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Monday 3 December 2012

Boris Gets Leveson Wrong

Forming a basic understanding of what has been proposed by Lord Justice Leveson is proving difficult for those on the right: yesterday it was Andrew “Transcription Error” Gilligan who was getting it wrong, and today, London’s occasional Mayor and regular collector of “chicken feed” from the Maily Telegraph, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, does little better.

Cripes, can't get the hang of this Tweet malarkey, chaps!

Bozza has decided that the real culprit in all of this is not the press – which, by remarkable coincidence, bungs him £250k a year for his weekly column – but the web. Moreover, Leveson should have been looking there, and not at his pals who scrabble around the dunghill that is Grubstreet. It is remarkable that an intelligent man should even think about coming out with such baloney.

To demonstrate the central flaw in Bozza’s argument, we need go no further than the title of the Leveson Inquiry. This was into the “culture, practices and ethics of the press”. That, folks, is why Leveson did not, and could not, delve into the world of social media – because his terms of reference did not permit it. Bozza once again fails in the application of “five minutes’ Googling”.

But his wanting to dump on all those who inhabit the world of Blogs, Twitter and Facebook is entirely understandable: here, after all, are all those rotten folks who showed up his cycle hire scheme and its spiralling costs (costs to Londoners, that is, not to sponsors Barclays), the waste of money on a vanity cable car, and the potentially larger waste of money on 600 vanity Boris Buses.

This is why Bozza is so wary of social media: the notion that he has any concern about Alistair McAlpine’s welfare really is coming it. And his citing the Daily Mail for bravery in naming the alleged killers of Stephen Lawrence is no better: the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre made a typically cynical calculation that they didn’t have the means to sue, and he’d sell more papers.

Johnson might not look so blatantly partisan if he even bothered to report accurately what Leveson has proposed. He has not: like Gilligan before him, all manner of exaggeration is deployed to frighten readers into believing that the law might be used to keep any new press regulator under the thumb of politicians and lawyers, while the opposite is rather more adjacent to the truth.

No, the reality is that Boris Johnson does not just dislike social media, he dislikes any media that is not uniformly favourable to Himself Personally Now. Hence his pre-election outburst at the BBC’s Tim Donovan for, er, doing his job, and his attempt to silence Sonia Punnell for reporting things called facts (about him). His pals in the press are nice to him, which means they are by definition beyond reproach.

So no wonder Bozza wants Leveson to “look over there”. Crikey readers! Oo-er!!

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