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After Murdoch and Son went before the Commons committee last year their business operations took a bit of a bashing. Since then, behind a veneer of contrition, the old patriarch has taken barely disguised umbrage as he makes noises about turning his back on the UK. He speaks like it would be our loss but I don’t think so. At the very least we might then be a step nearer to getting shot of what passes for news in this country courtesy of the tabloid rags.

Evidence this week a horrible interview in the Scottish Sun with violinist Nicola Benedetti. It was a particularly odious example of the junk I wrote about before, setting aside an artist’s achievement in favour of salacious commentary on her sexuality. Besides being talented and articulate Nicola also commits the crime of having beauty attributes and is thus fair game in the eyes of a sleaze-bag journalist.

I’m guessing there will be a few Sun readers who are begrudging of such qualities in a woman especially one who is successful in an art-form with associations to elitism. I think the article speaks to that resentment by reducing an exceptionally gifted musician to a piece of ass.

In a way this is worse than a blatant attack. While appearing frivolous it is actually insidious. It demeans a person whose attainments might otherwise be cause for celebration. Of course this is the way of gutter hacks whose mission involves pulling outstanding individuals down, well aware that in the darker recesses of the human psyche there is an appetite for such stuff.

Benedetti herself didn’t seem too fussed and waved the thing aside on Twitter as a mild annoyance. That was the right response, leaving others to file their indignations. The Scotsman made light of it too taking a jokey swipe at the new “appearance based criticism”.

For me and many others the whole business has a more sinister edge representing as it does the corrosive influence of tabloid journalism more generally, a scourge on society that is moronic, regressive, sexist and anti-intellectual to say the least. Unfortunately as long as people keep pandering to their cause these papers will continue to dump their trash on the public stage. Although the Leveson enquiry and a chastened Murdoch is to be welcomed, ultimately it is only the populace itself which can put an end to this menace by withdrawing support. The sooner that happens the better.

written following The Sun's insulting article about Nicola Benedetti



commentary • 02.09.12