Hardly had I posted my thoughts on the potential growth in popularity for Alastair Campbell’s blog, than the first skirmish of the Iraq enquiry campaign took place. And Big Al prevailed – this time over the Spectator. It won’t be the last such encounter, as I’ll show.
The Spectator article stated – as fact – that Campbell had, effectively, leant on Lord Butler to water down part of his Iraq report. This would have been a tad difficult, given that he had left Downing Street a whole year before the report was even commissioned. But, even after Big Al registered his displeasure to the magazine’s editor, the Spectator stood its ground. The whole carry on is on the Campbell blog, and shows that the mag finally yielded to the inevitable, making the customary apology and stumping up a donation to Leukaemia Research.
So that’s that, then? Well, no it isn’t. Consider this: such is the picture painted by some in the print media – not for nothing does Campbell call the Daily Mail “the Dacre lie machine” – that to many (most?) people, a story alleging that Big Al has been abusing his position seems par for the course. It’s only when you give the matter a little thought that it becomes obvious: for someone in his position to routinely behave in such a way would be career suicide. Such news, given the means we now have for transmitting and disseminating information, would get out and get known – and Campbell would have been the proverbial toast.
But all too often, a little thought is not given by the print media, and not expected of its readers. Standpoint has just demonstrated this superbly: it has published a critique of US Foreign Policy by John Bolton. For anyone to take “Wiggy” Bolton seriously – his fetching up in the UK press suggests that those Stateside may have ceased doing this – they first have to put away any idea of analysing the argument too closely.
You might see the join, as Eric Morecambe nearly said.