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Home > War On Terror

Dyke goes down

And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger.

29 January 2004

Just a quick note on the resignation of Greg Dyke.

That Andrew Gilligan didn't have the journalistic nous to ask Dr. Kelly whether his hunch about intelligence being doctored was based on evidence or hearsay is pretty shoddy. Very shoddy, in fact. In and of itself, it suggests a fairly clear course of action:

  • Gilligan not to work for a flagship news programme any more (actually, not to work at all);
  • the Today programme to have a big old meeting where everyone is reminded about evidence and claims;
  • a correction to be made;
  • the story to be pursued with more vigour and reported properly.

For it to get to the point where the chairman of one of the most valuable institutions resigns - valuable for our cultural, intellectual and democratic life - this takes something very odd to happen. Why is the response so disproportionate to the crime?

Let's recall why Dyke is without a job today. It's not because Andrew Gilligan lost the news. It's because Number 10 responds with terrifying fury to criticism. To hear Blair and Campbell talk, you'd think there was something wrong in criticising the government. You hear them gnashing about "impugning the integrity" and "negative coverage" far more than anything to do with accuracy.

And the fury took the form, not of a rebuttal, but of weeks of muck-raking, intimidation over the charter, character assassination and righteous invective. Some shoddy reporting is not a matter of national crisis. But when you unleash a fury, things fall apart. Obviously, Greg Dyke resigning is nowhere near as much of a personal tragedy as Kelly's death, or as sickening as a war which is still awaiting justification.

But democracy is about checks and balances. And on a day when a judicial inquiry is repeatedly regarded by the citizens as a whitewash, and an institution which can report on matters of state free of commercial or governmental interference loses its head and has to genuflect before the leader, the snow is the least of all our problems.

grek_dykes_alright.gif
From the archive:
Why the TFT
loved Greg Dyke



More Hutton-related hooey in this week's Friday Thing.



Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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