Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Columnist of the year

A good number of we bloggers have very little time for the opinion-writers of the MSM, holding the denizens of this established media in contempt at the very least. The most egregious example of the stupidity and mendacity of the mainstream commentariat has to be Polly Toynbee, a woman who occupies her own idiosyncratic zenith of total fucking deceitful hokum.

The now-sadly-defunct Factchecking Pollyanna spent eight months chronicling her manipulation and misquoting of figures to back up her—usually already tendentious—arguments; some of the examples were so blatant that one can only conclude that she had set out deliberately to deceive her readers.

Quite apart from her ongoing perfidy on the question of statistical evidence, her arguments have always come over as being more than somewhat motivated by the jealousy that so many Lefties resort to. But worse than that, despite the evidence of history, Polly has always refused to acknowledge that the state simply does not run things efficiently or even benignly.

Her contention, for instance, at the Bow Group lecture, that one of the things that the government runs well is the NHS would have provoked howls or derision if we had not all been knocked into a stunned silence by her chutzpah. As I speculated at the time, I suspect that had Dr Rant or Dr Crippen been there, the reply to her ridiculous assertion might well have been unprintable.

On another point, although she admitted that the vast marginal deduction rates inherent in means-tested benefits have damaged social mobility, Polly continues to cleave to the useless and inefficient tax credits as a decent means of redistribution. And she totally refused to acknowledge that the destruction of the grammar schools have influenced social mobility in any way; nor did she grasp or even entertain the idea of privatising schools and funding them through vouchers—in emulation of the Swedish model of which she is so fond—could help either. This is essentially because this would remove schools from the dead hand of the state and would depoliticise them, and then what would she comment on?

Many bloggers have spent an inordinate amount of time fisking Polly—examples can be found at the assorted Carnivals of the Pollykicking #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6 and ...Again—and they have done so not only because of her coronary-inducing smugness, but also because it is so easy: her arguments are spurious and effortlessly-refuted (often by the correct quotation of figures that she has fiddled into the piece). In short, Pollyanna is one of the last people on earth that you would hand a positive award to.

Thus, I can only conclude that everyone else in the MSM is even stupider than Polly herself. Incredibly, our own dear statist fuckwit has won the Columnist Of The Year at the 2007 British Press Awards. [EDIT: story is now hereDK, 09/07]

What the fuck?

If we needed any proof of the Leftist sympathies and utter mediocrity of the British MSM, this surely must be the clincher although I must admit that handing the National Newspaper of the Year to The Observer would also go some way to confirming the rightness of one's utter contempt for the entire sorry industry.

UPDATE: Bookdrunk quite correctly points out that my accusation of a Lefty bias was probably rather unwise given the number of times that right-wing papers and columnists have won.
If there's one thing that bloggers who cover the media agree on, it's that there's plenty of mediocrity and outright hackery for the entire political spectrum.

Absolutely. Polly's still something special in the mediocrity department though.


Tony said...

Giving her that award defies belief. I suppose the journalist of the year will be Madeleine Bunting.

Justin said...

It's nothing to do with a 'Leftist' bias, DK. I'm from what laughably passes for 'the left' in this country but if Polly told me it was raining I'd look out of the window to double check. No, this is everything to do with the piss-poor nature of the competition.

Polly deserves to be inserted into a cannon and then the thing fired. The rest deserve a cannon inserted *into them* and then the thing fired.

Keir Hardie said...

Because, you half brained piece of cak encrusted shite wrapping, a columnists job is to get people talking.

Doesn't much matter what they're talking about. Get people talking. Get people writing. And, low and behold that's exactly what she has done and is doing.

You of all people should understand that one.

Devil's Kitchen said...


I can see that, but couldn't she do it without distorting the figures, contradicting herself within her articles, or just simply lying?

Or is a debate based on truth neither possible nor desirable these days?


Anonymous said...

I'm never quite sure whether the meeja actually believe us to be stupid (mind you third Labour government in a row, maybe they're not wrong!) or if they're all betting madly against each other to see who can print the most risible cobblers and have it accepted as reasonable or even as truth. A bit like Tracey Emin if you will, I bet she can't believe her luck, "WTF, they've bought it, hook line, sinker and cash!"

Larry Teabag said...

> motivated by the jealousy that so many Lefties resort to

How does this tie in with her house in Italy and all that?

will the last cockney leaving london please turn off the lights said...

Empty space on mantlepiece.

It was Polly's turn.

(Crowning point of career yaddayaddayadda...)

As simple as that.

ghost of michael collins said...

guido got totally rogered by newsnight tonight, after they dangled the carrot of a 5 minute self-produced documentary.

check out the comments on his blog and Iain Dales. but on the plus side, that Guardianista Michael White really came across as a total and utter self-serving New Labour twat with his snout deep in Prescotts pig trough.

Devil's Kitchen said...

Coincidentally, I'm watching it Newsnight at this very moment...


ghost of michael collins said...

not sure if they are astroturfer nu labour drones , but he got hammered in his comments tonight. including an appearance by somebody called "peter hitchens" who laid into him even more.

could go either way - some are saying that it exposed Michael White and the MSM for what they are, others are just saying that Guido was a twat for blurting out that Nick Robinson was a "source".

doesnt matter what the real story behind that was (i.e. Nick was NOT a secret source) - its just that Guido blurted it out under pressure. could go either way - guido destroyed by newsnight, or not. too early to tell. but blurting out "sources" like that - i dunno. doesnt exactly make one a figure of probity and integrity. and the MSM journos will give him a wide bearth after that.

we could well be seeing the first destruction of a blog by the MSM.

to be honest, i thought he was pretty stupid to take that BBC offer - what was he thinking? that they'd allow him to rubbish their entire reporting methods without some sort of backlash ? says to me that Mr Fawkes has poor judgement, unlike your good Devil self, of course.

ghost of john trenchard said...

further thoughts...

nick robinson gets symbolically "fired" by the bbc. nick gets lots of sympathy (drummed up by his friends in the MSM) about this. calls by the MSM to reign in "blogs". nu labour propose blog control laws to get rid of "unaccountable" bloggers.
given the nod by Brownstuff. and passed.

all in time for the next election

Keir Hardie said...

Utter and complete bollocks. One man's liar is anothers speaker of truth. It's a fucking stupid word to use and is so misused by bloggers it's no longer funny.

The truth is a precious commodity and especially so on blogs, including this one. And as for 'distortion', don't even try that one. You reckon this site is distortion free?

You may not like what she writes, hell I can't stand the execrable crap on this blog, and you're free to criticise, but don't bleat about distortion, lying and contradiction. She's doing precisely what's asked of her, and she's doing it pretty well if she's attracting you and many others to the GU site and the paper itself. Job done.

Devil's Kitchen said...


"One man's liar is anothers speaker of truth."

I'm afraid that that is complete and utter bollocks. Yes, her opinion may be different to mine and that may well be a personal judgement: however, her maniupulation of figures (as detailed extensively by Factchecking Pollyanna) shows her to be a liar.

If you reference x statistic in Paper y and say that the value is z, then if that value in Paper y is found not, actually, to be z, then you are a liar. End of story.

The truth is a precious commodity and especially so on blogs, including this one. And as for 'distortion', don't even try that one. You reckon this site is distortion free?

No, it's very far from being distortion free: I do make every effort to link directly to the figures that I cite and to cite them correctly. And I am not paid the (alleged) £140,000 that Polly is, and nor do I have an army of sub-editors to check.

You may not like what she writes, hell I can't stand the execrable crap on this blog, and you're free to criticise, but don't bleat about distortion, lying and contradiction.

It being my blog, I'll write precisely what I like; you do not have to read it.

And before you try to throw that back in my face, no, I don't have to read Polly either. But plenty of people do read her and believe her crap: I enjoy pointing out her logical inconsistancies, her contradictions and her manipulation of figures. I also view it as something of a public service.

She's doing precisely what's asked of her, and she's doing it pretty well if she's attracting you and many others to the GU site and the paper itself. Job done.

That is, of course, one argument. It isn't one that I would like to try to push.

To try to justify her dishonesty by saying that "she is just doing her job" is not only more than a little cynical, it's also untrue. Having seen her speak, I have no doubt that she believes the rubbish that she spouts but it is just that: rubbish.

For the British Press Association to give an award to someone who indulges in such manipulation of data and poorly argued articles merely proves my contention that they are all stupider than her.


Garth Marenghi said...

Spot on DK.

I have had arguments via email with Polly on the NHS, an area about which she pretends to know something; and I have to say having engage with her it is rather obvious that she is more like a politician than a good journo.

She knows f*ck all about what she writes, and is happy to cast her divine judgement on one and all.

I am no expert in everything, but I know more than most of the NHS.

You have to be very careful of people who proclaim to be experts in everything, as they are often experts in nothing and hence complete f*ckwits like Polly Toynbee.

A rubbish fairytale

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