Banks' Notes 14.10.05

By David Banks

A whiff of
hypocrisy in high places is all we journalists need to arm our
self-righteous souls with Brother Aitken’s “sword of truth and trusty
shield of fair play”.

Our mission, should we choose to revel in
it, is exposing the lies and double-dealing of society’s deceivers:
politicians, footballers, entertainers – anyone in the public eye who
appears to fall short of the standards we seek to uphold. Especially
those who preach one thing and practise another.

Fair enough? Well, maybe. But what’s sauce for the goose is gravy for the gander. Victims have rights, too. So what happens?

Ashcroft (pictured), former Conservative Party treasurer, turns the
tables on those at The Times whom, he claims, maligned his reputation
through a relentless campaign in 1999. In his book, Dirty Politics,
Dirty Times, the aggrieved vanity publisher accuses three Times
journalists of snorting cocaine. Ashcroft undoubtedly hopes to attract
a writ so he can air further allegations in court.

There is more
talk of media hypocrisy over drugs a few days later when singer and
reformed drug user Robbie Williams claims he has “personally taken
cocaine” with the same journalists who are now “devouring” the model
Kate Moss for her well-publicised habit.

Be warned, drug bunnies
of the British media: the hutch door is opening. Frank Bruno spreads
his cocaine “shame” across five pages of the News of the World. Tory
leadership favourite David Cameron (pictured) raises The Mail on
Sunday’s suspicions, refusing to answer the “Have you taken drugs?”
question beyond saying: “I’m human enough to have done lots of things
that I shouldn’t have.”

But accusations against the media itself
produce only an eerie, suspicious silence. WE ask the questions, don’t
we? Maybe we dabble in the stuff of men’s souls at our peril. After
all, the preaching investigators who name and shame wrongdoers while
secretly doing the same are actually indulging in… er, hypocrisy.
Aren’t they?

“Keep the emails coming, but please… don’t criticise the Government!” –
PM presenter Eddie Mair’s cheeky two-finger sign-off to his Radio 4
news show after quizzing New Statesman editor John Kampfner over the
magazine’s “BBC muzzled by No. 10” allegations.

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