After a week during which our free and fearless press managed to cover itself in less than total glory, what it really needed to avoid was being party to another act of journalistic ineptitude, such as those called out by veteran reporter Peter Oborne, in his J’Accuse against client journalism resulting from anonymous Downing Street briefings.
Sadly for the press establishment, that was what they got, and for one good reason: someone not unadjacent to the Daily Mail used the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog to put the boot in on Oborne, by suggesting the Mail had relieved him of his duties. But the claim wasn’t true.
Under the claim “Exclusive”, as in exclusively wrong, The Great Guido tells readers “Peter Oborne
Fired Contract Not Renewed With Daily Mail … Oborne Quits?” and goes on to pull the biggest and most blatant double standard since, er, his last one.
“Guido understands from a Daily Mail source that Peter Oborne‘s services as a columnist are no longer required. Oborne has been rampaging around broadcast studios for the last few days railing at the corruption of the Lobby and their ‘Downing Street sources’. His targets of attack included the political journalists of the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday, his now former employers. As yet this is officially unconfirmed. Peter is not answering his phone either. It is of course a Friday”. Staines insinuating drunkenness on others.
That’s the same Paul Staines who racked up four drink related convictions, including two instances of drinking and driving. The same Paul Staines who admitted to Esquire magazine that his favourite lunchtime tipple was a bottle of Chablis (as in, a whole one). The same Paul Staines who is shown on video (see HERE) being ejected from the Institute of Directors on the grounds that he was Elephant’s Trunk and Mozart.
So that didn’t go so well, then - especially as Oborne then broke the alleged silence that he was not actually maintaining in the first place to tell “I've not been fired. I'm giving up my weekly column on the Daily Mail but look forward to writing for the Mail and other publications in the future”. He does have significant previous for exercising his own choice in walking away - he did so in resigning from the Telegraph.
Oborne left the Tel over the paper’s shameful behaviour in allowing major advertisers to effectively dictate what was said about them - the advertiser concerned being HSBC. The Fawkes mob has grudgingly updated its post to add “Alex Bannister, managing editor at the Daily Mail, gets in touch to insist that it is Peter himself who has decided to quit his column and not renew his year-long contract”. They fouled up again.
And why they fouled up is by doing what Oborne has been warning about this week: being fed anonymous, single-sourced claims, taking them as fact, and therefore being showed up as complete numpties when it all goes belly-up. There are clearly some in the press establishment who want to make an example of Peter Oborne; The Great Guido was equally clearly selected as the conduit for this hatchet job.
Once again, Oborne maintains his dignity, while Paul Staines does not. Another fine mess.
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