By Stephen Pollard
July 12, 2010
Oh dear; another one bites the dust.
I love Peep Show. And That Mitchell and Webb Look is usually very funny. So I wish I hadn't read David Mitchell's dreadful rubbish yesterday in the Observer, in which he demonstrated that, far from being thoughtful and intelligent, he is a caricature mindless lefty. The start of his piece is simply drivel:
Rupert Murdoch is a pretty uncontroversial figure among people I know. Everyone
agrees that he's a monstrous arsehole who wants to ruin everything for
everyone. Liberals who've reluctantly come round to thinking that
Margaret Thatcher might have had a point about the extremes of 1970s
trade unionism, that Kim Jong-il just feels excluded from the
international community and that Noel Edmonds is actually bloody good
at what he does are unswerving in their hatred of the Murdoch empire
and everything it stands for. This is the man Dennis Potter named his
cancer after and, to most of my friends, that seems about right.
this sums up all that is unrepresentative and self-serving about my
circle of acquaintance: like a smug and insular cult predicting the end
of the world and having sex with each other's children, we're holed up
with our certainties and only ever indulge in self-affirming
conversations. Or maybe we're right and Murdoch is a man whose
dedication to money is surpassed only by his enthusiasm for the
merciless elements of the political and economic rightwing and his
determination to bludgeon the British liberal establishment to
smithereens with the granite-hard, post-colonial chip on his shoulder.
Either way, I wasn't surprised to read, in all the places I usually read unsurprising things, that the Times
website's paywall is a horrible thing. Most of the criticism centres
around how it won't work: few web users will pay for something they're
accustomed to getting for free, particularly when they can still get
something very similar for free elsewhere. I'm perfectly willing to buy
that – as the former Times reader probably didn't say when confronted with the paywall.
prediction of failure is accompanied by rejoicing because it's a Rupert
Murdoch idea, so it must, of course, be evil. All that is necessary for
good to triumph, the reasoning seems to be, is for evil men to do
something stupid. And evil. But I don't think that everything evil men
do is evil, any more than the paywall's critics believe that everything
rich men do will make a profit. The Times paywall may fail as a business model, but that's the only problem I have with it.
As it happens, my own view is that Rupert Murdoch is one of the few genuinely great men of our times, a man who has done more to enrich our lives than any other single human being of the past generation and who should be a hero for his commitment to freedom.
But that's irrelevant. Mr Mitchell seems to think that if he starts off by admitting his circle's knee-jerk hatred of Rupert Murdoch and how "smug and insular" they are, that somehow makes it valid. It doesn't. Because what is truly offensive about his smarmy little piece is the casual description of Mr Murdoch as "evil".
Does he have no idea of the meaning of the word? Even if you think, as Mr Mitchell and his friends do, that Rupert Murdoch is indeed "a monstrous arsehole who wants to ruin everything for
everyone", why "evil"? Has he murdered a child? Has he murdered anyone? Has he embezelled pensions for his own benefit? Has he committed any crime? Of course not. He's run a media company whose products Mr Mitchell doesn't like - although you can bet your smug, liberal, ignorant fortune on the fact that if Sky came calling offering £20 million for Mr Mitchell for a TV series, he'd grab the money with his tongue hanging out drooling.
What a puerile, pathetic little man.