Monday, 13 February 2012

"The Sun" Turns...

It was bemusing, to say the least, to behold the ire of Trevor Kavanagh, the former Political Editor (yes, there is one!) of The Sun tabloid newspaper railing against what he called heavy-handed police tactics in the latest investigation into News International's activities in acquiring stories for its gutter press. With thirty journalists under investigation for a range of possible offences involving bribery of police and other officials, as well as alleged phone hacking, Mr Kavanagh complained of families being upset by early morning police raids, and unwarranted intrusion into people's privacy.
"This witch-hunt has put us behind ex-Soviet states on press freedom!" he writes furiously in today's newspaper, blithely ignoring the significant changes in counties like Estonia in the last twenty years. He is angry that some of the legends of Fleet Street are apparently not immune from being questioned by police and are now on open-ended bail. More than slightly stating the obvious at this stage, complains that the police are investigating even although "Nobody has been charged with any offence, still less tried or convicted."
Now, of course, we have to wait and see the outcome of the investigation, but Kavanagh's complaints are disingenuous - it may have long been The Sun's take on its own targets that the conviction precedes the investigation, but thankfully, even in neoliberal Britain, there is still at least some observation of the need for an investigation before charging someone with an offence. So the absence of charges at present means nothing other than that the police are pursuing their inquiries as justice and good practice demands they should.

As far as Kavanagh's concerns about invasion of people's privacy, physician heal thyself comes to mind. The Sun, like its late and unlamented News International stablemate, The News of the World, has existed on a diet of intrusion and breaches of privacy against a host of people, famous, infamous and unknown. This is the newspaper that announced Charlotte Church's pregnancy to the world before she did - and before the 12 weeks point often crucial to safe pregnancies. This is the paper that intruded into the grief of the family of murdered football fan Mike Dye within hours of his killing with inaccurate and inappropriate insinuations that he was involved with a gang of trouble-seekers. 

As for witch-hunts, well this is the newspaper which routinely publishes wildly inaccurate, hate-filled and hate-inducing articles about disabled people, like one in January by its columnist Rod Liddle, who wrote:
"My New Year’s resolution for 2012 was to become disabled. Nothing too serious, maybe just a bit of bad luck or one of those newly invented illnesses which make you a bit peaky for decades – fibromyalgia, or M.E..There’s lots of money to be made from being disabled – your money, taxpayers’ money, as it happens."
This too is the paper that thrives on gossip about the most intimate lives of celebrities, including ones it creates so it can then knock down. It also does a good line on deaths - speculating even today with lurid headlines about singer Whitney Houston's tragic death: was she on "Jacko drugs"? Was her head underwater?

The Sun, whose huge profits subsidise Murdoch's supposedly respectable but loss-making Times newspapers, was defended just last week by its editor, Dominic Mohan at the Leveson enquiry into the Press as a force for good, which must rank as a prime contender for the biggest piss-take of the year so far. The News International stable has in fact been involved in some of the most pernicious press campaigns of recent years.
Both the News of the World and The Sun were prominent in advocating the so-called Sarah's Law, after the murdered child Sarah Payne, which would provide parents with details of convicted paedophiles living in their area. Keen to get in on the act, N.I. undertook its own name and shame campaign which, as well as indirectly encouraging vigilante law, led to the beating up of innocent people mistakenly identified as paedophiles by mobs and in one case the hounding from her home through vandalism and death threats of a paediatrician, her job title confused with the appellation for a child molester.

All this while running lurid front page stories on under-age sex, like this one on the left, one of many.
So Mr Kavanagh can moan all he likes, but, few will shed tears for his colleagues (although distress to their innocent kids and partners is another matter) as the police undertake their enquiries. Whatever the legal outcome, the employees of N.I. currently under scrutiny will do well to consider for a change what it feels like to be on the receiving end of intrusion and suspicion. And may hell mend them.

No comments:

Post a Comment