It has become a genre in its own right. Doubtless its practitioners regard it as an art and take immense pride in their work. It may well be that, in the realm of the mainstream media, a CV is greatly enhanced by the boast of being an accomplished dissembler, deceiver and liar. Familiarity with the output of the British media in Scotland makes it easy to believe that there might be considerable demand for individuals able and willing to dispense unabashed dishonesty for a small fee.
A talent for taking any story about Scotland, however upbeat or positive, and turning into a dire and depressing tale of soul-sucking woe is certainly valued by the British political elite to which The Herald and other organs of that abysmal ilk owe unwavering allegiance. A knack for concocting crisis, catastrophe and chaos out of the trivial and the mundane is the main qualification for a career as a mercenary hack.
In the wake of the Grenfell Towers disaster decent people were asking ‘How could this happen?’. Those hired to peddle the British state’s propaganda in Scotland were asking ‘How can we link this to the Scottish Government?’. There are no considerations of accuracy or veracity or sense or logic which can be allowed to stand in the way of anti-SNP spin. Respect for the public is an entirely alien concept in the world of the mainstream media.
A thick skin might also be useful attribute for those styling themselves correspondents and commentators and even ‘opinion-makers’. Although the evidence suggests that the practitioners of this odious art have as little regard for the opinions of those they lie to as they have for niceties such as truth and professional standards. So long as they get their pittance, and maybe the occasional pat on the head from their peers in the form of a bauble recognising some exceptional piece of fabrication, prevarication or distortion, their protective bubble of superiority and self-regard remains intact.
A claim to being generally despised by consumers of media messages may add the decisive polish to that CV.
We are all by now painfully familiar with the ceaseless attacks on Scotland’s public services and democratic institutions mounted by the British media. We are all aware, too, that our health service is a favoured target of those whose purpose is to denigrate Scotland and undermine our confidence. Every once in a while we encounter something which stands as an example to all who would squander their personal and professional integrity in the name of the British state. With the conscienceless efficiency that comes with long practice, The Herald takes what an honest journal might well have described as a ‘glowing report’ on NHS Scotland and sours it with the bile of British nationalist prejudice.
I have no intention of cataloguing the gratuitous distortions and judicious omissions in this execrable article. Those who are concerned with the facts can read the Nuffield Trust’s report for themselves. I will settle for presenting the following extract, in which I have emphasised the words which all should note rather delicate understatement.
“Several interviewees from across the spectrum of roles referred to a polarised political culture, with the SNP Government seeking majority support for independence and A LARGELY HOSTILE PRESS LOOKING TO ATTACK THEIR RECORD ON THE NHS.”
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