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Formula 1 Bernie Ecclestone falls for classic mainstream media sting

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The outspoken Bernie Ecclestone (91) has seen more television studios than many TV anchors. For this reason alone, the sports mogul, who for four decades owned the Formula 1 racing empire, should have realised he was walking straight into a media ambush. Was the show’s star guest a patsy or maybe he just didn’t care and he likes the flak that even ‘bad’ publicity brings?

The Good Morning Britain show’s ratings had plunged from 1.9 million viewers to a derisory 490,000. Desperate to recover their audience, the confrontational television programme set the bait. Surely there was an opportunity to chat about the imminent Grand Prix in Austria at which Ecclestone was presumed to attend.

Television researchers would be aware that Bernie Ecclestone and Russian president Putin are close friends. Both men are keen sportsmen: Putin holds the Black Belt in Judo and achieved the 8th Dan in Karate. An accomplished skier, he is a talented ice-skater and raises money for charity by playing hockey. Among Putin’s achievements in sport, one must add that he is a keen mountain wanderer, diver, hunter and fisherman. In fact, the Russian president has ‘gone fishin’ with two American presidents.

This brings us back to motor racing superstar Bernie Ecclestone who was impressed by the Russian leader’s élan on the racing circuits. Vladimir Putin once gave George Bush Jnr a lift and took the Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah el-Sisi for a spin in the presidential limousine.

Putin also chalked up 240 kmh in a Formula I racing car. Unsurprisingly, the Russian leader and the race track devotee get on fine together; the pair have been friends for years.

Then the televised interview trap was sprung. The sports entrepreneur was asked what his views were on President Putin which led to his opinion being sought on Russia’s pre-emptive strike on the NATO threat on Russia’s borders.

‘I would take a bullet for Putin,’ replied Ecclestone.

The Formula 1 legend rose to the booing bait every time as he roundly condemned Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky and criticised NATO support for a national leader dubbed ‘the last dictator of Europe.’

Equally predictable was the sanctimonious outpouring from the television show’s selected audience. Here the Thesaurus is pulled from the bookshelf and the media witch-hunt goes pedal to the metal and fires on all eight cylinders.

We all know the mantra of the media mind-benders: In a ‘bizarre interview,’ ‘hideous’, ‘abhorrent,’ ‘outrageous’, ‘deeply offensive’ and ‘distasteful.’

No surprises there. Waiting breathlessly in the studio’s wings for their scoop were the handpicked hacks of Britain’s foreign-owned mainstream media. As beautifully orchestrated as the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra the customer-starved breakfast show enjoyed the following morning’s nationwide media coverage of their ensnared guest.

The British Press Awards columnist Matthew Pariss: ‘Television lies.  All television lies. It lies persistently, instinctively and by habit.  Everyone involved lies. A culture of mendacity surrounds the medium and those who work there live it, breathe it and prosper by it.  I know of no area of public life – no, not even politics – more saturated by a professional cynicism.  If you want a word that takes you to the core of it, I would offer ‘rigged’. It is dishonest for the presenter to imply that the pundit in the chair is free to offer any opinion when the truth is that 50 pundits were telephoned but only the fellow prepared to offer the requisite opinion was invited?’

Another insider is former BBC Director-General, Greg Dyke who readily conceded that ‘when it came to discussing the war in Iraq staff found it so difficult to find any member of the public prepared to speak in favour that they ended up planting people in the (Question Time) audience.’ – Mail on Sunday. 24.10.2004.

A Soviet journalist when questioned by his American counterparts smiled: ‘It’s very simple. In the Soviet Union, we don’t believe our propaganda. In America, you actually believe yours.’

The outcome of the show is that everyone is happy: the ratings of ITV’s Good Morning Britain show soared, their mainstream media cohorts got their scoop, Bernie Ecclestone delights in the opportunity to predict his Russian friend’s triumph, and, of course, the proles get their bread and circuses along with their breakfast cereal. YOU CAN SHARE THIS STORY ON SOCIAL MEDIA.


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