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Saturday 20 October 2012

Leveson – Goodman In Wonderland

[Update at end of post]

The voices from some within the Fourth Estate, and increasingly from pundits on the right, are still sounding off about what Lord Justice Leveson will recommend when he reports next month, despite not knowing what will be in that report. And the welter of adverse comment is throwing up some truly desperate ideas, none more than that expounded by Paul Goodman on ConservativeHome today.

The end of Mitchell spells the end for Leveson” trumpets Goodman, which sounds truly batshit, and the intricacy of his argument does not disappoint even the most discerning rant connoisseur, being so off the wall that it could have been advanced by Melanie “not just Barking but halfway to Upminster” Phillips, although there are no references to political correctness or society destroying itself via leftism.

Goodman’s argument goes that Andrew Mitchell’s departure is purely down to the competitive nature of the free press, and the determination of those at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun. That the Mail and Telegraph were also intimately involved does not enter, and nor does any explanation of how anything recommended by Leveson would stop what is a news item being reported.

No, the Mitchell resignation was proof that “the media is back on top”. Moreover, Goodman asserts that the pressure on Young Dave to reveal his communications with the twinkle toed yet domestically combative Rebekah Brooks was “a warning to him not to concede statutory regulation if Lord Leveson recommends it”. Er, why? Why is there always an assumption that a new regime will mean less freedom?

But, as the man said, there’s more: Goodman states totally erroneously that “It's worth noting that the man who can claim to have turned the tide against Leveson is a politician, though admittedly one who is also a journalist: Michael Gove”. Anyone recall “Oiky” Gove’s intervention? If not the whole thing, is there anyone who can quote the odd quack from him?

No matter. Goodman is sure that “It was the Education Secretary's exquisitely polite but unremittingly defiant evidence to Leveson that signalled a Government retreat from the enquiry that Mr Cameron himself had set up”. He then asserts that the Jimmy Savile business reinforces the case for this freedom which Leveson must surely be planning to take away.

There’s only one thing wrong with this argument: it’s crap. The Savile revelations were started by the broadcast media, which operates within a statutory framework. The wonderfully free press did nothing, being more interested over the years in hacking, blagging, smearing, libelling, surveillance, interference in Police investigations, and maintaining a culture of Omerta.

Paul Goodman is Ron Hopeful and I claim my five pounds.

[UPDATE 21 October 1910 hours: Paul Goodman is not alone in advancing the anti-Leveson line while not having any idea what is to be recommended. As Brian Cathcart at Hacked Off has found, the Murdoch Sunday Times, once noted for great investigative journalism - OK, I'm going back to the pre-Rupe era here - has today put out an article titled CENSORED.

This fails to explain the culture of Omerta over Phonehackgate, the failure to say boo about Jimmy Savile until ITV had acted (and a golden opportunity to kick the BBC had presented itself), and of course the disgraceful treatment of the McCanns, Robert Murat, Christopher Jefferies and the Taylor sisters. The freedom of the press is once again held to be under attack.

Except, as Cathcart points out, Leveson is directed by his terms of reference - yes, the ones that the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre finds so flexible after the event - to preserve press freedom. The problem for the Fourth Estate here is that firstly, they're ranting about something that does not exist, and secondly, this is in danger of becoming so much background noise and therefore doubly counter productive.

But the press seems not to be listening, so frightened of the prospect of losing control of regulation has it become. All the more reason for a new approach]

1 comment:

Tom said...

Rule #1 - if a thinly disguised puff for Michael Gove's leadership ambitions appears, it has something to do with Michael Gove.