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Saturday 2 April 2016

Whittingdale - Now The Excuses

Hardly had Nick Mutch’s Byline Media post on Culture Secretary John Whittingdale’s dalliance with The World’s Oldest Profession, and the clear implications for security, press regulation and the future of the BBC, been published than the small but perfectly formed chorus of voices raised in denial attempted to push back at, and hopefully rubbish, the points made. For some, there was a clear feeling of déjà vu.
It was a non-story. There was nothing wrong with a single man seeking out the services of a prostitute. There was no evidence. It was a conspiracy theory. Sinister motives had been ascribed to the editor of The Independent. The only interest was that of prurience. Labour MP Tom Watson was behind it (allegedly). The story had been written to some predetermined Byline Media agenda. And, to top it all, it was yet another example of the Leveson “chilling effect”. All these excuses were put forward. And all were wrong.
Typical of the air of sniffy dismissal affected by those willing to make a pointless gesture and defend the press’ silence was Jeremy Duns, telling anyone willing to listen that “This is slapdash journalism: this article only claims it could 'potentially leave him exposed to blackmail’ … Unless Byline can substantiate the claimed national security risk, there's no real story - just prurience”. Two things here.
One, Duns manages to miss the press regulation and BBC aspects of the story, while talking down Whitingdale’s vulnerability to blackmail and ignoring completely his non-disclosure of the Amsterdam MTV trip. And two, “just prurience” did not stop the press on countless other occasions. Non-story? This is a non-defence. But do go on.
The article also just seems to assume Rajan was lying about dropping the story for editorial reasons - again, with no firm evidence for it”. It does no such thing, and moreover, “being leaned on to spike the story” qualifies as “editorial reasons”, thanks. Does Sir have a final sniffy put-down? “One editorial reason for not running it might have been precisely this tendency of leaping to conspiracy without sufficient evidence”.
Duns is not the only one to also ignore Mutch’s assurance that there is more to come, and this reinforces that feeling of déjà vu: this is the same kind of pushback that came when Nick Davies first broke the phone hacking scandal for the Guardian. That, too, was a “non-story”. There was no evidence. It was just a load of lefties looking for revenge against the press. It had been written to meet an agenda. It was a conspiracy theory.
Except, of course, it was no such thing, as we saw clearly after the larger part of the Fourth Estate was dragged kicking and screaming into conceding that Davies and his editor Alan Rusbridger were right. But back to the Whittingdale excuses.

Who would care to expound upon Duns’ bluster? Step forward Murdoch shilling taker and conspiracy theory pitcher supreme David Aaronovitch, who sees dark forces at work behind the scenes: “A line may be traced from Byline via @peter_jukes and @tom_watson to an interest in Whittingdale”. Many names have been pitched in the course of investigating this story. Tom Watson’s is not one of them.
Would Sir care to have another go? After getting Peter Jukes’ Twitter handle right, he certainly would: “Two desperate attempts at deflection from the Whittingdale-Watson issue in the same tweet. That’s very you”. It still isn’t about Tom Watson, and here we see another echo of the phone hacking scandal: for so long, the idea was advanced that it was about Labour taking revenge for Damian McBride. But McBride was not involved.
Still, there was always the crude accusation of manipulation: “Now, here’s a simple question: were you involved in Byline running the Whittingdale story?” A word in your shell-like, David. I contribute articles to Byline Media. I write what I want and publish when I want. If Peter Jukes, or anyone else, tried to intervene and force an editorial line on me, I would soon not be contributing articles. Nick Mutch published what and when he wanted.
And still they came: another Ron Hopeful contribution came from Tom Latchem, who proffered “I knew one paper didn't run story on grounds it was not in public interest to expose a single man dating prostitute”. One paper, eh? You’ve got a surprise on the way, and no mistake. Would Sir like to move right along to taking the biscuit?
He certainly would: “Not because of Whittingdale's influence on media regulation as Byline claim. More because of the so-called ‘chilling effect’ of Leveson”. Yes, somehow, despite his Inquiry and subsequent report having no force or status in law, that Lord Justice Leveson was behind it all along! Well I never.

The excuses advanced in defence of John Whittingdale are many, varied, and even, on occasion, interesting. But they are misguided and wrong, especially those of David Aaronovitch, who manages both false assumption and dead giveaway at the same time, assuming that one media site works to an agenda … because the one with which he is involved (the Murdoch empire) really does work to an agenda.

As Nick Mutch has already outlined, there is much more to come on this story. What has been published thus far is only the tip of a rather larger iceberg - as it was with the initial revelations on phone hacking. That Duns, Aaronovitch and Latchem are so ready to rubbish the exercise without waiting for the whole story to emerge tells us a lot more about them, and their agenda, than anything about Byline.


Anonymous said...

Excellent - looking forward to the continuing expose!

Stevo said...

Brilliant mate. Duns reckons you're so blinded by hatred for Mensch. Eh?

rob said...

David Aaronovitch taken over Neil Wallis 's job of getting Murdoch's late tackls in early?

Methinks Murdoch's Minions are getting rather desperate especially as regards the "stories" coming out of Byline which the "controlled" establishment have kept hidden for some considearble time.

We await the promise being kept of more to come.

Anonymous said...

Aaronovitch is one of Murdoch's lowest of bribed lowlives. An appalling two faced hypocrite even by Murdoch shill "standards."

Of course it was only a matter of time before one of them tried to smear Tom Watson - the only MP to openly tell the Murdochs what a "family" of guttersnipes they are. And try to get their own back for exposure by Peter Leveson. It's why grubby neocon propagandists like Aaronovitch are hired.

There'll be more of it because such scumbags are so far down the Murdoch corruption road they'll never be able to turn back.

pete c said...

And since precisely when did these outlets refrain from publishing any single 'story' that involved ladies of a certain trade, as it wasn't in the public interest as an MP happened to be single.

It's usually their first line of defence for all manner of dodgy stories.

Perhaps I've led a sheltered life, but apart from Aaronovitch, I've heard of none of the others quoted.

Bandini said...

I tried commenting here last night, without success for some reason...

< insert titillating picture here >