Yes, amidst the relentless Woke propaganda that constitutes the morning schedule of Radio 4, there are still some shows that are good to shave to; I heard one this morning, part of a series going behind the scenes of one-time headlines and examining the way in which the media re-jigs a story to suit its particular agenda. This edition of ‘The Corrections’ dealt with the 2016 street attack and murder of Harlow-based Pole Arkadiuz Joswik by a gang of juvenile delinquents; the horrible incident was almost immediately labelled a hate-crime inspired by Brexit, despite little evidence that the teenage perpetrators had Leave in mind when they inflicted the assault. Harlow has a large East European immigrant community and the distict is pro-Brexit; join the dots.
However, as a journalist interviewed for the programme pointed out, Fleet Street scribes are rarely dispatched to any newsworthy location without a remit. He gave a made-up example of being sent to somewhere like Blackpool. Commanded to write a sorry story of urban decay, said hack would visit all the most deprived parts of town out-of-season, study derelict high-streets, speak to depressed locals, Labour councillors etc. Then turn things around – write a tale of Blackpool’s regeneration: make the journey on a crowded Bank Holiday Monday, describe a swarm of happy holiday-makers, have some civic dignitary show-off plans for a new leisure complex or shopping centre etc. One person’s fake news is evidently another’s truth.
Okay, I appreciate it’s hardly revelatory that impartiality and objectivity are absent from the newsprint medium; it has always reflected the interests and bias of its editors and proprietors, not to say its readers. When it comes to broadcast media, on the other hand, the BBC has traditionally prided itself on impartiality and objectivity, even though this stance has taken rather a battering of late. Attempts to uphold the alleged breaching of editorial guidelines by ‘Breakfast’ presenter Naga Munchetty via her reaction to a report on Trump have left the Corporation with egg on its face once again; and on the subject of Brexit, the BBC’s pro-Remain position is woefully blatant, not only in the field of current affairs, but in every genre from drama to comedy; the subtext is both persistent and consistent. Hah hah hah – stupid racist Brexiteers; ooh – dangerous racist Brexiteers.
But this is the age of the nodding dog echo-chamber, lest we forget. If you have a point of view and you’d rather have it reinforced than challenged, there’s a whole community out there that agrees with you. Just make sure you don’t upset them. The online obsession with child abuse of a historic nature gave rise to some of the most extreme fanaticism yet seen, and it’s telling that even when certain untruths were belatedly exposed as such by the MSM, the refusal to accept what certain brave souls had been ripped to shreds for saying years before is still the line to take for some. As the main focus of R4’s ‘The Corrections’ reminded listeners, once a story is set in stone, for many that means it remains that way for good, especially if it chimes with an individual’s rigid beliefs.
Amazingly, regardless of the trial and sentencing of the discredited Carl Beech for his litany of lies that ruined many lives, a few fanatics continue to give credence to the convicted paedophile’s lurid fantasies – perhaps because some of those fanatics helped feed them in the first place. Despite the 2016 publication of a damning report into Operation Midland, one that referred a Deputy Assistant Commissioner and four detectives to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, it still took until Beech was in the dock before it became safe to say out loud that he was full of shit. And now a more uncut version of ex-high court judge Richard Henrique’s report has reinstated the redacted confirmation that the men from the Met conspired and agreed to irresponsibly announce that Beech’s tall tales of Westminster’s VIP Paedo Ring were ‘credible and true’ when the investigation had barely begun.
Scotland Yard’s ‘institutional stupidity’ is laid bare in the report. The decision to publicly back Beech was made by Det. Sgt Kenny McDonald (now retired) and then-Deputy Assistant Commissioner Steve Rodhouse, in response to which Henriques writes ‘I find it an error for two very senior officers who have never met a witness and, in the DAC’s case, not in himself read either Nick’s interviews or blogs, to announce to the press and public that they believe the witness.’ Current Met Chief Cressida Dick was, at the time, assistant commissioner of specialist operations, which included sexual abuse cases, though she is understandably reluctant to sanction further probing. Ditto Labour’s Deputy Leader, whose own grubby role in the sordid affair is writ large by Henriques. Tom Watson, who met Beech and encouraged him to pursue his allegations, is blamed for putting further pressure on officers; Henriques says ‘there can be no doubt’ Bunter ‘believed Nick’. Well, bugger me.
Though not the brightest of buttons in a Cabinet admittedly hardly overflowing with intellectual giants, Priti Patel this week followed in the footsteps of another female Home Secretary (AKA Mrs May) by refusing to kowtow to the police force. Patel has ordered a fresh inquiry into the damaging moral crusade that was Operation Midland, something Cressida Dick continues to resist, as do those rewarded with retirement or transferred to a cushy job at the National Crime Agency (i.e. McDonald and Rodhouse respectively). Whether any of the guilty men responsible for the ‘43 failings by investigators’ or the impressive waste of taxpayers’ money – £2.5 million, of course – or the needless tarnishing of reputations will ever answer for this disaster remains to be seen. Over to you, Home Secretary.
Unfortunately, as stated earlier about stories set in stone, there will forevermore be the ‘ah, but…’ factor even if innocence has been proven and a lie has been confirmed. Once a ‘fact’ is fixed in the public perception, it’s very hard to dispel it; whether proof of a myth comes via a Court of Law or an editorial apology, it makes no difference; for some, the belief that if smoke was once sighted there’s bound to be a fire somewhere is a permanent position. As Derren Brown has shown for entertainment and bad therapists with the default setting of childhood abuse as a response to any adult calamity regularly demonstrate, planting seeds in pliable minds is easily done. And if those seeds were obtained from the agendas of broadcasters, so be it, alas.
© The Editor