UK – Gagging the press? Leveson

The Leveson report was revealed today, striking fear of censorship and control though the corridors of mainstream media.

Part of the report recommended that an organisation should be able to control the press and pursue the press when it is out of line with the regulations that should be in place. The worrying thing is that an organisation controlled and funded by the government will be able to control what we watch, hear and read. The potential for further manipulation and abuse of the press is significant.

It is quite strange that many of those who testified in hearings claiming they were victims of press intrusion have used and courted the press for their own ends. Many of those providing testimony would not be enjoying the lifestyles they have today if it were not for the press. Others have been supported by and used the press in gaining public attention for their objectives.

Hypocrisy seems to abound in the culture of ‘me, me’. These so called ‘victims’ of the press are quite happy when the press reports ‘the good stuff’. But as soon as the press starts to investigate the sordid and questionable sides of their lives they don’t like it. Surprise, surprise.

A very good example of this is Kate McCann. She and her hubby were quite happy when they were gaining sympathy from the general public through press channels. And even more happy to promote books using press releases and press conferences – oh and let’s not forget interviews where the questions were very carefully answered (if not rehearsed). They even have their own press team to ensure ‘only the good stuff’ gets out.

At the Leveson enquiry the McCanns stated that they couldn’t answer the ‘awkward’ questions because it would have been illegal. It doesn’t explain why they still refused to answer them when they were no longer liable to be prosecuted by the Portuguese system.  At the enquiry they also claimed that they were ‘lonely voices’ against the evil press – even when they already had a very powerful press team working on their behalf (paid for by which organisation?) from early on.

But should any member of the press question their motives or start to look into the possibility of child neglect (or worse), the McCann’s legal team pounce like Panthers and the McCann’s refuse point-blank to answer reasonable questions. So they think it is fine to court the press and answer ‘nice’ questions, but jump like rabbits when the more in-depth questions are being asked.

A good case in point is when Kate McCann was at the launching of her new book. A UK newspaper featured a picture of the couple on the newspaper’s website showing them laughing together (picture on the right). The newspaper soon received a phone call from the McCann’s press office ‘asking’ that the newspaper change the picture – because the McCann’s don’t want to appear happy and need to maintain the ‘victim illusion’!

What about the UK government? Why do they need the press to be further controlled? They have not worried about it before. Or should that be before the News of the World phone hacking scandal when a clear link was made between Rebekah Brooks and David Cameron! Or perhaps since the exposure of government ministers, MPs, and other associates being (and being potential) child abusers.

We know that the press doesn’t always get things right. There is already a very robust and acceptable legal system to protect those who have been wronged by the press. We don’t need more control. Certainly the general public don’t feel as though there should be more control. It is only those who choose to break the law, or indulge in unsavoury practices that feel they need yet another smokescreen to hide behind.

It seems those who complain the most are those who like the fame/exposure when it suits them or their cause (or is a money making opportunity), but really don’t like it when their double-dealings or other unsavoury (or sometimes illegal) practices are exposed.

These people seem to think that the press is part of their personal PR resource that they should be able to control. That is not so. The press are there to report the good and not so good. If someone chooses a life of fame they should expect to be under the spotlight of the press.  If someone commits an unsavoury act (or worse), or if their motives or previous explanations for events come under suspicion, then they should expect to be under the spotlight of the press.

In the words of Corporal Jones played by the dearly departed Clive Dunn ‘They don’t like it up ‘em’.

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