Feature

Blair—a farewell to the journalists who loved to hate him.

The week's news at a glance.

United Kingdom

Tony Blair has once again missed the point, said The Mirror in an editorial. Just two weeks before leaving office, the British prime minister took a potshot at the newspapers that so tormented him during his decade in power. The press “hunts in packs,” Blair said, “like a feral beast, just tearing people and reputations to bits.” He claimed that the intense competition from the Internet and cable had forced reporters to put sensationalism ahead of accuracy. “A problem,” he said, is portrayed as “‘a crisis.’ A setback is a policy ‘in tatters.’ A criticism, ‘a savage attack.’” How convenient for him to blame the reporters. In reality, it was Blair “and his army of spin doctors” manipulating the media who poisoned the relationship between the press and the government.

I am flattered, said Simon Kelner in The Independent. Of all “the multifarious British media,” this newspaper was the only one he mentioned by name, calling us a “viewspaper” and asserting that we mixed commentary in with our reporting. We won’t deny that we took a stance against the Iraq war—in fact, we’re quite proud to have done so. “After a decade of spin and counter-spin, of dodgy dossiers, of 45-minute warnings, of burying bad news, of manipulation and misinformation, we feel that the need to interpret and comment upon the official version of events is more important than ever.” And we can’t help but wonder whether Blair would have attacked our so-called bias if it had matched his own. Would he really have held up the Independent as the worst offender in journalism if the paper had backed his war?

Polly Toynbee

The Guardian

Simon Jenkins

The Sunday Times

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