Our free and fearless press, so we have been told time and again, cleaned up its act in the wake of Part 1 the Leveson Inquiry, so there was no need for Part 2. And time and again, we discover that there has been no cleaning up. The bad behaviour just carries on. And the principal culprit, as so often before Leveson, is the Murdoch press.
But instead of its usual staple targets - Scary Muslims™, Rotten Lefties™, Trans people, those who work in local Government and in the Civil Service, and anyone involved in Political Correctness Gorn Mad™, the Murdoch Sun has today splashed England cricketer Ben Stokes on its front page. Or rather, it has splashed his family.
And it has splashed his family across the front page for no reason other than flogging a few more copies on the back of Stokes’ fame, telling readers “Exclusive: Tragedy That Hunts Stokes’ Family … Hero Ben’s brother and sister were shot dead”. His Mum’s ex-husband killed their children and then shot himself. Before Stokes was born..
What, then, does this have to do with Stokes’ cricket career? Nothing at all. It is crude, it is intrusive, it is insensitive, it is beyond disgraceful. To his significant credit, Stokes has made a dignified and moving statement on the affair.
He won't resign ...
“Today the Sun has seen fit to publish extremely painful, sensitive and personal details concerning events in the private lives of my family, going back more than 31 years … It is hard to find words that adequately describe such low and despicable behaviour, disguised as journalism. I cannot conceive of anything more immoral, heartless or contemptuous to the feelings and circumstances of my family”. And there is more.
... she'll do nothing about it ...
“For more than three decades, my family has worked hard to deal with the private trauma inevitably associated with these events and has taken great care to keep private what were deeply personal and traumatic events. On Saturday, the Sun sent a ‘reporter’ to my parents’ home in New Zealand to question them, out of the blue, on this incredibly upsetting topic”. This is why no link to the Sun story is provided here.
... they'll just weasel out of getting involved ...
He continues “To use my name as an excuse to shatter the privacy and private lives of … my parents is utterly disgusting … This is the lowest form of journalism … it is totally out of order … We need to take a serious look at how we allow our press to behave”.
... but they will say something ...
Many victims of press misbehaviour will be quietly nodding their agreement with Ben Stokes. There is no possible public interest defence to running this story, replete as ever with invented quotes from “a source”. What is worse, press non-regulator IPSO will do nothing about this latest overstepping of the line. If Stokes makes a complaint to them, they will inevitably side with the Sun. And it will take them months even to do that.
... like reminding us about Part 2 of this
The worst aspect of this latest appalling example of press misbehaviour is that none of those concerned - hacks, sub-editors, editorial staff and management - appears to have lifted a finger to stop the story being published. That says more about the moral compass of those people - or the lack of it - than any criticism can do.
Sun editor Tony Gallagher should be sacked after this lapse. His boss Rebekah Brooks should resign. But these people are totally without morals. So they’ll just carry on.
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