I was tickled to see my Twitter chum Ellie Gellard plastered across a couple of right wing rags this morning. As something of a celebrity in political tweeting circles, Ellie was chosen to front Labour's manifesto launch yesterday.
But intrepid investigative reporting at the Mail and Telegraph has unearthed some of Ellie's old comments that were less than complimentary about the great helmsman. But even worse she said some nasty things about Thatcher (the Mail article is particularly special thanks to rent-a-quote outrage from the ever-execrable Tory Bear). Horror of horrors!
The poor man's Guido reckons this is proof positive Ellie is a "PR disaster waiting to happen". For the Daily Fail "the row ... threatened to overshadow Labour's manifesto launch." And not to be outdone, the Torygraph thundered "and photographs have emerged of her drinking champagne." Desperate, desperate stuff.
Those responsible for writing this nonsense probably think they've landed a blow for the Tories. The right wing press and desperate Tory wannabes still think what gets medialand (which includes blogging and tweeting) excited resonates in the real world. But it increasingly doesn't, and particularly not when the media cycle is running at full pelt during a general election campaign. For example, remember the Labour cancer leaflet scandal? Two days ago it was all over the news. Today there's nary a mention, and who will remember come May 6th?
This isn't to say the media has zero effect on consciousness - its influence is most keenly felt where audiences have little or no direct experience of the people/organisations/phenomena the media are targeting, and where it chimes with long held prejudices and values. But ephemera like the Ellie "scoop" is a complete waste of time. At best most will see it for the election season silliness it is, but for others this and stories of its ilk will feed into the generalised anti-politics mood and could widen the gap between political and media elites on the one hand and everyone else on the other.
While this is not a healthy situation for socialist politics, it can't be all bad if it helps drive down the circulation of a couple of hateful Tory rags.