Freedoms, fiefdoms, and f**k-ups

Some of this weekend's top stories summarised by The Commentator's Executive Editor, Raheem Kassam

Tommy Robinson, the BBC and The Guardian
On 30 June 2013 09:29

No greater pleasure can be derived than that of watching the rag, with which I would not cover myself were I homeless, fail in another attempt to eek out a headline from the NSA/spying story.

The Guardian, clearly desperate in its need for front page material, was forced into an embarrassing climb-down last night after its latest 'revelation' on European involvement in spying was found to be singled-sourced through an online conspiracy theorist named Wayne Madsen.

Madsen's views range from the hilarious to the deeply concerning, and he has accused President Barack Obama of being secretly gay, while holding Israel responsible for the 9/11 attacks on America. But given the Guardian's form in publishing 9/11 truthers, crackpots and terrorists - I suppose this front page wasn't far off?

Sic semper the cult of celebrity whistleblowers, as I stated last week. The narcissism and supposed infallibility of armchair warriors raging against the machine has once again bitten the mainstream media square in the hiney. And it won't be the last time, I assure you.

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I bet the revelations won't cause the Guardian's close and personal friends at the BBC from exercising their PRISM-esque interoperability either.

We know already how closely linked these two institutions are, but doesn't it stick in the teeth to learn that in addition to bolstering the Guardian's daily circulation, the publicly funded BBC is also passing on the licence-fee payers' money to the Guardian in terms of advertising spend?

We know there's a massive market for the jobs ads already, and the Beeb pays top dollar for its slot on the Guardian's employment pages. But does it really need to be advertising television programmes, at a cost to the British licence fee-payer, to an audience that is inherently inclined towards BBC programming anyway?

I've asked the BBC how much it's latest pre-roll adverts cost you and I, dear reader. I shall report back when I have further information.

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Whatever you may think of the English Defence League (I'm not a fan, myself), yesterday's arrest of its leaders Tommy Robinson and Kevin Carroll was another example of inexcusable overreach by the Metropolitan Police - and not simply because of the implications around stopping two men walking down the street, but because of how much it's going to cost you and I in the long run.

From what I can tell of the video of the incident, this will be an easy legal encounter for the EDL leaders, who will no doubt report the wrongful arrest to the Independent Police Complaints Commission and may well be able to drag the Met through the courts too.

But think about the costs involved in deploying the officers in the first place, the cars, the filming, the pre-briefings, the post-briefings, the paperwork and the presumptive legal battle. That's an awful lot of wonga to drop to stop two thugs walking past an East London Mosque. And in any case, shouldn't the burden of non-violence (is it a burden?) be on the side of those who would claim to be offended by the EDL presence? 

I know they say that freedom isn't free. It looks like tyranny costs a pretty penny too.

Raheem Kassam is the Executive Editor of The Commentator and tweets at @RaheemJKassam

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