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Sunday 5 February 2012

Booker’s Reinvented Beeb Bashing

Last week, I reflected on the BBC2 documentary Protecting Our Children, and of the total silence from the obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre, a silence that, to its credit, the Mail has maintained. But one hack could not resist the temptation to be both shameless and shameful in laying in to the Beeb for personal gain: step forward Christopher Booker.

Booker’s typically graceless attack on the programme, “The BBC’s party line on our ‘brave’ social workers” (see – they’re not really ‘brave’), tells that the couple depicted “could not have been more carefully chosen”, thus inferring that there was some deliberate act of choice. Perhaps he missed the inconvenient fact of consent having to be given by all those involved before filming took place.

He then asserts that the “21-year-old social worker” (that means it’s A Bad Thing) “had to be supervised” by her team manager. Perhaps Booker imagines none of his readers had seen the programme: the social worker asked that the team manager attend. It was a sensible and careful step, showing that the process is a considered and thorough one, that nothing is missed, that the job is done properly.

But Booker is not done with the retelling just yet: he then tells that the mother was “robbed of the children she loved”. This characteristically vicious smear overlooks another inconvenient fact: the mother decided, of her own volition (that means that those social workers he despises were not involved), that she could not give the children the care they needed, and gave them up for adoption.

Then Booker goes totally OTT as he rambles “officious menace ... no human warmth, no real attempt made to help the couple ... inexperienced young social worker ... no better fitted to her role than the parents ... selectively one-sided ... system has gone off the rails ... scores of individual families torn apart ... just how dysfunctional the system has become”.

And then comes the brass neck: Booker asserts “I have been just as careful as the BBC ...” he begins, and at that point the bullshit detector went into overdrive. We know exactly how careful this superannuated fraud has been, because his shoddy and slanted reporting led last April to Judge Bellamy – uniquely – excoriating Booker on the record for “significant factual errors and omissions” (Para 185).

This formal calling out noted that Booker had not bothered to tell his readers that in one case, a child taken into care had suffered a series of bone fractures, and that in another he had tried to implicate a paediatrician who had nothing to do with the case. That is selective and dishonest journalism. It shows that Christopher Booker is an unreliable witness. And the conclusion is a straightforward one.

He is the last person whose opinion should be sought on child care.

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