Journalists will be the next target of public anger, and rightly so

Rod Liddle takes issue with his friend and former colleague, Andrew Gilligan, over his work for PressTV, the propaganda channel run by the Iranian government. How can such work be compatible with the journalistic ethos for which Gilligan has previously been commended?

8 July 2009

12:00 AM

8 July 2009

12:00 AM

There is a danger in writing columns that you destroy everything. You begin by gleefully attacking your enemies, then you begin to attack your friends. You end up attacking yourself, like one of those nematode worms which, in a witless sexual frenzy, stabs itself to death with its own penis. This is the fate that awaits all of us scribblers — and fair enough, I suppose. So this week, then, halfway there: friends.

In fairness, Andrew Gilligan was never a very close friend of mine — we didn’t, you know, hang out. But I employed him as a reporter at the BBC Today programme and admired him as, I think, the finest investigative journalist I’ve come across. You may remember him from that ticklish little contretemps with the government back in 2003, when he suggested that Blair and Campbell had knowingly exaggerated the military threat posed by Saddam Hussein and had misrepresented the intelligence from the security services. That was the gist of the David Kelly affair and I wonder if there is anyone in Britain today, except Lord Hutton, who does not believe that Gilligan was right. He was also the first journalist to uncover the plans for a European Union constitution, for which story he was personally vilified in the lobby by the Downing Street spin machine. Since leaving Today he has rightly won numerous awards, not least for a relentless and painstaking exposure of Ken Livingstone’s numerous client groups and the money they received from the Mayor’s office. What I really liked about Gilligan, though, was his morality; his quaint conviction that journalism should be about exposing wrong-doing, no matter how much trouble it caused for himself. So different to the majority of other young journos I interviewed back then, at the BBC — the people who, when asked why they wanted to be a journalist replied, with an air of mystification, that they wanted ‘a job in the media’.

So what’s he doing — Gilligan — working for PressTv, the international propaganda channel run by the Iranian government? Taking money from police state goons to present a talk show on a channel which has no regard whatsoever for the truth? Being in the pay of a government which, back in Tehran, is rather more vigorous in its treatment of journalists like Gilligan than Alastair Campbell was. If Andrew were working in Iran I suspect he’d be short of one or two fingernails by now.

‘I’m not going to give you my reasons if you’re just going to rip the piss out of them,’ he says on the phone from his holiday in the west country.

‘Well, how can I know if I’m going to rip the piss out of them before I’ve heard them, Andrew?’


He sighs a lot. I hope he is sighing because he knows he’s done a bad thing rather than because he’s been found out. He explains that at first he thought that PressTV was an agreeable symptom of social change and greater openness in Iran, though he adds, ‘I may have been wrong about that.’ He says he has not worked for PressTV since the election and that its post-election coverage has been ‘flawed’ (no kidding, dude). He ‘might’ not work for it ever again. And how much did they pay you, Andrew?

‘Not that much.’

How much, exactly?

‘I’m not going to tell you that.’

Why not?

‘Because I don’t want to. It’s private.’

Ah, yes, private. Of course it is, like moats and duck islands and flipped-out homes were supposed to be. Can you imagine if a politician worked regularly for the propaganda arm of a hostile fascist theocracy and insisted to us all that the money he made was a private concern? Well, actually, a couple of British MPs do work for PressTV — Derek Conway and George Galloway. Jesus, if Andrew wasn’t put off by the mullahs, you’d think he might at least have smelled a rat seeing Derek Conway getting his fat pasty face doused with powder in the make-up room. Conway — whip latterly withdrawn by David Cameron — misused taxpayers’ money to employ his son as a researcher. There is no record of his son having done any work whatsoever, but still Conway continues to draw his MP’s salary. Oddly, the horrible Galloway at least has the excuse that he has a soft spot for Iran. But the truth is that all of these eminent and quasi-eminent journalists who work or worked for PressTV — Gilligan, Afshan Rattsani (another ex-Today programme monkey), the Muslim convert Yvonne Ridley — as well as scumbags like Conway, were employed solely to give the channel a respectable gloss while its news programmes dissembled and told lies in the service of an authoritarian government. And underneath, I’m sure all of them know it. But they didn’t care, or chose not to think about it, because the money was good.

The hilarious ‘legal adviser’ to PressTV, a goateed idiot called Matthew Richardson, who was brilliantly taken apart on Newsnight by our own blogger Martin Bright, offered up the vague defence that ‘all’ media outlets are owned by someone, and these ‘someones’ might not always be terribly nice. Well, sure. But even Conrad Black and Robert Maxwell managed to resist the temptation to have reporters arrested and tortured. There is a difference, isn’t there?

It will be the journalists who next cop the brunt of public fury at what they see as a money-grubbing, amoral, privileged elite — and quite right too, I suppose. Much though we may joke, our expenses are usually nothing to write home about, save for one or two magnificent exceptions. But the question of who we whore ourselves out to without asking too many questions — 500 quid for a 500-word topless hand shandy? no problem, Ayatollah — will, I think, begin to be asked. There is a mood of public recrimination which began with the bankers, moved on to the politicians, and is now chipping away at the BBC and, by extension, the rest of the journalistic trade. I don’t see why we should be immune, to be honest. I don’t really understand why it is ok for Andrew Gilligan — a journalist in whom I have trust, in whose reports I have hitherto always believed — to trouser money from a source which is committed to suppressing the truth and beating up those who would dare to articulate it. We have blurred the edges of right and wrong for too long, twisted morality so that it fits conveniently with our mortgage interest payments and plans for a summer holiday, the same as the rest. Meanwhile, Andrew — enjoy your holiday, mate. And then get a f***ing grip.

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Show comments
  • Dave Hill

    “a relentless and painstaking exposure of Ken Livingstone’s numerous client groups and the money they received from the Mayor’s office,” you say.

    Oh really?


  • David Short

    I was once truly appalled by a woman Sunday tabloid hack (yes, I know, it might seem easy to be appalled by such a beast).

    One of the stories she’d worked on involved a young male school teacher ‘caught out’ in some sexual shenanigan. I can’t remember exactly what it was, but it was perfectly legal, and not that shocking. He’d probably used an escort agency, something a shy, older teacher might well do (as in fact many senior journalists, including ex-editors of national newspapers certainly have done).

    Faced with the valiant, upstanding threat of exposure to the school, and vainly begging the story not be revealed, he committed a lonely suicide.

    I asked her how she felt about that. ‘He shouldn’t have done it!’, she replied, then went back to slurping her pint in the pub. (Shouldn’t have done something that was legal if a little sad, so he should pay with his life, in other words).

    That’s the kind of journalism the public should get angry at. But they don’t, because it’s put out for them like a saucer of milk to be lapped up (sorry, Galloway).

    I’m sure there’s a nice warm seat in Hell for that woman hack and all her like.

  • Barry

    I don’t have to buy The Spectator or the News of the World if I don’t approve.

    The BBC, on the other hand, is a different matter.

  • Press TV

    Press TV rejects accusations that it is a mouthpiece for the Iranian government.

    It is true that we are state-funded (like France 24, Aljazeera, Russia Today and the BBC World Service) but that does not mean we slavishly follow the Iranian government line.

    Our international staff is comprised of a huge variety of worldviews and nationalities. And we fully realize that in a modern media environment where viewers have access to a plethora of information, state propaganda is a thing of the past.

    Press TV gives a platform to a wide diversity of views – pro-Zionist and anti-Iranian government among them. At the same time we give a voice to the voiceless, the people whom the western media ignores. And that is why our audience is growing.

    We are also regulated by Ofcom, which means we must adhere to a strict set of broadcasting regulations regarding balance, due impartiality and objectivity. Rules which the newspaper industry is not subject to.

    Regarding the Iranian elections, Press TV has given a platform to all points of view –pro-Ahmadinejad, pro-Mousavi, anti-Iranian government, pro-Iranian government. We have also reported on the post-election rallies and protests.

    In short, we simply report the facts and give a platform to a wide variety of opinion. That is what journalists are supposed to do.

  • Sheila

    Rod, you say: “Andrew Gilligan — a journalist in whom I have trust, in whose reports I have hitherto always believed.”

    I have never understood the newspaper industry’s adulation of this ghastly Gilligan man given his behaviour surrounding the Hutton Inquiry:

    There was only one BBC journalist who emerged from that debacle with any credibility at all: Susan Watts.

    Susan Watts’ first day of evidence:
    MS SUSAN JANET Watts (called) 156

    Susan Watts’ second day of evidence:

    Section 63

    A. And it was for two reasons, two important reasons.Firstly, that I felt under some considerable pressure to reveal the identity of my source.

    Q. Pressure from?

    A. The BBC.

    Q. Yes.

    A. And I also felt that the purpose of that was to help corroborate the Andrew Gilligan allegations and not for any proper news purpose. I continually stressed through all of this that I felt that my two broadcasts on Newsnight stood and spoke for themselves.

    I can see why Gilligan has wanted to redeem himself and why the anti-war brigade in the Press want him redeemed but I’m afraid to say his activities with Press TV merely confirm the impression many of us have long-held of him.

    His most recent activity with Press TV suits him down to the ground.

  • rod liddle

    PressTV – I couldn’t give a monkey’s what you reject or don’t reject. You are the official sponsored organ of a police state and your coverage of the election in your country has precisely reflected that status. And let’s see what Ofcom makes of you.

  • Muhammed Yusuf

    You obviously don’t watch Press TV Rod Liddle as I’ve seen plenty of people on there slagging off Iran. It may be a little bit biased but so is every TV channel. Why don’t you ask journos from the BBC world service to resign as they are funded by a government which has invaded and occupied two soveriegn nations in the last decade leading to the deaths of countless civilians. Anything Iran has done pales into insignifcance compared to that. I’m Iranian and I know my country isn’t a police state. It’s an imperfect Islamic democracy which has never been allowed to develop normally because of foreign military and economic pressure. Its people have more rights than any other in the region and it rules with the consent of the majority. But countries under threat restrict freedoms. The large, disatisfied minority should accept the election results for what they are. Why don’t you call for an end to ecomonic and miltary sanctions and destablisation programmes against Iran and then the country will open up further.

  • Mr Green

    I think the backlash (should it arrive) will be due to the BBC being the willing mouthpiece of a discredited government.
    They have been complicit in the lies and spin, and so have been inexorably linked with the bad-smell which is the Labour Government.
    If this spreads to other forms of media and other media outlets then that will be unfortunate, but understandable.

  • Parthasarathy Rengaswami

    Rod Liddle has sought to expose Andrew Gilligan’s lackof morality, by posing him pointed questions which seem to have stumped Gilligan, going by Liddle’s version of the conversation. Even after making allowance for a few (inadveretent) inaccuracies in Liddle’s report of his confronting Gilligan, we can sense definite symptoms of a feeling of guilt in Gilligan. First he displays a withdrawal symptom by refusing to give his reasons. Later he concedes. that his assessment of Press TV may have been wrong. may be wrong. Then he admits that the post-election coverage of Press TV was flawed. Finally, he says that he might not work for Press TV again. Typical reactions of a person caught committing a wrong. First he will be defiant, the he will admit his guilt and will aver that he will never do it again! But I think Liddle’s probing Gilligan about how much he was paid was going a bit too far.

    We can always find that people engaged in disreputable activities rope in a number of good and competent people to be a part of their scheme of things, with a view to bring in some credibility for themselves and their ventures. Some good, innocent people allow get themselves trapped into the net,. Whether they do it for the lure of money, misguided enthusiasm for a cause, loyalty to some people or poor judgement, the consequence is the same. They end up in a quagmire, from which they would find it very difficult and even impossible to extricate themselves. Taunting by the Liddles of the world is not going to make things easy for them!

  • peter

    So another post not put up…you do wonder what criteria the moderator uses to base his censorship on. Anyway still Rod Liddle doesnt get it. He worked for another state owned propaganda company which we are forced to pay for as taxpayers.The propaganda comapany called the BBC broadcast as many lies as any other media outlet. Just because they coincided with Mr Liddle’s cosy world view it was ok of course.

  • Dwight Vandryver

    This article is a bit of a columnist’s w*nk, don’t you think?
    Mr Gilligan did some stirling work in exposing the “sexed-up” dossier, the framework for Iraq War 2. It could be that he is paying the price for his temerity. It could be that the establishment has forced him into journalistic obscurity. It could be that working for PressTV was the best on offer.
    Moral indignation from Mr Liddle? Mmm, OK. Well, tell us what you earn, Mr Liddle. Tell us of your major expose story where you directly confronted the warlords in power. Then tell us how you deflected their displeasure.

  • Nikita

    The PressTV outfit may be biased like hell, but the Ofcom boys may a have a job on their hands what with the growing audience. Closer to home, the BBC East did a slot on the Norwich by-election tonight. It focused on education, and the candidates were each allocated 30 seconds slots to peddle their policies. Well, not all of the candidates, only four. Can you guess which two parties were excluded? How fair and unbiased is this, Rod?

  • rod liddle

    Well Dwight, it was me who, as editor of Today, broke those stories – and lots more besides. I’d check your own hanky before you start talking about w**k.

    My accusation is that I don’t think you should work for the agency of a police state.

    And Peter, you cannot seriously be thick enough to find a moral equivalence between the BBC and the Iranian government, can you?

    Many thanks to the PressTV hangers on who have written in, btw…………

  • David Short

    I reckon Gilligan’s self-justification is all too sadly understandable. It’s probably about money. Anyone with a family who has lost a secure, salaried, pensionable job in the BBC is going to find it very, very hard to make a good middle-class income as a freelance journalist.

    Some of these comments are outlandish. Lots of us get niggled by the gentle bias of the BBC (not least because it is under a duty by its Charter to be impartial), but it’s nowhere in the same game, never mind league, as PressTV.

    Some of the respondents understand the difference between the funding of the BBC and the funding of the World Service; others do not.

    The general BBC is funded by the license fee. That makes it a public service broadcaster, not a state-funded one.

    The World Service may well be funded by a Foreign Office budget, and to that extent it is ‘state-funded’. But it is not the dominant UK broadcaster, in fact it is barely influential within the UK.

    A true state-funded and state-owned broadcaster, holding a free-to-air monopoly which has to toe the state/government line because the state is the government and the government is the state, is what I would call a ‘state broadcaster’ in the pejorative sense.

    A trillion miles difference from the BBC or any other publicly-funded broadcaster in Europe, Australasia, Canada or any other properly democratic country.

    And by the way, it is far harder to notice any bias on the BBC World Service, either on TV or radio, than it is on the domestic BBC.

    The domestic BBC is certainly coloured by a gentle, pinko, middle-class feminist bias (particularly Radio 4, whose through the day output is almost non-stop bourgeois ‘Wimmin’s Hour’), but that’s hardly the crime of the century.

  • Muhammed Yusuf

    Liddle, it’s true I’m a Press TV hanger-on and that’s why I’m better qualified to talk about it than you. You are pontificating from a position of ignorance because you don’t watch it. And to characterise Iran as a police state is absolute nonsense and betrays the fact that you’ve never been there. Again, pontificating from a position of ignorance. The BBC is the best broadcster in the world (even though it’s coverage of Iran has been hopeless), but then again it has had 80 years to establish that reputation. Press TV is two years old and operates on a miniscule budget compared to the Beeb. So of course it ain’t as good. But if you watch it you will see a lot of legitimate stories that you don’t see on the Beeb which the public wants to watch. And it is surprisingly balanced although admittedly not compeltely. In short, Iran is an imperfect Islamic democracy but not the police state you are making out. And Press TV is a very imperfect TV channel which does a lot of good work and some bad work, but ain’t the propoganda channel you would like to think it is.

  • Colonial

    Journalists? Invariably horrible, grubby little creatures of the political Left. Its not even a debate.

    Two examples, a now and a then:

    The Lions have just toured South Africa with 50 000 Brit visitors. What a pleasure. A really good bunch. But the journalists reporting on the rugby? One eyed, unsporting, twisted, always looking for an angle, anything to stir and boost circulation.

    They hounded Rhodesia to destruction, got Mugabe into power, what they wanted in a continent they knew nothing about. And where are they now? Hiding in the long grass with that other unpleasant and responsible species, the politicians.

    Mans ability to arrange for awful people to run his life is bizarre.

  • Andy Carpark

    This article is confused. Precisely what is it that we, the sans culottes, are supposed to be angry about? Hearing news that is more or less reliable from someone now [allegedly] in the pay of a baby-eating cyclops, or hearing a stream of mendacious State-approved doublethink from some Notting Hill yes-man/woman who is at least kind to animals and loves their mum?

    Two nostrums:

    1. Prune the State broadcaster (if it is to be preserved at all) to a news and documentary service at, say, one tenth of the current licence fee.

    2. Introduce a prohibition like they used to have (may still have) in France against a foreign national owning a French newspaper.

    This will kill off the cosy symbiosis between journalism and government (reinforced after the Hutton Report) and reassure the sans culottes that those who presume to tell us what to think actually share our tax burden.

  • Mr Grumpy

    ‘Iran is an imperfect Islamic democracy’ – Mr Yusuf is so pleased with this formulation that he’s offered it to us twice already. Yes, they haven’t quite got the hang of counting each vote once thing yet, but, hey, nobody’s perfect.

    Coming soon from Ahmadinejad and Co: Auschwitz, the imperfect holiday camp?

  • Chris

    That was the gist of the David Kelly affair and I wonder if there is anyone in Britain today, except Lord Hutton, who does not believe that Gilligan was right.

    Yes. Me. I cancelled my subscription to the Speccie when Boris gave Fat Boy Dim a job. His story was crap, which you as his producer accepted because it fitted the BBC’s lying narrative about Iraq. Shame on you both.

  • Sarah H

    I’m afraid that, for me, the press and other ‘meedja’ soiled it’s hands a long time ago, when they started printing newsfeed by the Communist organisation ‘Searchlight’. And they wonder why newspaper sales are falling off a cliff.

  • Ian Dunbar

    It is time you all faced the fact that we are living in a scam culture run by barrow boys.
    What about the NHS? Where have all those extra billions gone? There must be a lot of pocket lining going on in administration because it still takes two weeks to get the result of a chest x-ray that in our high-tech world should be available by tomorrow at the latest.

  • paulgilboy

    when you have no money its sometimes difficult to maintain your morality, however, we all know whats right & wrong.
    the only person he needs to justify himself too is his reflection in the morror every day. Thats what stops most of us from taking the devils dollar.

  • Liberty

    To PRESS TV;
    you say you have covered the election and the post election events, just because you covered it doesn’t mean you are not biased. The vocabulary used when describing the demonstrators is shameful, it shows that the channel is a mouthpiece for the goverenment. Press TV is part of IRIB; which has the worst reputation as a propoganda machine, the head of Press TV is the deputy of Mr. Zarghami the head of IRIB so please do not even try to tell me that Press TV is independent.

    To MUhammad; Regarding the situation in Iran, do you live in Iran?
    I do.
    i doubt it that if you lived here and your wife was beaten up for protesting or shot just because she wanted her voice to be heard you would defend this propoganda machine. So you are not in position to say if Iran is a police state or not. When plain clothed Basij, attack people’s homes for shouting allah o Akbar. When they beat a 60 yer old woman in her own home for this reason and take her and leave her 4 year old grand daughter alone; what do you call this?
    Press TV syas it reports the truth, but it doesn’t. It doesn’t show the face of the sick killer on the roof shooting at the crowd in Azadi sqaure, everybody has his footage, can Presstv say they don’t have that footage? Bullshit.
    Stop defending something just because of religious beliefes (Islam)
    Press TV is mouth piece of the governmetn because it’s polcies are exactly thesame as the regime; care more about Palestine and Lebanon than about Iran. Because Palestine and Lebanon keep the Regime strong, but the nation which most of it doesn’t agree with their policies doesn’t.
    Shame on IRIB, Shame on Press TV.

  • peter

    Oh dear I have obviously upset Rod Liddle and I assure you I am far from being an idiot. The BBC receives its income from a poll tax which every person in Britain with a TV whether they choose to watch the BBC or not must pay. The material it produces has a set aim and agenda which pervades every aspect from soap storylines to the news. It is a very bloated propaganda service which is no more moral than any other state institution.
    As for Press TV, I am neither forced to pay for it or watch it. It therefore is more moral.

  • Stew

    I have commented before on this site because I like 95% of what you have to say. On this one I think you seem to have stepped over the thin line between cynical admonishment (a good thing) and self-righteous rant (dubious).
    I will admit an interest as I work in a country similar in many ways to the one at issue here, not far from it; although, there is less democracy and more police state where I am than Iran!
    Going by your logic, as such, I probably shouldn’t be here. Nor work for a company (British) that provides goods and services to my ‘hosts’. The company I work for employs tens of thousands of people worldwide, presumably we should all resign forthwith as we are both directly and indirectly tainted by the regime? This appears to be the moral equivalence that you are seeking.

    I have never even watched PressTv though I can imagine that it doesn’t quite toe a straight line. However, not sure that you are really in a position to dictate who works for it and who doesn’t (completely accept your point about Conway though).

    There are ten’s of countries in the world with pretty poor records on human rights, but a great many of those countries have major commercial and political interests in the, more ‘democratic’, shall we say nations that we live in. Iran just happens to be this months pariah of choice, next month it will be China (they seem to be quietly slaughtering a few rioters themselves – how about we stop working for companies with links to China?).

    Anyone who works for companies linked to undemocratic/despotic regimes or countries with poor human rights records should just give up their jobs?

    I understand where you are coming from with this but I am disappointed as you are usually one of the few commentators who normally sees the ‘real world’ that the rest of us actually live in not the rose tinted utopia of pixies and fairies that the Grauniad aspires to.

    I have a large family and bills to pay, and my talents are fairly limited. The UK jobs market is pretty poor for people like me at the moment. Your article is sadly uncharacteristically pompous.

    Despite everything I can go home and look myself in the mirror everyday because I am supporting my family – perhaps it is as simple as that for Andrew Gilligan and he doesn’t really deserve your anger.

    Either way, keep up the good work.

  • Rupert Fotherington-Smythe

    Rod – as the Lancastrians would say – you dunnarf sound like you’ve got a cob on. (I dunno how wise it is to get too involved.) One of the superb things about your writings is that you talk turkey – maybe it’s best to leave the others to do the gobbling.

  • Adam Abadi

    Press TV has no right, press TV’s staff are paid by my money and my fellow Iranian’s money. But nonetheless, you choose to be broadcast the same propaganda that is coming out of the Islamic Republic’s mouth, to be accurate what the Coup d’etas operators. Shame on you.
    Press TV is a just a PR channel for the Islamic Republic, and only broadcasts the same rhetoric that comes out of Coup d’etas operators.

    Press TV or Press TV International, or whatever name that you choose to hide behind, it’s the same. I hope that Britain goes forward with the shutdown of these crooks.

  • Adam Abadi

    To Mohammad Yusuf, and like minded people, if you really hate the west and its media this much, why then you choose to live here. You think the autocracy in Iran is a heaven, why don’t you go there and leave the west and westerners go to hell. You are not honest with yourself. Press TV is a propaganda channel with its agenda coming directly from the Islamic Republic rhetoric, a government that is the direct product of a military coup d’etat against its own people wish and will.

    Iran is a police state, and it has been for the past three decades.

  • A. MacAulay

    Sometimes honest men fall because staying upright seems no longer worth the effort. When fools, knaves and hypocrites thrive, untroubled by conscience, then in a moment of moral fatigue taking the folding stuff from aforesaid no longer makes any difference. Or so it feels.

    Whether Mr Gilligan fits this category or not, I can’t say but he can only find his way back (and there is a way back) if he is honest with himself.

  • rod liddle

    Chris – good job you’re not a journalist, mate. I had left the BBC eight months before the Kelly story; nothing to do with me. But I still think he got it right.

  • Wilfred

    Rod, this is a wonderful article, as ever. My only point of disagreement with you is that I never thought Gilligan honourable, from the moment he overegged the pudding and gave Humphrys his never-ending mojo over Iraq.

    Your article, Sir, is to be saluted for its courage, its indefatigability (that’s enough Galloway gags. Ed).

    I wish the rest of the Speccie was so well written and gripping. I mean, what else is there in this week’s edition, for example? Apart from an idiotic light-weight leading article by Delingpole claiming that a professor of mining with links to the mining industry is an expert on climate change, and another of the increasingly common consumer articles (can’t pay, won’t pay my TV licence; falsely arrested for carrying a baton in my car; my visit to a private mental hospital was crap – you get the picture).

    All in all, apart from you, Speccie doesn’t have much to say any more. Even Fraser’s column, though well written, is too one-sided. I think I’ll cancel my subscription. But I’ll still read you online.

    All power to you, Rod.

  • Ian C

    Will you get that extrermely irritating Nat West advert off the page? It keeps blocking what I am trying to read and I am thus not about to respond favourably to their message.

  • David Henshaw

    Rod – you are, of course, on the button with Press TV. But nothing prepares you for the surreal experience of actually appearing on one of their shows. Last September I was invited on to George Galloway’s ‘Real Deal’ (sic) slot to defend our Dispatches film Undercover Mosque – The Return. There was something almost touching about the way Galloway and his editors seemed utterly unprepared for any kind of dissent. A propaganda machine,yes, but a hopelessly amateur propaganda machine – unable to handle having the piss taken out of it. I went to shake George’s hand after our little chat. “Fuck off!” was the gorgeous one’s reply. Later, Majid Khabazan, who styled himself ‘Head of Production’ took me aside. “You have to understand”, he said urgently, “that you in the West do not have proper journalism – you do not tell the truth”. Press TV – now that was ‘proper’ journalism. Clearly, at some point, and for reasons that he has not made clear, Gilligan bought this line. My gob is truly smacked.

  • Knocke

    “Galloway at least has the excuse that he has a soft spot for Iran.”

    Replace “Iran” by “Saddam” and you’re right.