Guido’s eyes welled up when he read Alice Miles piece in The Times this morning. For five years this blog has squarely blamed Lobby journalists for failing the people. The Fourth Estate may not have a formal constitutional role, but the role is real.
Journalists are to there to “speak truth unto power”. Not trade favours for tittle tattle, not report spin as truth. From the start of this era of spin the Lobby pack have been willing accomplices. It is actually hard to name journalists who can hold their heads high. Peter Oborne – seen as an eccentric maverick, Martin Bright – hounded out of a job by Brown’s henchmen, Fraser Nelson – frozen out by Downing Street despite being Britain’s most widely read political columnist. Who else stood up to McPoison and revealed his text message terrorism?
Cowardice and cronyism runs right through the Lobby. Fearful of being taken off the teat of pre-packaged stories served to them. That is not journalism, that is copy-taking. The many stories filed this week which reveal just how horrible Brown’s cabal have been are of mere historical interest. They would have been brave if they had been written before McPoison was toppled. You all knew and said nothing. You knew and went along with it. Your revelatory articles are merely confessions of previous personal cowardice.
It is not as if it was a secret, as an outsider Guido went on Newsnight and laid out his manifesto, telling the Lobby to get some backbone and stand up to the spin machine. That j’accuse was met with a ferocious counter-attack from the doyen of the Lobby system, Sir Michael White, Nick Robinson cried foul, Paxman sneered. The issue was glossed over. The Lobby felt relief. The little boy who had pointed at the naked Lobby was rebuffed. Who has ended up looking the biggest fools? As you write your reviews of the years of terror and spin, do you not feel just the slightest tinge of guilt at your complicity? Guido, considered too far below the salt, remembered that speaking truth in a time of deceit was a revolutionary act, and the Lobby journalists now sleep safe in their beds tonight, because a rough blogger was prepared to do violence on Damian McBride.
You knew and did nothing, you failed your readers, you failed the truth. Hang your heads in shame.