"It's so unFAIR!"
There's an interesting blog which I've only just come across written by the new Head of Media at the EU Commission's office in London. It gives a revealing insight into the frankly arrogant view of the media often taken by the EU institutions.
It turns out that the reason the EU gets a bad press, as far as the EU's press officers are concerned, is not that it is a costly, unaccountable, corruption-ridden, wasteful and anti-democratic monstrosity after all. Oh no, it is because journalists are too busy, ill-informed and prejudiced to give it a fair hearing.
Even worse, sometimes journalists call up "writing stories on an EU decision with a deadline of an hour or so", which this press officer apparently thinks is deeply unfair. Well, I've got news for you - that is how the media works. I think it was Enoch Powell who said that "a politician complaining about the media is like a sailor complaining about the sea". It is frankly worrying that instead of working harder to respond in a timely manner, as the rest of us who deal with the media do, the Commission's press officers are apparently in a huff that they don't get longer to respond.
Similarly, we are told it is "not fair" that sometimes the EU's response isn't even quoted in the news reports! Woe is me. Instead of being a sign of bias, though, this could well be because the Commission tends to churn out mealy-mouthed bureaucratic denials, arrogant dismissals and uninteresting lectures rather than any genuine contribution to the important debates going on. The question they should be asking themselves in EU Towers should surely be "how can we improve the responses we put out?" rather than "why oh why are journalists so evil and horrid?"
This is sadly typical of the more general outlook taken by the EU institutions. The European Union's advocates are obsessed with the idea that people don't like the EU because they are too stupid, too reactionary or too ill-informed to recognise the wonder of the project. They are like those slightly barmy followers of trendy cults who, when you question their beliefs, simply say that you are too benighted to see the truth. Unfortunately they don't just think that about the media - as their continued refusal to listen to the referendum results on the Constitution/Lisbon Treaty shows, they think it about the general public, too.
When a press officer retreats into their bunker muttering that the media should be sacked and replaced with someone more friendly, rather than reassessing what they do as a media operation or advising their boss to change what the organisation does if they want to get a better press, it is a bad sign. It doesn't seem that taxpayers are getting a good deal here at all.