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Friday 12 August 2011

Guido Fawked – No Research, No Result (8)

While the focus continues to be on rioting, one attempt to stand up a story has fallen silent: the campaign by the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his tame gofer Henry Cole, the Laurel and Hardy of the blogosphere, to go after the appalling Piers Morgan, who is still in possession of the 9pm Eastern seat at CNN.

This campaign has consisted of next to zero research, together with selective use of quotations and recycling old stories, and so has thus far got nowhere. It has been notable only for the way in which the less than dynamic duo have mimicked their new pals at the Daily Mail in the way that inconvenient fact has been discarded in favour of whatever can be found to support the conclusion already reached.

Going after Morgan is no more than an effort to score revenge against the rotten lefties after Phonehackgate engulfed the Murdoch empire, and the Screws – the paper Staines turned to when he wanted to get the Damian McBride emails out to a wider audience, while avoiding the prospect of action from M’learned Friends – was closed down.

So it might serve the stalwarts of the Guido Fawkes blog well to consider how Nick Davies, who brought the phone hacking affair to light, approaches his work. We can share that insight as Davies has recently given an interview to Adweek, where Alex Koppelman asked him “What do you expect to find?”.

The answer should be instructive to any student of journalism: “I don’t think you can set out with an expectation, because it limits you. So there’s questions to ask ...” and Davies then sets out four possible areas of investigation, concluding “I’ve been in town three days, so I wouldn’t begin to claim to have answers”. That means there has to be investigation and research before conclusions and headlines.

Davies also sheds some light on why it is that the Screws got caught: they went after the Royal Family, something the Police could not avoid investigating. Moreover, when they raided Glenn Mulcaire, the evidence – along with names of those who had commissioned his “research” – was all there. No such evidence yet exists to support any of the accusations made against Morgan on the Fawkes blog.

In fact, as I pointed out, Staines and Cole have disregarded the evidence in the Sven’n’Ulrika saga in pursuit of Morgan. Maybe it will dawn on them, in the light of their failure to get William ‘Ague, the throwing out of two election expense claims against Chris Huhne, and the lack of progress against Piers Morgan, that writing the headline first is not a particularly fruitful way to proceed.

I’ll go further: if evidence does emerge that implicates Morgan, or any other editor, in illegal activity, it won’t be down to Staines and Cole. Must try harder, chaps.

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