Tony Blair: 'We've got a problem with the UK media' - Press Gazette

Tony Blair: 'We've got a problem with the UK media'

On the eve Tony Blair’s star turn before the Iraq War Inquiry, he has echoed his feral beasts speech condemning British journalists in an interview with the Sunday Times.

He told the paper: ‘We’ve got a problem with the UK media. They don’t approach me in an objective way.

‘Their first question is how to belittle what I’m doing, knock it down, write something bad about it. It’s not right. It’s not journalism. They don’t get me and they’ve got a score to settle with me. But they are not going to settle it.”

Two weeks before he stepped down as Prime Minister in June 2007, Blair delivered a scathing attack on UK journalism standards in a speech made at Reuters.

He said that increased competition, and the need for the media to deliver more and more ‘impact’is ‘unravelling standards, driving them down, making the diversity of the media not the strength it should be but an impulsion towards sensation above all else”.

And famously he said: ‘The fear of missing out means today’s media, more than ever before, hunts in a pack. In these modes it is like a feral beast, just tearing people and reputations to bits. But no-one dares miss out.”

Speaking to the Sunday Times Blair said that he gets a better press abroad these days.

‘It’s not true that nobody likes me. Reading the papers in Britain, you’d end up thinking I’d lost three elections rather than won them. There is a completely different atmosphere around me outside the country.

‘People accept the work that you are doing, as it is. They don’t see anything wrong with being successful financially and also doing good work. If I did what these people who criticise me here wanted, I’d end up sitting in a corner, but that is never going to be me.”

Tony Blair is due to appear before the Iraq Inquiry early in the New Year. A date for his evidence has not yet been given.

Writing in Press Gazette in 2007, veteran Lobby correspondent David Rose explained some of the reasons why Blair may have made himself unpopular with journalists.

He said: ‘Blair’s legacy is tarnished not just by what is now widely perceived as his misjudgement in going to war in Iraq, but in misleading Parliament, the media and the public about the military threat posed by Saddam Hussein…

‘Under Blair, spinning has come so embedded in Government that journalists genuinely now have difficulty at times in knowing when they are being told the truth.”

Author: Dominic Ponsford

Dominic Ponsford is the editor of Press Gazette