As expected, fairly mixed reviews for the GB interview with Piers Morgan. Some can’t get beyond their loathing of Piers. Others can’t get beyond their negativity about GB. But it is always important to differentiate between media opinion and public opinion. Based on nothing more than instinct, a few conversations and a trawl online, I would say media opinion is somewhere between lukewarm and negative, public opinion between lukewarm and warm.
One of the reasons for the media negativity is frustration at their inability to shape the reaction to an event like this. I made a point of tracking twitter, and some of the message boards, as the interview was going out. In a way, the advance hype, and the media commentary afterwards, don’t really matter. The hype probably helps with ratings, which suits both Piers/ITV and, provided it goes well, GB too. The aftermath commentary is less significant, because the opinions that matter are those of viewers, reacting in real time as the thing is broadcast.
Twitter in particular has changed the balance of power in the relationship between ‘expert’ and ‘people.’ I don’t know how many people were watching last night, nor how many were tweeting as they did so, but when I saw the tweet ‘why the fuck is Piers Morgan trending on twitter?’ I realised the answers were respectively … a lot, and quite a few.
Piers is one of those people who provokes strong reactions anyway, but it is also possible to detect in some of the media commentary today a certain jealousy – how many political pundits would love to get the kind of attention for an interview with GB that Piers managed to get? Answer, all of them.
Piers has taken a bit of a kicking for being so obviously friendly to the PM, but it was in fact very close to his usual interviewing style. It was in both his and Gordon’s interests for a different side to GB to be shown, and that certainly emerged. Gordon is never going to be the touchiest-feeliest politician on the planet, but it does him no harm at all for people to be reminded that beneath the politician’s image is a human being with a backstory made up of the usual mix of good and bad, low and high, tragic and joyous.
I think if there is any lasting impact from the interview it is that in the conversation it has generated, people will at least think that conversation has more than the single ‘GB bad’ dimension so much of the media has been putting over in recent months.
It has helped clear the air a bit for Gordon, at a time people are finally realising the choice is not GB or TB, or GB or perfection, but GB or David Cameron who, under the slightest pressure, is beginning to look a bit flaky.
A few weeks ago, the Tories saw the leaders’ debates, for example, as a guaranteed win-win-win for DC. I’m not sure they are feeling quite so confident now. When it comes to the debates, GB will of course be more on the political than the personal. But the revealing of the more personal last night may mean that some are more willing to listen to the political than they were a few days ago. The mood is changing, in all sorts of ways.
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