Media gullibility and Iain Dale’s professionalism

Iain Dale reports today of an attempt by persons unknown to persuade him to write an entirely false posting about the imminent defection of a Labour MP to the SNP. To his credit, Iain checked out the story and, inevitably, it didn’t stand up. Less to his credit, he makes the assumption that this is an attempt by left wing bloggers to smear and discredit right-of-centre bloggers. Unfortunately, this is a theory that has been enthusiastically embraced by those commenting on the post.

But I can shed some light on this, because it is eerily reminiscent of a similar attempt to smear the Labour Party 18 months ago, when Paul Hutcheon, political editor of The Sunday Herald, wrote a front page splash announcing – guess what? – the imminent defection by a Labour MP to the SNP. No evidence was offered by Hutcheon to substantiate the story and he was unable to stand the story up. That didn’t prevent the editor splashing the non-story all over the front page, generating acres of speculation and suspicion (as was presumably the intention), not least in the Scottish blogosphere.

Inevitably, no defection occurred. Equally inevitably, neither Hutcheon nor The Sunday Herald offered any form of correction or apology. And as is the way with Scottish politics, Hutcheon was subsequently honoured as Scottish Political Journalist of the Year.

Someone did try to play you for a fool, Iain. But that “someone” is almost certainly not a Labour supporter; far more likely he is a Scottish nationalist hoping to gain advantage for his party in the Glasgow East by-election. And what does it tell you when a Tory blogger carries out more checks on a story in order to maintain his own credibility than does a full-time journalist for a Scottish Sunday newspaper?

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10 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Labour, Media, Politics, SNP

10 responses to “Media gullibility and Iain Dale’s professionalism

  1. Tom, I didn’t say anywhere in my post that it was done by left wing bloggers – I merely made the point it looked to me as if it were an attempt to make right wing bloggers look complete arses.

  2. Iain – yes, I accept that. Sorry.

  3. Though it must be said that having been caught out twice recently on Scottish questions: on a Henley-related spoof press statement allegedly uttered by a Scottish MP and over his premature MP-death announcement Iain is now being more careful, and also more apologetic on erring than ever before. Married life is suiting him.

    As he said himself he doesn’t need any help looking a complete arse right now. And his accusing the Lib Dems of being partisan reporters on LDV is hilarious.

  4. Chris, if I ever need help in making myself look a complete arse, I certainly know where to come.

  5. Good point, Iain. Whenever I’m looking for a little light diversion I always turn to Chris Paul’s blog. I find his (numerous) comments on his own blogs especially hilarious. Ask him when he’s going to update his “Flying Lion” story – always gets a corker in reply!

  6. Iain said: “Tom, I didn’t say anywhere in my post that it was done by left wing bloggers”

    No, you merely published a series of anonymous comments claiming that, and more besides. How very brave and upstanding of you.

  7. >what does it tell you when a Tory blogger carries out more checks on a story in order to maintain his own credibility than does a full-time journalist for a Scottish Sunday newspaper?

    It tells me what I hope I already knew 😉 Blogs vs papers not Tory vs Labour.

    btw Small point as I’m sure there are plenty of others who are, but I don’t think David Osler is part of the Scottish Blogosphere. It must have been a long trek down to 18 Doughty Street for his almost weekly appearances…

  8. Alex Swanson

    Well, if it was the SNP, then it was left-wing wasn’t it? Unless the SNP have changed radically since I campaigned against them a couple of decades ago.

  9. Anonymous

    No Tim, because you’re not guilty of that at all, are you?

  10. This, perversely, is a great example of what makes blogs the future and print the past. Not only could you not get this kind of effort in print, but even if you could you’d never see the almost instant, cross-party, cross-political discussion of it on numerous different sites with an interest.

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