Subtle Press and Media Bullying via Subtext: A Spin Doctor's Kid

Was one of Tony Blair's children actually fathered by a New Labour spin doctor?

One of the common tricks that the media appear to get up to is putting different headlines together to make a suggestion (follow the link to the original page, or scroll down to view a screenshot). In this case, the headline, “Blairs' surprise over baby” is butted up against “Conceived by a spin doctor?”

All things considered, I'd guess this suggestion isn't true and isn't serious bullying. As far as I know New Labour weren't particularly hostile to the BBC in 1999, that being only two years after their big victory in 1997, and long before what looked like serious political warfare between New Labour and the media around the time of the Iraq War.

If this is anything, it's probably just a bit of silly joshing from the politics journos. It might not even be that – it might just be a coincidence that those two headlines ended up like that. I sometimes look at the pictures and links to other pieces that appear below each of my articles and notice that the choice doesn't seem random. And yet it is. With one brief exception some time ago, and some of the links that appear in the 'National View' section, the related content sections are all still operating in random mode, choosing from other articles related by subject. I've always tended to shy away from deliberately using subtext at all, if only because other people are so much better at it than me.

However, it still makes for a nice, basic example of one of the ways the press can psychologically pick away at someone and get away with it.