A breed apart?

I was present when Richard Walker made his plea on behalf of supposedly beleaguered journalists. The question I posed at the time, although I was not permitted to put it to him directly, was this; why should we have to persuade journalists to do no more than give the independence case a fair hearing and an honest representation? Is that not their job?

Kevin McKenna is far from the only one to insist that we must handle journalists with kid gloves. Curiously, there is no attempt to urge unionists to do likewise. Could that possibly be because unionists have no need to cajole journalists into colluding with the British establishment’s defence of the established order? Could it be because, with a scattering of more or less convincing exceptions, journalists are part of the British establishment? They identify with the established order.

The thing that is missing from McKenna’s analysis is any acknowledgement of the CAUSE of antipathy towards the mainstream media and the generality of political journalists in the Yes movement. There is no recognition of the fact that resentment of journalists is prompted by the behaviour of journalists. The implication is always that the ill feeling is unfounded and unreasonable.

The frequently deplorable and often unethical behaviour of a significant proportion of political journalists is either not a factor at at all, or it is something we should just accept. Journalists may abandon any pretence of professional integrity as they peddle the British nationalist line, but heaven forfend that anybody in the Yes movement should so much as mention this.

Many journalists go much further that McKenna, of course. Some don’t stop much short of demanding that journalists should be able to act with total impunity. That they should be allowed to say absolutely anything and must never be held to account for even the most blatant misrepresentations, distortions and downright dishonesty.

The reality of the whole Daisley affair is, not any attempt at ‘gagging’ of journalists, but a concerted effort to intimidate anyone with a public profile who thinks to criticise any journalist – regardless of how justified the criticism may be.

And it is not an isolated incident. The same thing happened when people objected to Nick Robinson’s blatant lie about Alex Salmond not answering a question. In every instance, attention is diverted from the misconduct of the journalist in question with a theatrically contrived furore about an entirely mythical ‘threat’ to press freedom. In every case, the journalist in question is automatically absolved of all blame simply because they are a journalist.

By what right do journalists demand this extraordinary privilege? When was the case ever made that journalists should be exempt from scrutiny? Who was persuaded by the argument? Who decided that journalists should be entirely unaccountable?

Why should we not have a debate about the status of journalists? Should they not be required to earn our trust and respect? Is it because they have so signally failed to earn that trust and respect that they seek to put themselves above criticism?

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9 thoughts on “A breed apart?

  1. Seph

    Quite the opposite: journalists have a great deal of power, and as such have a greater need to be scrutinized than private citizens.

    1. Hugh Wallace

      Precisely. Just as politicians of all stripes should be placed under more scrutiny than ordinary members of the public so too should those, such as journalists, who are able to exert influence on public perceptions of events that affect any significant number of people.

  2. Jockanese Wind Talker

    The problem these ‘journalsit’ have is that we the electorate have seen through their lies and are now actively calling them out and attempting to hold them to account as soon as their drivel is published.

    They don’t like it and see it as an attack on their status, their perceived position in society as the arbiters of truth which harks back to the past.

    It is very simple

    If they are not impartial or objective

    If they publish unquestioned Political Party Press releases

    If they omit salient facts or comparative facts/statistic

    If they think a freedom of information request equals investigative journalism

    If they use Front line services like the SNHS, Police and Fire Brigade to attack the Scottish Government without mentioning Westminster Unionist backed cuts to Scotland’s budget

    If they are the BBC


    They all know that the establishment won’t require them to denigrate Scotland to keep the natives too scared of becoming independent once we are.

    They also all know they will be as employable in an iScotland as William Joyce would have been in Post WWII London.

    So they rail against those of us who know what game they are playing and won’t accept it any more.

    These “supposedly beleaguered journalists” complain not in the name of freedom of speech but in the name of their own personal financial liquidity.

  3. Colin

    Politicians, msm journalists. Two cheeks of the same arse as far as I’m concerned. Both are owned by corporate interests in the main.

  4. S Hunter

    I think Alan Cochrane’s book ‘The Cochrane Diaries, Alex Salmond And My Part In His Downfall’ was a sad indictment of the symbiotic relationship between the Westminster parties and journalists. A sample quote: ‘Murdo Fraser collared me in the lobby to say that Ruth Davidson was about to cave in on more powers for Holyrood at an evidence session with a Commons Select Committee. Great story? Well, quite good: but what she’s doing is backing the idea of a constitutional convention so that all of the UK will be included in any devolution. She told me, frankly but off the record, that it is merely a ploy to kick the whole issue into the long grass, which is what McLetchie said too. And Cameron is a party to all of this chicanery. Best news is that we got away with the whole thing. Good exclusive’.

    If you read a great many journalist autobiographical literature, such as Nick Robinson’s for example – and many of the UK political books published in the last 4 years – the relationship between the press and Westminster couldn’t have a fag paper pushed between them. The number of journalists who are consulted by Westminster as to how they should approach their campaigning in Scotland; asking journalists who are the best companies to speak to in Scotland; Scottish journalists employed to write speeches for Westminster politicians and providing advice for Westminster politicians; little covert dinners, masses of texting to and from Westminster parties north and south of the border – it is ludicrous for any journalist article writer to suggest that there is no you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours.

    I agree that the toxic level of press/media influence in the UK specifically regarding all things Scotland is only further evidenced by Mr McKenna’s suggestion that the SNP or Yes movement should be more considerate of journalists ‘or else’. It only seems to emphasise the role which individuals such as McKenna, Cochrane, Massie and others seem to have adopted for themselves – to oversee the ‘perception’ of Scotland strategy adopted by Westminster parties in order to further their divide and rule m.o. in presenting the Scottish Government and the Yes movement as the cause of all ills throughout the UK.

    I have been reading an account of an ex US ambassador to Britain who gives a colourful and relevant description of his first experiences being based in London. He was absolutely shocked that a country which historically claims the best literature and authors renowned throughout the world could host such a terrible standard of journalism across the board. He couldn’t understand how ‘Britain’, let alone Scotland, had allowed it to get so low. I do feel that much of the UK press and its affiliations have led, arm in arm with Westminster, this dreadful deficit. Mark Thompson’s recently published book “Enough Said: What’s gone wrong with the language of politics?’ is an illuminating read.

    However, there are many articulate individuals in Scotland who are not ‘journalists’ or a part of the Scottish media ‘scene’ – and we ought to seek out these people and provide them with more forums in which to give a balanced perspective of Scotland.

  5. Clydebuilt

    Is that the same Kevin McKenna who on BBC Scotland’s Sunday am look at the papers said that when Sturgeon’s in trouble she turns to the constitution.

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