In 2021, the British media, high on nostalgia for the death penalty and hopes of turning the UK into the prison island of their dreams, will be even more deranged...

A quick prediction on what the British media will say when the death penalty debate returns to the mainstream.

If you felt 2020 was a deranged year for the British political and media classes, steel yourself because 2021 will be far worse. Here’s some proof…

Alex Wickham, who started out at Guido Fawkes but laundered his reputation at BuzzFeed News before taking up a job at Politico, writes that site’s London Playbook newsletter. In its festive edition — what kind of insane person would run a festive edition of a newsletter?! — Wickham asked a range of politicians and public figures a simple question: “How did you get through 2020?”

Most of them, even barely functioning humanoid stand-in Matt Hancock, realised that the question encouraged a light-hearted response. Hancock said he’s been kept afloat by support from the public — that’s a lie — and ties he’s been sent to wear during his abysmal TV appearance — that’s pathetic — but he still managed to see vaguely human, which is as much as he manages on his best days. But Priti Patel — Margaret Thatcher with the last vestige of human emotion ground to a fine powder and snorted by a passing Young Tory — couldn’t even manage a light-hearted reply.

The Home Secretary who, according to the latest rumours, may be angling for a return to the death penalty in the UK, answered the light-hearted, funny, festive question like this:

“Showing the perpetrators of the crime that they have nowhere to hide and joining our police on early morning raids — reminding the criminals that we’re coming after them. Supporting our frontline and watching them keeping us safe has been humbling.
They are real heroes.”

This is the woman who has been gifted a mononym (“Priti slams…” “Priti condemns…”) in the tabloid press and is beloved to the Tory faithful as she is tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime, and hungry for the blood of the innocent — Tony Blair cut that bit from his original speech, despite the serious misgivings of warmonger and opportunistic mental health campaigner Alastair Campbell.

The return of the death penalty — or even a debate about its restoration — would be absolute catnip for the British media. Rod Liddle will rage about the Bolshevik Broadcasting Corporation not getting thoroughly behind the idea even as Laura Kuenssberg cheerfully talks about ‘Boris’ delivering on his Brexit promises and Matthew Parris mutters about this not being a very Tory thing to do while doing nothing of any real value to actually oppose the decision.

Geordie Greig will brief friends in the broadsheets that he doesn’t actually support the move while The Daily Mail’s front page screams HANG THE TRAITORS with its whole chest this time. GQ will tell you the stylish outfits you can wear to a public execution and The Guardian will ask you to support the groundbreaking journalism of its investigative reporters, one of whom happens to be married to the Prime Minister’s brother, while Sarah Vine explains that Michael Gove both supported the return of hanging and was a moderating voice, just to cover all the bases, in the hope that her dream of being First Lady will finally come true.

Now, you might say, “Mic, this is all ludicrous,” and think that I’m being a little extreme thanks to a combination of Christmas leftovers and enough alcohol to stun a charging reindeer. So I want to offer you this thread from the ever-vigilant Client Journalism Expert, which unpicks the many media horrors of 2020. If I am the Ghost of Christmas Future, CJE is the Ghost of Christmas Just Past:

That first example from May 2020 is a classic of the genre as Laura Kuenssberg, like so many of her BBC News colleagues, supplements her generous wage with an unpaid role as a crisis PR expert for the government. I can’t be sure but I have a feeling that the ‘source’ in that case was Mr Rominic Rummings.

In examples 2 and 3, we have the classic ‘Here Is Our Cartoon Version of the Politician’ manoeuvre — literally in the first and figuratively in the second with its awful Photoshop effort. This is a common tactic in the British press which loves to present people like Rishi Sunak — the son-in-law of a billionaire — and Boris Johnson — a piss poor Churchill cosplay addict — as ‘men on the people’.

Chris Mason can’t even manage to be an unpaid PR person for the government in general. He has to position himself as the defender of Priti Patel against the hostile energy of… an ice cream brand.

The ‘Twentyman saga’ — which involved The Guardian’s Northern Correspondent, Helen Pidd, interviewing her pals about what the North thinks about politics is too involved to cover as a segment of this already long newsletter. Rest assured, it was embarrassing and highlighted just how melty the entire Guardian has become in the past 20 years. It’s meltier than a baked Camembert.

More cartoon shit.

Robert Peston has been doing double duty as ITV News’ political editor and a stooge for The Spectator for some time. I have grown convinced that he is an Andy Kauffman-style character as an ordinary human being could surely not be so dim and performatively ignorant about… everything.

The only other time Boris Johnson has knowingly done press-ups was on someone else’s wife.

The sadness in Pesto’s eyes.

A good rule of thumb when consuming political journalism is this: If a reporter, editor, or commentator compares a nation’s finances to a household budget you can entirely ignore them as they are so high on spurious analogies that they are spewing gibberish.

It was never going to happen, bab.

If you included something like this in a seaside farce, the producers would force you to do extensive rewrites.

It’s inaccurate. Boris Johnson would never empty his sack in a chimney. He’s got [REDACTED FOR LEGAL REASONS] for that.

Enjoy the rest of CJE’s thread on Twitter and my heartfelt thanks to them for their excellent work this year.

I’m sorry to give you this warning of more terrible journalism to come in 2021, but at least you’re reading this newsletter which I hope will offer you some solace. I will be back with a media resolutions special on New Year’s Eve and regular instalments will resume from January 1st.

Thank you for reading this year. It’s meant a lot to me.

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