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Saturday 10 November 2012

Leveson Is Served (28)


There is, at the Daily Mail, one place where you can read the authentic voice of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre, and that is Daily Mail Comment. Here are the true views of the Vagina Monologue. And here, in its latest incarnation, it shows that he has tied himself in knots to persuade himself and those readers with whom he claims to have his legendary conversation that self-regulation must continue.

Only Lord McAlpine knows how horrendous his trial by television and the entirely unregulated internet has been” thunders Dacre, seemingly unaware that his own paper is effectively “entirely unregulated”, as the now-discredited PCC is the industry deciding whether to police itself, deciding who among its luminaries does the policing, what complaints they allow, and the level at which the truth bar is set.

So the Mail is in no position to call out social media, but Dacre ploughs on regardless in any case, asserting that the story from Newsnight’s Friday before last edition was “aggressively promoted” (baloney), “fuelled by wild gossip on Twitter” (not owned or operated by the Beeb, but nice try), and then momentarily stops kicking the Guardian so it can hold it up as an exemplar of the free press.

This is a staggering display of brass neck. But, as the man said, there’s more: the editorial is then diverted to serve as yet another tirade against the still unknown recommendations of Lord Justice Leveson. So Dacre asserts that “the statutory regimes under which the BBC and ITV operate did nothing to deter either from broadcasting claims against [McAlpine]”. They made no claim against him.

But you know what’s coming next: Statutory Regulation. This is held to mean “it is left to politicians to decide what the public has a right to know”. Had it been up to politicians to decide what was broadcast, then nothing about the Tories would have even been suggested. This is complete bullshit. But he’s not finished: “what is to stop MPs seeking an ever tighter grip on journalists?” comes the plaintive cry.

What’s to stop them at any time? In fact, without a regulatory framework underpinned by statute, and in a jurisdiction with no written constitution, there is arguably less to stop those politicians who might be so inclined from impinging on the freedom of the press, whatever the pleading of their interest groups. And Dacre still hasn’t answered one very obvious point.

The press excused itself, in his lifetime, from going after Jimmy Savile: while the Mail libelled Alan Sugar, Irving Scholar, Liz Hurley, Nicole Kidman, Diana Rigg, Rowan Atkinson, Michael Caine, Sharon Stone, Elton John, Noel Edmonds, and Hugh Grant, Paul Dacre and his fellow editors weaselled out by blubbering that “he’d sue us”. And Savile was a greater libel threat than those they did defame how, exactly?

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