Alastair Campbell on what the press really care about


Alastair Campbell, former spin doctor, has blogged about the super-injunction saga, linking it to the phone hacking scandal. He points out the blatant hypocrisy of the press in breaking the “footballer” super-injunction because it hurts them where they live; whereas they’re largely silent on the question of law-breaking in the form of phone hacking when it suits them.

The papers are under pressure. Take away from their staple diet stories of kiss and tell and the synthetic anger and envy in which they specialise and the pressure grows. That is what the last few days have been about. Magna Carta? Cant. Freedom of expression? Hypocrisy, especially in light of the near blackout on phone hacking.

Sex sells, apparently. Celebs sell, apparently. What they are fighting for is the right to write about sex and celebs. Thats it.

via Media’s lack of focus on phone hacking exposes their agenda – sex and celebs | Media |

Campbell also points out that the government are (as usual) running scared of the news media – for some reason, no politician thinks they can win an election without Murdoch’s support – and following their agenda.

Without sex scandals the tabloids have got nothing. Reading the text of the injunction granted to “CTB” (named in Parliament as Ryan Giggs) and it’s clear that one party was trying to make money from selling a story in the time-honored “kiss and tell” fashion. Hotel meetings were arranged simply so photographers could grab shots to illustrate the story. At the heart of all this is the question of “public interest”. The argument is always between what the public are interested in and what the public should or ought to know. The judges in the case have correctly consulted the newspapers’ own Code of Conduct and concluded that knowing about CTB’s private life does not meet their own definition of a “public interest”.

This is not a politician mis-using public funds, a banker bringing down the world’s economy or even a sportsperson breaking the law. It’s celebrity gossip. I don’t buy the argument that CTB “profits from his public image”. He’s not David Beckham. I personally had no knowledge of his marital arrangements and can only recall seeing him in a couple of TV advertisements, neither of which promoted his family image (e.g. he wasn’t shown playing on the Nintendo Wii with his kids). So the idea that he deserved to be exposed is nonsense. As David Hepworth pointed out on his blog, this kind of behaviour is probably true of 75% of footballers, rock stars, and other young men who earn lots of money and have lots of free time.

There’s a story here about a woman who (according to CTB) has sex with a man three times in (according to her) six months and then arranges for a photographer to follow her to a fourth meeting at a hotel. And a fifth. She’s either trying to get money out of CTB, or she’s trying to make money from one or several newspaper groups. So this could be a story about blackmail, as the judge in the case implied (and if so, the victim does have a right to privacy under the law); or it could be a story about someone too lazy to get a proper job.