by Horario Mortimer
Simon Jenkins, Peter Preston and Nick Cohen have all written vigorous dissents of the Leveson agreement in (on?) the Guardian this week. Preston laments the vitriol that has infected the debate; while Cohen vents spleen at liberals with short-term aims of binding right wing tabloids at the expense of basic freedoms. Simon Jenkins rails against one-sided justice drawn up by victims.
All of them claim a victory for the establishment. Preston asks what
“independence” means in a quangoid Britain where the same cast of great and good characters, retired judges, retired permanent secretaries, Oxbridge dignitaries, shift sweetly from one padded committee seat to the next ?”
And then Cohen:
“Did you not notice that Leveson hurt no one in power? …Can you not see an establishment stitching up a winding sheet for our freedoms in front of your very eyes?”
And Sir Simon Jenkins:
“the cheering across town this week is from the rich, the celebrated and the powerful”
This is a classic example of the maxim that power is always somewhere else. As Peter Jukes tweeted it :
“Fleet Street bias and entitlement is a bit like white privilege, invisible if you’re an unconscious beneficiary of it.”
The three of them are in the privileged position of being given a platform from which, week in week out, they can shout out whatever they like right across the establishment and reach every sympathetic influential ear.
Their unusual freedom blinds them to the fact that the press is a very long way from being a conduit of free expression.