The BBC could, and perhaps definitely should, be in big trouble. They went into battle against the Conservative Party armed with what they hoped would be something that would deliver the killer blow to not only the Tories’ reputation but even perhaps Lady Thatcher’s.
Throughout the day starting from their most prestigious news programme, Today, they have been pushing a line that ‘the Internet’ is to blame for the libelling of a Tory politician and that the internet is a threat that needs to be controlled in some way.
Even the Guardian doesn’t buy that saying that the politician.……
‘ has been the subject of persistent smears, which resurfaced following the Newsnight allegations about a senior Tory.’
Quite clear….the BBC have helped to inflame the situation.
The BBC in reply said….. ‘that the Newsnight investigation “set out to explore alleged failures in a child abuse inquiry. An abuse victim had serious allegations to make and deserved to be heard. We broadcast as much information as we had but made clear we did not have enough evidence to name new individuals.” ‘
Watching the Newsnight programme you would come to only one conclusion …that they were out to ‘out’ the Tory politician…and that had been the intention until he contacted them and warned them that his lawyers would be in touch.…..again and again they tried to bring the figure of the ’leading Tory politician’ into the programme….the programme had one target….that politician.
What is absolutely incredible is that the BBC and its prime time investigation programme hadn’t contacted this politician to allow him to have his say on the programme.
Along with Labour’s Tom Watson they have put enough information into the public domain to allow people to make ‘educated’ guesses as to the politician’s name….Labour going so far as to demand to know if he is a ‘Lord’ will he be kicked out of the House of Lords.
That clearly narrowed the field greatly in identifying him.
That politician has spoken out today and made a statement denying any connection what so ever to the abuse…and denounced his ‘trial by media’ and his ‘defaming by innuendo’:
‘It has additionally become apparent to me that a number of broadcasters and newspapers have, without expressly naming me, also been alleging that a senior Conservative Party figure from that time was guilty of or suspected of being guilty of the sexual abuse of residents of this children’s home.
It is obvious that there must be a substantial number of people who saw that I had been identified in the internet publications as this guilty man and who subsequently saw or heard the broadcasts or read the newspapers in question and reasonably inferred that the allegation of guilt in those broadcasts and newspapers attached to me.
Even though these allegations made of me by implication in the broadcast and print media, and made directly about me on the internet, are wholly false and seriously defamatory I can no longer expect the broadcast and print media to maintain their policy of defaming me only by innuendo.’
Tom Watson still has his own ideas in a letter to the PM:
‘Your advisers will tell you to be wary of “opening the floodgates”. They are wrong. Their decorous caution is the friend of the paedophile. Narrowing the inquiry equals hiding the truth. That is the reality and it is not what you want.
‘The hacking scandal was about the police failing to follow clear leads of wrongdoing by powerful people. They could do this because politicians turned a blind eye.
This is potentially worse. Some of those powerful people involved in a cover up may well have been – and could still be – powerful politicians.
I’m not going to let this drop despite warnings from people who should know that my personal safety is imperilled if I dig any deeper. It’s spooked me so much that I’ve kept a detailed log of all the allegations should anything happen.
As I type this blog post, I’m half-smiling about how insane all this appears. It sounds like I’ve taken leave of my senses.’
Only now, this evening, have the BBC realised what trouble they could be in…on 5Live Drive (18:40) they brought in Roger Laughton, ex-BBC and ITV, and he said they needed a lawyer not a commentator.
Steve Messham, the victim of abuse, has come forward and made a statement that he had wrongly identified the politician and he now apologises for that.
You have to ask, as the BBC should have.…wasn’t the evidence a bit thin? Too thin to even mention the Tory ‘link’ considering the seriousness of the claim……certainly far too thin to name the man…..and yet that is precisely what they had intended to do.
Newsnight admitted there was no new evidence, and what there was, was not enough to provide any proof…but what has changed is the Public’s attitude.
Really? What does that mean? That we should be able to name anyone we like and accuse them without regard for ‘enough evidence’ just because the allegations are so serious?
Any faith you might have had left lingering in the back of your mind that the BBC was a trustworthy and accountable organisation would have been shattered had you listened to the Today programme trying to pass the blame onto ITV, Phillip Schofield and the Internet for the irresponsible and libellous naming of names and encouraging the fervid public interest in what is mere gossip and the subsequent trashing of a man’s reputation.
They asked how is the main stream media changing with the coming of the Internet and the Internet’s ability to adversely damage reputations by making mistaken identifications of people as criminals.
Will the values of the Internet prevail they ask? A strange question really….did journalists on Newsnight report pub gossip as news previously? No, hopefully. So why should they be reporting internet gossip as fact….unless it suited them to do so? With the prospect of taking down a big beast of the Tory Party and ‘contaminating’ Thatcher as well they threw caution to the wind.
Mark Easton tells us that real political power is shifting from the judicious, professional MSM (that’s an interesting admission in itself…where power really lies)…..politics by the rushing Internet mob, politics by Facebook, where there are no rules, no referee and no standards, rarely adds up to rational politics as in the ‘real world’.
He goes on to say that the reason the MSM doesn’t act on Internet gossip is their deep professional and ethical (!!??) concerns about adopting the values of Cyberspace…..but it is edging that way…no kidding….did he not watch Newsnight?
That in fact makes the case for the BBC’s existence….that we need a news source that is highly trustworthy, accurate and accountable. That is the ideal…an ideal that the BBC shamefully fails to live up to….but without such a reliable and honest news source democracy is unworkable…the rule of the mob with the loudest voice is not a recipe for a just and happy land.
Promote, then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.
United States – September 17, 1796
The problem with the BBC’s line is that it wasn’t the internet that raised this matter to such heights recently….the same names have been on the internet since the 1990’s….it was a Labour politician and the BBC in parallel, both with vested political interests in smearing the Tories, who raised this story to the heights it has reached.
Newsnight as said, mentioned the ‘leading Tory’ again and again, the BBC website headlined the phrase again and again, its news broadcasts also repeatedly made the link.
And all without any evidence and no new information at all.
So we have one of Britain’s major political Parties and Britain’s flagship broadcasting organisation launching an attack on another political party in the hope that it’s reputation will be severely damaged.
You might, rightly, conclude from all this that the Internet is not the problem….it might be the wild west and in places completely bonkers but it is more than balanced by bloggers and other sources who publish material with integrity and honesty…..unlike the BBC who have so far managed to retain the aura of respectability and honesty in their news reports whilst in fact being highly political and shaping the news to fit their own ideological agenda.
If you have ever read any of the blogs or forums that name these politicians you would have no trouble in deciding not to take any notice of them in the slightest…they are more than evidently in the realms of fantasy and conspiracy theories.
The trouble with the BBC is that people still trust it. That trust though must be rapidly evaporating as scandals like Savile, and in particular their handling of those revelations, and now this attempt to smear the Tories, catch up with them.
If there is to be any inquiry the one that is of most importance is one that would look into the politicisation of the BBC and the effect that that has upon democracy and the political debate and subsequent policies that are taken by politicians influenced by media pressure.
Today ironically the BBC also talk about Leveson and the need for an independent Press regulator…independent of the Press of course…if ever there was a time, firstly for a Leveson style inquiry for the BBC, but also for a regulator independent of both BBC and government, this is it.