Anyone who has been watching media coverage of the US Presidential election can hardly have missed that any misstep by the Republicans is amplified and that of the Democrats is minimalised. Right now, with Obama leading in the polls, Katie Couric (who I watch most nights) is almost bursting with enthusiasm and joy.
Things are not much different here in the UK. George Osbourne, the Shadow Chancellor (Opposition spokesman on treasury matters) once attended a party given by rich Russian businessman on his really big yacht. He didn’t ask for a donation to the Conservative Party and he did not receive one. As a result, the BBC and other media outlets have been running this story non-stop. They are almost urging people to call for his ouster.
On the other hand, the sleaze-ridden twice-resigned and twice-rehabilitated Prince of Darkness, Peter Mandelson, back in the cabinet again, has now admitted that he lied about when he also met with the same Russian oligarch. He had previously said he met Oleg Deripaska, merely in a social context, in 2006 and 2007. Or as he finally had to admit, “During the weekend when I moved from Brussels to London and prior to me being admitted to hospital for an urgent medical procedure, a statement was released to the press which said I had had meetings with Mr Deripaska in 2006 and 2007. Some people formed the reasonable view, therefore, that my first meeting with him was in 2006. This is not the case: To the best of my recollection we first met in 2004 and I met him several times subsequently.”
It also just happened that Deripaska’s aluminium business made huge profits because Mandelson, as European Trade Commissioner, cut back the import duties in 2005. Deripaska owns the largest aluminium producer in the world, UC Rusal.
But it’s not Mandelson, a member of the Government, that is being pressured to resign again, it is a front bencher in the not-so-Conservative Party. As David Cameron, the Leader of the Opposition, said, this must be the first financial scandal where there weren’t any finances involved. In fact, it is not even illegal to solicit political donations from foreigners (something both Mr Osborne and Mr Deripaska agree didn’t happen), it is only illegal to accept them (something the Tories didn’t do).
And it would seem that the only one in a position to start the allegations against Mr Osborne was someone else who was at the party, namely, Lord Mandelson. This would be the same Lord Mandelson that was recently attacked by George Osborne for his ties to Deripaska. Mandelson’s approach seems to be, “Attack me for my long-time relationship to a dodgy Russian tycoon and not only will I lie about it, I’ll say you were the one doing a dodgy deal.”
And unsurprisingly the BBC and print media have go along with it. They ignore the fact that Mandelson has fallen from power in a Government that has made it very difficult to fall from power in two separate financial scandals. They turn on the otherwise squeaky clean George Osborne.
It is as if the BBC is playing a game. Someone has decided that they will continue to report on this long enough and often enough that the Tories have to say something to deny it and then report the denial long enough and often enough until people figure there must be something to it, or the Tories wouldn’t keep denying it.