Tuesday 13 November 2012
The vigilantism of the Little Bullingdons
"The current ‘paedo hysteria’ is being fanned, not by low-rent tabloid papers, but by politicians, serious journalists and the Twitterati.
After the events of the past four weeks, it should be clear to everyone that the current campaign of scaremongering and demonology directed at paedophiles [sic] is an elite-inspired project. Contrary to the usual snobbish criticism which says that ‘tabloid journalism’ and its easily aroused, prejudicial readership are to blame for ‘paedo hysteria’, this witch-hunt is being led by highly respected members of the British media. The very same people who once derided the now defunct News of the World’s ‘naming and shaming’ of child abusers are now demonstrating that, given half an opportunity, they will stoop even lower than that old red-top paper did.
It should be noted that, despite the myth that the News of the World’s crude crusade was in a class of its own, by the end of its name and shame campaign, in the early to mid-2000s, the paper had managed to convert almost the entire media to its paedophile-obsessed outlook. As an important study of the News of the World’s campaign notes, what started as one newspaper’s obsession soon came to define the media agenda. Despite initial criticisms of the News of the World’s approach, the upmarket newspapers soon embraced the paedo-hunting worldview. As the study concluded, ‘It became a unanimous press view that immediate action was required on the paedophile threat’.
The current name and shame campaign has, from the outset, been the cause celebre of ostensibly high-minded moral entrepreneurs. The outing of Jimmy Saville as a child abuser [sic], followed by the finger-pointing at other alleged paedophiles, has been opportunistically embraced by a variety of people and groups inside the political and cultural establishment. Their main objective is to have a pop at their opponents. The BBC became an early target of the post-Savile hysteria, particularly among individuals and institutions that either resent the BBC’s influence or just want to settle old scores with it. Others criticised the National Health Service for allowing Savile on hospital premises. Rapidly, the scaremongering acquired a life of its own, as different moral entrepreneurs harnessed the anxiety over paedophiles to promote their own agendas. Eventually, Tom Watson, Labour MP for West Bromwich East, trumped everyone with his fantasies about a Tory paedophile ring lurking in the shadowy wings of Westminster."
Monday 12 November 2012
‘Serious journalists’ are the most tabloidesque of all
"The Newsnight/paedophile fiasco has utterly exploded the idea that modern British journalism can be divided into Good and Bad camps."