We need a Press that serves the public, not just Oligarchs

We are down to short strokes on the nation’s political leadership’s response to the Levenson Enquiry and #hackgate. Cameron, at the behest of the right wing press broke of talks with Labour and the Libdems last week and Nick Cohen throws a thromby in the Guardian yesterday and the Sun, in a reverse Godwin’s Law manoeuvre bring Churchill’s indomitable commitment on Press Freedom to play, shown in this tweet, and on the front page of the Sun,


published by Sky, an organisation that Parliament’s opposition to News Corp’s ownership caused Murdoch to back down, although the EU, and the relevant Secretary of State did say that there was no media plurality risk, so I am sure this is a public interest story and nothing to do with News Corp’s profitability and Murdoch’s political agenda.

Cohen is one of the pains in the arse; they claim to be allies but always criticise my ideas, hopes and heroes and heroines as right-wing or anti-democratic. The article is worth reading;  he argues that we should give in to the right wing media corporations as otherwise we will be introducing a press regulation the envy of Russia, China and Iran; this is despite the fact that Guardian, Financial Times and the Independent no longer support the negotiating position of the right wing press, and agree that statutory underpinning is required. Cameron has caved in and hopes to ensure that Parliament won’t strengthen the regulatory regime; Labour have responded by forcing a vote in the House of Commons today.

The right wing press are hanging out for veto on the membership of the replacement to to Press Complaints commission, opposition to exemplary damages and the ability to tell the regulator to piss off on equal balance for remediation and apologies. They also do not want the replacement to the Press Complaints Commission to have a regulator looking over its shoulder with the ability to hold it to account by law.

We need to remember where this started. The print press corporations, owned by ultra rich right wingers have been breaking the law and corrupting the organisations meant to hold them to account i.e. the Police and their regulators. This must never happen again. Most of these papers do not hold the powerful to account, they do not report or side with the public; their goal is to make money and exercise political power on behalf of their owners.

Self regulation has failed; the status quo is unacceptable.

Also as Tim Fenton at Zelo St, points out, in an article called “Last Minute Leveson Deal?”,

“In the meantime, the press has to answer the most obvious of questions: if the regulation it opposes is so unacceptable, why has the broadcast media, which is regulated by Ofcom, done all the proper investigative journalism recently (BBC on care homes, ITV on Savile and Channel 4 on Hackgate) while the press has done sweet jack? Once again, someone is protesting too much.”

Bit harsh on the three holdouts, the Guardian in particular, but when’s the last time the Mail, the Sun or the Express broke a story that was a) true, and b) holding the powerful to account.  The press are confusing Freedom of the Press with the right to commit crime with impunity and the rights of rich people to own and direct newspapers.

Paul Bernal argues in his blog “Don’t believe the hype” that

“I don’t think the mainstream press that we have now bears much resemblance to a ‘free press’ – it’s just a question of who or what controls it, rather than whether it’s free.”

He says, regardless of the proposed  reforms

“…the Sun will still be full of rampant misogyny, the Mail full of vile anti-immigrant and anti-European rants and the Express will still billow out homophobia and Islamophobia. They’ll continue to demonise the disabled and those on benefits, twist the debate on Europe and shift the blame for all our problems onto the vulnerable and the innocent.”

He also argues that free speech is important,  and that Leveson’s supporters are damaging legal reform that would empower free speakers such as the libel reform act.

Unfortunately for their opponents, one of the greatest editors of our genenration, Harold Evans, argues that Levenson’s proposals will protect the press from politicians.

Rosen finished, with an attack on the Leveson report, as an establishment stichup,

I bloody despair of the British liberal left sometimes. Did you not notice that Leveson hurt no one in power? That he didn’t finish the career of Jeremy Hunt, even though the beggars in the street suspected that he had broken ministerial guidelines? That he did not lay a glove on David Cameron and that his criticism of Rupert Murdoch was so polite it allowed News Corp to retain control of BSkyB? Can you not see an establishment stitching up a winding sheet for our freedoms in front of your very eyes?

This is why the police must continue to investigate the crimes and allegations, until we are sure that all the criminals are in gaol, and hope we find enough evidence to allow, or is it force, the US law enforcement to prosecute News Corporation, at least, for offences under their Foreign and Corrupt Practices Act.

0

Comments are closed.