Redefining reality in favour of one’s own particular agenda is not, it seems, restricted to our free and fearless press. An interview in today’s FT shows that broadcasters, or at least their management, are also indulging in this kind of creative behaviour. And the broadcaster whose management is thus indulging is the one who should not be going anywhere near that behaviour in the first place.
The FT has run an interview with Lord Hall-Hall, who claims to be Director General of the BBC [FX: Penny in mug]. Under the headline “BBC braced for another year of turbulence” is the sub-heading “Lord Hall leads fight against Fake News”. Which means what, exactly? “Media misinformation is ‘one of the biggest threats facing our democracies’” he tells.
She didn't get an apology ...
And there is more. “He will stage an international conference on Fake News in 2019, with technology companies such as Facebook and Google invited to attend, along with academic institutions and other media organisations … ‘I want us to get together with newspapers and people who think like us to understand how to tell the fake from the true. If we think it’s bad now, it’s going to get even worse when you can manipulate images’”.
... because he didn't offer one
This would make a noble objective for the good Lord, had he not then attempted to inject a little Fake News of his own into the same interview. “Andrew Neil, who presents the political show This Week, apologised recently for calling the journalist Carole Cadwalladr a ‘mad cat woman’”. That would be news to Ms Cadwalladr. And it gets worse.
“‘Andrew apologised for that Tweet,’ said Lord Hall”. The problem for Lord Hall-Hall is that Brillo quite pointedly did not apologise. The result is that Ms Cadwalladr has been forced to endure a stream of online abuse from people who have seen the lack of any apology and figured that, nudge nudge wink wink, she did it anyway. This Brillo knows only too well.
But Lord Hall-Hall does understand “One of the things you put up with if you’re taking £150.50 from most people is that you’re in the public eye … Our job is to accept that and not be pompous and arrogant”. I’m mightily relieved to hear it. So, given that the arrogant man never learns, perhaps he can do a little learning in order to prove his point.
He can start by explaining, and then putting right, the BBC’s appallingly arrogant behaviour towards not just Ms Cadwalladr, but also her occasional collaborator Peter Jukes. Both were gratuitously defamed live on air during a recent edition of The Andy Marr Show™ by the increasingly desperate Arron Banks. Neither Jukes nor Ms Cadwalladr was given a right of reply - although Sky News granted this to both of them.
On top of that, they should both be given an apology. That’s as in a real apology, and not one that is reinvented in the retelling. And it’s an apology that should come in addition to the real apology from Andrew Neil, not the attempt by the DG to wipe his backside.
It’s time that Lord Hall-Hall got wise to what was being done in his name. After all, he wouldn’t like to be remembered as a facilitator of smears and dishonesty, would he?
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