July 21, 2003


It looks like The Australian sexed up its coverage of the Blair-BBC-suicide story:

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, facing the worst crisis of his political career, has been accused by the family of Iraqi weapons expert David Kelly of hounding him to his death.

His family made clear it wanted someone to shoulder the blame for his despair.

"Events over recent weeks have made David's life intolerable and all of those involved should reflect long and hard over that fact," they said in a statement on Saturday.

The final paragraph of that extract doesn’t really support the first, does it? The Age only saw trouble for Blair arising from the controversy:

At issue is whether Mr Blair's office or the Ministry of Defence leaked Dr Kelly's name to defuse the increasingly potent scandal over whether Britain exaggerated Iraq's weapons capacity to justify the war.

In fact, as a global wrap-up in The Scotsman indicates, the media were in complete herd-mode on this. It took a day or so before the idea filtered through that, hey, this might be worse news for the BBC than it is for the Prime Minister.

Which is what Jeff Jarvis realised almost immediately.

Posted by Tim Blair at July 21, 2003 11:05 PM

That's a mammoth post by Jeff Jarvis!

I've thought for a long time that the BBC was up a gum tree on this one. Nice to see everyone now coming to the same conclusion.

Posted by: George Junior at July 22, 2003 at 12:24 AM

Its amazing how much coverage this is getting in the UK. I'm in Dublin, but the UK Sky News channel just gets broadcast as is over here. Yesterday they seriously ran this story all day, only stopping for weather forcasts and ad breaks.

This morning at 8am they were still broadcasting all the same interviews and statements from yesterday, it seems as if they will just keep going on until the next big thing drops. I wasnt here at the time but I dont think anything would have had this much coverage since the war itself. Unbelievable.

Posted by: Tom at July 22, 2003 at 12:25 AM

My only question, so far unanswered, is: Was Kelly right handed? Odds are 3-1 that he was. And since the fatal cut was on his right wrist, it's lookin' like suicide to the kid...

Posted by: mojo at July 22, 2003 at 07:03 AM


Sorry. Left wrist.

Note to self: read *before* clicking...

Posted by: mojo at July 22, 2003 at 07:04 AM

Crap. What's at issue here is Downing Street's spin strategy: in this case, they thought they'd neatly snooker the BBC by presenting them with two unpalatable choices. The BBC could either fold, hanging out its reporter to dry, or they could tough it out and endure masses of dung being flung at them - some of which was bound to stick, as dung does.

To their credit, the BBC refused to be cowed into doing the wrong thing journalistically, and stuck by their report.

To turn up the heat, the government outed the source. And now it's gone tragically pear-shaped.

Posted by: Bon Scott at July 22, 2003 at 10:38 AM

As I have interpreted the news over the last week or so...
- UK govt accused by BBC report of sexing up intelligence reports.
- enquiry and basic looking at facts shows BBC wrong.
- opponents of UK govt go on a rampage trying to show govt lied and covered up.
- full enquiry process forced by said opponents puts David Kelly under lots of pressure.
- Kelly suicides.
- its Blair's fault.

Posted by: Peter Q at July 22, 2003 at 10:43 AM

Come on Bon, I realise you are only a dead rock singer, but please. The real issue here is that the BBC fabricated and 'Sexed Up' a story to match its journalistic bias and has now been caught with its pants firmly around its collectivist ankles.

It may as well just admit it was wrong and bend over and take the pain. It will definately be a far better prospect than trying to tough it out, as you so aptly put it. The Beeb's reputation is happily falling past the S-bend. To come clean and simply admit that they were wrong, might go some way towards resurrecting their severely blackened reputation.

But then we all know how often leftists apologise, don't we, so I won't hold my breath

Posted by: Todd at July 22, 2003 at 11:04 AM

Close, Peter, but for two crucial steps: the BBC is still standing by its report - so it hasn't been shown to be wrong as yet - and it wasn't opponents of the government who went on a rampage, it was Downing Street itself.

So yeah, it is at least partly Blair's fault. (Or more specifically his press secretary, who's been driving this whole affair.)

Posted by: Bon Scott at July 22, 2003 at 11:06 AM

So far David Kelly has been treated as an innocent party in this. As far as I see it, he was a public servant who leaked classified information (is that treason?), then lied about it to a parliamentary inquiry. He wasn't hounded to death... perhaps he topped himself in shame.

Posted by: Chris at July 22, 2003 at 12:17 PM

Chris, you are utter scum. Simple as that. You are also have shit for brains. What a disgusting, pathetic, lazy, crude, self-satisfied piece of scapegoatery.

Posted by: Bon Scott at July 22, 2003 at 12:20 PM

Play nice, Bon!

Posted by: tim at July 22, 2003 at 12:43 PM

"Chris, you are utter scum. Simple as that. You are also have shit for brains. What a disgusting, pathetic, lazy, crude, self-satisfied piece of scapegoatery."

I didn't realise that Chris was a lefty. Thanks for clearing that up Bon. :-)

Posted by: Todd at July 22, 2003 at 02:47 PM

I feel sad that Mr. Kelly took his own life.

However, people make choices and have to bear the responsibility of those choices. Mr. Kelly chose to take his life. No one need take responsibility for that choice; not the BBC, not Blair or the "government". And for their own sakes, Mr. Kelly's family will need to accept these very simple facts of life. Blaming someone or something for his death is an act that will only prolong their misery (which is entirely of their own making and the ending of which is entirely in their own hands).

On this "hounding to death" thing: unless you actually chase someone and physically kill them (or pay or persuade someone to physically kill them), then hounding to death by saying things about someone is just plain bollocks.

Posted by: Bon Scotties at July 22, 2003 at 05:12 PM

When the lefties resort to content-free personal abuse, you know you have won the argument.

Posted by: Indole Ring at July 22, 2003 at 10:35 PM

the BBC is still standing by its report - so it hasn't been shown to be wrong as yet

Well, it has been proven false in at least one particular: the BBC acknowledges that Kelly was its source, yet the article states that the source was an intelligence official - which Kelly was not.

Now "false in one, false in all" may or may not be accurate in this case but it's certainly reason to raise an eyebrow at the sensational allegation at the heart of this. Particularly since Kelly, the acknowledged source, stated that he didn't recognize the allegation as having come from what he'd said. Either Kelly or Gilligan lied about that, and we already know that Gilligan included in his reporting a wee fib about his source's position in government. So while it hasn't been proven beyond doubt that he made up the "sexed up" allegation, I wouldn't say the BBC is in a good position here.

Posted by: jeanne a e devoto at July 23, 2003 at 04:57 PM