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?Views: 13615
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