Marr hits out at 'angry rantings of drunk bloggers'

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The Independent Online

Anyone who has published their thoughts online will know what a febrile place cyberspace can be. Unrestrained by anonymity, bloggers and comment board regulars can be a notoriously aggressive bunch.

One man won't be welcome on the internet again is the broadcaster Andrew Marr, who has dismissed bloggers as "socially inadequate, pimpled, single, slightly seedy, bald, cauliflower-nosed young men sitting in their mother's basements."

The BBC's former political editor, who now presents The Andrew Marr Show on the BBC's Sunday morning show, fired a broadside at the online community during a talk at the Cheltenham Literary Festival on how technology is changing the way people receive news. During the talk, his attention turned to the growing influence of citizen journalism and blogs. Most bloggers, he argued, were "very angry" people.

"OK – the country is full of very angry people," he added. "Many of us are angry people at times. Some of us are angry and drunk. But the so-called citizen journalism is the... rantings of very drunk people late at night. It is fantastic at times but it is not going to replace journalism."

His comments prompted a predictably angry response from cyberspace, with many Twitter users going into angry overdrive. "Andrew Marr is a dinosaur who needs to come into the 21st century," was one of the more repeatable comments which didn't focus on the broadcaster's own physical appearance.

Political blogger Paul Staines, who runs the Guido Fawkes site, hit back by describing Mr Marr as a "jug-eared old man sitting in Auntie's basement."

Some commentators noted that the BBC has more than 100 blogs on its own news website and encourages readers to send in their thoughts.

Others said Marr was wrong to tar all blogs with the same brush. Sunny Hundal, who runs the political blog Liberal Conspiracy, said he was "projecting his own biases rather than reflecting the breadth of [bloggers]".

"Just in political blogging, there are people who use blogs to discuss philosophical ideas, report niche news, point out factual errors in the media and much more," Mr Hundal said. "It's a curious remark coming from a journalist who used the 'rumours on the internet' excuse when asking Gordon Brown if he was popping pills. Marr clearly reads political blogs and even absorbs the rumours. So it's absurd to turn around and caricature them now."

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