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.
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.
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.