The ‘Big Benefits Row’ row

There should really be no surprise here that the Big Benefits Row was biased and stage managed to give a platform to Katie Hopkins and Edwina Currie. The channel is, after all, owned by the pornographer Richard Desmond, under whose ownership the Express has become even more right-wing, racist and mean-spirit that the Daily Mail. I also believe that the ingrained ideas among media folk of what constitutes good television also had some influence here. By and large, the broadcast media seem to like right-wing loudmouths for being provocative and causing a bit of what they would see as lively controversy. Hence, Hopkins keeps appearing in print and on the airwaves, despite strong opposition and criticism of her ludicrous and offensive views. The template here seems to be Clarkson, Richard Littlejohn and other right-wing curmudgeons TV managers seem to think make good viewing. The last thing they want is someone actually talking sense, especially a member of the public.
As for Edwina Currie, I can still remember her looks of bewilderment after she was booed a long time ago on one of Clive Anderson’s shows. She was appearing after she cut the pensioners’ cold weather payments, and told them instead to ‘wrap of warm’. When Anderson asked her about this, she made some kind of weak joke, ending with the line ‘that’ll teach them to wrap up warm’. Then the audience started to boo her. She looked around with an expression of complete puzzlement, as if she really, really couldn’t understand how anyone could possibly disagree with her or find her comments offensive. You expect that with her Oxford education she’d have some kind of intelligence or self-awareness, but this is obviously not the point. Which is probably why she got her post in the Grey Man’s cabinet of horrors and mediocrities.

Mike Sivier's blog

I can’t directly reblog this but I think you should all read Sue Marsh’s article on her experience with Channel 5’s recent entry into the world of benefit porn.

Originally set to be a member of the panel on The Big Benefits Row (was that really what it was called?), Sue was ‘bumped’ at short notice and ended up being just an invited member of the audience, having to endure the rented opinions of people like the motormouth Alan Sugar had the good sense not to hire and the former Tory minister who was unlucky with eggs when they turned out not to be responsible for food poisoning and lucky with them when hers weren’t fertilised by then-PM John Major.

The most interesting parts of the piece are those relating to the attitude of the government to the benefits debate, as revealed by various TV producers: “They were shocked that invariably the…

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