Fake outrage has had a great outing in the last week. The Prime Minister, Theresa May, sparked masses of column inches when she quoted the annoying Meerkat on the ‘compare the market.com’ adverts – by using the word ‘Simples’ in the House of Commons. [I’ve posted here previously about fake outrage].
Fake Outrage in the Headlines
Theresa May is a terrible public speaker and she deserves the ‘Maybot’ tag. But really. Why does the fact that she used a made-up word, currently in common parlance, worthy of any coverage at all, never mind all this fake outrage? If anyone else had used it (Ken Clarke, John Macdonald, Amber Rudd) I doubt it would have been mentioned except on BBC Radio 4’s dreary Yesterday in Parliament.
Of course, it now seems she was persuaded to use the phrase by an aide, Seema Kennedy who had a bet on it with Simon Hoare MP. Bullshit Bingo, as it is called in several places I have worked, is a common little game that wordsmiths play: there is a small reward for the first person to get a particular – often unusual, bizarre or specific – phrase into a report or a speech or a broadcast. Journalists play this game all the time!
This is a bit embarrassing for the Prime Minister, especially as she was probably unaware of the Bullshit Bingo bet. It makes her look gullible. Having said that, it is surely not worth comment that someone who is doing an almost impossible job and talking publicly about it every day, has people around her who suggest particular lines or phrases.
Using a phrase from popular culture is really not a crime. Nor do I understand why it can be characterised as ‘a misguided lunge at cultural relevance’. In many ways being colloquial is a good idea. It makes your speech less boring. And let’s face it, important though Brexit is, right now we are all pretty bored with the minutiae of the arguments around it.
Journalists manufacture fake outrage to entertain us all. They also pretend or imply that everyone else feels the outrage. There are many things that prompt outrage in me but ‘Simples’ is simply not one of them.
- Media Training Basics: On-Air Presence - July 9, 2019
- 10 Top Tips for Trade Press Interviews - July 3, 2019
- 8 Things Every Press Officer Should Have To Hand - June 25, 2019
- Our Advice to the Tory Leadership Candidates - June 11, 2019
- Media Interviews You Just Can’t Win - June 3, 2019
- Another Misspeak: Strachan Reminds us that Stream of Consciousness is Dangerous in a Media Interview - April 8, 2019
- Is your Message Boring but Important? Important but Complicated? - April 2, 2019
- Jacinda Ardern: Political Leader with a Strong Compass - March 25, 2019
- Fake Outrage – Simples! - March 4, 2019
- Olivia Colman Snivels in Front of 30m TV Audience - February 26, 2019