Comment at end
4th March 2010
PRESS CHIEF JUSTIFIES THE VILIFICATION OF BLAIR
Possibly prompted by my “Conspiracy of Silence on the Ban-Blair-Baiting campaign” post, Dominic Ponsford (pictured left) the Editor of the Press Gazette has at last responded to the comment at The Editor’s Blog on the cold shoulder being given to to the Ban Blair-Baiting ad at the Gazette site. In doing so, he has inadvertently revealed the depths of his bias against Tony Blair and the case for the Iraq war, which is obviously shared by many of his press colleagues.
Here is his full exchange with the commenter, Logos, who wishes to remain anonymous.
Logos How is it that you are not commenting on the elephant in your room, namely that Ban Blair-baiting ad on your Home Page, which has been up for three weeks now? At the very least it raises an important issue about the media’s role in reporting the Iraq inquiry and is therefore worthy of some sort of response by those who are representative of the media. In the absence of a reaction one can only assume that the case being made cannot be answered and that the hope is that by ignoring it the elephant will not be noticed.
Dominicponsford It’s an advert which someone paid money for us to put on the website.I’m not sure what other comment needs to be made.
Logos I drew the ad to your attention, Dominic, because it was making a point that at least seemed to merit a reply from yourself as Editor of the Press Gazette. The fact that someone had paid for it out of his own pocket since he felt that the point was being ignored by the press surely made the ad even more worthy of comment. Or do representatives of the press only deign to let us have their opinions when others, not themselves, are in the dock?
Dominicponsford My opinion is that we are very glad to have this gentleman’s money and he is entitled to his view about the way Tony Blair has been treated in the press.
My own view is that Blair over-egged the case for war by saying that the existence of weapons of mass destruction was proved “beyond doubt” – clearly this was not the case. And I think he brings further villification on himself in the press by refusing to show a shred of contrition for this major mistake.
Logos A rather typical press response I’m afraid, Dominic.
First, you see the matter in terms of the amount of money you have made.
Second you continue to dodge the issue that the ad was raising, the misreporting of the Iraq inquiry to give the impression that Tony Blair is guilty before the findings of the inquiry have been announced.
Third, you get your facts wrong. Tony Blair never said the the existence of WMD was proved beyond doubt. He said IT WAS HIS BELIEF (on the basis of the intelligence and other factors) that this was so. It was therefore an opinion not a stated fact and everyone is entitled to their opinion, as you admitted yourself in relation to the ad.
Fourth, you agree that Blair is being vilified but seem to think that vilification is justified if someone doesn’t play the game your way.
Thank you for illustrating the point I and the ad have been making so clearly.
Dominicponsford TB said in the forward to the WMD dossier:
“What I believe the assessed intelligence has established beyond doubt is that Saddam has continued to produce chemical and biological weapons, that he continues in his efforts to develop nuclear weapons, and that he has been able to extend the range of his ballistic missile programme. I also believe that, as stated in the document, Saddam will now do his utmost to try to conceal his weapons from UN inspectors.”
Logos Er, that’s what I said, Dominic. TB was saying that HE believed the intelligence had established beyond doubt etc., not that it was an objective fact. Thanks again for confirming the point I was making. At this rate we may even end up on the same side.
And as it happens some chemicals, biological agents and banned long distance missiles were found when the Iraq Survey Group went in after the war, together with evidence that Saddam intended to reconstitute his weapons at a time of his choosing. That is why some still believe that more weapons were secreted away somewhere, even though they have not been found yet.
All this suggests that TB’s opinion about the evidence was not as wrong as has been made out.
Which raises the question of why your press colleagues have not picked up on this newsworthy item.
Which in turn brings us nicely back to the point that ad was making.
Click here and scroll down a little to see on the right the Press Gazette ‘Ban Blair-Baiting’ ad referred to as in the above exchange, it it is still available.
Perhaps it is time the press re-considered their place in society. If we wanted a media dictatorship to provide one side of the story in order to guide us as to how and what to think – therefore what to conclude – we’d have voted for today’s editors to run the country.