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Friday, March 02, 2007 

Scum-watch: "Sleazeball" judges and TV hits.

Today's Sun, in one of its fits of occasional pique about morals, exposes a judge as a "serial family wrecker", twice having left women who he had made pregnant. A fairly typical News of the Screws type story, the bigger picture is that the judge himself attempted to stop the Sun from splashing on his exploits, claiming that his exposure was not in the public interest. He apparently abandoned his attempt to get an injunction against the newspaper half-way through the case, much like how the Screws last year was humiliated in its attempt to stop George Galloway and blogs from distributing Mazher Mahmood's photograph.

Cases of sexual impropriety involving officials in the public eye are always going to be difficult to err, judge. The disclosure of sexual escapades is only justified, or in my view, worth pointing out, if the person involved can be proved to be either a hypocrite, has broken the law or if it's affecting that person's ability to do their job.

The Sun's report on the judge is then most definitely on shaky ground. While the newspaper claims that the mere fact that he is a judge means that the disclosure in the public interest, we ought to consider the "Blunkett" test. When he was first reported as shagging Kimberley Quinn, (whom he, like the judge in today's report, had impregnated) the publisher of the Spectator, both the Grauniad and the Independent, unlike the rest of Fleet Street, ignored the story. At the time this was justified on the grounds that none of the three above justifications for printing such a story were found to be strong enough to merit following up the News of the Screws' exposure. This changed dramatically once it became clear that it was both affecting his job (as detailed in his execrable, interminable, deluded and self-pitying diaries) and that he had intervened in the case of Quinn's nanny applying for a visa.

The judge in this case has not broken the law. The Sun has provided no evidence that it's affecting his ability to do his job, as the entire story, accompanied by a furiously moralistic leader, only provides the sordid details involved in his private life. It mentions no cases in which he might be a hypocrite in presiding over. The one justification it has, and it's at least a semi-decent argument, is that judges, like politicians, ought to maintain the highest moral standards. My own view is that we shouldn't expect those in positions of power to be "purer" than us; we should just expect them to be human, and honest. It's when these things go out the window that the trouble begins.

By this logic, the judge is at least partially in the wrong. In attempting to stop the Sun from publishing this sleazy little tale, his honesty and quite possibly his integrity was found lacking. This is not to suggest that the story should have been published, nor should it mean that he should be sacked, as the Sun demands. It does however suggest that the judge should take a long hard look at himself and consider whether his actions are bringing both himself and his profession into disrepute.

Which brings us back to Blunkett. Could the same Sun that's raging against the judge be the same newspaper which currently (as far as I'm aware) employs Blunkett to write a piss-poor column? Blunkett, as noted, breached at least two of the criteria for exposing a politician as a philander, often talking about how he believed stable families were the best way to bring up children while having sex with a married woman and impregnating her at the same time, not to mention how their eventual split led to Blunkett having something approaching a nervous breakdown, although he continued to remain Home Secretary regardless. Still, seeing as Rebekah Wade has recently split from her own husband, and had Les Hinton phone round other newspapers kindly asking them not to report that fact, she doesn't exactly come out of this smelling of roses either.

Elsewhere in the Scum, they do report the fact that due to BSkyB's demands for a doubling in payment for their 5 piss-poor own channels, Virgin Media customers are no longer able to receive them:

MILLIONS of families can no longer watch TV hits like 24, Lost and the Simpsons due to a row between two of Britain’s top broadcasters.

24, which for the first couple of seasons was a genuinely innovative and compelling series, has been turned into a laughably right-wing torture wank fest, so lacking in any believability or subtlety that its continued existence is hugely perplexing, is hardly the hit it once was. Lost is similar; a reasonably praised first series which rapidly turned into a massively convoluted pile of irredeemable nonsense. While the Simpsons is still worth watching, the new episodes shown on Sky are a world away from the brilliance of the early seasons. None of these shows are made by Sky itself; it's never managed to create anything close to a hit.

Sky One, Sky Two, Sky Three, Sky News and Sky Sports News vanished yesterday from the 3.3million homes who buy their TV service from Virgin Media.

There are three Sky channels? They don't even have enough decent programmes for one. As for Sky News, it shows all the signs of gradually but surely becoming the equivalent of the Sun on Digital.

Oh, and it turns out the Sun did report on Darling's decision to refer Sky's purchase of nearly 18% of ITV's shares; it printed this whole line at the bottom of a "story" about those "TV hits" that Virgin Media customers were going to be deprived of thanks to Virgin's stubbornness:

TRADE Secretary Alistair Darling yesterday asked media watchdog Ofcom to probe BSkyB’s recent purchase of a 17.9 per cent stake in ITV.

Coverage in full!

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I have just visited your blog for the first time and wanted to add it to my Bloglines subscriptions so I can read your posts for a while, but the current link at the foot of your blog is incorrect it would seem. May I suggest you change it to this:
which I founds after a little experimentation and appears to be the correct URL for your feed.

Duh! - 'which I found'

Ah, thanks for pointing that out. It should be fixed now.

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