Night Thoughts of a Political Journalist
by Chris Norris
It's faults of yours in me that I most hate.
The mirror finds fresh features to despise.
How intimately known each odious trait!
No fault of yours I couldn't try for size.
I hear you bluster, bluff, prevaricate,
Twist questions round, give off-the-point replies,
Yet tell myself: let moral fervour wait
Till it's those mirror-faults that meet my eyes.
I note the long words, used to generate
A sense of gravity or advertise
Your cleverness, while hiding how you skate
Clean over awkward truths or proven lies.
I see you play the winsome reprobate,
The jolly rogue, Falstaff in modern guise,
Up-market yobbo, Bloke Who Tells It Straight,
And winner of the Fool-the-People prize.
I listen, wonder-struck, to each new spate
Of addle-pated verbal merchandise
And think again: what if I asked some mate
Of his and mine 'Look, who d'you recognise?'
It's us the mirror shows, journos who prate
Of how the rich thick idler always buys
His way to public office, how the state
Rigs all things in his favour, how the rise
Of toff-class populism may create
Just the conditions apt to catalyse
A fascist hate-crusade, and how a slate
Wiped memory-clean is where all freedom dies.
For it's us journalists who catch up late
With suchlike stuff, evade and euphemize,
'Protect our sources' (lest we alienate
The guys we ought to nail), turn dustbin-spies
In quest of stories, learn to contemplate
(Like them) all sorts of shabby compromise,
And keep them sweet by cutting off debate
When PR chaps suggest – word to the wise!
Oh there's no end of ways to compensate
When conscience pleads and small-hour thoughts chastise.
Turn mirrors round, let circumstance dictate,
And bid a glad farewell to those faint cries.
Christopher Norris is Distinguished Research Professor in Philosophy at the University of Cardiff. He is the author of more than thirty books on aspects of philosophy, politics, literature, the history of ideas, and music.