I could not help but think that actor Hugh Grant – who was questioned in the Leveson Inquiry into the News of the World newspaper’s phone hacking scandal that resulted in that newspaper being close down a few months ago in Britain – nailed it when he came up with his amazing list of the myths that now exists in our media.
Grant alleged that two British newspapers had published information on his affair which was published in the tabloids newspapers. He claimed that Mail on Sunday had from February 2007 published stories about his former relationship with Jemima Khan, saying it could have only been obtained thorough voicemail interception.
According to Grant just a few days after hisLondonflat had been broken into in the mid-1990s specific details about the contents of his flat appeared in a newspapers. This, he told the Leveson Inquiry, was “a mystery” especially when information contained in Glenn Mulcaire’s notes – appearing in the Daily Mirror and Mail – were apparently commissioned by the News of the World. He further claimed that the Daily Mail had paid ex-lover of the mother of his child about £125,000 for her private photos.
At the same time he defended the press, saying: “I don’t want to see the end of popular print journalism. A free press is the cornerstone of democracy there is no question about that”. Grant, however, admitted that there is a “a section of our press that has allowed to become toxic over the last 30 years”. He said the “main tactic seems to be bullying and blackmail and it takes courage to stand up to”. “I think it’s time this country found the courage to stand up [to it now]”.
Below are Grant’s 10 myths about our press/media especially from a British tabloid point of view. And since News of the World tabloid journalism has spread to other parts of the world – it would be advised that this list be read in that context too:
10. The Press are just loveable rogues,
9. People like Grant need the papers, so complaints are hypocritical,
8. All sex exposés have a public interest,
7. You have to be rich to afford privacy,
6. Judges always find against the press – not so,
5. The press will be muzzled by statutory regulation,
4. Any press regulation will lead to a Zimbabwe-like state,
3. Cracking down on proper journalism would muzzle good reporting,
2. Privacy breaches only happened at the News of the World, and
1. Fleet Street just targets celebrities – this isn’t true.
How brilliant! And I do not know how I – and even you – could not have come up with a list like this. But if you have a list of your own I would be glad that if you shared that with me.
After reading the Guardian report on the inquiry I also wished – like Piers Morgan did on Monday [21 November] – that former South African President Nelson Mandela had been “watching Hugh Grant today, so he now understands what real persecution is all about”.