Media "celebrity" Phillip Schofield, interviewing the Prime Minister on ITV's This Morning programme, attempted to ambush him by handing him a list of six Tory child abusers. Well, alleged child abusers, one should say, because he offered not one stitch of evidence against them.
You might think that if there were one thing to be learned from the Jimmy Saville affair, it is that media people should not be allowed to think they can use their celebrity to behave in a way that us common oiks aren't allowed. Plainly this lesson hasn't been learned, not by Schofield, anyway.
What he did was completely unacceptable, a cheap publicity stunt, an attempt to use the dreadful experiences of young people years ago to boost his own flagging career, and to publicly embarrass a man who, whatever one thinks of his politics or his performance as PM, has no possible connection with these crimes and, as he is not a police officer, has no responsibility for investigating them.
Why Schofield and his cronies in medialand think David Cameron is a legitimate target is not clear. The man's taken on, for better or worse, the hardest job in the country. He's no doubt made mistakes, some things have not gone well for him, he has ducked some issues he ought not to have ducked. But he's probably done a good job in some other respects, he has certainly steered a fairly adroit course through the rocks and rapids of the economy, the Afghan War, phone-tapping etc. without making a total fool of himself, he appears to have retained the respect of most of his Tory colleagues and he hasn't given in to the loony Lib-Dems nearly as much as we feared. So why is it OK to stalk him and his family, to publicise every tiny detail of his private life, to try and make political capital from his choice of friends, and to ambush him when he's trying to conduct a polite, sensible interview on telly?
What did Schofield hope to achieve - did he imagine that Cameron was going to break down in floods of tears, while Schofield himself would be hailed as a serious cutting-edge journalistic heavyweight instead of a lightweight, over-the-hill pretty boy with little talent and a tiny little brain? Well, here's news for you, Philip-baby; we are a polite and thoughtful nation on the whole, and most of us would like to be treated politely and thoughtfully, and to see our Prime Minister accorded at least the same amount of respect as you. No, I'll correct that - we'd like our appointed representative to be treated with a great deal more respect than you, because you're a W*nker and he isn't.
We welcome the news that Schofield has apologised, but we'd like to go a little further than that. We'd like him, and all other media celebrities, to learn a lesson from this. We'd like them to learn that it was wrong for Jimmy Saville to use his celebrity to allow him to commit crimes, that the law applies even to famous people, and that even famous television figures, if they truly have information about criminals and criminal acts to share, should not use them to create publicity but take them to the police or risk charges of aiding and abetting, or perverting the course of justice, or even being an accessory after the fact.
Of course, if they've just written down a list of six random names off the internet and they're accusing those people of being paedophiles, one hopes they've got some evidence to back up the allegation or they're going to find themselves having to answer some quite difficult questions in a court of law. No doubt the rest of us will enjoy listening to their answers.
either on this site or on the World Wide Web.
Copyright © 2012 The GOS