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Britain’s newspaper industry won’t be apologising for 936 speculative but incorrect stories about Brexit strategy

A top, top Tweet by George Trefgarne today:

I have no idea if the British press actually published 936 or 45 or 2,117 speculative but ultimately forgettable claims about the Brexit strategy of Her Majesty’s Government but there have been too many stories about what Phillip Hammond, the Chancellor was set to propose for how the UK might leave the European Union… and then on what Liam Fox, the International Trade minister, was counter-proposing… and then how backbench amendments might force those plans to change… Nearly all, of course, from the usual anonymous and not always that well informed or well connected sources.

In the launch video for UnHerd I argued that – despite the focus on the alleged ideological biases of different media organisations to, e.g., the right over the left or to liberalism over conservatism – the fundamental biases are actually…

  1. to the new (over the important);
  2. to the negative (over the positive);
  3. to the controversial (over the enlightening or educational); and
  4. to the political and electoral (rather than the cultural, technological or to the other influences heading our way from ‘upstream’).

Reading George’s Tweet this morning I kicked myself for missing this fifth key bias: the routine prominence given to speculative stories about what might happen instead of more investigative/ analytical pieces that probe the effectiveness of existing policies/institutions or the wisdom of actual announcements (like today’s on UK plans for some kind of temporary extension of Customs Union arrangements).

And PS… George Trefgarne hit another bullseye four Tweets later…

For all of the near-endless debate about what Britain’s EU negotiating strategy should be, it will be the other 27 member states and the bureaucrats in Brussels who ‘help’ them ‘choose’ that’ll largely decide the shape of Brexit. British politicians would have been much wiser to have focused on designing the new forms of immigration, energy, competition and agricultural etc policies that become possible for a self-governing nation. I argued as much in the video I made for BBCTV in March (below and don’t I look scary in those close ups?!). The slogan of the Leave campaign might have been ‘take control’ but Theresa May, the Prime Minister, still shows no sign of knowing how to.

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