Features

Our suicidal newspapers are throwing press freedom away

The Tory papers seem to want their own human rights abolished. The leftist ones cheer when journalists are arrested. Does their civil war matter more to them than their civil liberties?

11 October 2014

9:00 AM

11 October 2014

9:00 AM

With the possible, although far from certain, exception of the men and women who hire me, it is fair to say that Britain’s editors have a death wish. They suppress their own freedom. They hold out their wrists and beg the state to handcuff them. They are so lost in ideological frenzy that they cannot see that free journalism is the first casualty of their culture wars.

The Daily Mail acclaimed David Cameron’s threat to repeal the Human Rights Act and pull out of the European Convention on Human Rights as ‘triumphant’. Within days, we learned how the ‘triumphant’ state treats the Mail on Sunday when it thinks no one is looking. Without a warrant from a judge, Kent police officers trawled records of thousands of calls to its news desk. In other words, they hacked its phones. The police hate the comparison, but it still holds. Just as celebrities could accuse tabloid journalists of threatening their right to privacy under the Human Rights Act, so journalists can now accuse the police of threatening their right to free expression, which the judges in Strasbourg have ruled includes protection for a journalist’s sources.

The police targeted the Mail on Sunday because it was on the fringes of the Chris Huhne affair. You will remember that a roadside camera caught him speeding. Huhne persuaded his wife, Vicky Pryce, to pretend she was driving so that he could escape a ban, thus involving them in a (rather small) conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. Huhne would have got away with it, had he not enraged his wife with the surest method known to man: running off with another woman. But Pryce did not come out and tell the truth. Instead, her friend Constance Briscoe — a judge, no less — briefed the Mail on Sunday. I have my notes of a conversation I had with an excited Huhne just before his trial began. ‘Briscoe [has been] dealing with a MoS news executive called David Dillon,’ he said. She was ‘feeding the Mail information from the police investigation’, throwing the whole case against him in doubt. Huhne thought he could escape justice and save his career by proving that he was the victim of a vast right-wing conspiracy, led by Tory newspapers that were out to destroy him.

Unfortunately for him, nothing altered the fact that he was guilty as charged. As he talked, a question niggled at the back of my mind: how the hell did Huhne know about the Mail on Sunday’s sources?

[Alt-Text]


Now we know. First the prosecution demanded that the Mail on Sunday reveal Briscoe’s dealings with the paper. This attack on journalists’ sources at least had the merit of being authorised by an independent judge. In the confiscated emails, Briscoe mentioned she had a ‘police source’. Kent police then used the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act to seize all the records from David Dillon’s phone on the Mail on Sunday news desk, without the approval of a judge. All for nothing: Huhne’s allegations of a conspiracy were baseless. And all for the most trivial of reasons: the police were not using exceptional powers to investigate an exceptional crime, but a politician’s lies about a minor driving offence, which caused no injury to people or property.

The casualness of the disregard for legal standards — Eric Metcalf, a barrister specialising in freedom of speech, tells me he has no doubt that police breached Article 10 of the Human Rights Act, and the English Common Law too — shows that the possibilities for the abuse of power are limitless. Ripa not only allows the police to seize everything a modern phone can tell them about the movements and contacts of a citizen without judicial approval, but it also contains no provisions to protect the confidentiality of exchanges between journalists and their sources, doctors and patients, lawyers and clients, and MPs and constituents.

I have dwelt on the Mail on Sunday because it is one of the few among millions of instances of surveillance we know about. By chance, David Dillon noticed his name on a document which one of Huhne’s lawyers was reading in a restaurant near the Mail on Sunday’s offices. If he had not, this case, like countless others, would have remained secret. In private, the police now tell journalists that they have pulled reporters’ phone records in every single leak inquiry in the last ten years. I believe them. Why wouldn’t they, when it is so easy to spy without constraint? Meanwhile, Edward Snowden’s exposé showed that GCHQ was harvesting the cables that bring the web into Britain, taking not just email records but their contents. Gavin Millar QC and his colleagues are using the European Convention on Human Rights to discover whether the spies seized the information of journalists, lawyers and indeed MPs. A GCHQ memo Snowden passed to the Guardian quoted its managers saying their interceptions could not become public because they breached the right to privacy in the Human Rights Act.

Ah, the Human Rights Act again. Everywhere you turn, you find it unnerving the secret state. Yet the Sun and the Mail on Sunday cheer on the Tories as they threaten to repeal it. Their editors say they believe David Cameron’s promise that he will incorporate its provisions into his new British bill of rights. They are on their own on that one. As Dr Mark Elliott of Cambridge University and every other legal commentator has pointed out, Cameron wants to give rights ‘a more precise definition’. No one else believes that a government whose Home Secretary, Theresa May, wants further to restrict freedom of speech will produce a rewrite that protects, rather than degrades, the existing liberty of the citizen.

The real reason why the Sun and Mail want to drape themselves in the state’s chains, however, has nothing to do with technicalities. It is a morbid symptom of a culture war that has turned maniacal. To the right-wing press the Human Rights Act is lefty and Guardianista; it protects unpopular minorities which Conservatives loathe. The Tory press does not stop to consider that their journalists are a despised minority who also need human rights laws to defend them. The left-wing press and the BBC are no better. They stayed silent when the police arrested dozens of Sun journalists — not for hacking the phones of celebrities, but for stories from the police, prisons and armed forces which may turn out to be in the public interest. To left-wing journalists, the Tory tabloids are reviled enemies against whom any use or abuse of police power is justified. They never worry that the state will use the same tactics against them.

People go on about the might of the British press. They do not see that, consumed by hatreds and torn by civil war, it can no longer stand up for its own best interests, let alone the best interests of a free society.

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Show comments
  • WFB56

    Mr. Cohen’s support of the European Human Rights industry seems more rooted in a loathing of Britain than in any empirical evidence of the superiority of legislators and judges in the UK. Given the track record in the UK over the past 500 years or so versus that on the Continent, I think that I have more faith that in the end, the UK will get it right.

  • Damaris Tighe

    Forgive my somewhat simplistic response, but shouldn’t abuses such as these be dealt with by laws made in Britain, by a British parliament, rather than by a Court of unelected foreign judges?

    • djkm

      What does this have to do with the Human Rights Act?

      • Damaris Tighe

        The HRA was incorporated into British law without mediation of British law precedent.

      • IJMO_DS

        It’s not a matter for British judges interpreting the HRA either. That’s the trouble with human rights, they just fill in what it means as they go along. That’s why we have detailed laws passed by parliament that do not give judges so much room to manoeuvre. We should scrap both the HRA and pull out from the court. The conventions fine and we managed perfectly well with it for 15 years. Pass an act of parliament to define where the boundaries are between state and media.

        • djkm

          What have you seen in the British bill of rights that would protect media from the state? In fact, why should there BE a special act of parliament specifically for media in the first place? That’s the point of the an all encompassing ‘human rights act’ and it’s done the media quite well before when they’ve found themselves in the position of having to rely on it to help them out.

          And Cohen is absolutely right to point out that this Home Secretary has already made moves to restrict freedom of speech, for one, which surely aren’t in the interests of the papers?

          Here’s a question for you – name 10 cases where the human rights act were ‘misused’ and/or the ECHR have won over our courts. The need, apparently, is to remove these, so there should be tens, if not hundreds of reasons why they don’t work. The conservatives haven’t come up with this list, so can you?

    • IJMO_DS

      I don’t think press freedom should rely on the interpretation of human rights by judges at all. For a start human rights are supposed to protect journalists from being taken away and tortured by the state gestapo because of their political views and their families not being told what happened to them as happened in WWII.

      British primary legislation should establish the relationship between state and media in the UK not human rights. This is all about further trivialising and encroaching in to domestic political matters by the human rights brigade . More work for the lawyers is what this is really about.

      • Damaris Tighe

        Couldn’t agree more. This country is ruled by a coalition, albeit uneasy, of PR people & lawyers.

      • sarah_13

        Much of the problem is that the “foreign judges” we refer to are, in some cases, not qualified judges and many not as qualified as our highly qualified supreme court judges which the ECHR judges often override (though the HRA only says our courts must take account of ECHR rulings). Our judges tend to defer to the ECHR because of our doctrine of precedent which is different to almost all other european justice systems, which creates an incoherent process.

        • GraveDave

          Much of the problem is that the “foreign judges” we refer to are, in some cases, not qualified judges and many not as qualified as our highly qualified supreme court judges

          When it’s come to our own murderers and rapists and paedophiles, many of our own ‘highly qualified’ judges have proved just as stupidly incompetent.

        • Simon_in_London

          Yes. Anyone who knows about the English legal system, and does not hate it for political reasons, can see that our judiciary may be flawed, but are vastly superior to the European equivalent, or the non-judges of the ECHR. Heck they are vastly better than the American equivalent! Other English Law nations tend to have good judiciaries too.

          • Mukkinese

            I take it that you are a lawyer…

          • Simon_in_London

            I teach lawyers, yup. I think that makes me a ‘jurisconsult’ in ECHR terminology. In my line I read a lot of eg UK House of Lords (now ‘Supreme Court’), European Court of Justice, and US Supreme Court cases, and can compare the quality of reasoning.

          • mikewaller

            That is why the ECHR so rarely clashes with it. To use the very few situations where this does happen – or far more commonly, where our judges apply the HR Act in ways we do not like – as an excuse for leaving its ambit is shameful.

            I say this for two reasons. First, our system definitely does have flaws. For example, whilst I hate violent Irish nationalism, I find the significant list of innocent people charged with terrorist offences who were sent to jail and then had repeated appeals turn down, a matter of national shame. As with the hanging of William Joyce (Lord Haw-Haw) and the treating of the Yorkshire Ripper (who was clearly mad) as a common criminal reveals a judiciary rather to close to popular feelings. In such cases as an external court of appeal – a role still played by our Privy Council in respect of a number of other countries – a very valuable back up.

            My second reason is the sheer joy our getting out would give to the likes of Putin. He has already revealed himself this year to be an amoral mid-twentieth century throw-back who we can be absolutely sure would love a precedent for abandoning the ECHR. One would have thought that even a thicko like David Davis would have seen the iniquity in affording him such a chance.

          • Simon_in_London

            We clearly disagree about just about everything – I’d like the judges to be a lot closer to popular opinion, which tends to be a lot wiser than fashionable elite opinion IME. In the 19th century popular opinion evinced through the jury system restrained the punitive excesses of elite opinion. Unfortunately there is no way for popular opinion to restrain the liberal excesses of elite opinion since the 1960s.

            “For example, whilst I hate violent Irish nationalism, I find the significant list of innocent people charged with terrorist offences who were sent to jail and then had repeated appeals turn down, a matter of national shame.”

            I found this one a particularly strange argument in favour of the HRA, but my own view is that the attempt of the British State to fight a war through the criminal justice system was bound to lead to such at the very minimum. I’d think from your POV the occasional innocent jailed was preferable to the usual results of actual war.

            Also I find the venom directed against Putin grostesque. It seems that the more we attack him, trying to seize chunks of his vassal territories, the more shrilly we need to shriek about what an ogre he is for resisting our encroachments. I thought launching the Ukrainean uprising during the Socchi Olympics was a particularly dirty move.

          • mikewaller

            To deal with your misguided points one by one:

            “I’d like the judges to be a lot closer to popular opinion, which tends to be a lot wiser than fashionable elite opinion IME…”

            I am presently reading a book about Warwickshire folklore. Given the kind of barbarism to our own kind and other species that reveals, give me elite opinion any time. Mob rule is usually mob rule.I am far from being a fan of the judiciary both here and abroad, but where not blatantly corrupted, they are definitely to be preferred to the man on the Clapham omnibus. The problem we face with issues such a deportation do not result from misguided judicial thinking but from a fundamental clash between acting in accordance with the highest standards of fairness and, for example, the huge numbers of people in the world who could claim asylum under these standards and now (as was not the case in the past) have the means, somehow or another, of getting here. Something clearly has to be done about it but that will require a lot of clever thinking and not the instinctive reaction of ordinary people which, at the extreme, can result in the fire-bombing of those who do get here. [When at Oxford, my son was nearly killed in just such an attack on an adjacent house]

            “my own view is that the attempt of the British State to fight a war through the criminal justice system was bound to lead to such at the very minimum.”

            Another shaming episode for me was to have learned at university of the extreme way in which constituencies in Northern Ireland were gerrymandered. Rather than the Sri Lankan solution you seem to favour, how much better it would have been had constitutionally-mind Catholics been in a position to take their justified grievances to a European Court. Instead, by treating Bloody Sunday in particular as an armed insurrection (in fact, as it cost us £200 million in inquiry costs alone to find out, it was a civil rights march) we gave the murderous IRA scum a recruiting tool they would willingly have died for. Then we capped it off with the now wholly discredited Widgery Report, another “triumph” of a wholly independent British judiciary!

            As for Putin, I think your own language betrays you “vassal territories” indeed. I think you have been seeing too much “Game of Thrones”. The guy is an atavistic poseur who really does not care who gets hurt in his pursuit of a resurrected Russian Empire. Whatever the merits or otherwise of the initial Western involvement in the Ukraine, craven acceptance of Putin’s land grabs and his continued military involvement seem to me to stand in relation to future incursions as the occupation of the Sudetenland stood in respect to the attack on Poland.

          • Simon_in_London

            “Rather than the Sri Lankan solution you seem to favour”

            Yes, I am very impressed by the Sinhalese and their Buddhist belief system, which sees Chaos and Evil as a necessary part of the cosmos, rather than the Western view of the perfectibility of Man/the World – “Let’s Build the Republic of Heaven Right Here!” – which tends to lead to Hell on Earth. Without this impulse the Sinhalese avoid the temptation to Genocide which plagues the West, enabling them to contain and ultimately defeat the Tamil Tiger threat without any impulse towards genocide of the Tamil population.
            While there have been cases of Western nations doing similar, the impulse towards belief in a Perfect World – if only the Bad Guys can be eliminated -means it is always an uphill struggle.

            You seem to have a typical Western view – only for you the Bad Guy is the State itself.

        • Mukkinese

          The ECHR rarely overrides our courts that is a myth.

          Of the tens of thousands of cases on human rights heard, only a fraction go on to the ECHR, which will often agree with the original decision. 93% are dismissed at the first hurdle.

          Where do you get the silly idea that they are not “qualified”?

          “The Convention requires that judges have qualifications suitable for high judicial office, or be a jurisconsult of recognised competence” i.e. Qualified to do the job.

          • mikewaller

            You are wasting your time with these clowns: they comprise the big ticket end of the SNP, UKIP and English devolutionists who have persuaded themselves that if only they could get back to something as close as possible to the Greek City State everything would be perfect. Of course, this is nonsense. The underlying problems they are reacting to arise not out of the Act of Union or Europe (Community or Courts) but the huge shift in the geo-political tectonic plates that is seeing both wealth and technical expertise shift inexorably Eastward. With both China and India now having their own advanced space programme, the writing is clearly on the wall. The Caucasian nations will no longer be able to enjoy the quite disproportionate share of the World’s resources they have taken for the past three centuries and that will have a huge impact on the lives of every citizen. Quite how, say, denying any kind of prisoner voting rights is going to reverse this process is far from clear to me. It is in any event an amazingly stupid idea given how small their number is and the fact that anything that usefully occupies their minds and could just draw them into a more positive approach to society, would, in any sensible world, be encouraged.

            With regard the broader picture, my guess is that in very short order globalisation is going to collide with democracy, the latter will win and we will be back into a world of trade blocks. In such a world, an international sole trader would have prospects not dissimilar from the famous snowball in Hell!

          • mittfh

            It’s also perhaps worth noting that in the Abu Qatada case, where his deportation was held up by both British and European judges, that although the HRA / ECHR was mentioned, the possibility of him either being tortured in Jordan or being tried on evidence obtained in torture is something covered both by a separate EU convention and a UN one…

            Meanwhile, the fact the EU has been asking us to review the blanket ban on prisoner voting and indeterminate sentences without review for years and we’ve been able to ignore them without consequences indicates they either don’t or can’t override the will of the government. Those two particular cases are more demonstrative of an obstinate government – allowing those in prison for a sentence of a couple of days / weeks to vote but no-one else would count as compliance, while depending on how the requirement’s written, reviewing a prisoner’s case may not necessarily be whether it’s OK to release them, but how they’re coping or whether they should be moved to a more/less secure facility etc.

            One other thing rarely mentioned by the media is that the ECHR and ECtHR are projects of the Council of Europe, which dates back to 1949, predates all other EU institiutions and currently has 47 member states including most of the Eastern Bloc (Belarus being the only notable exception). As far as I’m aware, the only other country to express dissatisfaction is Russia. So why’s it OK for 45 other countries but not us?!

    • GraveDave

      Neither do I believe the Tories good intentions in why they want rid of it.
      Just look and read up on that Chris Grayling.
      The bloke’s an idiot.

    • AnthonyZacharzewski

      They are elected. In fact they are elected by British MPs (among others) and our judges are not. http://website-pace.net/en_GB/web/as-jur/echr-judges-election

    • Mukkinese

      Firstly the EHRC is based on the Universal Declaration of Human rights, mostly drafted by British lawyers, – with added workers and consumer rights.

      Secondly, you are arguing that you give up most of the legal protection of the rights you have, mainly the EHRC, and then trust politicians to decide what rights you should have.

      Are you mad? Are you really so naive as to think that Westminster is going to give you, and all of us, any rights it does not want us to have?

      Rights are there to protect us against the whims of government, among others. Which is why governments complain about them so much, and you want to let government write them for you.

      Talk about letting the fox design the hen house…

  • itdoesntaddup

    John Wilkes didn’t need the ECHR to advance the cause of press freedom. He did it in our own Parliament as an MP. Moreover, by insisting on transparency for Parliamentary proceedings, he did much to prevent the kind of unreported skulduggery that goes on in the ECHR and the EU itself.

  • John Carins

    Why worry? The Daily Mirror is about to get its just deserts. Newspapers are but entertainment or fodder for those who need to have their political views reinforced. The politicians may be an awful lot but the newspapers must take some of the responsibility of their poor custodianship of freedom of speech.

  • IJMO_DS

    Far be it from me to tell journalists their job, but should you guys really be chatting to your top sources through the office switchboard? There’s this great invention called a mobile phone and if you buy it as pay as you go and don’t simply hand over all your details to the mobile phone company when requested, you might find that it’s a bit more secure.

  • Rosscoe_peco

    “Eric Metcalf, a barrister specialising in freedom of speech, tells me
    he has no doubt that police breached Article 10 of the Human Rights Act,
    and the English Common Law too”

    Given that their actions were illegal under English Common Law I’m not sure
    what extra protection the HRA gives. In the UK we have had “human
    rights” i.e press freedom/ freedom of speech and association, habeas
    corpus etc long before either the Human Rights Act or the ECJ came into being.
    I hate to break it to you but these are historical freedoms gained by the
    British people over hundreds of years not something we were “granted”
    by Tony Blair in the first years of his Government.

    I am not sure why you believe that repealing a relatively new act of parliament
    would undermine this?

    • AnthonyZacharzewski

      Because Common Law rights can be overruled by Parliament. ECHR rights can’t.

      • Rosscoe_peco

        If that’s the case why worry about what Parliament is doing? You seem to be saying “We can’t let Parliament change this as they can’t change it…” If they can change it we’ve not lost any protection we didn’t have under common law, if they can’t what’s the worry?

      • Simon_in_London

        In that case the ECHR can’t be affected by Parliament, so the Human Rights industry don’t need to worry at all.

  • polistra24

    Left-wing journalists don’t NEED to worry. No Western government will ever act against them because they are in charge of all Western governments.

    • GraveDave

      That’s just daft.

    • Samson

      So the left wing press decided to sell the profitable Post Office to Osbourne’s mates, and gradually whittle away the NHS by auctioning off its services to private interests, and prefer to keep the rail industry private and heavily subsidized instead of state-owned. Odd how these Left masters of the universe seem to prefer corporatism over that old leftist standard, socialism. And, for some reason, hide their support of the govts they’re in charge of by ripping them a new one every other day. After the Snowden leaks, The Guardian made the govt question The Guardian regarding The Guardian’s concern for the safety of Britain, and some of the other left wing press accused their co-masters of endangering the country. They’re the worst supervillains of all time.

  • mariandavid

    What this shows is that the more laws there are protecting human rights the better. So it becomes obvious why a government would want to get rid of one set – the European Human Rights Act – but if baffles me why citizens would want to, as appears to be the case from a cursory reading of Spectator posts. After all no one has produced any evidence that I have come across that demonstrates the Act has reduced the rights of British citizens – but of course there are lots of cases where it has reduced the ability of a British government to act without challenge.

    • AnthonyZacharzewski

      Who needs a reason when it’s done by the horrible Foreigns? Nothing the Foreigns do can ever be good. (copyright all British tabloids, 1997-2014)

  • GraveDave

    Good article Nick.

  • stickywicket

    Many people agree that some of the interpretations of the ECHR are petty and pernicious. An example would be the delays in getting rid of Abu Qatada.

    There is also something wrong in principle with the law of the land being made by precedents set in foeign courts which are not subject to any democratic control.

    No one is suggesting we don’t have any human rights.

    What we are suggesting is that these should be enshrined in a British Bill of Rights, determined by domestic courts and under democratic control.

    Yes this should include freedom of the press, protection of sources and restrictions on state snooping.

    It could be achieved by referendum on a new Act of Parliament proposing a newly defined Bill of Rights and simultaneously repealing the European paraphernalia.

    • Simon_in_London

      If we have any rights they are British Rights, rooted in our tradition of liberty, not Human Rights, which is a stupid French idea.

  • Kennie

    This article just confirms to me, that just about everything we once held as a bastion of British standards, is rotten to the core. A corrupt police establishment backed up by two opposing but equally corrupt branches of the press.

  • Samson

    Pretty sensible take on the subject.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Face it, Britain’s got too many national newspapers.

  • thomasaikenhead

    “People go on about the might of the British press. They do not see that, consumed by hatreds and torn by civil war, it can no longer stand up for its own best interests, let alone the best interests of a free society.”

    Nick, the fatal flaw in your argument is that British journalists no longer stand up for the best interests of a free society and have not done so for many decades!

    Read ‘The Political Class’ and ‘Flat Earth News’ for an idea of the ways that these very journalists have allowed themselves to be used as tools for corporate and political interests.

    Fortunately their monopoly on media channels has been broken by the rise of the internet and a new form of journalism pioneered by the likes of Guido Fawkes as blogging and Twitter and the like create new ways for people to express their views and tell their stories.

    The genie has escaped the bottle!

  • http://www.wirralinittogether.wordpress.com Wirral In It 2gether

    There’s an argument going on right now on Twitter about CQC inspectors’ ability to read patient records without permission:

    https://twitter.com/drphilhammond/status/520460621792677888

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Face it, Britain doesn’t have a free and unbiased press. It has a government controlled press. The evidence before you on a daily basis. Ask yourselves how often a politely-worded restrained content has been deleted. See what I mean. Now the Mods face a dilemma; let this stand or delete and prove me right.

    • Simon_in_London

      Obviously the British press is not unbiased. Nor is it government controlled.

  • global city

    How much democracy can we share, cede or submit to international treaty/oversight before we have none left?

    The cumulative effect of the bewildering number of major and not so major ‘commitments and obligations’ that ties parliament’s hands is now crushing.

    The UK desperately needs to undertake a comprehensive review of the limiting impact of all of these different commitments, as they cumulatively crush our democracy with each new layer.

    They have not been constructed in any logical or coherent way, many are contradictory and some are a step way too far for the health of our liberties as a people.

    What says Nick?

    • Mukkinese

      We signed up to the EHRC, no one twisted our arms, because it was a good thing to do. It does not only protect those few nasty men who we do not like, from being sent to places where they might be tortured or killed, it protects us all from the whims of government, among others.

      It actively protects our democracy and limits the power of government over citisens…

      • global city

        Who signed? Did we have a referendum, or did our leaders decide for themselves to limit their powers and so, by doing so, OUR ability to shape/change events in those spheres for ourselves?

        As I’ve tried to outline above, each of these can be seen as positive, progressive and cooperative…in isolation…but the issue I have raised is the cumulative effect ALL of these now have, cumulatively (repeat for clarity), on OUR ability to rule ourselves as we would wish.

        By OUR/WE, I mean the people, not the establishment or the transitory government leaders of the time.

        You have made the same mistake of not considering the issue that I actually asked be thought on when you came in to defend the ECHR.

        Do as I ask, do not isolate and cherry pick those areas that you agree with, but look at the cumulative impact that the scores of agreements we (you and I and our neighbours who vote) are now bound by. Hopefully doing that will help you see the issue slightly differently from now on….it may also help you to understand what an ongoing democratic process is supposed to be all about.

  • mikewaller

    When are our beloved journalists going to realise that they are to their proprietors (double meaning intended) what left-wing intellectuals were to Lenin: useful fools. Proprietors are not interested in fundamental human rights; their central concerns are money and power. They therefore hate supra-national institutions that have the authority to intervene when such possessors of “power without responsibility” set about crushing little folk to make sales or bullying governments to run things as best suits them. As even the multinationals tend to operate on a country by country basis, that is how they like the game played with no nasty Court of Appeal standing above it.

  • Terry Field

    With the exception of a very few, political journalists are prostitutes; they care only about ‘the story’, and give not a damn for the condition and prospects of the country that they are – usually – citizens off.
    Most are value-free, herd-following, gutless and increasingly wrong in their opinions, as increasingly dangerous conditions destroy the little world they think they know so well.
    They care for their little incomes, and that is it.
    Prostitution; pure and simple.

  • Rafterman

    At this CNN link, we find even more Obamacare nonsense: http://cnnmon.ie/1oMi0q4

  • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

    The press was long ago co-opted by Marxists, as were the political parties, which is why:

    (1) the press refused to direct your attention to KGB defector Major Anatoliy Golitsyn, who warned the West the Soviets and East Bloc nations were going to fake their “liberalizations”;

    (2) when the fraudulent collapse of the USSR and East Bloc nations occurred, the press refused to direct your attention to the need for verification, because the survival of the West depends on verification;

    (3) when verification wasn’t implemented by the West, the press refused to direct your attention to this proof that the political parties of the West were co-opted by Marxists;

    (4) the press is lying about events currently taking place in the Ukraine, where an anti-Communist revolt is taking place, which is how hundreds of statues of Lenin were destroyed in February, statues that were supposed to have been destroyed back in 1991 if the collapse of the USSR were real;

    (5) the press is lying about the Islamic State “Jihadists” in Iraq attired in Ninja uniforms, who are actually Ukrainian troops, which is how the Ukrainian population could revolt back in February;

    (6) the press is lying about the “Ukrainian separatists”, who are actually Russian Spetsnaz and Airborne Guards posing as Ukrainians, and are in league with the weakened Ukrainian Communist security apparatus fighting the Ukrainian population; and

    (7) the press lied about the Vietnam War, where over 50% of NVA regiments were actually composed of Chinese PLA troops attired in NVA uniforms.

  • spiritof78

    But freedom of the press is conceived as ‘free from Government pressure’. Yet the problem for 21st century societies is whether the press can be truly free from capitalist owners. Editorial freedom is the valuable principle.

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