This weekend’s story about Peter Mandelson and Oleg Deripaska demonstrates and interesting example of media short-hand:
Ever since Roman Abramovich bought his way into the British consciousness, the word ‘oligarch’ has been used to describe Russian Billionaires. It is used erroneously: Oligarch means a ruler of sorts, but Abramovich, Deripaska and Usmanov are not members of the Russian Government. Instead, they are businessmen, and now the word has become a shorthand for a particular cliche, one that hints at post-KGB gangsterism. All the papers choose to link Peter Mandelson and George Osborne to an ‘oligarch’, not a ‘businessman’, because the former casts Oleg Deripaska in a more sinister light. Its a better news story as a result, but its also a twisting of language, I reckon.
It reminds me of the ‘radical’ Shia Cleric, Moqtadr Al-Sadr.