Simon Walters and the small matter of context

This entry was posted on
Monday, May 21st, 2007
10:31 am and is filed
under The Political Weblog Movement.

Daily Mail – ‘Hitler’ Bush, by Whitehall’s jogging blogger: A former aide to Tony Blair has posted on his website an attack on the Prime Minister which compares President George Bush to Hitler. The attack, which has shocked Whitehall, appears on the outspoken, sexually explicit, website blog of £100,000-a-year civil servant Owen Barder.

Tim Worstall: Just one little point that might be worth mentioning here? All of the above, none of which is as remotely awful or incendiary as the Mail tries to portray, was in fact written while Owen was on a two year sabbatical (an unpaid one, by the way).

Chicken Yoghurt: When I was collating The Blog Digest last year, I asked Owen if I could include two of his posts in the book. He politely refused. I was disappointed but he explained that he was returning from his sabbatical to rejoin the civil service. This is not someone unaware or unmindful of his responsibilities as a civil servant.

Ministry of Truth: … what this amounts to is the Daily Mail dredging through two years of Owen’s material, almost all written while he was on an unpaid sabbatical from the Civil Service, and then using a few carefully selected comments, taken out of context, as the basis for a hatchet job full of gross distortions and misrepresentations to try and fuck him over.

Either Simon Walters is a complete idiot or he’s deliberately trying to blur the lines between past and present and/or original content and linked content.

Tim picks up on a few examples of this in his post and Unity has an added post here where he clean-sweeps another. The only contemporary example appears to involve Barder linking to this Guardian articlelike hundreds of other bloggers who thought it worthy of attention.

But before you swing into Newspapers vs. Blogs mode, please be aware that people like Dizzy and Praguetory (more) play these same games with context and prejudice.

PS – Today, we also have this:

Independent – Linda Grant: The ‘Mail’ turns on the charm: The readers of the Daily Mail are unfairly maligned, argues the title’s owner, Associated Newspapers, which has made a remarkable documentary film in its honour as the principal weapon in a remarkable charm offensive… So the Mail has undertaken an extensive research exercise aimed at changing perceptions of Middle England, with the hope that this in turn will overhaul the reputation of Mail readers themselves. Associated has even come up with a new name for Middle England – Modern MidBritain. The phenomenon has its own website,, which will soon be home to blogging, polling and questionnaires for a vast focus group of 8,000 Modern MidBritainers.

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