Modern Journalism for a Modern Society

 

A story in three photos –

In the issue of 12-17 April, the New Statesman published an article by George Eaton, joint deputy editor, on the Conservative philosopher Roger Scruton.

On April 10th, George Eaton tweeted what he called “a series of outrageous remarks” by Roger Scruton. The four tweets by George Eaton certainly had an immediate effect on social media – racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, homophobia: Roger Scruton was guilty of it all according to Eaton.

Only the supposed quotes from Roger Scruton seemed to be wholly out of context and appeared to have been manipulated. Did anybody try to find out whether Roger Scruton had actually said any of the things he was accused of saying? No. This is not how things work anymore.

There was a twitter storm and it raged for a while.

The Labour Party and several leading Conservative figures immediately demanded that ministers remove Scruton from his unpaid position as chairman of the government’s Building Better, Building Beautiful commission.

A mere four hours after the article appeared, James Brokenshire, the housing secretary, dismissed Scruton. Without talking to him, without asking for his side of the story. James Brokenshire sacked Roger Scruton based on a series of inflammatory tweets, and nothing else.

Eaton posted on his personal Instagram account a picture of himself drinking champagne, clearly as way of celebration.

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If anybody was in any doubt that Roger Scruton had been the victim of a hit-job, this was proof, of sorts.

(George Eaton later deleted and apologised for the Instagram post.)

Luckily there are still people with honour and integrity in the journalism world. Douglas Murray (I adore him), a friend of Roger Scruton took up the fight to clear the philosopher’s name. He repeatedly called for the full transcript of the interview to be published, a call that was not answered. Meanwhile, George Eaton had suddenly gone very quiet on social media.

 

Eventually, Douglas Murray somehow got his hands on the transcript of the interview which revealed Roger Scruton had been smeared in the most appalling fashion. He had been deliberately misrepresented, his reputation tarnished by…a journalist… who works for a major magazine. Is it any wonder people don’t trust the mainstream media anymore?

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I can’t even begin to explain how angry this whole debacle made me. As a person who values truth, integrity – as a qualified journalist myself who was told every single day without fail when I was training that: “accuracy is everything” – I was disgusted by it all. I still am, actually.

I was ecstatic when Douglas Murray published his article clearing Roger Scruton. So much so I indulged in being petty and replicated the ‘George Eaton gloating champagne pic’ for Twitter – twice – with the caption: “The feeling when Douglas Murray exposes the duplicity of George Eaton in an excellent piece that should hopefully deter other ‘journalists’ from distorting, lying and trying to destroy the reputation of anyone, let alone one of our finest minds.”

Petty? Yes, but I couldn’t resist. incidentally, that second pic is the first drunk pic of me to ever make it on the internet (Facebook doesn’t count)

 

I had booked tickets to go and see Roger Scruton and Douglas Murray talk in London before George Eaton published his ‘article.’ I had been looking forward to it but the event took on a special importance after the scandal. The evening wasn’t just about listening to two highly interesting people anymore, it was about showing support for a man with a very fine mind who had been needlessly demonised.

And it was a delightful evening – I was (without exaggeration) glowing when I left. Roger Scruton came on and was given a standing ovation. The love and respect for the philosopher in the room was almost tangible. He touched on the whole scandalous story of course, without bitterness – he was actually wonderfully magnanimous considering he hasn’t received a proper apology from anyone who was so quick to condemn him based on nothing more substantial than a few tweets. 

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I have to ask: what kind of a society have we become when journalists deliberately entrap others, when journalists are happy to lie, to smear, to demonise…and to gloat about the result of such despicable actions. When people in governments make decisions to sack someone without knowing the full story, without even bothering to speak to the person they employ, a person who has an outstanding reputation as a philosopher and writer.

I am so angry about the left’s methods which have gathered momentum in the last couple of years. No debate, but lies instead. No discussion but name-calling.

If they can do this to a respected philosopher, what chance do the rest of us have?

After a prolonged absence, George Eaton is back – he has apparently been demoted but the real scandal is the fact he wasn’t actually sacked. He is a disgrace to journalism and clearly an appalling human being. Journalists have always been guilty of bias, they’ve always been known to flirt with misrepresentation and even lies…but we’ve achieved a whole new level of deception that is just unacceptable.

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We are living in dark times, anybody who cares about truth and freedom of speech should be very worried – we have a duty to fight back against this tidal wave of sheer hysteria, self-righteousness and authoritarianism that has infected everything. 

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16 thoughts on “Modern Journalism for a Modern Society

  1. I remember reading the original article (or perhaps a summary of it in “The Guardian) and thinking that Roger Scruton had never struck me as being what the New Statesman claimed him to be, antisemitic, I am glad to read that this falsehood has now been laid to rest. As someone who is sympathetic to one-nation Conservatism, I admire Scruton and have read several of his books. While I don’t agree with his view that we should leave the EU (and have reservations regarding some of his interpretations of what it means to be a Conservative), he has a fine mind and certainly is no racist or antisemite. Best wishes – Kevin

    Liked by 1 person

  2. An interesting post, Anaïs (my apologies if the spelling is wrong), and one which makes me think that I should take the time to look up more about Roger Scruton – philosophers are often thought-provoking in a good way.

    And yes, I agree with you that journalism is not what it was, nor does it serve its purpose very well these days. And unfortunately so.

    I am not sure it is very fair to specifically call out the “Left” for a lack of truthfulness and fairness though; it seems to me that the “Right” is equally much at fault – at least when I look at the situation in the States (And no – I haven’t, I will readily admit, as much insight into the political/journalistic field in the UK).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The price some pay for the ‘convenience’ of being immediately able to tell a billion people what you think, particularly when you actually haven’t thought much at all!!… (and you maybe have a ‘penchant
    pour champagne’?) and living in a world where journalists have to compete with opinionated morons for the ‘trending’ storyline.

    When is the next rocket to Mars? – I want to get off this planet.

    Wanna come with?? 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. There will be war. I’m sad to say. But when such imbeciles are allowed to roam free, and spread their lies free… It will end up badly. When a “french” rap singer sings “hang all the whites” and gets but a slap on the wrist? When the left, Europe-wide lies, when Nigel Farage’s pitiful “party” comes first in a surrealistic European Parliament election? There will be war.
    This guy, Eaton? He has not even been fired? There will be war.
    (PS. That might be a “drunk” picture of you, mon amie, but even so, you retain class and taste: Veuve Clicquot no less!)
    Cheers.
    PS2 I will second your friend’s motion. I want to get off this planet.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Journalists now have agendas. The columns that were once reserved for the op-ed pages, are now published as news. People now cheer for a party and not the truth. These are dark days indeed. And, yes, I just love Veuve Clicquot. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. This pisses me off so much, the bullshit is one thing but the social media hysteria that follows with no pursuit of context is just disgusting. It makes people stupid and ignorant. People will look back in years to come and laugh at the stupidity of this society. Those that omit context should be held to account and be made to issue a public retraction and apology.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Excellent piece. I share your admiration for both gents and your contempt for the tactics of journalists like Eaton. I really can’t believe what is happening to the Left these days. It really just feels like the side I spent half of my adult life supporting is over.

    Liked by 1 person

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