Our free and fearless press, we are regularly told, has learned the lessons of Leveson and cleaned up its act. All that bad behaviour is now a thing of the past. Instead, we now have a more responsible, less vicious and more caring press pack. Except we do not: the behaviour is as execrable as ever, and the sad death of Caroline Flack underscores it.
The attitude of the tabloids to celebrities is unchanged: they are there to help sell copies and add clicks, and if they’re in the public eye, they’re press property, so the Fourth Estate can do with them what it wishes. The occasional casualty is as so much collateral damage. But this time, one paper is in big, big trouble, and that paper is the Murdoch Sun.
Why that should be is not hard to deduce: Ms Flack had been involved in an alleged domestic dispute with her partner, and as a result had not only had to step down as host of Love Island, she had been plastered all over two Sun front pages. On Christmas Eve, it was “Court Claim … SHE TRIED TO KILL ME … What Flack boyfriend told cops”, and New Year’s Day brought “Flack’s bedroom bloodbath”. Subtle it was not.
The coverage was incessant; unrelenting; vicious. Only the other day, the Sun had run a story titled “Brutal Caroline Flack Valentine’s Day card mocks troubled star with ‘I’ll f***ing lamp you’ message”. Yesterday it was taken down. And so began the attempts by the press and its hangers-on to shirk the Sun’s responsibilities.
Right on cue came the Sun’s chief creep Dan Wootton to blame ITV: “Caroline was hung out to dry by ITV. She was distraught they didn’t stand by her. And distraught about the lack of support she was given”. The paper itself blamed the CPS: “Those close to Caroline are said to be furious that the CPS had continued to prosecute … They are angry that the CPS had refused to listen to warnings that Caroline was vulnerable”.
Nothing about the creeping filth at the Sun being warned that she was vulnerable, though. Instead, the CPS blaming gathered pace, with former Screws and Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan joining in with “To all those rushing to blame the media for Caroline Flack's death … The CPS have big questions to answer”. Well, he wouldn’t blame ITV, would he?
Meanwhile, Sarah “Vain” Vine dutifully joined in the blame shifting: “I always had a really bad feeling about the Caroline Flack story. Trial by social media. What a terrible tragedy”. As Mic Wright pointed out, “MailOnline has published 16 stories about Caroline Flack since her death was announced. It had published 25+ stories about her since the new year. But yes, it was ‘trial by social media.’” Who has the biggest megaphone? Not social media.
Yet there was TalkRADIO host Julia Hartley Dooda - another taker of the Murdoch shilling - on the same page with “The angry keyboard warriors accusing people in the media of hounding [Caroline Flack] to her death are very same people who incessantly post abuse to celebrities & people in the media - & who are right now busily hounding those same people online”. Look over there! Nothing to see here! Move along, mugs, move along.
Well, excuse me for not giving a rat’s arse about Dan Wootton, Piers Morgan, Sarah Vine and Julia Hartley Dooda. What happened to Caroline Flack is down, more than anything, to the Murdoch Sun and its incessant, vicious monstering of her. Full stop, end of story.HERE - all help is gratefully received. Thanks for reading this far!