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Thursday 21 June 2012

Gallagher The Hypocrite

[Updates, two so far, at end of post]

Those who believe that kicking the BBC is only the preserve of the tabloid press may find a Twitter outburst earlier today instructive, and after a little investigation, persuasive. Tony Gallagher, editor of the Maily Telegraph, has decided to go after the Corporation over a story that was broken not in his own paper, but in the Daily Mail. But, sadly, he failed to check his own back yard beforehand.

Tony Gallagher at the Leveson Inquiry

Over at the empire of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre, hack Tim Shipman breathlessly told “Leaked documents seen by the Mail reveal Education Secretary Michael Gove has drawn up a blueprint which would tear up the current exam system as well as abolishing the National Curriculum”, which by the most fortunate of coincidences was exactly what he and his editor wanted to hear.

And, as the man said, there’s more: “From September 2014, pupils will begin studying for ‘explicitly harder’ exams in English, maths, physics, chemistry and biology. Tough O-levels will also be drawn up in history, geography and modern languages. The new exams will ‘meet or exceed the highest standards in the world for that age group’”. Cor, proper education or what?

Leaving aside the mildly inconvenient fact that Shipman and his editor wouldn’t know a GCSE exam from a hole in the ground – as I readily confess I wouldn’t, either – this story is clearly a plant from “Oiky” Gove, or with his connivance. But nevertheless, it’s a story that no other paper had at the time, and so the Mail is quite right to claim an exclusive for it.

But here Gallagher enters, with his Twitter rant: “No credit for Mail for O Level scoop this morning from BBC. Instead there is the lazy (and dishonest) ‘BBC understands’. Graceless”. And just in case you didn’t get his drift, he followed that with “The BBC simply hates giving credit where it is due all too frequently. So many staff, so few scoops to show for it”. As Sir Sean nearly said, I think we got the point.

So what of the Beeb story? Well, right now, not only is the Mail mentioned, it is also linked, and the article suggests that someone has checked with their contacts in Government to back it up. So Gallagher is at the very least mistaken: those less charitably inclined might say he was talking out of the back of his neck just to make a cheap point. And he’s not checked his own site before ranting.

GCSEs to be scrapped in drive to raise standards” proclaims the Tel, under the by-line of Graeme Paton. It covers the same ground as Shipman’s Mail article, but unlike the BBC, it does not once acknowledge that paper as its source, which, given the Mail got the exclusive, must be the case. So Tony Gallagher should really have said “No credit for Mail from O Level scoop this morning from Telegraph”.

What an absolute and stinking hypocrite. No change there, then.

[UPDATE1 1145 hours: not that Tony Gallagher takes any notice of the likes of me, you understand, but by the most remarkable of coincidences the Telegraph site has now edited Graeme Paton's piece to acknowledge the Mail. To show the difference, here are the screen shots.

This is the original, from which I took a screen shot at 1040 hours. As can be seen, there is no mention of the Mail. The time stamp on the original of this blog post is 1100 hours.

Now you don't see the Mail ...

And here is the same article, screen shotted at 1127 hours, with both a mention of the Mail and a link, so the Tel is now up to speed with the BBC. As I said, I'm sure it's just a coincidence.

... but now you do

What the heck - it isn't a coincidence. And my observation on Gallagher stands, except now he's trying to cover his tracks - and getting it all wrong.

[UPDATE2 1935 hours: Tony Gallagher's hypocrisy has done something generally improbable: it has united me and the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines at the Guido Fawkes blog in condemnation of him.
Staines' intervention is less nuanced than mine, but equally forthright: Gallagher has absolutely no room to call out anyone else for lifting content, or failing to attribute it]

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