That leaves the rest of the magazine to annoy and pester — including, in the current issue, a piece by Nicholas Fraser. Fraser, who works for the BBC, defends the BBC. The article isn’t online — they’re practically giving the magazine away by mail, for crying out loud — but Harper’s + BBC = you know the story: We get a lede so over-upholstered in digressions that you could jump out of a fifth-story window, land on it, and walk away unharmed, and a side order of big-huge stats (BBC annual income: $6.5 billion, 28,000 employees, 82 years old, etc.). But then the predictable spiral: a novel dig at Lord Hutton’s report (“whitewash”), slams at Fox (“moronically celebratory”) and at CNN (“not…immune to the spirit of jingo”), with the amiable old Beeb shambling “along in the middle ground.” This leads to an anecdote using al Jazeera as a model of journalistic integrity, followed by an interesting question: “Who would…believe that a tax, the non-payment of which is punishable by a jail sentence, is the best way of subsidizing public liberties?” The answer: Guys who work for the BBC and write really long articles about it for Harper’s — that’s my guess. “The BBC is the last bastion of intelligent speech and therefore of mass intelligence,” writes Fraser.
Example of said intelligent speech: “The growing contempt or indifference with which most media are regarded is the truest symptom of the growing malaise of democracy in our time.” Exercise: Which word should be replaced by the word “journalism” in the preceding sentence?
Ummm, let me guess.