Twatgate, the aftermath of a 4 letter word

I’ve always been amazed at how the media manage to blow things so completely out of proportion, how a bit of a sniffle gets turned into a murderous epidemic, and one fairly uninteresting woman suffering the same sad fate as hundreds of other anonymous women suddenly manages to fill every page. And inversly, how some perhaps more deserving things get completely deprived of the oxegen of publicity. It is a strange and mystifying thing to me. Not the motivation for these arguable choices, that’s pretty simple: bums on seats. Paper and magazine sales, listeners or viewers, and therefore advertising revenue. That’s it. No, what puzzles me is how we, the apparently discerning public, get duped into watching/listening/reading this crap time and time again. I guess the operative word there is “apparently”.

On Wednesday July 29th 2009, people were born, people died, some other people did some stuff that was really quite important, while most people did their usual boring stuff. And David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party, said what may or may not be a slightly rude word on a national UK radio breakfast show, maybe by accident. Or maybe not. You can listen to it here, if you don’t already know what I’m talking about.

What surprised me the most, and certainly seemed to surprise most of those involved, was that this tiny, mild, 4-letter word warranted such a weather balloon of media coverage, to such an extent that Christian O’Connell was invited to appear live on Sky News that very evening to give his opinion on the whole thing. Also, Mister Cameron felt it necessary to issue an official apology for turning the airwaves so blue (surely Tories should be aiming to turn everything blue?). I personally think he shouldn’t be apologising for the use of the word itself, but for daring to utter such a feeble pun. The person who wrote it and fed it to him should be shot. Twice. In a painful and non-lethal part of his anatomy.

I watched a bit of the coverage on Sky News, I’ve read some of the reactions that appeared on the interwebs, including a rather neat note by Tony “Piglet” Moorey on the Absolute Radio blog. And yet no-one so far seems to have mentioned the subject Cameron was actually talking about: politicians using Twitter.

Basically, what he was saying, if I may draw aside the twat-pun-induced veil of shock for a moment, is that politicians shouldn’t use Twitter any old how, because its instantaneous nature makes it all too easy to say something rather silly in a public place without thinking.

Looks like that’s also true for the radio, isn’t it, Mister Cameron?


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