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Friday 6 February 2015

Cathy Newman In Big Trouble

The perils of getting it wrong - journalists and bloggers know all about that. They also know that, while some print journalists can get away with persistently and deliberately saying things that are manifestly untrue, they get away with it because the end, effectively, justified the means. But for those who work in broadcast media, there is little tolerance of less than total honesty. And there is no tolerance at all of the BBC and Channel 4.
If a BBC or Channel 4 presenter were to be caught telling fibs, the full force of the Fourth Estate - well, that larger part that hates the broadcasters, anyway - would come crashing down on them. The Sun would ridicule them. The Daily Mail would go into full righteous why-oh-why mode. And after Channel 4 News presenter Cathy Newman was caught out “mis-speakingabout her visit to Streatham Mosque, it will be her turn for that next.
Well I just visited Streatham Mosque for [Visit My Mosque] day and was surprised to find myself ushered out of the door … I was respectfully dressed, head covering an no shoes but a man ushered me back out onto the street. I said I was there for [Visit My Mosque] … But it made no difference”, she Tweeted. Later, she visited another Mosque and enjoyed a friendly reception, including tea and cake.
And there the story might have ended, except that Streatham Mosque subsequently received a number of threatening emails, and none of the management there seemed to have spoken to Ms Newman. So they examined the CCTV, only to find that she seemed to have spoken to a congregant, who mistakenly thought she was looking for the church next door, and directed her there - but she wasn’t “ushered out”.
She had, it seemed, gone to the wrong location, and her Channel 4 colleagues were waiting for her at the other Mosque. The problem then entered that “After Newman tweeted that she had been ‘ushered out of the door’, the story was covered by the national media, including the Guardian, Daily Mail, Independent and The Huffington Post”. Yes, the Mail covered the story, and therefore repeated the wrong claim.

While Ms Newman has told that “As the primary purpose of Visit My Mosque day was to increase understanding of Islam, I was horrified to hear the Mosque I visited in error has had death threats … I’m sorry for any misunderstanding there has been. I would be happy to pay a private visit to South London Islamic Centre once again”, she might be best advised to brace herself for the blowback from the populist press.

Channel 4 News is frequently the target of attacks from the Daily Mail. Now that one of its presenters has been caught not only misrepresenting the events of last Sunday, but getting caught, the Dacre doggies will drop their usual characterisation of Islam - the one that tells us regularly about Scary Muslims - in order to lay into Channel 4. This isn’t a total media shitstorm right now? The Mail will soon see to that.

Cathy Newman and her employers should fasten their seatbelts. It’s going to get bumpy.

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