“The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.”
― George Orwell
There have been rumours circulating for some time now that Paul Dacre, former editor of the Daily Mail and still editor-in-chief of the Daily Mail Group, will be confirmed as the new chair of Ofcom. He is ex-sacked-for-lying journalist Boris Johnson’s favourite for this vital role regulating the media. A fox in charge of the chicken coop, no less, at a time when the truth is under siege like never before and trust in the news is down in the bottom third of the world rankings.
Brexiter Steve Baker was very open in his enthusiastic support for Dacre’s appointment. He’d also like to have seen the recently ennobled Brexiter Charles Moore, Baron Moore of Etchingham, former editor of The Daily Telegraph, The Spectator and The Sunday Telegraph as Chairman of the BBC, though Moore ruled himself out of the role, saying:
Despite huge public pressure, I shall not be applying to be director-general of the BBC. It was kind of Tony Hall to stand down early, forgoing next year’s centenary plaudits, so that I could rise on the wave of post-Brexit fervour. But no: I am not a woman and have no plans to become one and, under the BBC’s diversity rules, uniformity of gender is required …
Spectator, 25 January 2020
Steve Baker did not get his wish from September 2020.
Wow! That was some serious honesty, there, and we should be grateful that he made no attempt whatsoever to disguise the agenda. It’s worth taking a closer look at what he said. It really was quite astonishing!
“I’d be delighted…It would be great news [appointment of Dacre and Moore] and anyone suggesting we are somehow appointing our preferred people…”
Hmm. Did it sound at all as if he had a preference? It did, didn’t it! He went on to confirm this as Ridge asked him why it would be great news:
“Well, because they are Conservatives”
So that’s a bias-free comment? But there’s more…
“They could ensure some impartiality [… as opposed to those] not on the side of mainstream, moderate Conservatism” and he
looks “forward to them being a bit more Conservative”
Every one of us should be concerned, regardless of political affiliation. An unbiased, properly-regulated press is a key requisite for a healthy democracy. The threats to media balance and compliance with the law and codes of conduct comes at a time when standards in public life are being eroded and scrutiny avoided or denied. We need the Fourth Estate to do its job. That job is not to parrot the Party line or to suppress uncomfortable truths. Where will we be as a nation when the politicians and the billionaires gain almost total control over the media and the message? Once again, Orwell provides the perfect quote:
“And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed—if all records told the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became truth. ‘Who controls the past’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.’”
Unsurprisingly, there is considerable resistance to Dacre’s appointment, given his track record and the paper’s propensity for racist, xenophobic and populist headlines and stories which are, more often than not, called out by the campaign Stop Funding Hate:
As Mark Twain observed:
“There are laws to protect the freedom of the press’s speech, but none that are worth anything to protect the people from the press.”
And certainly none with men like Dacre at the helm.