Denial: There’s pathetic denial going on in certain circles over the Hutton verdict. The Independent (surprise!) says, “Hutton is accused of a ‘whitewash.'” Tee-hee.
Jeff, I enjoy many aspects of your blog but, and I write from the UK as a critical listener of BBC radio, I think you are very wide of the mark on the Hutton Report. The backwash here to the Report is considerable because, as the political editor of ‘The Scotsman’ has said, we heard and saw all the evidence
My father told me that only thing man has in this world is his world. Your word, promise, whatever you want to call it is the only thing you can call your own. When we promise something, we are asking them to trust us. Trust us to keep our word to them. Trust, Mr. Smith, is a leap of faith. Once it’s gone, it usually doen’t come back. Every BBC reporter knows what the Hutton verdict means. Lairs, frauds, untrustworthly, sell your mother stuff. All we have in this world is our word. Now what does the BCC have left, it trust is gone. You tell me.
OK, Homer, try this. (The link to the Telegraph article is here, by the way.) Both are worth reading, as part of the conversation
This is not about Bush lied, Blair lied WMDs,so don’t try that here. This is about the coverup at high levels of the BCC, and price that they will now pay. I will say it again. For whatever reason a BCC reporter lied, his bosses coverup his lie, and a good man died. They have blown the trust of their listeners, readers, and viewers. Now how do they get that back. Or do they care at all.
I think you mean the BBC.
The Hutton Report did not lay the blame for Dr Kelly’s death at the door of the BBC. If you bother to look at the links, you’ll see that your view of the situation is, to put it mildly, simplistic.
David Smith, thanks for contributing. Having read the articles you linked (I like Boris Johnson, but he’s a Tory party man at heart, always willing to take a shot at the chops of Labour), I agree there is a deeper question about the nature of the wartime intelligence which got us into the Iraq – much the same question that we are facing here in America. But, my views on that aside (and as someone with experience in the American intel community, those views are extremely sharp…), the issue the HUTTON report set out to address was a very different one.
Homer simplifies a bit too much (I’m somewhat reluctant to make a straight morality play out of this with black-and-white heroes and villains, but the building blocks are tehre), but he gets the basic point right: this is a question about journalistic responsibility, dereliction of professional duty, institutional pridefulness, and, in the large, is about an organization which has so sealed itself off from marketplace response that it has come to view itself as above the law or the rules of the game. The BBC’s institutional arrogance was (indirectly and unintentionally – that’s why no actionable blame can really be laid) the cause of David Kelly’s death, and the fact that his suicide came NOT in process of the BBC revealing some grave truth, but was rather the side effect of a sordid lie intentionally perpetrated by a reporter with an agenda (Gilligan) and abetted by negligent or malicious (we cannot know which) supervisors…well this sentence is ungainly, but THAT is the outrage.
Jeff, thanks for this. Much appreciated.
I’m going to bow out because, for one thing, I don’t want an attempted conversation (with Homer) to become something else and, secondly, and more importantly, you’re firing so many complex issues that a comment column like this just isn’t the right medium for me to discuss them. We’d each need to write an article/blog posting and present them alongside each other! Suffice to say, your last paragraph is not at all how the Report is read by many over here: there is widespread amazement, across the political spectrum, at the conclusions; more to the point, Hutton hasn’t accused Gilligan of deliberately lying nor his supervisors of anything other than (to my mind absolutely correctly) crass negligence of duty
David: So then please don’t hang up on the conversation. I very much appreciate your tone and contributions and wish you’d stay and chat awhile (and link to your blog). For me, this is an issue of protecting the craft I do indeed value from damage done by irresponsible reporters and editors. This didn’t have to sink to this level at all — but all the ways to stop it were in the BBC’s hands. Gilligan (not famous for accurate reporting from Baghdad, remember) could have personally decided to check out his story before blurting it. His editors, knowing his history, could have told him not to report a big story until they checked it. Having said it, they could have issued caveats — we have this from one source and it’s not confirmed. Having heard the firestorm that came, properly, from No. 10 after an accusation of starting a war on lies to the people, they could and should have come to a full stop and investigated the allegation like a responsible news organization. Instead, they went or, or continued, a war against the government. They became the news rather than reporting it. They became advocates for their position rather than advocates for the people. They spoke rather than listened. They did this to themselves. Now it is time for them all to admit it and to protect that thing we all value and cherish: a free and credible press.
So please say and continue the discussion.
David, one other thing – please note that I’m NOT Jeff Jarvis. I’m another Jeff, Jeff B. (Blehar, technically). Sucks that I like to comment on the blog of a fellow who shares my name…
Jeff! I had just (belatedly) worked this out. Nice to know this sort of thing happens to other people apart from those of us called ‘Smith’!
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