Forget the f***ing flags!

It’s not about the flags. It was never about the flags. One half of the fuss about a story lately peddled by the British media claiming Nicola Sturgeon had ordered every Union flag in Scotland to be seized and ceremonially burned (or whatever it was) totally missed the point. With characteristic shallowness, British Nationalist politicians and commentators and social media outrage-addicts foolishly supposed that flags were central to the issue. Tweets from the likes of Ruth Davidson and Kezia Dugdale revealed that they thought the First Minister’s protests were about flags. They seemed to have got carried away with the notion that Nicola was defending her decision to order the confiscation and incineration of every Union flag in the land. Being endowed with all the intellectual prowess of plastic cutlery, it never occurred to them to ask whether she actually had commanded her flying monkeys to scour the whole of Scotland for offending flags in order to have them consumed in cleansing fire.

They never thought to ask. and that is the point. Nobody whose sympathies lie with the British Nationalist cause thought to ask the pertinent questions. Or they asked entirely the wrong questions.

This failure of scrutiny is particularly deplorable in the media which initiated the story. Questions are the fundamental tools of journalism. It’s all about the “who,” “what,” “where,” when,” “why” and “how”. If you’re not asking those questions, whatever it is that you’re doing, it’s not journalism.

But those are just the basic tools. There are more probing questions that good journalism. demands be asked. Questions which go beyond names, dates and locations. Is the story true? Can the facts be verified? Are the conclusions justified? Is the story even credible?

If called upon to defend the story, can I do so without resorting to accusations of unwarranted attacks on free speech?

The ‘flags’ story was not subjected to any such interrogation. If even one of these questions had been posed, then the story would have evaporated. So the questions were assiduously avoided. The journalists responsible decided not to do journalism. They chose to do something else instead. They opted to do something that is as close might be possible to the opposite of journalism. I’m not sure there’s even a name for it.

If any questions were asked, they were the wrong questions. They were not the sort of questions a professional journalist would ask. Or, at least, not the sort of questions that should ever be the first and only ones asked. It is perfectly legitimate for a journalist to ask whether a story serves a particular editorial line or political agenda. They are, after all, mercenaries. They are paid for their skill in presenting stories in particular ways. With the exception (in theory, at least) of certain parts of the broadcast media, there is no obligation to be unbiased. Newspapers, in particular, are not required to provide balance. The media are not a window on the world. They are a lens through which the world can be seen only as the owner of that lens wants it to be seen. In general, journalists do the bidding of whoever writes the cheques.

It would be naive to suppose that journalists are there simply to provide the facts. It’s not facts they care about, but effect. They shape a story to have the impact they – or their employers – desire. The better a journalist is at massaging the story in order to manipulate perceptions, the more saleable their skills.

All of this is perfectly OK. But only so long as the basic questions are satisfactorily answered first. It’s fine for a journalist to keep their paymaster happy by applying the right spin. Putting a particular slant on a story is perfectly legitimate. But it’s only ‘real’ journalism if the spin and the slant are subordinate to considerations of veracity and accuracy. When the agenda takes precedence the result is something that current fashion dictates we should call ‘fake news’. I just call it bad journalism.

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14 thoughts on “Forget the f***ing flags!

  1. Big Jock

    If there was any justice and fairness then the Daily Fail apology would have been forced onto a front page splash, equal to the fake splash. Instead we have a few paragraphs of a forced apology hidden away on a small inset.

    One thing may change though. It will make them think twice before committing the same deliberate lie. Doing it once and getting collared is one thing. Doing it again could result in a lawsuit.

    This was no mistake it was a lie used to cause harm to all of us on the independence side. The apology should have been a plead guilty not a sorry we were mistaken.

    Next time Nicola….

  2. Jockanese Wind Talker

    You may “’..just call it bad journalism” Peter.

    I call it BritNat Propaganda.

    Propaganda, noun:

    1. information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a political cause or point of view.

    BBC and Dead Tree Press caught bonny wi their UKOK agenda on show for all to see.

    A few more have had the scales fall from their eyes this week.

  3. Philip Maughan

    I don’t think the press are very interested in truth or accuracy. The flags story simply played to the prejudices of their readers and even the apology won’t dent the die-hards, who will likely shrug and think she (NS) could have done it (George Foulkes pointed to this by linking the flags with the Frenchgate smear). In another article Peter, you suggested that the SNP are embarked on a process of slow, continuous improvement that over time will reap significant rewards. I would guess the press and particularly the Tory Party also see this, are terrified that it will succeed and will do anything to discredit the SNP.

  4. Big Jock

    The lies are ramping up especially over the last few months. Something is afoot!

    A no deal looks imminent. The House Of Lords may ask the bill to be amended and in steps the new no deal minister, and out goes Davies. I think Nicola will go for a short campaign less than six months. The best way to defeat your enemy is by surprise when they are busy dealing with other perceived enemies.

    Remember Edward Longshanks and the battle of Stirling Bridge! There will be no-on of any credibility available to fight for the no side. It will be a going through the motions campaign with no ammunition just empty gestures.

  5. Jas

    It does seem that Nicola and the SNP government have to constantly firefight all kinds of nonsense, mostly generated by the Brit press and then fanned into flames by Yoon politicians, while doing their best to mitigate Tory policies which will harm Scotland. Sometimes it feels like the hardcore Brit media hates the SNP more than it ever did the IRA. There’s an irrationality about the abuse that is quite troubling.

    1. Lorna Campbell

      I agree, Jas; it goes way beyond reason. I put it down to what Scotland actually means and what the Union itself means. The Westminster and Whitehall lot – the elite, the establishment, whatever you like to call them – know that everything will come apart at the seams if Scotland leaves the Union. So much that is up here holds the British elite’s place in the world as they see it and as they feel entitled to it. It is a deluded fantasy, verging, I now believe, on the insane, but, in that, it is no different from all other elites throughout history and all over the world who try to withstand the onslaught of change, usually brought on by their own vicious and stupid behaviour. If Scotland goes, it will be the end of their infatuation with world power; if Scotland goes, Wales will start to look at going, too; and, in time, so will NI. It is fear that stalks them, and their shivering servants up here fear the loss of their positions, too. England will soon face the chill winds of reality, and it cannot come soon enough. When the house of cards falls, they all fall.

  6. Wendelabra

    It’s heartening to see the Scottish Government and SNP pushing back a bit more and standing up to the BritNat meeja smears. It really has ramped up, though – they are getting increasingly desperate for SNPBAAAAAD! Some days it amuses me no end, but other days it really wears me down.
    I’m glad of blogs like this one, Wings, WGD, Derek B’s, etc, to help keep our chins up.
    Thank you, Peter!

  7. Robert Graham

    As usual the defenders of the Union go to far , they have no one to keep them in check , this almost house trained clown Davidson or whatever it calls itself now has brought her own degree of nastiness to Holyrood this along with a Presiding Officer who allows personal vindictive attacks on the First Minister , and political statements dressed up as Questions , allowing Rennie to call her a Liar without censure gives the game away.

    The Unionist Bloc are more or less able to do anything to disrupt proceedings , the noise coming from a party who have the support of one fifth of voters and whose MSPs are only there because of this bonkers voting system , most of them failed in the last election ” List MSPs ” a six times loser like Fraser should have never been allowed in that chamber , this is anything but democracy it’s Disgusting .

    The lend us your vote plea from parties that have sunk without trace , who were promoted by some on our own side because the SNP were going to walk it , a vote lost here or there was ok , well that little wheeze won’t ever work again , and I am your friend Patrick , is going to find out to his cost , We won’t forget , We will remember your fair weather friendship .

    As has been stated it was never about flags , but the mistake made was some people might just start questioning what else has been manipulated to suit a particular agenda , we don’t have to look very far to find the instigator and the source of this vendetta against our government , on the banks of the Clyde is the 24 – 7 source of this dark propaganda , the North Koreans could learn a lot from the BBC in Scotland .

  8. Lochside

    The flags issue is another brick in the wall of the British State’s attempt to imprison the SNP in a prison of lies and misrepresentation. Add in the repeal of the Offensive Behaviour law for football fans and the attempts to undermine everything the SG stand for is deliberate and inexorable.

    The attacks on the NHS; Police; Education and our democracy are designed to create fear and loathing of the SNP by the majority electorate who remain ‘non-Yes’. This population is predominantly unengaged and ,more importantly completely unaware of the dishonesty of the lies being propagated by the Westminster msm machine, but subliminally are taking in the message of ‘crisis’..the trigger word used and paired with ‘SNP’ at all times by the weasel worded prpagandists.

    If the teachers strike ..goaded into strike action by red tory union leader unionists.. demanding the impossible wage rises deserved, but in terms of a squeezed budget, completely untenable, with an austerity whipped Scottish block grant..goes ahead. What chances that the same tactic will be used to drive ambulance staff; fire fighters and other public workers…who are all similarly aggrieved into a near national strike or series of strikes?

    Job done: that of destroying the SNP’spainstakingly and deserved reputation of steady and sensible government. Thus, consequently our MPs and msps replaced by tory dupes and slab drones due to the fabricated Davidson and Corbyn ‘effects’.
    This latest issue is about flags…black flags.

    1. Robert Graham

      Yes it started shortly after the Yorkshire mouthpiece slithered into place , first it was the labour councils , usually propped up by their friends the Tories , Classroom assistants paid off , then it was school buses , then possible cuts to the curriculum , all designed to deflect any attention from the councils who refused to increase the council tax and make up any shortfall , these councils have reserves of almost Two Billion Pounds , and they plead poverty , these reserves are growing .
      If I had a say these councils would be placed under special measures to ensure the reserves are used for what they’re intended Local services , not a bloody bank account never to be accessed. If they can build up reserves to this extent they must have been given too much in previous years , its there to be used not bloody piled up under a mattress somewhere .

      1. Jockanese Wind Talker

        Aye Teacher strikes are BritNat Labour in Scotland and the BritNat TUC in Scotlands next favour for the Westminster Establishment.

        “the labour councils , usually propped up by their friends the Tories , Classroom assistants paid off , then it was school buses , then possible cuts to the curriculum”

        Just think where were the Unions when the above was happening?

        No where.

        Silent.

        They won’t ever stand against Labour or Unionist Council cuts.

        They do not represent Scottish Workers.

        The represent and protect The BritNat Union.

  9. Robert Graham

    Our friends at the Herald seem to be observing the Mundell line of we never apologise , we never admit to Lying , the Herald rather than addressing the obvious Lie chooses to condemn the SNP Government for not highlighting an 8 year old , that’s a 8 year old change of protocol .

    Beginning to mistrust anything that emanates from that organisation , always found it strange the letters section of the National continues to allow the same nutters that frequent the Scotsman, the same Junk every day with no moderation ,

    The Unionists have 99.99% of the media at their disposal , do they really need 100 % , why give them a platform and allow them to peddle their hatred of Independence .

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