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It’s not Jonnie Marbles who makes the news

July 19, 2011

By now a debate will be raging about the consequences of Jonnie Marble’s ‘action’ during the Media, Culture and Sport select committee hearings today.

If you missed it – maybe you were unconscious or something – Jonnie Marbles (allegedly a comedian) ‘pied’ Rupert Murdoch during the proceedings. When I say ‘pied’, he appears to have thrown a paper plate of shaving foam at the media mogul. This interrupted the questioning of Murdoch and his son, James.

Many are angrily denouncing Marbles, accusing of him of offering a distraction from the Murdochs’ apparent ‘wilful blindness’ about what was going on in their corporation.

But why should Marbles’s stunt distract from the substance of the day? Why should the news agenda be lead by a stunt by a little-known entertainer? Is the daily news agenda some sort of force of nature? Is it beyond human intervention?

News is a social construction, produced by organisations, peopled by editors and journalists.

Despite the apparent ignorance of the personnel at the centre of the phone hacking scandal – all seem to plead that they had no idea about what was going on during their watch – the news, and what appears in it, is the responsibility of individuals and institutions.

So, if you wake up tomorrow to newspapers and programmes that lead with Jonnie Marbles’s shenanigans and not with the evasiveness of the Murdochs, then that says more about the depressing stupidity and corruption of news organisations than the stupidity of Jonnie Marbles.

Jonnie Marbles’s tweet just before he attacked Murdoch
12 Comments leave one →
  1. Declan Surrey permalink
    July 19, 2011 7:15 pm

    I’ve actually followed him on twitter for a while; there’s also a youtube video where he plays a machine gun toting Pope (watch from about 3:10 onwards, he’s also credited at the end) : http://www­.youtube.c­om/watch?v­=Togdy1BRL­N8

  2. Strategist permalink
    July 19, 2011 9:49 pm

    It may have been the only thing that prevented today from being a complete waste of time.

    They have now denied everything, which will hang round their neck when proof that they did know gets out.

    Except they have destroyed all the incriminating email evidence and had the good luck of seeing the guy who had promised to reveal more details die with “no evidence of third party involvement and the death is non suspicious”.

  3. July 20, 2011 7:41 am

    They put the adjective “comedian” before his name but I’d never heard of him. They might as well put ‘sanitation worker’ or ‘dental hygienist’ before every name now.

  4. CharlieMcMenamin permalink
    July 20, 2011 10:03 am

    He’s from Windsor, and runs a website called ‘Anarchish’ which makes it almost impossible to resist the conclusion he’s a Trustifarian Tospot, with the political nous of Rick from the Young Ones.

    I’m not sure I agree with Strategist about the hearings being ‘a complete waste of time’. As I’ve argued elsewhere, James just kept blaming everyone else; Watson scored some brilliant points, and so did Philip Davies; they seem to have paid the legal fees for criminals; they failed to explain why the Taylor and Clifford settlements cost them so much money;
    and, surely, Rupert looked exactly like a old, tired but still dangerous mafia don. & I think they dropped Rebekah in the doo-do as well – her evidence went disgracefully unchallenged, but the Committee report tears her a new one. I think it was a win on points for Watson et al, but by a much narrower margin than would have been the case without the custard pie.

    My fear this morning is the country may suffer ‘Everythinggate’ fatigue.

  5. Strategist permalink
    July 20, 2011 12:18 pm

    Charlie, you’re right, there were chinks opened up that may turn into lines of inquiry that they can be nailed on as the inquiry processes grind on for the years to come (I think I heard on the radio someone say it could take 7 years a la Bloody Sunday inquiry).

    Or we won’t nail them in a court of law, because they’ve destroyed the evidence.

    All I meant was, that in either case, at least the old monster got flanned once before he went to his grave.

    In the court of public opinion, then I think the realisation of his great age would have gained him sympathy anyway, unflanned.

    What I find interesting is that the fact that they blatantly lied from start to finish about what they knew and didn’t know is so absolutely to be expected, it doesn’t get mentioned. I don’t think that the court of public opinion will make anything of that.

    Everythinggate fatigue is inevitable to some extent (greater media studies gurus than I on here will be able to tell us about the news cycle), but the hols start on Friday, and it’s not been a bad old climax to the school term. I think we should be pleased.

    Now we’ve got a week’s breather before the European and American banking systems collapse again, and time for Little Georgie to step up and save us all by nationalising the entire banking sector and closing down the great world casino. …Richard Murphy’s currently recommending we stock up on tinned food

  6. Rab permalink*
    July 20, 2011 2:58 pm

    ‘Rik of the Young Ones’ just about sums poor old Jonnie up. I was watching the events live and following it on twitter and was struck by how quickly the respectable Left (and I count myself among them) adopted its default position on such occasions – oh, the right wing press will have a field day with this – it detracts from the issues, blah, blah blah. We heard all this during the student demonstrations, that some how minor acts of violence undermine the key message of the protest.

    Two things:
    1. the right-wing press will spin these occasions to right-wing ends. It matters very little how well behaved the Left is. For instance, within minutes of Tom Watson’s interrogation, Janet Daley in the Telegraph was bemoaning the MP’s bulling of the octogenarian Murdoch.

    2. the public are not idiots and the press, whatever their complexion know this. Any paper or news agency trying to paint Murdoch as a victim or suggesting that the most important thing about yesterday was an attack upon his person by a ‘comic’ brandishing a foam, custard pie, will have no credibility. From a cursory glance at the front pages of a few papers today it looks like Marbles provided a few dramatic pictures to enliven turgid column after turgid column inches about what was s fairly muted, but not insignificant encounter at the Media, Culture and Sport select committee.

    3. the news industry and its processes are currently under the spotlight. This would have been a particularly ill-judged moment pretend that news is some how inevitable, that the actions of dickhead like Jonnie Marbles is what shapes news agendas. Power shapes news agendas. The pursuit of profit shapes news agendas.

    So if Jonnie Marbles had have been the story today and not Murdoch then we should have pointed accusing fingers at the news industry, because it would have been further proof of how piss-poor a lot of what passes for journalism is these days. It seems though that news editors and journalists were on their best behaviour.

  7. July 21, 2011 9:55 am

    Hello all – I’ve been thinking about the relevance of the select committee proceedings, too, given that there’s going to be a major judicial inquiry into this scandal. I can’t help conclude that it was nothing more than a face-saving, conscience-salving exercise by MPs (with a few honourable exceptions such as Tom Watson and Chris Bryant) who had to be seen to be doing something in the wake of the NotW phone hacking scandal. Let’s face it, what else did it really achieve? The three hour session revealed nothing that wasn’t already in the public domain and the only time the Murdochs looked at all ruffled was when they were attacked by a pie.

    So the irony in this whole debacle is that the Murdoch empire has been shaken not by the law or the democratic process it has so corrupted over the past 40 years but by good investigative journalism on the part of Nick Davies and the Guardian.

  8. July 21, 2011 10:51 am

    Rab/AA: I can’t speak for others of course, but in my case the huge irritation I felt at johnny marbles wasn’t becasue of the fear of how his actions might be used by the rightwing press but because I personally thought some of the select committee – Tom Watson and Philip Davies* especially- were actually getting somewhere. Their line of questioning wasn’t grandstanding, that is true- but they were following the money, the chain of events and the role of ‘corporate governance’, whilst very carefully avoiding anything the Murdochs could claim to be sub judice. They were laying a trail for the judicial inquiry.

    So I genuinely thought Marbles was a tosspot from my own perspective, not because he might discredit the cause as it were.

    *Mind:that Louse Mensch – she's a unpleasant piece of work, isn't she?

  9. Rab permalink*
    July 21, 2011 1:35 pm

    I think the whole select committee ‘confrontation’ was never going to live up to its billing. If you expected fireworks; if you anticipated the Murdochs providing a Scooby-Doo moment – caught bang-to-rights, shaking their fists and shouting, ‘…and we’d have gotten away withit if it hadn’t been for you pesky kids’ you were always going to be disappointed.

    I think I fancy Louise Mensch. She reminds me of Hermione Granger in Harry Potter… I’ll get my coat.

  10. Strategist permalink
    July 22, 2011 12:15 am

    >>”If you expected fireworks; if you anticipated… a Scooby-Doo moment – …you were always going to be disappointed.”

    Or, as Belle Le Triste put it on Blood & Treasure:

    “the only thing that wouldn’t seem like everything was stalling, shutting down, going backwards, was if Murdoch sprouted vast batwings, speared a bunch of MPs in each talon, and flew down into a flaming crack in the Earth screaming revenge.”

  11. July 22, 2011 10:57 am

    And only then would the police notice something amiss!

  12. Rab permalink*
    July 22, 2011 2:23 pm

    Someone on Twitter called into question the vigilance of the police at the hearing, asking how had Jonnie Marbles managed to smuggle a custard pie into the proceedings. They suggested that perhaps those on duty should have been stood down and replaced with school teachers, who have the almost supernatural ability to spot a diamond stud in the ear of a pupil at 100 yards. Now that is vigilant.

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