SITTING in the town hall waiting for the guest speakers to arrive I was wondering just whose perspective (if any) I would ‘buy’ into — this word is prompted by a subtle reminder from a slightly obsequious Anne Robinson during the talk that there were two gripping, page-turning books on sale from our respective guests, Nick Davies of the Guardian and Damian McBride, Gordon Brown’s former spin doctor.
The discussion on the phone hacking scandal was indeed an enlightening look into the world of Fleet Street and the bullying culture that permeated both the press and the government. A brief interlude to decide what the level of the lighting should be brought further clarity to the conflict between government (McBride) and press (Davies). It became apparent just how powerful these news organisations had become. Their ability to influence and control the government, sometimes with immense subtlety, and other times in all out attack is astounding — I refer to the story of Gordon Brown’s son’s ill health and the desire for the press to gain an ‘exclusive’.
Robinson remained a neutral interviewer, rarely pushing or challenging the speakers. Davies was full of insight, intrigue and opinion, discussing how his ‘Guardian’ had conquered the corrosive machine that was News International. McBride, as you might imagine, was more elusive in his discourse. Being a spin-doctor at No 10, it was clear he was good at his job. His ability to extricate himself from any situation even when asked about his personal involvement in controversial matters was clever, if a little obvious, but also what one might expect from a politician.
The talk was informative and covered a good level of detail into the phone hacking scandal and the battle for ultimate power between the press and the government. Two power house institutions vying for control over the masses.
However, it does leave one wondering... who should we believe?