Springingtiger's Blog


Sheiky Journalism.

Today the television news seems to be exulting in the conviction of Mazher Mahmood, the Fake Sheikh. Mahmood was the master of the sting a so called journalistic procedure wherein someone is tricked into making damaging admissions to a journalist posing as someone else who then catches the admission on a secret camera. Because Mahmood worked for News Corp it has allowed the News programs to revisit the Hacking Scandal and the Millie Dowler case and make sanctimonious observations about print journalism. There seems to be undisguised delight in the news that Mahmood’s conviction has opened News Corp to some twenty legal suits from those stunr by the Sheikh. If I’m honest it’s a delight I share, but I am less comfortable to see the glee on the part of BBC journalists at dubious practices.

I do not believe journalists should be allowed to break the law as Mahmood did. However for BBC journalists to take such pleasure in the discomfiture of an investigative journalist occurs to me as arising from relief that their journalists are out of the spotlight. For the last few years their news reporting has been under constant fire for its palapable bias in favour of the establishment. They have also been under fire for bias in the picking of panels for programs like Question Time as well as the audiences for the programs. In contrast with Channel Four which has exposed the Tory electoral expenses scandal and unlike the BBC has not ignored the war crimes of our Saudi Arabian allies in the Yemen whereas the BBC agenda in the Middle East has to report on Syria according to the UK and US government’s regime change agenda.

I suppose we should by now expect shortcomings in BBC investigative journalism considering their failure to notice the paedophilia of Jimmy Savile and other BBC celebrities over many years. However that coupled with charges of bias in news reporting has reduced the BBC’s reputation as a news organisation to little better than Fox News or North Korean State television. It is sad that through much of the world people who would once have relied on the BBC and its World Service for their news are turning instead to Al Jazeera. Perhaps more worrying is the number of people in Britain who prefer other news channels including Russian Televisions RT News to the BBC.

What is of concern is the low esteem into which journalism in general has fallen. People no longer trust the mainstream newspapers and media. The more trusted papers include The Morning Star and The National and that’s largely not because of a lack of bias, but because their agenda is upfront and they are honest about their leaning rather than pretending to impartiality. It is the practices of journalism that have destroyed its reputation both online and in print. There is a dishonest selectivity in their selection of what they report, thus Teresa May’s pretending to want to make life better for the ‘working class’ (Am I the only one to notice during her party political broadcast her involuntary head shaking as she made that claim? An indicator she didn’t mean it) was reported while her intention to compile lists of foreign workers in the country (to make it easier to deport them?) was ignored. But to get back to Mahmood at last I have concerns about this easy acceptance of entrapment. A few days ago the news was full of the entrapment of Sam Allardyce by journalists who put the desire for headlines before the success of the English Football Team. I am uneasy because I am not convinced of Allardyce’s dishonesty, but a question was raised by his comments. What concerns me is that people who are not dishonest or criminal, but who are as human as the rest of us, are being tempted into illegality by journalists offering them the possibility of making some extra money. I suspect that some of those entrapped might have never been involved in illegality before the trap. Perhaps there should be an offence of Entrapment for journalists who on trapping a celebrity, politician or whatever are unable to prove demonstrate good cause to suspect the victim of the sting of previous criminal behaviour.

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