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Wednesday 29 October 2014

Dacre’s Democracy Dreamland

Back in 2007, Peter Wilby observed the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre giving the annual Cudlipp lecture: it “was like watching the Mail, with all its anger, its prejudice and its negativity, made flesh ... he delivered himself of an unoriginal rant that made many listeners feel they were stuck in the back of a taxi with a particularly boring and opinionated driver. It was a wasted opportunity”.
Why the f*** shouldn't I be allowed a paranoid rant, c***?!? Er, with the greatest of respect, Mr Jay

Seven years later, the Vagina Monologue has again been lecturing, this time at the Ritz. And the wilful distortion of reality was remarkable: “I note with some irony that Leveson had barely a word of criticism for the police and the politicians. Well, if the first had done their job properly and the second had not so sycophantically fawned upon Murdoch, Leveson would never have occurred” he began.

In Dacre’s world, the politicians only fawn around Creepy Uncle Rupe, yet it is he who has enjoyed the most recent Downing Street lunch. His audience is supposed to airbrush out what should have been “Leveson part 2”, which would have considered the Police. And, most telling of all, the Leveson Inquiry is imbued with powers it just did not have. Dacre comes over as frightened and paranoid.

All that Leveson did was to propose a totally independent system of press regulation – independent not only of editorial and proprietorial interference, but also independent of any and all politicians. Thus public confidence would be restored in the press; the less well off would no longer get trampled over and have no means of redress when monstered and smeared by the Fourth Estate.

Dacre cannot see it that way: “To the police and politicians made so suspicious of the press by Leveson I would argue that it is in all our interests to drop hostilities and to try and restore the mutual respect we should have for each other and which is an important ingredient in a healthy democracy”. What can he mean by “hostilities”? Indeed, what does he mean by “mutual respect”?

What he most likely means is that a number of journalists have been arrested as part of continuing Police operations, and Dacre did suggest in the first instance that the cops should do their job properly. This they are now doing. And if, by “mutual respect”, he means going back to the too-close relationship that existed between press and law enforcement officers, he can forget it.

As for “healthy democracy”, when his paper is selectively shilling for one party and against its opponents, smearing the EU just to garner more sales, and attempting to whip up anti-immigrant hysteria, that is a case of “physician, heal thyself”. Paul Dacre’s attempt to then deflect by inventing “Government controls shackling the press”, where none exist or are proposed, will not wash.

That “boring and opinionated driver” hasn’t improved over the years, has he?


Arnold said...

A wonderful headline today.
"How we are WRONG about everything: From teen pregnancies to jobs and immigration, poll shows public perception is at odds with reality"

It's like wearing a "Kick Me" sign, and many commenters have obliged.


Anonymous said...

So: whatever did happen to Leveson part 2?

"If the first (the police) had done their job properly and the second (the politicians) had not so sycophantically fawned upon Murdoch, Leveson would never have occurred” he (Dacre) began.

But the police didn't do their job and the politicians did fawn over Murdoch. And the interest of the public is to know why these things happened and how we stop them happening. That is why Davies did his investigations and Jukes wrote a book and one of the reasons why we have had the Leveson Inquiry. The answer would seem to be that Murdoch's press appeared to be too big to take on even it was known that it was breaking the law.

The press, politicians and police are three different institutions that, to some extent, have to hold each other to account. The problem is that they got too close to each other so were not capable of doing their job with respect to the others. Leveson was part of an attempt to rectify that: it was not part of the problem.


rob said...

""If the first (the police) had done their job properly and the second (the politicians) had not so sycophantically fawned upon Murdoch, Leveson would never have occurred” he (Dacre) began."

And if the press media hadn't had a cosy pact with each other (omerta) to disclose each other's wrongdoing (Coulson's used the word "traitor" to Nick Davies).....

And if the Daily Mail (inter alia) had come clean over its use of a certain private investigator (when are the Operation Motorman files going to be fully revealed?)....

And if those private investigators had been properly prosecuted .........

And if the Daily Mail was more interested in truthful reporting than becoming the equivalent of radio's shock jocks for attracting custom.........

E & OE