Republican media score own goal
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Sunday, 13 August 2006

The PrincesIt seems it did not take long for the tabloids to take revenge for the arrest of a News of The World editor and journalists, suggests the editor of a British website, The Royalist . The editor and the journalists were charged with the criminal offence of hacking private message banks of the Royal Family, politicians and celebrities. Apparently the hacking was suspected and reported by Clarence House staff. The website editor was referring to three year old photographs of Prince Harry and Prince William published as if they were recent by the London tabloid, The Sun , which, like the News of the World is part of the Murdoch owned News group.

Although the story was almost immediately picked up around the world, few reports mentioned the fact that the photographs were old. Certainly not The Sun, which put one photo on page one with a story and without any explanation whatsoever that it was old, in news terms, very old. This embarrassing fact was conceded later by The Sun reporter, Lindsay Hayward. When she was asked to explain the delay, she gave the lame excuse that the newspaper was running "a feature." The Sun initially refused to apologise, saying the photos were”authentic” but not explaining its gross deceit in trying to pass them off as recent.


Media outlets which should have known better fell into the trap. When it comes to the Royal Family, the rules don’t apply. For example, there is no need to check facts. The journalist and the editor abandon their usual scepticism. But a cadet journalist would have smelt a rat - the stench had settled all over Fleet Street. Members of the public saw that they were old-and said so on websites.


An Australian example of media gullibility was The Age. This newspaper is still published under a version of the Royal Coat of Arms, but in recent times has become obsessively republican. “ Dirty Harry caught on film”, its tabloid style headline screamed .The story was in the same style. “Party boy Prince Harry has hit the headlines again, this time for being sprung engaging in a drunken grope with a girl at a London nightclub.The pictures may leave Harry with some explaining to do, as his girlfriend Chelsy Davy was abroad at the time.”The explaining will have to be provided by The Age, and other dummies in the silly republican media who fell into The Sun’s carefully designed  trap. The Ottawa Citizen of 14 August 2006 reported that the editor of The Royalist did not fall for The Sun’s trap. She  believes the timing might be related to the arrests of the News of The World journalists. Now the tabloids would surely not do that sort of thing, would they? Of course they would . Was this an act of revenge, or a warning of the power of the press, or both?


As such does it constitute contempt of a criminal prosecution?  Have the media, including the dummies who fell for the trap, scored yet another own goal?