When you get up close and impersonal in industries in which people take themselves incredibly seriously, say politics, and, oh, perhaps journalism, you get to see how they in fact frequently behave just like everyone else.
In journalism the fact that we aren’t making baked beans makes some journalists think the most important thing about a story is that they are covering it. One frequent example of this is in TV news when a journalist discovers that a colleague is coming out to also cover a story they are on, and begins wailing, not unlike a five year old child, ‘But this is MY story!’ thus completely failing to understand that a) it isn’t their story, and b) their bosses are entitled to send whoever they want.
Every place of work has its own Shakespearian (esque) drama played out each day. Eyes are on the crown which rests uneasy, thwarted ambition abounds, there’s toil and trouble, and a sprinkling of ‘Et tu, Brute?’ on a day when HR gets busy. It’s the same on the shop floor or in the accountant’s office, it’s just that some industries believe themselves to be more glamorous and above such behaviour.
Trawling through the 10,000 government-related emails Hillary Clinton has been forced to make public, I came across a small gem which brought together journalism and politics in an unedifying manner.
Sidney Blumenthal, a journalist, and advisor to Hillary, composed an email to her in November 2009 positively brimming with gossipy schadenfreude which I enjoyed so much I shall now pass it on in the same spirit.
The characters in this tragedy are the former UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Catherine Ashton EU Foreign Affairs supremo (wrongly named by the writer) and New Labour architect, also known as the Prince of Darkness…. Peter Mandelson, for it is he.
In Blumenthal’s email Mandelson enters stage centre right –
“Mandelson Watch: After Miliband declined to reach for the EU foreign secretaryship (though Sarkozy wanted him to take it and Brown was not averse, even favorable), Mandelson personally campaigned on his own for it among the Europeans. Mandelson was eager to Miliband to take the EU post, allowing Mandelson to be appointed foreign minister. When Miliband refused, Mandelson’s ambition was thwarted, and tried to seize the EU position for himself, but without any backing in Europe or from Gordon. The Europeans thought him mad. Suddenly, they recalled his bad or strange behavior as UK commissioner to the EU. When Christine Ashton was named, Mandelson briefed the press on her lack of credentials, etc. Ashton, as it happens, had worked the press to try to help Mandelson when he had gotten into the mess that led to his first resignation. Those inside the government who remember this see it as an illustration of the principle that no good deed goes unpunished. Mandelson, in a snit, is now not speaking to Gordon as though his rejection were Gordon’s fault. “
The link to the email is below. It reads well, but I’m not sure if it’s a comedy or a tragedy.