This is, basically the special pleading of old media when confronted by new media
. You could read essentially the same critique of the scurrilous pamphleteers taking advantage of that newfangled ‘movable type. No accountability, no responsibility – no filters between what we, the press, know and what you, the public, should be allowed to find out. Funnily enough, I’m broadly sympathetic with Alibhai-Brown’s point of view – the bottom half of the internet is not always a particularly pleasant place, and there are very few sites (politicalbetting
is the only one that springs to mind) where the comments are as much worth reading as the posts themselves.
But in her assault on the morals and integrity of Guido (certainly a hittable target), she rather drops a brick. Because it is now undeniable by all but the most Luddite commentators that the blogosphere (still a ghastly neologism) has its uses. Specialist technical blogs, voices out of Iran or China, and even the breaking of true public interest political stories: all of these are the ‘right sort of blogging’, unlike the prurient Guido, who clearly stands for the ‘wrong sort of blogging’. But look at the examples of proper political stories to break she uses:
Some personal decisions do reflect on public life and probity. It is perfectly legitimate to bring them to the surface – the Italian dealings of Tessa Jowell's lawyer husband, say, or Lord Ashcroft's undeclared money matters, the underhand methods of Alistair Campbell or revelations about mistresses working for their Parliamentary lovers.
Now, despite the lack of any real evidence, the story Guido was pushing, shorn of its innuendo and euphemisms was a purported revelation about a ‘mistress’, male in this case, working for his Parliamentary lover. According to Yasmin that’s exactly what political blogging is for – so why the outrage?