, then he's certainly not from around these parts.

Which startling fact did Tubb unearth in his exposé?

The anti-smokers want to abolish all smoking in the UK by 2032.

Well, I'm stunned. I'm certain you are, too. I mean, this information has opened my eyes; it has changed my life. And I have only Gerard Tubb to thank for it.

Thank you, Mr Tubb. Thank you so very much, kind sir. You are a true hero in journalism. It will be only a matter of time before you win awards for your outstanding journalism skills that have changed all of our lives.

Actually, it hasn't changed my life at all. And it hasn't changed yours either. We've always known this fact. Perhaps we did not know the precise year that Fresh NE would aim for (and this must be that elusive fact he convinced a presumably reluctant Alisa Rutter to part with), but Gerard Tubb's scoop -- sorry, I meant to say, his exposé, darling -- is hardly news to anyone.

Fact: The anti-smokers have been trying to abolish smoking since people started to smoke.

Every year we get new calls for the total abolition of all tobacco products (not just smoking) by some date or other, in various places all over the world.  So if reporting on Fresh NE's upcoming campaign to eradicate smokers from existence is a previously unknown fact to Gerard Tubb, then could one presume that Tubb has just recently extricated his head from his arse and decided to have a bit of a look-round?

Perhaps the "Making Smoking History for Children" slogan was not prominent enough on Fresh NE's website?

Look, I found a clue.

Understandably, Tubb's shocking exposé has angered some tobacco consumers -- honest, hard-working people who pay more than their fair share of tax, and who have been getting the shaft relentlessly for well over a decade as fake charities use their shady influence in government to enact nannying legislation to harass and denormalise those who are using a legal product, to restrict their liberty and take away their freedom to socialise with peers indoors at private businesses.

Some people are angry because Tubb did not include any opposing viewpoints in his exposé.  For as Tubb eloquently explained on Twitter, he chose not to include the opposition "Because facts don't need opposing views."

Well, you can be angry at Tubb's omission if you like, but by now we should all be used to the fact that the media is very much against smokers. Getting angry at Tubb for not including opposing views in his exposé is like getting angry at sunshine for giving you a sunburn. Pointless.  The media is not on "our side."  We should not trust the media to present a balanced viewpoint on anything. Ever. The media is a business in competition with other corporations selling you their filtered version of the news. If you think the media should be fair, impartial and honest, then do try to consider that it never has been these things and it never will be. For if it were, they would be out of business within a few years, because only unbridled sensationalism truly sells the news.

So to be fair, some of that anger from smokers was misdirected and some of it used colourful invective.  Some of the anger, to be equally fair, Tubb misinterpreted as being directed at him or as abuse.  Indeed, by claiming that he received abuse (for he certainly did not), he truly pissed off me.  What Gerard Tubb got was criticism and debate from the opposition he chose to exclude from his exposé.

Never mind that Tubb invited himself to the debate by choosing to reply to Christopher Snowdon's tweet about the article.  Gerard Tubb opened the door, and perhaps disliking what he saw on the other side, he tried to close the door only to find that a large foot had been placed in the doorway.  Caught out by his schoolboy error, he shamefully chose to play the victim card:

Translation: People criticised me = abuse. *sniffle*

He was not abused, but that criticism and debate infuriated him.  How dare anyone tell him how to do his job? Do they not understand the difference between the reporting of fact and campaigning?

Well, I think we do understand the difference, Mr Tubb. I think we get it just fine. I do not take issue with you avoiding to include the opposition in your story. It would have been nice, but I'm used to only one side of the story appearing in the media. I don't expect anything.  But looking at all of your tweet and retweet history after you wrote your exposé (which is laden with anti-smoking rhetoric) and after you claimed that you were so terribly abused, and the fact that you are now following both Alisa Rutter and Fresh NE on Twitter, I believe a lot of people will conclude all by themselves that you are one of them.

An anti-smoker.

Of course, none of this proves you hate smokers or are indeed campaigning on behalf of the tobacco control industry.  It's only conjecture. Whether you are or are not an anti-smoker campaigner is irrelevant.

Because the real fact, which requires no unearthing nor any sort of exposé, is that we do not trust anyone. We do not trust politicians in any party. We do not trust the NHS. We do not trust the charities (both fake and real) who claim they want to save us all from ourselves.  But most importantly, we do not trust anyone who works in the media.

Which means we do not trust the likes of you, Gerard Tubb.  I suppose you'll think this is abuse too.  It's not. It's just a fact. A well-known fact, to be honest.

(But if you do feel abused, at least you can take comfort in knowing that the UK's #3 Libertarian blogger* has apologised on behalf of The Cause.  *Note: I had never heard of this bronze medal blogger guy until the other day... Don't think we need an apologist on the libertarian side, but whatever....)

Provided purely for your entertainment, below is the tweet conversation between Snowdon and Tubb, which apparently kicked off a veritable torrent of horrible abuse by other people on Twitter.  Awful, terrible abuse. Which wasn't abusive at all.  I quite enjoyed the subliminal ads bit -- Big Tobacco never ceases to amaze me with their invisible innovation, and secretive marketing aimed at fetuses in the womb, probably.