Roz Kaveney (rozk) wrote,
Roz Kaveney

More Fog

Two points arise from the Mirror debacle.

The first of these is that, even though I have consistently regarded the Mirror photographs as obviously studio reconstructions of what was probably going on, I disapprove strongly of the arbitrary sacking of Piers Morgan for publishing them and sticking by them in the face of all reason.

It isn't that I don't think he should go, but that I believe in due process. He should have been reported to the Press Complaints Authority; the question of the photos' authenticity should have been discussed in front of a competent tribunal; and he should, if found to have acted as unprofessionally as I believe he did, be censured. Only then would the question of sacking him, as opposed perhaps to suspending him, come up.

As it is, he has been manhandled out of his own office at the behest of right-wing American shareholders who objected to his whole anti-war stance. Suddenly he becomes, not an editor who published dodgy photos, but a martyr of conscience - an honour he really lost the right to.

Meanwhile, various people who ought to know better - not only John Pilger, but also Roy Greenslade - have been seduced into the argument that it does not matter if the photos were authentic or not, because they illustrated what was probably going on and helped dramatize the issue. This argument is backed up with the point that, after all, Bush and Blair have lied throughout the war, and so why shouldn't the peace movement tell lies in a good cause?

Am I alone in seeing this as a really dangerous path to walk down? Once we accept the notion that truth and evidence is always and everywhere, wholly and solely, ideologically constructed, then actual debate becomes impossible. The American right largely controls the US media and chunks of the UK's and if we accept the idea of lying as morally neutral, then they will always get to win the argument by cheating. If the left starts lying as a matter of principle, it loses the right to expose the other side's big lies.

The way to expose any misconduct by British troops is called investigative journalism. We all used to believe in it. The US photos of abuse have changed the world by exposing real disgusting truth - even Andrew Sullivan is rethinking support for the war - and all the Mirror has done is muddy the water.
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