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Shame on the Street

Friday, 2 December, 2011

Name that party! Let’s look at this New York Times headline from yesterday: “Ex-Governor Is Said to Be Focal Point of Inquiry“. Why didn’t the paper of record write “Republican Ex-Governor Is Said to Be Focal Point of Inquiry”? Maybe it was keeping it’s firepower for the first paragraph. Here it is: “Bill Richardson, the former governor of New Mexico who ran for president in 2008, is being investigated by a federal grand jury for possible violations of campaign finance laws, according to people with knowledge of the inquiry.”

Still no mention of the “R” word. Actually, Bill Richardson, the former governor of New Mexico, was not a Republican; he was a Democrat, and a very good friend of the Bill and Hillary Clinton, too. You see, the beauty of having a free press is that you get to read the all the news that fits the agenda of those who own it.

Let’s quickly jet now from New York to London where Mr McCann spoke of stories “which appear to have no factual basis, or exaggerated, or distorted” from which newspapers profit enormously while damaging their subjects profoundly. Mr McCann is Gerry McCann, whose daughter, Madeline, was abducted in Portugal. He was telling the Leveson Inquiry about how the press accused him and his wife Kate of selling their daughter into slavery or murdering her.

Speaking of the McCanns, the Australian cultural critic, Clive James pointed out something very obvious and very shocking: “As I recall, they have always spoken with transparent nobility in their own defence. Their most telling point is the question they keep asking that gets no answer: how come none of the writers and executives involved in their persecution have ever been docked a day’s pay?” And he adds, “There is a difference between freedom of speech and the freedom to get a kick out of inflicting misery. Is the question really all that difficult?”

Under oath, the actress Siena Miller told the judge of how photographers used to spit at her so she would pull a face and caption writers could then put their own, usually unflattering, interpretation on the image. Another theme at the inquiry is how newspapers take retribution on those who oppose their might, in the form of ad hominem attacks in comment columns, and of the hurdles erected that slow down agreements to run corrections. And on and on and on.

Looks like it’s time to Occupy the Press.


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