In case you were getting discouraged by the state of the media in America, take a look at the newest ‘-gate’ to hit Britain: Pastygate.
Yes, that’s right: the Chancellor has added VAT to hot takeaway foods from places other than restaurants. Apparently this is unfair because Osborne hasn’t had anything from Greggs lately. This has ignited the popular press of the country, as well as launching new ad campaigns for pasty proprietors.
This in turn was followed by a predictable stampede of politicians to the local Greggs, Cornish Pasty Company, etc.
As the Economist notes:
Like a glacé cherry topping off a Greggs iced tart, the media day culminated with Ed Balls, the Labour shadow chancellor of the exchequer, inviting the television cameras to film him confidently striding into a branch of Greggs to order eight sausage rolls. These were not all for him it emerged (though he is a big chap, and in training for a marathon). Some were for the awkward, besuited southerner behind him who turned out to be his party leader, Ed Miliband.
But the Economist points out that this is all about class and the perceived end of British institutions. I can see that, I guess. The Greggs ad pointedly uses George Osborne’s real first name, Gideon, for instance. And the Daily Mail pretty much comes right out and says that Cameron is out of touch with normal people. This is veering pretty close to the dangerous ‘real America’ territory of Fox News.
But as a neutral observer, what I really see is further indication that The Thick of It is spot on in its depiction of the complete lack of control that politicians have over the media here. Unlike in the US, where the Right thinks there’s a ‘Liberal Media Bias’ and liberals know that Fox News is basically a paid propaganda arm of the Republican Party, in Britain it’s pretty obvious that no one in the media likes or has any respect for any political or governmental figures. Add to that newspapers’ desire to make anything into a scandal, and you have tabloid gold.
Fittingly this all emerged in the same week that The New Yorker ran a piece on Paul Dacre and the Daily Mail. But really, nothing says it better than the Daily Show.