My basic point here is that news media seems to have become a cartoon, yet it is the viewer who is standing in thin air, holding a hand-lettered sign reading “Have mercy”.

“News” has always been subject to partisan adaptation, but in recent years there has been a lurch towards more and more overt manipulation and propaganda.

I don’t mean all that made-up stuff on Facebook. Which, by the way, appears even MORE made-up the more I see that one screen grab that proves Russia was trying to make fools out of America in the Presidential election. The Satan arm-wrestling Jesus one? I’ve never seen it in any other form except that one screen grab. Anyway.

The problem of the use by Trump (et al) of the term “fake news” is that what is frequently termed “the mainstream media” (MSM) (which I take it refers to traditionally reputable reporting outlets like newspapers, their online versions, BBC, ITV, Sky News, and the US equivalents) are, indeed, now perhaps more than ever, offering clearly biased versions of events, or frequently just making shit up.

It is a pantomime so painfully laboured that it is unclear for whom the entertainment is intended.

It could be argued that with the presentation of some issues in the news cycle being so blatantly one-sided and manipulative, there must be some other aim to the parade of bogus views, faked outrage and nose-leading opinion pieces masquerading as reporting.

Distractive media, one might call it, existing purely to have everyone looking at something else while some particularly egregious scheme is effected.

In the UK, for one example, we have Katie Hopkins, whose utterances I greet with a shrug when I hear about them. Her provocations are such a contrivance that I cannot expend any energy on them.

For another example, follow @geoffreyjewdas on Twitter and work backwards to the BBC’s latest round of character assassination concerning Jeremy Corbyn.

The Salisbury “chemical weapons” thing.

It is documented fact that eccentric multimillionaires attempt to control the discourse. Their reaction to a loss of monopoly, through individuals being able to access information directly, with millions simply not trusting them n’more, seems to have been to insist that their broadcasting organs present increasingly quixotic and offensively skewed information.

There’s a sense of acceleration about it too, an increasingly frantic scramble towards the base, which appears also to be a mode manufactured deliberately.

Yet with cackhanded obviousness, brazen wrongness. This seems more about attempts – and I mean comically slapdash attempts – to control people’s perceptions of events in a way that suggests our overlords don’t care who knows they’re trying to do it, or that they think no one can tell. Only, is it because “they” – The Man – think it’s safe to just do what they like, or that they want everyone to think that?

It calls to mind a real-world version of Facebook’s walled garden. A place where individual stories can’t change individuals’ decisions, but the overall backdrop can manipulate the way those events are interpreted. Only the backdrop here is apparently one of those Wile E. Coyote works, painted over a canyon wall, through which Roadrunner disappears, and from which emerges a truck, with horn blaring.

Viewed from outside the cartoon, it is funny in its preposterousness. Inside the world of the cartoon, from the point of view of the Coyote, it is an affront to reason, one that might legitimately prompt another hand-lettered sign saying “What the fuck is going on?”

Will Self, writer of occasional interest, has had a go at George Orwell. In an article on the BBC, (a somewhat ouroborostic bit of content given Orwell’s role in much the same sort of position for the Beeb), Self describes Orwell as a “Supreme Mediocrity”.

It seems pointless to rebut Self’s preposterously contentious article in any depth, given that the argument is based on a Will-full misreading of ‘Politics and the English Language’. He suggests that ‘the George Orwells of this world’ are cultural conservatives, reactionaries who ‘would rather peer at meaning by the guttering candlelight of a Standard English frozen in time, than have it brightly illumined by the high-wattage of the living, changing language’.

Orwell and his supporters may say they’re objecting to jargon and pretension, but underlying this are good old-fashioned prejudices against difference itself. Only homogenous groups of people all speak and write identically. People from different heritages, ethnicities, classes and regions speak the same language differently, duh!

…’prejudices against difference itself’! This is the sort of rhetoric one might use to lambast people who object to “txt speak”, or any other modern innovations they suspect of being a bit foreign or liked by the youth, as debasements of our great and noble tongue. It’s a fair point in some ways. Languages are living and changing (although one could begin to dim Self’s de-lux metaphor by asking why language needs to be examined at night time anyway).

However, none of this is relevant to a discussion of Orwell’s essay, because Orwell isn’t talking about demotic Anglo-Saxae, the vernacular, street speak, and especially not about everybody speaking in the same way. He is discussing obfuscation in political discourse, and the obfuscating political discoursers who create it. It’s in the title, duh!

Orwell’s target is the generators of phrases (and situations calling for phrases) such as ‘friendly fire’. Self’s a provocateur. And he has succeeded in getting me geed me up enough to write something. Gah!

What the student might have meant to write:

“Both Shakespeare and Orwell use the emotion of love to interesting effect.”

What the student wrote:

“It is also interesting to see how Shakespeare and Orwell make love.”

[If you have any similar examples – typos, Spoonerisms, unintentional smut – perhaps you’d like to share them with everyone.]

Salutations to Julia at ten minutes hate, keeping calm and carrying on in Japan. Scanning the telescreens this morning, I read with dismay that we (The UN), principally the US, UK and France, are once again lobbing cruise missiles into Libya. The precise reasoning for ‘our’ involvement here and not in Bahrain or Yemen, for example, remains unclear.

What might George Orwell have thunk, I wondered?

When one watches some tired hack on the platform mechanically repeating the familiar phrases — bestial, atrocities, iron heel, bloodstained tyranny, free peoples of the world, stand shoulder to shoulder — one often has a curious feeling that one is not watching a live human being but some kind of dummy: a feeling which suddenly becomes stronger at moments when the light catches the speaker’s spectacles and turns them into blank discs which seem to have no eyes behind them.

(From Politics and the English Language, George Orwell, 1946)

M. le Président