I had a genuinely sick feeling in my stomach as I looked through the newspaper front pages this morning. The Guardian: Clegg weathers the storm. The Express: Cameron wins with passion. The Times: Cameron nicks it (changed, as we saw here from an earlier Neck and Neck). The Sun: the Cam back kid. And the Mirror: One foot in the Dave.
There was only one event, right? How then is it possible that our national press can reach several entirely different conclusions, and print them on their front pages as if they are fact? This isn’t a football game with a score at the end. Journalism is surely about reporting the facts, not just reporting what you feel like.
And the blatant editorialising by some newspapers in particular is not doing them any good, and may even end in further damaging an already suffering industry. The Daily Mail seems to be imploding with rage and frustration; the rabid froth and fury is audible from each page, making it an even less attractive read than usual.
Murdoch’s empire appears to be similarly going a bit mad, with reports this morning that James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks went completely beserk and headed over to the Independent just so they could have a good shout at the editor over an ad he’d run criticising them. Counsellors and happy pills are on hand, we sincerely hope.
Meanwhile over on the internet people are just finding their own voices. The group of people who used a Facebook campaign to get Rage Against the Machine to number one back at Christmas have now inspired* a Facebook campaign to get the libdems to number ten. They’ve already got 140,000 members and are notching up 1,000s more daily. In fact the Lib Dem Facebook page itself has more members than either Tory or
Twitter sends political memes darting around the net more quickly than Mail editor Paul Dacre can shout “Bring me Nick Clegg’s head on a plate!” Political websites like Liberal Conspiracy and Guido Fawkes are more nimble, less monolithic, and having a fantastic time keeping up with it all.
The Daily Mail-o-matic has temporaily rejigged itself so that all headlines feature Nick Clegg (“Is Nick Clegg killing homeowners” is my favourite so far). In short, the situation is running away from the newspaper men, and they just can’t stand it.
In the last week and a half, as the spring breezes whirl through the UK, we have suddenly smelt something else new, a situation where the voters – rather than a small collection of white middle-aged men in bunkers in London – might actually choose a leader.
Politics, man. Quite interesting, after all.
*UPDATE: News comes the original RATM campaigner Tracey Morter, who tweets: