The Independent: A System of Outdoor Relief For The Idle Rich 26


On the very rare occasions I see a copy of the Independent, I am always vaguely perplexed that it hasn’t gone out of business yet. Any paper that can employ Robert Fisk, but still be mind-numbingly dull, is doing everything wrong. Almost all of its journalists are third rate. Try to name off the top of your head something, not by Robert Fisk, that you first learnt of as sourced to the Independent?

But it is the truly abysmal quality of its columnists which I find positively enraging. They seem to be a collection of people the editor might have met at a social function at a minor public school in Surrey.

Bruce Anderson is the worst kind of saloon bar bore, convinced of his own authority. I am not a violent man. If Tony Blair were to walk into the room now, I would merely harangue him vigorously. But something about Anderson’s immense air of self-satisfaction leads me to wish to know just how spongey it would feel to dri ekistans-notorious-dictator-and-married-into-one-of-the-nations-wealthiest-families-but-her-bitter-divorce-could-derail-americas-war-on-terror-now-she-tells-her-story-for-the-first-time-578321.html”>http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/she-is-the-jetsetting-daughter-of-uzbekistans-notorious-dictator-and-married-into-one-of-the-nations-wealthiest-families-but-her-bitter-divorce-could-derail-americas-war-on-terror-now-she-tells-her-story-for-the-first-time-578321.html

That was just disgusting, and Dejevsky and the editor should have been sacked. What next:

” At home with Eva Braun. Is she just a misunderstood girl who bakes pretzels for the man who loves her?”

But for sheer empty-headed uselessness I give you Sarah Sands. This column is quite possibly the worst bit of writing anybody has ever actually paid for:

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/sarah-sands/sarah-sands-when-the-going-gets-tough-the-cheap-get-going-1693505.html

Who would think that worth publishing? Who is she shagging, or related to? What a column:

“Graduate employment is very high this year. The thing my wealthy friends do is to work for nothing for a few years, to worm their way into the company. But that might be hard for the poor. Poor dears, whay do they do? Another of my friends – did I mention he was very wealthy – hadn’t got a job, so he used some of his money to set up a language college and employ poor people as tutors. Clever him!”

“We’ve got pots of money, so my teenage son and his friends can afford villa holidays all by themselves! But villa owners won’t hire out to teenagers! That is a major social problem”.

I don’t blame Sands – she plainly can’t help being an unpleasant drivelling arsehole. But what fuckwit of an Editor thinks that is worth commissioning? Absolutely anybody can immediately find literally thousands of more interesting and apposite articles, for free, on blogs.

Finally I bring you the creepy Dominic Lawson, full time propagandist for the Security Services. This family failure had so many advantages in life, that had he the slightest hint of talent he would have been doing something more high-powered that feeding the MI6 line to a failing newspaper.

A great man of the people, our Dominic. He thinks that what people want to read about today is jolly anecdote concerning Lord Lamont quoting Winnie the Pooh at the Garrick Club:

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/dominic-lawson/dominic-lawson-politics-should-be-more-like-a-gentlemens-club-not-less-1694538.html

I appeared on a Radio progamme with Lawson a few years ago. He said that he was reliably informed by government sources that I was not telling the truth and that the UK did not receive intelligence from torture. He also said that I had no evidence that the intelligence from Uzbekistan came from torture, or that the CIA was employing torture.

The British government have finally admitted they use intelligence from torture, as shown in Phillippe Sands’ and my own evidence sessions before parliament. The US government has admitted the CIA was employing torture.

It is also thus proved that Dominic Lawson is just a paid liar for the establishment.

With its clear editorial line against the Iraq War – and I should mention Joan Smith as a decent columnist – the Independent had a chance to make it. But employing a gang of rambling nutters as columnists, apparently in the interests of political balance, has destined it for the bin. I do hope that other editors will learn the lesson from the fate of the Indie, and not employ any of these idiots.


26 thoughts on “The Independent: A System of Outdoor Relief For The Idle Rich

  • Anwer

    Spot on Craig – I have never worked out how the ‘Indy’ actually stays in business?

    The same applies to The Express???

    You forgot to mention the worst non-entity on the paper: Yasmin Alibhai Brown.

    What is FISK doing there????

  • Richard

    Sorry OT but the Bitch from Redditch has gone – whey hey hey hey hey hey! And perhaps another hey for good measure. Whadda day – what a glorious day.

  • JimmyGiro

    It makes me feel glad I can’t read and write.

    I often look at this site:

    http://www.newsnow.co.uk/

    The site lists all the news articles that people are currently linking to via their browsers; it’s updated every 5 minutes.

    After a few days perusal in the current affairs section, you will get a gist of what net-linked publications the on-line community bother to read, hence what broadsheets are more popular than others.

    I see more Times, and Guardian articles than Independent. I even see some of yours listed there Mr. Murray.

  • Jon

    I view the lack of conviction and content in the “liberal press” as a systemic failure, rather than an individual problem of the Indie employing rubbish hacks (though you were right about the Sands piece). (Anti-war) principle doesn’t sell particularly well, which is why the Mirror regarded its initially anti-Iraq war view as a mistake – they lost readers. Were they perhaps fighting against the propaganda and jingoism of their own readers?

    Newspapers which generally take conservative positions are at least compatible with the capitalist model, but the ones (such as the Indie) that might take a brave stance on progressive issues realise that it is expensive to do so. Anti-establishment views are more expensive to defend, and in any case, the establishment clique are precisely the kind of people who become (Indie) journalists anyway, so the radicalism becomes more muted and infrequent.

    So I rarely buy the Indie or the Guardian, and the BBC meanwhile regularly shames itself (witness the appalling bias in its decision over the Gaza Appeal). I subscribe to Media Lens instead, to incrementally try to improve the quality of liberal media output. Perhaps one day the Indie will be so full of worthwhile content they won’t have space for Ms Sands!

    I do have to put up a spirited defence for Yasmin Alabhai-Brown though. On my wall I have an Indie cutting of her piece, “Our crimes in Iraq must not be forgotten”. For me it stands as a testament to the fact that serious, searching journalism is still possible (see hyperlink for online version).

  • lwtc247

    “leads me to wish to know just how spongey it would feel to drive a fist into his fat face.” – LOL

    Give into the dark side. Mu haha ha ha.

    w.r.t. Anderson/Blair summary justice, we stand as opposites.

  • paul

    Ive wondered why Fisk is allowed to write in a newspaper for a long time. If his colleagues are all so useless that sacking him would finish the paper, that goes some way to explaining it.

  • Sabretache

    I agree with the examples you quote but, as British MS Newspapers go, The Independent is just a shade less an Establishment mouthpiece than any of the others – including (perhaps especially) the Guardian IMHO anyway. I especially agree with you about Dominic Lawson and his ‘status’ as pompous talentless shill for our SIS’s.

    However, the Indy does occasionally produce good stuff from people other than Fisk – Johann Hari is a case in point. Here are links to two of his recent features – both well worth perusing:

    The Dark Side of Dubai: http://tinyurl.com/cgwa9q

    You are being lied to about Pirates: http://tinyurl.com/9h7cq9

    Personally I haven’t bought a British newspaper for just over 5 years now and as a result am far better informed about the real world (as opposed to the Establishment interpretation and narrative of it) than I have ever been.

  • Abe Rene

    Whom did Gulnara Karimova murder, or have murdered?

    Was the article ‘disgusting’ because of her loyalty to her dictator father? But should children of villains be expected to denounce their parents?

  • Sabretache

    I agree with the examples you quote but, as British MS Newspapers go, The Independent is just a shade less an Establishment mouthpiece than any of the others – including (perhaps especially) the Guardian IMHO anyway. I especially agree with you about Dominic Lawson and his ‘status’ as pompous talentless shill for our SIS’s.

    However, the Indy does occasionally produce good stuff from people other than Fisk – Johann Hari is a case in point. Here are links to two of his recent features – both well worth perusing:

    The Dark Side of Dubai: 7 April 2009

    You are being lied to about Pirates: 5 January 2009

    Personally I haven’t bought a British newspaper for just over 5 years now and as a result am far better informed about the real world (as opposed to the Establishment interpretation and narrative of it) than I have ever been.

    PS – The original of this was held up – presumably because of the links again – with an annoying message to the effect that this was my first comment!!! I this behaviour and the inability to post links a total turn off from commenting here FWIW

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Yes, Bruce Anderson is an ijeut and Dominic Lawson, well, yes, he’s as SIS as they come.

    Yet I think Sabretache has a point.

    Boyd Tonkin is an excellent writer on literature, Johann Hari pens superb pieces and I while I know that not everyone agrees with everything Yasmin Alibhai-Brown writes, it’s very good that she’s up there, saying sometimes controversial things about power elites and receiving multiple death threats as a consequence.

    Okay, I admit as a declaration of possible conflict of interests in thsi particular discourse, that I’ve written book reviews for the Independant, but that in itself is interesting – it is the only London-based national newspaper which has allowed me to do this and published the often highly politically contextualised reviews, unchanged.

  • Dead Wood Press

    The Independent is owned by “Sir” “Dr” Tony O’Reilly.

    If you think it’s bad you should try the Irish Sunday Independent which employs as columnists the most useless bunch of right-wing neo-con crackpots ever gathered in one place.

    Unsurprisingly the Sindo is something of an Irish national joke, but thankfully O’Reilly’s company is losing loads of money and will shortly be unable to further stain public debate with its noxious dribble.

  • KevinB

    Right on regarding Anderson. A pig.

    ….and Lawson, the MI6 stooge.

    ….but isn’t Joan Smith very nearly as irritating?….well, she is to me.

    I stopped buying The Independent about four years ago when I suddenly realised that evil could not be attributed to random conflicts between classes, nations, races and religions……

    ……..that evil was not unorganized, a default mode due to human fallibility…..

    …….that the “War on terror” was bogus and that evil was highly organised……

    ……and, worst of all, that the government, media & the education system (including myself)were actively sabotaging society by implementing all manner of phoney agendas, the only purpose of which is to support and entrench the interests of a real but largely unseen power elite.

    F*ck all these people…

    …..and particularly those like Anderson, Lawson and all the rest that are paid to defend the (thankfully) crumbling shibboleths that enslave us.

  • Vronsky

    I once bought the Independent religiously every day, when it seemed that they were right on top of the “Blair is a lying bastard” topic. Then they seemed at some point to give up on it, and I felt that we (the people) were somewhat to blame. Blair should have been hung, but none of us seemed to have any rope. So I excuse the Indy a little.

    The other (probably fatal) mistake they made was to make their online copy accessible by paid subscription only. Their big asset was Fisk, they knew it, and they tried to lock it up and hawk it. People consequently stopped reading their online edition, and as a result became less disposed to buy the print version.

    Hari supported the attack on Iraq. Nuff said – pundits don’t get much thicker than that.

  • Alsaid

    Patrick Cockburn

    Patrick Cockburn

    And Patrick Cockburn deserve to be mentioned here.

    When in the UK, I only buy the independent and that is because of it’s opposition of Iraq war.

  • Abe Rene

    Actually this business of columnists writing rubbish is a reason for feeling good: it means that columnists who obtain their high-paying jobs for unworthy reasons (like being members of wealthy circles) are liable to end up as a part of failing newspapers. Ah, it’s so good when Justice prevails..

  • glenn

    I’m amazed nobody has mentioned Howard Jacobson yet, the most pompous, stuffy, bigoted bore on their payroll by a long way.

    I thought his vacuous, self-aggrandising blatherings were bad enough until his pro-Zionist rantings started , as an apologia to the latest war atrocities by Israel. Indeed, anyone _not_ cheering on the destruction of Gaza and gladly welcoming each announced death was – by definition – a holocaust-denying anti-semite.

    *

    Joan Smith lost me with her trilling over John “insane” McCain at the US elections. This “straight-talker”, this “maverick”, this no-nonsense “war hero” was going to “straighten out Washington”. Yes indeed. She’d climbed about the “straight-talk express”, been entertained by this wonderful old huckster at (one of) his gardens with fellow press groupies, and rolled over for her belly to be tickled.

    *

    Then there is Rupert Cornell, who pretty much allows American right-wing talking points to write his articles for him.

    But let’s not forget Patrick Cockburn, who at least is a real reporter of considerable courage. There are other honourable mentions too.

    -Glenn.

  • anon

    Why?

    The country is running on an empty tank on a bankcrupt system of interest speculation supported by a love-in between the two main political parties.

    Their sweet-talk is directed to eachother, not to you.

    So why disturb them?

    The rats are leaving the ship and the opposition are not going to board a ship which they can see the rats deserting.

    It is so confusing for these supposed to be ambitious fools, who haven’t got a clue what to do now that their god, the market, has deserted them.

    The forward youth that would appear Must now forake his muses dear.

    This is a time for action and revolution, not dreaming in the columns of dull newspapers.

  • Apostoli

    Isn’t The Independant sharing offices with The Express or The Mail to cut costs?

    Aren’t they part of an Irish media group about to go belly up?

    Fisk and Hari are the only worthwhile writers IMHO.

  • Stevie

    The Mark Steel columns on the odd Wednesday are also quite entertaining. There was a time when The Independent and The Mirror were the only mainstream papers pushing the case against war in Iraq, but now they’ve both gone relatively quiet on the issue. The Indee would definatley benefit from some fresh new commentators. I hear the former Ambassador Mr Craig Murray is quite an entertaining and learned commentator with quite a following…

  • Jon

    @Bob – Hari’s been mentioned a few times on this thread. However he supported the Iraq war despite the obvious lies and legal short-circuits, I think based on it being “the right thing to do” (i.e. the Blair doctrine). He has since changed his mind and regrets cheering it on, I believe, but is that any defence after the damage has been done?

  • Daniel Simpson

    I hold no brief for Johann Hari, and find some of his work grating (and his pre-war position incomprehensible, except in terms of wanting, as Jon suggests, to be seen to be “anti-bad stuff”, and naive enough to imagine that a U.S.-led invasion could further that cause).

    However, I think it is a defence to admit to being wrong, and I’d be surprised if he bought a similar line in future. He was in his early 20s back then, I believe. Not that age itself need determine much, but experience can help reveal how things work.

    There’s a lot to be said for employing only columnists who do primary reporting too (a la Fisk), or something else to develop a detailed body of knowledge, as opposed to a collection of blowhards who’ll use you as a mouthpiece, unwitting or otherwise.

Comments are closed.