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Gordon Brown’s gaffe and the rise of mediated politics

April 28, 2010

Gordon Brown’s gaffe earlier today when he was caught on microphone describing a member of the public he had just met as a “bigoted woman” reminded me of John Thompson’s discussion of politics in the era of mediated interaction in his book, The Media and Modernity (Polity, 1995). Brown is not alone:

Gaffes and outbursts are among the most common sources of trouble for political leaders. They represent a failure on the part of the individual fully to control his or her behaviour, and they thereby attest to an individual who is not fully in command of the situation or of his or her own feelings, actions or utterances…What is new today…, with the new means of electronic communication (and especially television), [is that] the gaffes and outbursts can be recorded live, seen and heard by millions, and replayed countless times before an ever-widening circle of recipients (Thompson 1995: 141).

This describes exactly what we have witnessed today.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 29, 2010 8:50 am

    Indeed. With the advent of technology, our politics has become ever so much shallower. Public image must be cherished at all times for you never know where the Camera is pointing and those cameras can be quite small you know. 🙂

  2. April 29, 2010 10:01 pm

    It’ll be interesting to follow the effect of newer technologies and sites on politicians’ management of visibility, e.g. see recent Twitter gaffe:

    “Police investigate Labour candidate’s Twitter postal vote gaffe
    Kerry McCarthy apologises after revealing sample of postal votes in a tweet to her 5,700 followers on microblogging site”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/apr/29/labour-candidate-apologises-twitter-vote

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