Category: Alerts 2015
- Created on 24 June 2015
- 24 June 2015
George Orwell once wrote:
'I really don't know which is more stinking, the Sunday Times or The Observer. I go from one to the other like an invalid turning from side to side in bed and getting no comfort which ever way he turns.' (George Orwell, quoted, Bernard Crick, George Orwell: A Life, p. 233, Penguin Books, 1992)
The competition remains fierce, but the Sunday Times edged marginally ahead with a recent front-page exclusive that stank to truly celestial heights. As we noted in our previous alert, the Sunday Times dramatically claimed that Russia and China had 'cracked the top-secret cache of files stolen by the fugitive US whistleblower Edward Snowden'. The 'exclusive story' contained precisely no evidence for its anonymous claims, no challenges to the assertions made and no journalistic balance. In a CNN interview the same day, lead reporter Tom Harper trashed his own credibility, and that of his paper, when he blurted:
'We just publish what we believe to be the position of the British government.'
One of our readers, William Douglas, emailed a powerful criticism of Harper's claims direct to Sunday Times editor Martin Ivens, asking him to explain why anyone should take the article seriously. Douglas sent a blog piece by Craig Murray, the former British diplomat, who had offered five reasons for thinking the MI6 story was 'a lie'. Ivens' reply was astonishing:
'I think you should address your remarks to 10 Downing St. If you think they have lied to us then so be it.'
There was no attempt to respond to the challenge, or to answer Murray's serious objections; just a preposterous and insulting suggestion to contact the British government. Clearly Ivens is unaware of legendary journalist I.F. Stone's comment:
'Every government is run by liars and nothing they say should be believed.'
Ivens' response is the reality of media contempt for their supposedly valued readers, or 'partners' as the Guardian affects to call the people it deceives. The Sunday Times states heroically:
'The Sunday Times takes complaints about editorial content seriously. We aim to resolve your complaint efficiently, promptly and effectively by direct contact with you.'
Failing that, write to the government!
One might have thought that editors and journalists elsewhere would have leapt on Ivens' contemptuous response to a serious correspondent, condemning Ivens for dragging their supposedly noble 'profession' into further disrepute. But, according to our searches of the Lexis newspaper database, the email went totally unreported.