Open secret. Funny old term that. Because that means it’s not actually a secret at all, is it? Then there’s exposé, a great one to add extra credibility to a journalistic investigation which results in holding some authority or some-one to account over misdeeds.
But unless those details are irrefutably proven and shown to be so, nothing is actually being exposed. It’s all smoke and mirrors. What’s left is a series of allegations and all that can be said beyond any doubt is that those allegations exist. Anything else is speculation.
During the YA’s award winning investigation into a child sex ring which had been operating in Shoebury during the late 1990s, Charlie Thomson (now there’s a real journalist) and I were given the name of a person involved by one of the victims. We knew where he lived, we knew a lot about him. At no point would we have named him in print while still alive and if the police had done their job, once charged that name would have gone legitimately into the public domain.
There are a number of words I could use to describe Channel 4’s Dispatches documentary Hiding In Plain Sight about a number of women making accusations against Thurrock-born comedian/actor Russell Brand – a “scoop” put together in collaboration with The Times and The Sunday Times.
Journalism is not one of them.
I don’t know if the details, which refer to a period from 2006 – 2013, before he settled down into family life when his antics were tabloid fodder, are true or not and beyond the claims being proved in a court of law – one complaint having now been reported to police regarding a matter which pre-dates those mentioned so far – the only people who will know for sure are Brand himself and his accusers.
Given his prodigious drug intake at the time and supposed insatiable libido (which is what his image was created around, although that in itself puzzles me because heroin and crack cocaine are not known for their aphrodisiac qualities) it’s questionable whether he would remember specifics anyway.
Regardless, the time to come out with such a documentary would be after the law had taken its course, not before if at all.
Brand has upset a lot of powerful people with his podcast, particularly in the national press. The coverage this week has prompted a tribal for and against tidal wave around someone who has always polarised opinion and after what amounted to trial by telly at the weekend along with the subsequent monopoly of national front pages using incendiary words like ‘demon’ in headlines, all hope of presenting the plain facts and letting the judicial system do its job is lost and the court of public opinion will be swayed by the heavily weighted, manipulative “entertainment” in print or on screen.
There’s holding authority to account and then there’s this, which is a modern day equivalent of encouraging the populace to join in chanting “burn the witch”. Our job is to inform, not influence.
If crimes have indeed been committed – and don’t get me wrong, it is entirely possible, just not proven at present – those women will deserve to see justice done and properly, but even if it did ever come to court what jury wouldn’t have been swayed by the past few days of news coverage?
At the moment the women from the documentary and Sunday Times article (who are already being called victims when in fairness the word “alleged” should precede that at the moment) just look like media pawns and those conspiracy theories don’t look quite so crazy.
The gall of Liz Truss to come out from the rock she has been under for the past year and still refuse to take accountability or show any remorse for the utter chaos she caused to the British economy is unbelievable, even for a politician.
The consequences of the disastrous mini budget which destroyed both hers and chancellor Kwasi Kwartang’s political careers, leaving her with a legacy no one would wish for, wasn’t her fault at all, she insists. It was down to the banks who basically nobbled her when all she was trying to do was act decisively.
If you’re looking for a real crackpot conspiracy theory to dismiss, there’s one.
Stupid TV quiz answers of the week
Q: What Radio 4 programme begins: “Attention all shipping”?
A: The Archers?
Special mention must go to the woman on Tipping Point who didn’t know the name of Princess Anne’s older brother.