Saturday, April 04, 2009

idiots round the world stand hand in hand...

Now I want you all to go and read this outstanding article on the Daily Telegraph's real role in world journalism.

Essentially, it's become a crucial link in the global bullshit cycle. Like the water, nitrogen, and carbon cycles, bullshit circulates around the planet; some actors are bullshit sources and others sinks. The Telegraph's role is to receive bullshit from the Republican/wingnut welfare world, which is rather like the depression in Chad whose windblown dust fertilises the Amazon in this model, and print it when other media won't because it's too bullshitty.

Once it's published in London, however, other media can quote it without taking responsibility for it, therefore recirculating surplus bullshit from the UK back into the (shudder) mainstream media. Hey presto, arrant drivel has been converted into serious news. Come to think of it, perhaps I should drop the ecological metaphor; it's much more like the process of securitising, repackaging, and marketing crappy mortgages.

Originally made in the boom markets of the US, places like Florida (a rich bullshit source if ever there was one) these documents were sold to major banks in London, who categorised them by their likelihood of default and prepared them for resale. To sell, however, they had to all have a top credit rating, which was achieved by assuming that the risk of default on each was independent of the other, and then stuffing in more collateral until the expected value after the average default rate was equal to the face value. The resulting loan sausage, 30% "meat" and the rest rusks, phosphates, and water, was then sold....right back to the banks who bought it in the first place, as it turned out.

Similarly, the Telegraph takes on dodgy news stories, chops them up with some of its reputation, an anonymous source, and a dose of sensationalism, and sells the resulting collateralised drivel obligation (CDO) back to US investors at a profit. Eventually, however, the value of news-style product sourced from people like Michael Ledeen crashed, leaving major US newspapers holding gigantic portfolios of worthless drivel, which eroded their reserves of credibility to the point at which many have gone out of business.

It is widely presumed that the Federal Government will feel obliged to support newspapers deemed systemic, like the New York Times...but one hopes they don't try buying and rediscounting old scare stories in an effort to resume normal reporting. After all, this was tried in 2002-2003 with catastrophic results.


Anonymous said...

I've always felt that the Telegraph's reputation as a quality newspaper is preposterously overblown; as I sometimes say (partly in jest), it's no more than the Mail with a slightly greater vocabulary. And sadly, I can't say that the Times is much better.

Anonymous said...

The resulting loan sausage, 30% "meat" and the rest rusks, phosphates, and water, was then sold....right back to the banks who bought it in the first place, as it turned out.

You forgot "ash", a key component of dog food.

Anonymous said...

This isn't really new. Drudge's favourite source for a longtime was The Sun - I believe his original Lewinsky piece was sourced from them (Drudge is an ex-Murdoch journalist).

The Telegraph's "intelligence" "expert", Con Coughlin, has been the origin of many neo-con stories in the States originally floated by Drudge. He seemed to have his own private conduit into Ahmed Chalabi's forgery workshop.


Barry Newsdesk said...

Y'know, you can't believe a bloody word of it, any of it, even this. Especially this, in fact.

Beautifully crafted blog post Ranter. Lovely stuff.

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