Banks' Notes 13.01.06

By David Banks

Can you remember what you were doing when Kennedy was assassinated?

I certainly can: I was waiting anxiously for Five Live’s Third Round FA Cup coverage to start when the poor bloke proceeded to ruin the kick-offs with his resignation announcement.

Knives in his back? It was nothing to the daggers I and millions of other footy fans were glaring in his direction. Of course, those party “faithful” who gathered at the clay feet of their fallen idol will insist that what landed between Chat Show Charlie’s shoulder-blades was backslapping as they comforted a man who had jumped before he was pushed. Sadly, among those parliamentary colleagues there wasn’t a man or woman who hadn’t known of Charles Kennedy’s battle with the bottle.

Which is why you might expect a reasonable, sober-minded press commentator to inquire why in all that time they did not see fit to raise at senior party level the fact that the LibDems’ most important asset was in danger of self-destructing?

But according to Stephen Glover (left), moral guardian of The Indy’s Media Weekly, it was, in fact, the role of the nation’s “cruel and intrusive press” to expose the leader’s private peccadilloes.

After all, chided Glover, “there is no political journalist or editor or columnist within 30 miles of Westminster who did not know that he was an alcoholic”. The print media’s failure to publish and be damned, he thundered, was “undesirable in a modern democracy”.

Leaving aside the fact that the column-hogging commentator patently failed his own test in any of his several outlets (Eds: please note), does he not recall the anger directed at the Beeb’s Jeremy Paxman three-and-a-half years ago when he raised on air with Kennedy the question of his heavy drinking, to be met with a barrage of denials and a timid apology from a shaken Aunty?

And would the sometimes sensible Mr Glover not have been the first out of the blocks to express his moral outrage had one of the tabloids begun poking its nose into “Champagne Charlie’s Boozy Romps”?

THE Reverend Roy has been at it again, as well. In his Daily Telegraph media column the former Mirror editor – yes, there’s a lot of us about! – criticised as “tasteless and insensitive” the use by The Times, The Sun and the Evening Standard of a picture of a suicide victim throwing herself from a high ledge.

The Press Complaints Commission is dealing with the matter but Roy Greenslade has deemed the image of the woman’s impending death “distressing to family and friends”, despite the fact that the PCC code of conduct – which he helped frame – does not specifically forbid such coverage of a suicide.

But this was a far from private moment: the woman in question chose the most insensitive and distressing method of exiting a life unbearable. And the most public…

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