Contact with media is inevitable part of political life – Tony Blair
Contact with senior media executives is an inevitable part of life for political leaders in modern Britain, former prime minister Tony Blair has said.
Mr Blair was speaking after the release of official documents showing that Cabinet ministers in the coalition Government have met News Corporation bosses including Rupert Murdoch a total of more than 100 times since coming to power last year.
The former Labour premier himself faced criticism from some quarters for his relations with Mr Murdoch, including flying to Hayman Island in Australia while opposition leader in 1995 to address senior News Corp executives.
But he was unrepentant about talking with the media in an interview with Sky News Australia.
He suggested that attention should instead focus on the importance of separating news and comment in the media.
"For any political leader who's been operating in Britain in the last 30 or 40 years, the power of the media is such that you can't but have a relationship with people who are major and powerful media people," said Mr Blair.
"By the way, that's not limited to News International. There's this slight sense in the UK where it's all about Rupert Murdoch and News International. That's true of any of the major media outlets.
"So I think you're bound to have a relationship. But I think it's a lot easier to have the right kind of relationship and a healthy one if it's clear that there is a real distinction between news reporting and commentary."