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Incoherent Cohen launches into tirade against entire media


11:15 pm - March 29th 2009

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From the George Orwell Awards discussion last week.

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1. Adam Barnyard

That’s unadulterated car-crash TV. Is he drunk?

2. Alex Plough

Instead of your crass and simplistic character assassination of this man, why don’t the mediators of this blog actually try to engage with some his arguments.

For all your lovely sounding egalitarian political values, this is how you treat someone who dares to question your objectivity?

Ad hominem arguments are cheap and petty, shame, thought this blog was better than that.

3. Adam Barnyard

Is Cohen coming here to defend himself too?
What’s there to engage with other than conspiracy theories of Brown getting Martin Bright sacked? He can’t even get agreement at G20, let alone pull any strings elsewhere.

He doesn’t know if it’s Combat18 or Combat88. Nuff said.

I can’t help this – but this is the funniest political video I’ve seen for ages.

Roughly, here is Nick Cohen’s “speech”:

This evening is a disgrace because my mate Martin Bright isn’t on this list!

Gordon Brown got him fired! And the leftwing media didn’t even cover it! Just goes to show they’re in league with fascists! Combat 88… or something!

And I hate Hitchens and Peter Oborne. And I’m pissed my mate Martin Bright didn’t get to the cut. I hate Jenny Abramsky too. The Liberal Establishment is shutting down journalists! It’s a conspiracy!

Orwell would have hated Jenny Abramsky! What on earth has all this to do with George Orwell? The BBC, Guardian and the Liberal Establishment have shut down all journalists! And my mate Martin Bright isn’t on this fucking list!

Peter Hitchens: at least I was sober when I was having a go at everyone last year.

Nick Cohen: You try and rail against lefties in the Guardian Hitchens! Have you ever done that? These people can get you fired!

It’s a long conspiracy rant, and frankly it’s Nick Cohen who is engaging in one long ad hominem against everyone on the liberal left. Hell, he could soon be doing Peter Hitchens’ job for him.

What a stupid fucking drunk twat.

Alex @2Instead of your crass and simplistic character assassination of this man, why don’t the mediators of this blog actually try to engage with some his arguments.

For all your lovely sounding egalitarian political values, this is how you treat someone who dares to question your objectivity?

Ad hominem arguments are cheap and petty, shame, thought this blog was better than that.

Well done Alex. You had me for a moment until I spotted the heavy irony.

It is meant to be ironic, right?

Please.

Good gracious. How many did he have?

This is the first time that Peter Hitchens has come across as the voice of sanity.

9. organic cheeseboard

And the leftwing media didn’t even cover it!

I find this the funniest claim of the lot. Bright’s departure was noted in the Media Guardian; Bright has never accused Brown of anything either. What was the media supposed to do? rely on the clearly lucid news source of Nick ‘combat 88’ Cohen?

In any case: the number of times nick cohen has mentioned the ‘conspiracy againt bright’ in ANY of his pieces, from January last year (when the Livingstone programme was aired) until early March this year (when Cohen put up a fairly incoherent blog post, relying on innuendo as ‘proof’ about it)?

Yes that’s right. zero.

And this week Cohen has the nerve to rail against the BBC because its standards of fact-checking are slipping. Maybe someone should ask him who fact-checked all the untruths conatained in ‘What’s Left’… and someone should really tell him to lay off the booze.

He’s clearly drunk and pretty incoherent, but actually I think he has a good point.

These are the Orwell Awards, and I assumed that meant some kind of commitment to celebrating what George Orwell is famous for. I do question why Peter Hitchens is on the shortlist for essentially writing the same tired cliched polemic for 20 years while Martin Bright – who like him or not very much embodies the Orwellian habit of saying things people don’t want to hear – is not (I have less of an issue with Peter Oborne). And while I don’t have an issue with Iain Dale personally, he may be a great blogger but he is not a great writer – surely the point of an Orwell Award for blogging is to encourage good writing?

11. organic cheeseboard

These are the Orwell Awards, and I assumed that meant some kind of commitment to celebrating what George Orwell is famous for.

It’s a problem with the name though, isn’t it? it’s an award for political writing, not an award for necessarily writing in the Orwellian tradition. Almost all the people who have won look terrible in comparison. I mean even Saint Martin Bright (not to mention Nick Cohen) overuses the word ‘fascist’ whch is considered a sin in Orwell’s school of thought.

That’s before we get to the question of whether any of these people genuinely ‘say things people don’t want to hear’. Cohen leftie-bashes everywhere he writes, and nowadays the majortiy of his writing is in right-wing periodicals, some of them pretty hardcore (eg Frontpage, where he praised the people who run it as ‘true patriots’ – how’s that for speaking truth to power?). Bright is now writing for the Spectator and his style hasn’t changed at all – it’s still mostly critical of labour and the British Left, despite his blog being called ‘dispatches from enemy territory’.

I think the blog award is a very bad idea. Nobody who has been nominated is an even vaguely good writer, though they might have the stamina to write endless blog posts.

I think also it might be difficult to get any consensus on what Orwell would have wanted, given just about everyone thinks it is ‘support my policies’. Previous shortlists have included Brian Sewell, Bromwin Maddox etc, so it’s not as if it’s a great departure this year.

I don’t recall calling Martin Bright a saint, merely that he is a stronger candidate than Peter Hitchens. Are you saying you disagree?

I agree that the name Orwell is problematic, but they do claim to be more than just an award for political journalism. To quote their website:

They are awarded to the book, and for the journalism, which is judged to have best achieved George Orwell’s aim to ‘make political writing into an art’.

14. organic cheeseboard

i was calling him saint martin jokily, befitting the martyr status which Nick Cohen seems to have afforded him.

In truth i’m not sure how much more deserving he is than Peter Hitchens. Neither of them seems to me to have made political writing into anything even approaching an art. Neither of them really even fulfil Nick’s idea of what being Orwellian is, which is writing contrarian stuff which opposes a caricature of the dominant political persuasion of the readership of the periodical one is writing in.

In essence I’m not sure what the Orwell prize is for. The best political writing in this country does not seem to be manifested by anyone even on the longlist. Perhaps they should expand it to include writing from across the commonwealth like the Booker does.

The left is always right!

I do question why Peter Hitchens is on the shortlist for essentially writing

Of course, but that’s not the point here 🙂

If Hitchens has been shortlisted, then it clearly is a liberal lefty conspiracy! and the Guardian is to blame!

But that isn’t Cohen’s argument Sunny.

Alex, you ask why we don’t engage with Cohen’s ideas.

We actually do try to. I have been sent a review copy of his recent book by his publicist for review on this site.

It’s completely incoherent rubbish, I’m having problems reading through the introduction without giving up in frustration.

It’s not that we don’t want to engage with people. It’s just that there’s nothing worth engaging with in the case of Cohen–he’s become a parody of himself.

See the last bit of the video – he actually asks Hitchens if he has ever written for the Guardian or the BBC and then, “these people can get you fired”!

Actually, there Nick Cohen isn’t too far off from Hitchens – who also blames all of the world’s ills on the vast leftwing conspiracy.

See the last bit of the video – he actually asks Hitchens if he has ever written for the Guardian or the BBC and then, “these people can get you fired”!

Well, if they do insist on employing you…but seriously: it’s almost as though Nick is waiting for the editor of the Observer to terminate his contract (fluffy white cat and pool of man-eating sharks optional) so he can say ‘I told you so – they’re all seven-foot tall lizards with death rays’ (in policing circles this is allegedly known as ‘suicide by cop’). Nick just needs a nice cup of tea – and a lucrative contract with, say, The Times (well it worked for that other heroic teller of things people don’t want to hear, David Aaronovich).

I did a piece on him a day or so ago – about how he is ‘left-wing’ but doesn’t agree with help out workers across the seas with stike action, how the BBC is – well – something – I dunno, and that bloggers are killing off those who speak the truth (Journalists) because editors make them tell the truth.

The man is a moron!

Troll “Instead of your crass and simplistic character assassination of this man, why don’t the mediators of this blog actually try to engage with some his arguments.”

Seeing as the modern Britiswh Conservative movement is increasingly turning itself into a version of the American Right wing, I don’t see the point in debating with liars, morons and hypocrites.

Instead of your crass and simplistic character assassination of this man, why don’t the mediators of this blog actually try to engage with some his arguments.

Cos they’re crass and simplistic?

Poor old Nick. Once quite a decent writer, if over-rated (particularly by himself), now seems to be free-falling away from reality at 100mph. Principles just don’t pay enough these days.

25. Shatterface

I’ll engage with Cohen’s arguments just as soon as I finish my tequilla. I’m all for levelling the playing field.

26. Alex Plough

Thats more like it, bit of healthy debate. Problem is I don’t know anything about Cohen, his writings or politics, so really can’t argue on those points.

I do agree with his assertion that Orwell would be dismayed by the toadying nature of the relationship between much of the media and political establishment. I havn’t seen many examples of its traditional fourth estate role in hold those in power to account.

Much of the mainstream media resembles a mouth-piece for department of propaganda (sorry ‘spin’). At the danger of sounding like a twatty student who has just read ‘flat earth news’ (which i am) take the Iraq war for example, who (apart from Gillingham) actually questioned and investigated the absurd govt claims about Saddam? *tumbleweed*

If you’ve think i’m mistaken then prove me wrong. Otherwise grow a pair and take on those lying, conniving reptiles called politicians.

Gillingham?

28. Alex Plough

Andrew Gillingham, bbc journalist plus only one questioned, investigated and exposed the ridiculous proposition that Saddam could attack the UK in “45 minutes”. A steaming pile of shit that the majority of the press happy gulped down and squeezed out for the public before a pat on the head from the Blair.

You mean Gilligan. Notorious sockpuppetter, Boris’s cheerleader in chief, right? Strange, I can recall the case for the war being heavily debunked in several media outlets, definitely the Independent, which is what I was reading at the time. Maybe I misremember, and Gilligan was the sole opponent. It sure as hell wasn’t Cohen.

I don’t know anything about Cohen, his writings or politics, so really can’t argue on those points.

Ah, see, therein lies the problem. Cohen is well known in this parish, as in previous places many of us hung out in.

Given your obvious dislike of the Iraq invasion (which I share), I recommend looking his stance on it up. While you’re at it, have a laugh at a) The Euston Manifesto (which he helped write and b) The Mornington Crescent Manifesto, which was a shorter translation into reality-speak.

30. Alex Plough

You may be right about the Indy and Gilligan may not have been sole opponent but he was the one who ultimately ‘stuck his neck out’.

One of the many things I admire about Orwell was although he was a committed socialist, which in itself I have nothing against and i see myself as leaning to left, he constantly challenged his beliefs and was never blinded by dogmatic political baggage, again, i’m sure people could argue differently. Tyranny of the consensus majority no matter where on the spectrum is a very limiting to any argument. That is the motive, if you like, behind my original post.

I will try and read those things if I get the time, thanks MatGB for the recommendations. Out of interest, what do most people in this ‘parish’ do? politics, journalism etc?

Oh, absolutely, that’s why I like Orwell too (although my old Marxist English teacher hated him as a Tory sellout…)

Of the main contributors, several journalists (Sunny and Cath write for the Guardian) or wannabe journalists, there’s an accountant, an IT manager, a couple lawyers, a barmaid, and a lot of people I can’t tell you much about.

Basically, Sunny got together a bunch of people who were already blogging or campaigning, and suggested a site where we could argue amongst ourselves but still come together on stuff we agree on might be a plan. I think he’s right, hence I’m here—I post less than I should, but I comment a lot.

There’s no “we all think this” line (I suspect some of the contributors like Cohen, but I reckon they’re a minority), and it’s very much a shifting coalition with some basic requirements.

Many of us are actively involved in politics (I’m chair of my local Lib Dem branch), but for a lot of different parties, or simply for campaigns or causes.

Meh, look at me, one line question, a billion paragraphs in the answer…

32. Alex Plough

I’m sure my preconceptions about the bloggers are unfounded and untrue, as they usually are. Its definitely one of the better blogs out there. Problem is you see the likes of Derek Draper and Paul Staines and assume all bloggers are like that.

I myself am a journalist student with spectacularly bad timing, so I hope my self-righteous sneers havn’t burnt all my bridges with possible employers. And as if to prove my Orwellian credentials, as much as I love the Lib Dems, they are my party of choice, I am writing a pretty damning article my local Lib Dem council.

keep up the good work

33. Alex Plough

By the way, if anyone wants to another twitter follower then just add me, screen name is Newshack.

you see the likes of Derek Draper and Paul Staines and assume all bloggers are like that.

Aye, the existing media narrative on what bloggers are and are about hasn’t really changed, just now instead of mocking they want to belittle.

Draper’s new to the whole thing, and is palpably an arse, Staines is at least honest about what he wants to be, wholly in it for himself and for the money, not interested in policy. He’s the diary/gossip column of a tabloid, nowt else.

They reckon between 5 & 10% of the UK population have a blog of some sorts–this is one of the best, if not the best, non partizan site, most are small scale with about 20 readers at best, but that’s good.

As for parties? I refused to have anything to do with the party in my hometown while they were in office–I campaigned for the MP but the Cllrs could get stuffed, absolutely useless. But they got wiped out at the last elections–wonder why. So don’t worry about attacking “your own side”, if they’re being useless, call em on it…

Oh–put your Twitter URL in as your site name, the only reason I don’t is I link to it in the sidebar of my journal.

36. organic cheeseboard

I do agree with his assertion that Orwell would be dismayed by the toadying nature of the relationship between much of the media and political establishment. I havn’t seen many examples of its traditional fourth estate role in hold those in power to account.

Cohen himself writes pieces that are essentially positive spin for policy exchange – he did so only the other week which is why he got so spectacularly pwned by Sunder.

I can understand seeing something in some of his comments, but the problem is that it’s a glaring example of drunken hypocrisy.

Much of the mainstream media resembles a mouth-piece for department of propaganda (sorry ’spin’). At the danger of sounding like a twatty student who has just read ‘flat earth news’ (which i am) take the Iraq war for example, who (apart from Gillingham) actually questioned and investigated the absurd govt claims about Saddam? *tumbleweed*

Have a look, as someone said up there, at Nick Cohen’s writings on Iraq. found in a certain periodical called the Observer – which was rather heavily featured in the Iraq parts of Flat Earth News…

By the way, that book deserves a prize.

37. Green Socialist

I’ve always prefered Leonard Cohen.

38. Charlieman

I’m a great fan of those “how to” guides that have supplemented the Guardian for a couple of years. Indeed, I saved up all of the “How to Draw” guides and sent them to Amy Whitehouse’s tattoo artist. Yesterday, I read the guide on “How to Write Journalism”.

The guide confirmed many of my prejudices about blog writers acting as newspaper columnists. I reckon that Unity, for example, would make a great researcher, but even the shortened posts here on LC are too blunt and wordy. The posts lose their reading compulsion too quickly. Few other bloggers have found a voice, and I am dubious about those shortlisted for the Orwell Prize for them.

James Graham’s quote from the Orwell Prize site that “They are awarded to the book, and for the journalism, which is judged to have best achieved George Orwell’s aim to ‘make political writing into an art’” deserves special emphasis. It is a really high benchmark, so perhaps a more sober Nick Cohen might have proposed that you only give the award for something worthwhile — as journalism and as fine writing.

Regarding Nick Cohen’s incoherence, I doubt whether that was the three minute speech that he had prepared. Perhaps somebody wound him up during the pre-event cocktails and he forgot the rule that Anger + Booze = Twice as Drunk. His argument about sacking journalists is immediately contradicted by the BBC’s continuing employment of contrary presenters such as Paul Mason. Although, as Mason writes, “I was one of the first bloggers on the BBC. On and off I’ve been shooting from the lip here since July 2005 – as far as the BBC editorial rules will let me.”

39. Jonathan Best

Incoherent? No he’s not. He’s perfectly coherent. Even if you don’t agree with him. Which, on the whole, I do.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    New post: Incoherent Cohen launches into tirade against entire media http://tinyurl.com/dyc2ao

  2. Liberal Conspiracy

    New post: Incoherent Cohen launches into tirade against entire media http://tinyurl.com/dyc2ao

  3. Morning roundup, Monday 30th March 2009: EXPRESS EDITION - Common Endeavour

    […] Liberal Conspiracy also have this YouTube starring Nick Cohen at the Orwell Awards, whom the chaps at LibCon have euphemistically described […]

  4. Patrick Hussey

    http://www.liberalconspiracy.org/2009/03/29/incoherent-cohen-launches-into-tirade-against-entire-media/ this is good stuffAntics at Orwell#s





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