By Gail MacDonald March 9, 2022
You were once my fearless, feisty hero on the right side of history. You had my loyalty and support.
When ‘the people’ were trying to pin the whole Diana car crash on you, I shook my head at their hypocrisy. I stuck by you during the phone-hacking scandal, when calls were placed to limit your expression. I tut-tutted for you when super-injunctions were stopping you from serving the people, from doing your damn job.
Now I’m all out of faith. This is how I feel. You aren’t the hero I thought you were. It was an illusion. You showed a new side of you when Covid reached our shores. A side that was distorted, compliant, snivelling, cowardly, demanding and nasty. A side with no room for dissenting views.
You led the effort to lock down healthy people, close schools, and make criminals of regular people. You highlighted Covidiots, panicked people, then berated panic buyers, and encouraged applauding of heroes for, er, doing their jobs. You were shrieky and sanctimonious. You welcomed your new insect overlords.
Objectivity left the building and a storyteller was left in its place. And if Covid was having a slow day, you filled the gaps by telling me what to think. Black Lives Matter, you told me. They are right to protest. Put a sign in your window. Canadian truckers? Not so much.
But your attention was always going to shift eventually. Let’s face it, Covid got old. And now you’ve moved on. Putin killed off the Covid story more effectively than any drug and drew out the media like the Pied Piper of journalists.
Now you, my media friend, you race around Ukraine, photographing children, ambulance-chasing, and delivering a consistent message of Bad Putin and Good Nato. Back in hero mode.
And, worse than the polarisation and infantile bad and good stereotyping, is the self-congratulatory messages you are giving yourself. Just look at the flak jacket-wearing BBC, reporting to us that Putin is still bad, bombing is really bad and bombing children is really, really bad.
But it’s a hollow and empty reportage, with too few facts and an outpouring of emotion instead. Sombre summaries, but really all about you. And now stories about how hard it is on the journalists.
How to fix our relationship? Well, stop talking to me like a child. Tell me facts, let me make up my own mind. Stop polarising complex situations into goodies and baddies. And most of all, stop gaslighting me and telling me what to think, and that if I don’t think that, then saying I’m uneducated or ‘misinformed’.
I need to rebuild trust that what you are saying is reality and that you aren’t cherry-picking the facts to suit an agenda. We are not over, but we have work to do to make it work again.
We are not there yet. And I thought you should know.