Monday 30 April 2012

Politicians And The Media Are Heading Toward Mutual Assured Destruction?

Those of you, like me, who are children of the 1980s are likely to have watched War Games, a cult teen film starring Matthew Broderick.

In this film Broderick's character hacks into the US Department of Defence supercomputer programmed to predict possible outcomes of nuclear war. This hacking unwittingly sets off a series of events which almost results in World War III.

In the final dramatic scene Broderick sits in the heart of the Pentagon, surrounded by hard-nosed Generals, and teaches the computer tic-tac-toe - here in the UK known as noughts and crosses. He does this as tic-tac-toe is a game in which no one can win, leading to endless rounds of pointless play to find a winner. The supercomputer eventually learns that the game is a fruitless exercise; that nuclear war can never have a winner as it is based on the premise of mutually assured destruction.
Mutually assured destruction, as the term suggests, is a military doctrine where use of high impact weapons by two sides will lead to annihilation of both sides. Essentially a nuclear apocalypse.

So what does all this have to do with the UK in 2012? I'd argue very much indeed. Politicians and the media are in an endless battle for supremacy with parallels to the rounds of tic-tac-toe played out in the final scene of War Games. There will be no winner but neither side has yet realised this; both the media and politics will continue to be badly damaged further unless one side realises the course they are both on and stops the game.

Every new revelation or claim about each others activities damages their reputations to the benefit of no one. Each new 'scandal' leads to a reaction of dogged stubbornness and often a clear desire to 'get even' once again. And so the cycle continues. The list is long and depressing: MPs expenses; phone hacking; the broader Leveson inquiry; lobbying; the role of News International in public life; cash for access. All a further ratcheting up of tension between the two groups.

This has only been in the last few years. The result: both journalism and politics has been undermined. Both professions - once attracting the very best and brightest this country had to offer - are in decline which will do long term damage to this country. Some in journalism or politics recognise this but that doesn’t stop them believing that the next act in the game might lead to ultimate victory when, in fact, it is just another step to further destruction.

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