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Is there anything more sickening than the red-top press swathed in moral indignation?

At last we crusaders for truth can reveal exactly what happened when a famous footballer who is married met the former Big Brother contestant, Imogen Thomas.

28 May 2011

12:00 AM

28 May 2011

12:00 AM

At last we crusaders for truth can reveal exactly what happened when a famous footballer who is married met the former Big Brother contestant, Imogen Thomas. I suppose you could guess what happened, but it’s better to know for sure, isn’t it? Don’t worry, we’ll use phrases like ‘asked her to perform a sex act’ rather than crudely spelling it out, so there’ll be nothing to disquiet the kiddies.

It will probably involve us — the crusaders for truth — shelling out a few quid to do so, to pay off one or another source of information about how and where the ‘sex act’ was performed and whether it was any good or not, how long it lasted etc, whether or not the footballer shouted out ‘get in you beauty’ as he approached climax — but we can probably find the dosh. Even without spending any money we can tell you how the footballer’s wife is feeling right now. Incredibly, according to the Daily Mail, she is not feeling too good, she is a bit down in the dumps. She was photographed by them, a very big photograph, apparently ‘showing the strain’ and wore a ‘pained expression’ but not, the paper was quick to point out, ‘her wedding ring’. The paper described her as being ‘brave’ to have left her house at all. Her ‘bravery’ at being seen by them, the Daily Mail.

A few more days of this, once we’ve got the injunction entirely sunk, and that wedding ring will probably be gone for good. Serves him right, the footballer, trying to keep stuff secret from us. As crusaders for truth, it’s important we follow him everywhere he goes, and where his wife goes too, so we can pick up every strained facial expression and nuance of misery, every grisly in and out, every muttered aside. If the footballer happens to be smiling in a photograph, he’ll be rightly described as arrogant or callous. If he’s not smiling, he’ll be strained, or glum, or crushed. Don’t forget that we, the crusaders for truth, are not the cause of his misery: that was all down to him. We’re just telling the truth.


These super-injunctions are, of course, an absurdity. But is there anything more emetic than the red-top press swathing itself in robes of moral indignation about freedom of speech, presenting its extremely remunerative desire to pander to the basest instincts of its half-witted readership as being noble and decent and important?

The arguments deployed against the super-injunctions seem to me entirely right; we should not have a privacy law imposed upon us stealthily by unelected judges, still less by a foreign court. More grotesque still is the suggestion that the injunctions should apply to MPs in parliament and that some woman who cannot be named should be tried in total anonymity and perhaps sent to prison for having ‘tweeted’ something untoward about her brother-in-law. And again, it is quite true that the super-injunctions protect the rich rather than the powerless and that the Press Complaints Commission is utterly useless. These arguments seem to me incontestable.

Slightly less so — but still fairly persuasive — is the moral refuge to which the press retreats when challenged that its invasions of privacy have destroyed a marriage or a career: these ghastly slebs rely upon the press for their livelihoods, for the — what was it? — oxygen of publicity. We therefore effectively own them and can do what we like with their lives. And much, much further down the scale of persuasiveness is the jingoistic breast-beating that this sort of robust Anglo-Saxon reporting would have sorted out Dominique Strauss-Kahn long before he became head of the International Monetary Fund and found himself in a New York hotel bedroom with nothing much on the telly and therefore at a bit of a loose end. We’d have bought up one of his alleged earlier victims and that would have been that. DSK is what happens, so we assure ourselves, if we take the French approach and do not pry into people’s lives with long lenses and wads of wonga. And so one case of an alleged rape against a public figure apparently justifies every rummage through a rubbish bin, every word of every kiss’n’sell from the legion of transgressed sleb wannabes.

Did you know, by the way, that Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, is back from her honeymoon and, worryingly, looking a bit thin? If you look thin in the Daily Mail it’s always a worry; if you don’t look thin, you’re a porky minger and going to seed. There was a picture of Kate looking worryingly thin. And a picture of brave Kelly Brook who ‘smiles for the cameras on her first night out since tragic baby loss’. Nice of you to be there to record that for us. There was also a photograph of Victoria Beckham, and a little story to accompany it. Do you want to know how Victoria looked? She looked, according to the blurb next to the picture of the woman, who was out doing some shopping, ‘self-conscious’. God alone knows why that would be. Further back there was a photograph of a pretty actress of whom I have never heard, doing some shopping. And another photo which had the caption: ‘Showing the ropes? Party girl Sarah Harding welcomes The Saturdays’ Mollie King to Mahiki’. I do not know who Sarah Harding is, nor who The Saturdays are, or indeed what Mahiki is. But it is important that we are told stuff like this, otherwise we might end up with a DSK on our hands.


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