Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Sunday 19 September 2010

Taking heed of media pundits' opinions on any topic at all is a dodgy practice

I've held the view for quite a few years that paying too much atention to "media pundits" (amongst others journalists, comedians, television presenters, etc) when they expound on matters well-beyond their chosen method of earning a living or 'supposed expertise' is an unwise course of action. Indeed I've occasionally written about this phenomenon in my blog.

Today in The Sunday Telegraph, the affable Terry Wogan serves up his views on this very topic, so on the surface I should not have too much to quibble at, were it not for the irony that Terry Wogan is himself a 'much-loved' (by many, if the tabloid press and televised media is a guide) media-pundit expressing his views [or more accurately 'prejudices'] on topics which those outside his family and friends have no obligation to take any notice of, unless they stand up to intellectual rigour - which in this case I don't think they do. Today the object of his criticism (if one may dignify his naked polemic with that word) is his fellow generally equally-affable media-pundit Stephen Fry. Wogan is rather oblique in what is in reality a feeble side-swipe at the opinions expressed by Fry on the merits of Pope Benedict XVI being invited to perform a 'State Visit' to this country:

"Try telling that to Stephen Fry, who, this week, has joined a multi-skilled band of protestors to object to the Pope's visit being treated as a State occasion. Fry's opinions on anything and everything are positively revered, in a way that those of, say, Michael Winner, never can be."

Now, apart from the fact that Wogan offers no basis for his dismissal of the views of Fry other than that he thinks they are not worthy of attention, I'm not sure I agree with dear Terry on his analysis of the relative levels of influence accorded to the views of Fry or Winner, or indeed those of Wogan himself. I disagree with some of the opinions expressed by Fry of course, but Wogan's not-so-subtle attempt to belittle the highly-justified criticism of the 'State Visit' granted to the leader of what is merely a religious cult [the Roman Catholic Church currently led by Pope Benedict XVI] expressed by many people (me included) as being the mere parrotting of opinions formed by 'media-pundits' such as Fry is laughable, any more than those who may take a contrary view might like to be told by a smug media-pundit such as Wogan that their views have been influenced by what he writes - although of course I hesitate to surmise how anyone else's opinions are formed.

My final question on Terry Wogan's article is this: Why doesn't he come out and say what he really thinks, rather than trying to couch his criticism of the opinions advanced by Stephen Fry in such 'mealy-mouthed' terms? Frankly his seeming blandness does not fool me or I suspect anyone else.

To be clear, I have no idea what Wogan thinks about 'homosexuality', nor do I accuse him of thinking any specifically 'negative' thoughts about that topic in general. However, as a mere 'media-pundit' himself I don't think his views merit any more attention than those of Stephen Fry (or Christina Odone or Richard Dawkins, to mention just two), except that he is of course free to express his views as an indiviual, just as I am, but they have no other special validity.

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