As if the BBC did not need another headache, added to those caused by Question Time yet again failing to correctly identify another lobbyist on its panel, and more seriously, its political editor Laura Kuenssberg being named by Peter Oborne as one of those transmitting propaganda for chief Downing Street polecat Dominic Cummings, it now has a rather large question mark against its media editor Amol Rajan.
It would be a surprise if the Beeb’s media editor did not keep tabs on the media landscape, but what Rajan let slip last week is that he has extended the casting of his media analysis net to borderline Fake News operations and right-wing propagandists - and not, it seems, to hold them to account, but to cosy up to them, even to the extent of taking their (false) claims as valid contributors to the news debate.
Worse, the Fake News operation Rajan has cosied up to is that inhabited by the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog. So cosy that he gave them his implicit congratulations when they revealed - wrongly - that Peter Oborne had been fired by the Daily Mail. Yes, the BBC Media Editor cheered a Fake News item.
“Beat me to it; perils of being on air. Mail sources insist he resigned, will continue to write for the paper occasionally, and his contract was due to expire in 4 days. But he resigned after writing something that baffled and infuriated a lot of very senior people there” he responded, quote-Tweeting the Fawkes fake claim “Peter Oborne Fired By Daily Mail”.
Yet worse is that Rajan has significant previous in the arena of selective news management, which is what Oborne was, in part, objecting to. Those who look in regularly on Zelo Street will recall that it was during his time in the editor’s chair at the Independent that the story of John Whittingdale and the dominatrix - or rather, why so many other papers had passed on it - was investigated and then summarily spiked.
Peter Oborne - not fired
Whittingdale was Culture Secretary in Young Dave’s Government. It was he who would have commenced Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act, which the press didn’t want to happen. He stalled. He did not commence Section 40. The press were so grateful that they said nothing about his relationship with a sex worker. Entirely by coincidence, of course.
Rajan was going to publish the story, to call out his fellow editors for spiking the kind of scandal that would normally be their bread and butter. Then, after meeting the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre, still at the time editing the Daily Mail, he spiked the story himself, to the disgust and consternation of those who had laboured long and hard over it.
Amol Rajan had shown, unlike his paper, that when it came to being independent, he wasn’t. Spiking the Whittingdale revelations, which eventually reached national attention after Private Eye magazine had run a full page feature on them, and BBC Newsnight, to its credit, had aired the subject, was when he sold out to the press establishment.
Now, he’s selling out to the press establishment’s boot boys. The Great Guido is the last source that a BBC editor should be taking on trust, cosying up to. Rajan looks to all the world as if he is doing both. And that’s not good enough.
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