Friday, May 17, 2013

Ethics Girl ten, C4 News nil

Once again, dear little Ethics Girl did us more than proud yesterday.  I'd feared that the presence of a younger, unexposed, progressive rival might make the race unwinnable, and I was right.  I got the culprit's identity wrong, though.  Sir Bedivere might indeed be theoretically well handicapped, but he ran as if he had something wrong with him last night, and still wouldn't have finished close to the principals with a stone less on his back.  Which was interesting as he'd been a market drifter.  Arch Villain, though, another four-year-old (ie the youngest a horse could be in the race) was a progressive three-year-old stayer last year and his resumption yesterday showed that he's still going the right way.  He slammed us by five lengths - but our wonderfully genuine little mare, assisted by a lovely ride from Noel whose 7lb claim is a gift, beat the rest.

It was a very pleasant sunny evening (rather surprisingly) and it was easy to glow with pride at her performance.  I walked home with her a happy man, and was in no hurry to move her on from having a good pick of grass on the edge of the Heath on the way.  And you can see in these illustrations how content she was.  And the icing on the cake was that, with our race being the 7.00, it meant that we missed the appallingly misleading and tabloidish edition of Channel Four News which, unbelievably, led with the 'news' that Frankie Dettori has been serving a six-month ban for testing positive to cocaine eight months ago.

Unfortunately, even having worked out from the published snippets that the show had been a load of sh*te, I still decided to waste a quarter of an hour in watching the relevant sections of it online today.  In the past, it's always been an eye-opener to watch current affairs programmes covering racing stories, because they always end up missing the point so badly - which, of course, makes you think that if their coverage of subjects about which you know is bad, it is likely that their coverage of the other subjects are equally bad.  So it was with C4 news, a programme which I had (wrongly) previously respected as a provider of a sensible, realistic and balanced coverage of news.  I know differently now.

Leaving aside that the 'story' is not news (ie Frankie's offence took place eight months ago, and he was convicted six months or so ago), the whole thing was nonsense from the opening sentences.  Jon Snow had always (wrongly, it seems) struck me as a sensible man, but his introductory remarks suggested to me that he had absolutely no clue on the subject he was talking about.  For sure, he wouldn't have written them himself, but you'd have thought that, if he'd any idea about anything, he'd have stopped halfway through and said, "I'm sorry, but this is just sensationalist nonsense.  We can't broadcast this"

I'd say that Clare Balding let herself down by being part of it, but in her defence she probably didn't know that her interview with Frankie would be misused as 'news' and as supposed evidence that British racing is in crisis.  (Which it is, but that's funding crisis - not the fact that one British (well Italian actually, but he's effectively British as this is his adopted homeland and the country in which he is licensed) jockey and one UAE trainer (who has a secondary stable and secondary license in the UK) have committed totally unrelated breaches of drug rules).  But really - the whole thing was just so silly.  Basically, Frankie's reply should have been two sentences: "What I did was inexcusable and I am not going to try to blame anyone but myself.  I let myself down badly, but I've served my sentence and have learned my lesson".'

Instead we got a string of supposed mitigating circumstances which explained why he was supposedly justified in feeling sorry for himself, and why this was the cause of his misdemeanour.  In Frankie's defence, I don't think he would have come up with this nonsense had he not been presented with a string of questions designed to elicit such responses.  But it was just painful to listen to, and I can't sum things up better than Ian Mongan, who tweeted yesterday, "Frankie took cocaine because he was depressed - what hope is there for the rest of us?".

Anyway, if you missed the show, you didn't miss much.  Pretty much all we learned was that C4 news is, after all, a sensationalist, tabloid-style gogglefest which presents the aberrational as the normal, and is not a programme to be relied upon to give a realistic presentation of how the world goes round.  But we also learned, again, what a wise leader we have: I couldn't have been nearly so patient in the face of the nonsense, wild accusations and misleading generalisations which Jon Snow was spouting as to say, "You make a very good point, Jon".  Firstly, it's debatable whether Jon Snow did make even one very good point - and Paul Bittar showed stunning self-control, having paid him that probably-untrue compliment, to restrain himself from adding, " ... along with some very questionable and ludicrously sensationalized ones".

No comments: