Let's talk about Andrew Gilligan first. There was a time when he was viewed as a scapegoat; journalists rallied around him as a comrade under fire when he brought out the story about a 'sexed-up' dodgy dossier that would lead to recriminations, resignations, Alastair Campbell sneering on the news, and David Kelly's death. The venom with which Gilligan and the BBC were pursued convinced many to imagine that Gilligan was 'one of them' - a fellow hack in need of protection.
But perhaps, looking back, the truth is a bit more prosaic. Perhaps there was no big bad scary pantomime-villain conspiracy to get Gilligan. Perhaps he was just crap at his job then, showing just the same kind of crapness he shows regularly now for the Evening Standard. Maybe he fucked up the story because he wasn't spectacularly good at his job.
Evidence that might point you towards that conclusion can be seen over at the Tory Troll today. You'll remember that last week Gilligan paid a visit to the Starlight Academy for two-and-a-half hours and asked dozens of questions which were all reasonably answered by people there. Now Gilligan would like us to believe that the Starlight Academy, which he knows is nothing of the kind, is some kind of tainted organisation, implying it doesn't do anything by the fact that it failed to return an email from someone pretending to be a student.
(Someone pretending to be someone else... hmm. Wonder where on earth Gilligan could have got that idea from?)
But Gilligan knows exactly what the Academy does, because he's bloody well been there and seen it with his own eyes. Why, then, make it seem - via the 'switched off' phone and the failed email return - that it's not doing anything? Why would he want to create an impression he knows to be false? Why not mention the work the organisation does?
I think there comes a point where you really have to wonder if it's gone beyond shoddiness.
Nick Cohen, meanwhile, thinks he's a reporter. He isn't. He also thinks he has a 'commitment to objectivity'. Has he ever read back anything he's written? I do see his point - that journalists and the editorial system provides some checks and balances - but he's not a reporter and he's not objective, and he's not the kind of 'blacksmith' he thinks he is. Here, though, is that commitment to objectivity in full. Is a world of bloggers so much worse than a world of Nick Cohens?
Speaking of journalists with a commitment to objectivity, I remember 'Ratbiter' in Private Eye angrily defending Policy Exchange when they were torn off a strip by Newsnight. I am sure that Ratbiter, as a reporter and a journalist with a commitment to objectivity, will be happy to report this week that Policy Exchange have withdrawn their report on the Hijacking of Islam and made an apology to one of the groups they wrongly smeared. Yes, I'm sure he will. I'm sure this news will make as many headlines in the right-wing press as the original report did. Yes, I bet it will.
World news now, and the new liberal-left President of the United States is polite enough to ask a sovereign nation before killing its citizens. See, that's progress, isn't it? "Would you mind awfully if we blew up a few people with a drone?" Yes.
In Brazil, a great big wall is being built to keep the poor away from the rest of us. And the world shrugs its shoulders and swallows all the guff from the G20 about how our system 'lifts people out of poverty'.
Finally, Buff The Banana offers 'something for the ladies' for once. But... as I mention in the comments, I wonder if it is just something for the ladies. You don't think that the Mail might be encouraging web traffic from *whispers* gay men, do you?
- The Joy of Socks (or: ‘Lost on Gilligan’s Island’)
- Let’s not Gilligang up on him
- Andrew Gilligan: it all looks rather tragic