Well how much is porn on the Internet, Jacqui?

February 28, 2011

Everyone is a bit puzzled as to why former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith chose to tell us about her ignorance of the porn industry. One would have thought that she would try and avoid headlines which included her name and the word “porn”, given that her disgrace was based in part on the fact that she claimed her husband’s X-rated videos on expenses.

Most of the comment, in fact, has been about the photograph with which the Times illustrated its article, showing Smith in a rather louche leather coat standing in a Soho Street, like a Madame on her way to inspect a new batch of recruits for her brothel. What caught my eye was the headline in the iPad version of the article. Where the print version was headed “I never knew the Internet was so full of porn, admits Jacqui Smith” the iPad version read “I never realised how much porn was on the Internet, admits Jacqui Smith”. The ambiguity in this subtly different version brings with it a clear reminder of that previous occasion when the cost of porn escaped her notice. Was the sub-editor having a laugh at her expense, I wonder.

Jacqui Smith in Soho

For myself, I do not particularly blame Smith for not noticing that entry on her domestic Internet bill. She was a busy woman and, as with Baroness Scotland’s unfortunate oversight in respect of her illegal immigrant cleaner, it is something easily done. They share a collective responsibility in that they were members of a government which was particularly unforgiving of our daily oversights, burdening businesses and individuals with a mass of petty compliance obligations and hordes of petty little runts-in-office to catch us out and punish us. Indeed, one of the best results of the Parliamentary expenses scandal in which Smith was the star turn has been that MPs now know what it feels like to be caught out for every trivial infringement of the rules. Read the rest of this entry »


Now where is the News from the BBC?

July 27, 2007

I don’t know what was more infuriating about this evening’s BBC News, the presentation or the stories themselves.

It kicked off with a long exposé about Bulgarian baby-selling, complete with film from hidden cameras, dramatic-sounding appointments late at night, and an East European villain from Central Casting. The story was run by an intelligent-sounding, attractive-looking female reporter on, I would guess, her first big break, who spoke proper English and walked well that narrow line between sober journalism and breathless excitement.

The newscaster, Dermot somebody, clearly thought he was somebody, adding his stern visage and heavy moralistic adjectives and adverbs to make it clear that he wasn’t just a reader of bulletins but a man with opinions.

The news element in this could have been disposed of in 30 seconds. It was competently done, and not unimportant – but it was not news. It was investigative journalism, put together some time ago and held over to make a splash on the first available quiet night. Read the rest of this entry »