Counterparties: No one likes Leveson
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The eponymous inquiry led by Lord Justice Brian Leveson was intended to be a full account of the Hackgate scandal. It has now delivered a 1,987-page report, along with a more digestible 46-page summary, finding â€śsignificant and reckless disregard for accuracyâ€ť in the UK press. In the end, it recommended a continuation of self-regulation, with one significant caveat: the press would be licensed and overseen by Ofcom, which is part of the UK government.
John Cassidy notes that the â€śprevious system of self-regulation, under which Fleet Streetâ€™s finest largely oversaw themselves, had been reduced to a bad jokeâ€ť. But John Gapper thinks a regulatory role for Ofcom is a â€śbadly misguidedâ€ť proposal. And Michael Wolff, author of a Murdoch biography, is exasperated:
Oh, for God’s sake seems to me the fairest response…the inquiry calls for a goopy, bureaucratic, obfuscating oversight board, which could be perilous to the freedom of the press or as likely toothless.
What’s more, the report fails to take a stand on the very issues and people who caused the inquiry to be formed in the first place: the Murdochs.
The report has its odd moments — warning police officers against having drinks with journalists, for instance. It also grants outsize importance to print media, saying that blogs and twitter arenâ€™t news and devoting just one page out of 2,000 to the internet.
Prime Minister David Cameron has rejected the proposal for Britianâ€™s first statutory regulation of the press since the 16th century, saying he didnâ€™t want to â€ścross the Rubiconâ€ť and impinge on free speech. That puts him at odds with members of his own coalition and the opposition Labour party.
The report wonâ€™t close the books on a scandal that has affected an estimated 4,775 people, 310 of whom have been publicly identified. Victims have accused Cameron of â€śripping the heart and soulâ€ť out of the inquiry. — Ben Walsh
On to todayâ€™s links: