FOX News Lite on its first major mission

This entry was posted on
Tuesday, January 30th, 2007
7:09 pm and is filed
under The Political Weblog Movement.

Oh goodie.

Paul Staines: Iain Dale has a piece on Doughty Street TV tonight about the Smith Institute which explains why they should lose their charitable status.

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know why this is the very definition of ‘fair and balanced’ (as we understand it to be in the 21st century).

The magic words ‘Policy Exchange’ haven’t appeared on Staines’ website in the last 3 days… and I doubt they’ll appear tonight on 18 Tory Street.

UPDATE (31 Jan) – 18 Tory Street failed to load properly for me last night, but the report in question is now live here. I’ll watch it later… after breakfast has settled.

Iain Dale on 18 Doughty StreetUPDATE (31 Jan) – Has the Smith Institute abused its position? Has 18DoughtyStreet abused its position?

OK, I’ve watched the report. It’s basically a re-hash of everything ‘Guido’ has published, along with an interview with a Tory MP who has decided to take action… based on what ‘Guido’ has published:

1 – Where in this report does Iain Dale inform the viewers that he is a trustee for the very similar charity-slash-independent-think-tank, Policy Exchange?

Ministry of Truth: In the case of the Smith Institute, one can at least point to two of its Trustees who could be considered to be non-partisan; Anglican Archbishop John Sentamu and cross-bench peer, Baron Joffe. In the case, however, of Policy Exchange, not a single one of its Trustees can, on the information available, be clearly identified as being non-partisan or independent of the Conservative Party.

2 – You could check for yourself (perhaps I blinked and missed it), but finding such an important declaration would have been easier with a transcript of the report. It would also be nice to be able to make a comment under the report, but 18 Tory Street doesn’t allow you to do that.

(How is this interactive telly, Iain? Because you read emails live on air from time to time? Hell, even Richard and Judy do that.)

3 – But let’s get back to the main point… this report appears to be compromised in the extreme by the reporter’s own agenda and his undeclared interest(s). Don’t those who watch this report deserve to know about such things?

4 – On the face of things, ‘Guido’ seems to agree. After all, he’s not above stamping his little feet over ‘nepotism’ and ‘bias’ on the BBC. Sadly, ‘Guido’ has failed to lay into Iain Dale for his (ahem) unfortunate oversight, *and* there still appears to be a blanket-ban on use of the words ‘Policy Exchange’ on the Guido Fawkes website.

5 – One thing Iain Dale has to his credit is a slightly more honest/open comment policy than Paul ‘Guido’ Staines. Got a question to ask? Fire away.

UPDATE – To. Be. Read. In. Full…

Ministry of Truth – Fox News Lite on the Smith Institute

UPDATE (1 Feb) – I had to press for it, but I finally got an answer out of Iain Dale.

He did not declare in interest in his report because he thought then (and still thinks now) that the following was ‘irrelevant’:

Iain Dale published an ‘investigative’ report on one think-thank that operates as a charity (and may or may not have undue political leanings toward the Labour Party) when he is a trustee for another think-thank that operates as a charity (and may or may not have undue political leanings toward the Conservative Party).

Dale stood as a Conservative candidate in the last election, and he is on the ‘A-list’ for the next.

Here I direct you to Section 5 of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code and the reason why Iain Dale doesn’t need to worry about such things.

UPDATE (1 Feb) – BSSC – The Questions Iain Dale Should Answer: Personally, I have no interest in playing down the Smith Institute story or diverting attention away from it. My view is that both main parties sail very close to the wind when it comes to their relationship to “independent” think tanks. This is about something else… when Iain Dale, Conservative A-lister and trustee of the “independent” Policy Exchange, Cameron’s favourite conservative think tank, makes lots of noise on the interwebs about Brown’s overly close connections to an “independent” charity while failing to mention his own connections to a very similar organisation with very similar connections to the boy wonder, I’m inclined to believe that it wasn’t a great day for standards of openness and transparency in political life on the interwebs. I am, rather, inclined to think about pots and kettles, glass houses and dirty tricks.

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