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that ‘democratic deficit‘.

“the Iraq war – and, most importantly, the way in which he kept his EU colleagues in the dark as he deliberated with then US president George Bush – has left a sour taste and bad memories.” [Mark Hennessy, Blair’s crowning as EU president is no sure thing, The Irish Times, 28/10/09]

The professional journalist must detach him or herself from the subject and report only the facts in the name of objectivity and balance. Mark Hennesy today in the Irish Times accomplishes this task spectacularly well, describing the power game (read: school yard politics) between Europe’s political elite as it relates to Blair’s EU presidency bid.

At the very same time, Hennessy highlights the enormous gulf between this elite and the populations they purport to represent. Here, in the case of the Iraq war, a mere footnote to Blair’s legacy, according to Hennessy at least, the fact other leaders weren’t ‘in’ on the secret fabrication of a case for war is the sticking point, not the war itself. A view completely at odds with European public opinion, which was at the time of the deliberations and remains to this day opposed to US / UK military aggression against Iraq.

This kind of reporting envisages democracy as nothing more than a spectator sport. The news reader, the avowed ‘Irish Times reader’ anyway, is privy to the inner workings of politics, but there’s little suggestion that he or she should actually be involved in it – in contrast to the style of reporting favoured on those rare occasions where public opinion is required by some constitutional anomaly. In effect then, ‘objectivity’ and ‘balance’, is actually a system of information control just as, if not more, effective (or corrosive depending on your point of view) as  the derogatively termed ‘campaigning’ journalism of the likes of John Pilger.

Thankfully, the other way still appears from time to time.

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