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Friday 25 September 2020

Private Eye And Establishment Capture

It is not my business to tell Master Emmanuel Strobes and his team what to put in their magnificent organ, and so I do not. What is the business of anyone and everyone who cares about the future of genuine independent journalism is the nagging thought that Private Eye magazine, that freest-spirited of British publications - and for that reason loved even by those who do not always agree with it - had succumbed to establishment capture.

Someone standing on your foot, Ian?

What fires that thought is the attitude the Eye has to the Hacked Off campaign, and those who support it. Both want to see good independent journalism flourish, even among the wreckage of partisan hackery, proprietorial interference, lobby group Astroturfing and wanton propaganda. They may not agree on press regulation, but, so what?

So the attacks on HO from the Eye continue, with the latest, in issue 1531, veering into the realm of the pointless. Under the guise of “Libel News”, readers are told “Hacked Off’s declaration that ‘the press should be held to standards which protect the public, strengthen democracy and safeguard freedom of expression’ is about to face a severe test”.

There is more. “Veteran BBC journalist John Ware is suing one of Hacked Off’s collaborators [this should read ‘supporters’] for the ‘seriously defamatory’ accusation that his reporting is prejudiced - and rather than defend the BBC, Hacked Off supporters are lining up against it”. The piece continues in similar vein.

Two things here. One, the BBC is not the press, and Two, the BBC is not involved in the legal action described. Therefore no-one is “lining up against” the Corporation. Nor is anyone involved in that action resiling from the assertion which the Eye claims is “about to face a severe test”. Ware was trenchantly criticised by Paddy French of Press Gang. Ware claimed he had been defamed and instructed lawyers. French is defending the action.

That is all. But instead of leaving it at that, French and his legal team get a casual smearing: “Clearly they have an interest in discrediting Ware and Panorama”. No. Just no. Ware has begun proceedings. They are being defended. Worse still, we then read that “Many have tried, but no one has yet been able to lay a glove on Panorama”. And no one is trying to: a defamation action is being defended (for the third time).

After including Justin Schlosberg in the smearing (why?), the piece concludes by telling us how old French, his QC, and Ware are, as if this is some rabbit cleverly extracted from a hat for our entertainment. It’s pointless. Try as I might, it is impossible to see any good reason for the article’s publication - save to serve the press establishment.

Because that is what the article screams at me. It is the press establishment patronisingly lecturing me, and all those other Eye subscribers. And when I open my copy of the Eye, I don’t want to see the press establishment sneering at me from its pages.

Another thought occurs: many other Eye readers may not want to see the press establishment sneering at them from its pages, either. I’ll just leave that one there.

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Anonymous said...

There is absolutely no need to "smear" Ware and Panorama.

They do that to themselves.

Anonymous said...

I felt that Private Eye was also slow to expose the press slurs relating to Corbyn. Was that dereliction of duty in any way related to Labour's attitude to press regulation, I ask myself?

Theresa Musgrove said...

I think I disagree: do you remember the Charter pushed by Hacked Off, which wanted to make bloggers such as you and me subject to its decrees? I think Lord Gnome is right to be wary of some of the proposals that have issued forth from HO. I went to one meeting about this at the time when draft proposals were being floated, and found the experience somewhat uncomfortable. More here: http://wwwbrokenbarnet.blogspot.com/2013/04/mrs-angry-gets-hacked-off-creative.html

Rosie said...

Private Eye nobbled. Reputation declining rapidly.

Jonathan said...

Lord Gnome was hardly quick out of blocks to tackle the false accusations of Antisemtism against Corbyn.

mirandola said...

On the Corbyn/Anti-semitism stuff wasn't PE's 'Ratbiter' Nick Cohen?

Sigil said...

Jonathan is right. The Eye was at least complicit in painting Labour Party supporters from 2015 onwards as 'thugs', 'Trots', etc, and repeated all the lazy smears about the man himself in uncritical commonality with the Mail, Sun and Telegraph. Let's face it, it was always an Oxbridge JCR kind of publication; its just that Oxbridge JCRs don't have any real rebels left, no Peter Cooks, no Paul Foots.

Strobes does employ Nick Cohen, though, which might explain some things.

Pendragon said...

I am guessing that Private Eye relies on "media" stories passed on to it by people it trusts at, say, the Daily Mail or the BBC.

Whilst it It frequently carries stories which might embarrass the BBC, it rarely carries stories which might embarrass commercial TV companies. That may be Private Eye editorial bias; it may be that it has few people it trusts in commercial TV; or it may be that people in commercial TV are too frightened or too too loyal to leak stories.

Don't forget that anyone at the BBC caught leaking smears about it is going to get a lot favourable coverage from the UK's many Conservative newspapers, whilst smears about commercial TV are simply not covered by those same newspapers.

Anonymous said...

Lord Gnome and his organ have been part of the Establishment for years, do keep up!