Did anyone else see 10 O'Clock Live last night?
David Mitchell hosted a debate on phone hacking between John Prescott and some bloke who 'used to work for NOTW', and looked and sounded essentially like a stereotyped tabloid journalist.
NOTW-man argued that it was perfectly OK for public figures such as politicians to have their private messages hacked, as it was in the public interest to know if they weren't on the straight and narrow. He then argued that it was OK to extend this to celebrities, and indeed anyone successful or famous. If he ever had the audience's sympathy, he pretty much lost it there.
Prescott argued (with help from Mitchell) that this meant, as far as the press were concerned, anyone 'successful' (as the press defined it) was essentially fair game, regardless of whether this was in the public interest. NOTW-man said, yes essentially that was the case but don't we all love a good gossip. And as for celebs, they had no right to a private life because they were happy to be 'parading' in front of cameras one day, and then screaming blue murder the next and this was hypocrisy. Mitchell said that if you were an actor or model by profession, 'parading' in front of a camera is pretty much your job. He also asked if by appearing on TV, NOTW-man became a public figure and thus fair game.
Points I took away from it:
1. NOTW-man seemed to fall back on the playing-to-the-gallery "They're all at it" defence (which is shit and doesn't work), just to see it roundly rejected by the audience. Yes, some celebs court publicity, but that doesn't mean all of them do. Yes, some MPs are/were on the fiddle, but by no means all of them. Basically the press bloke fired off quite a few libels by my reckoning.
2. The 10 O'Clock Live audience may be astonishingly partisan (open-minded, metropolitan, young), but it's the kind of partisan I like.
3. NOTW-man's big roadblock was a fairly simple one - while it may (possibly) be justifiable to eavesdrop on the great and good, what about their families firmly out of the limelight? No answer to that one. So he resorted to yelling 'you're a crook!' at Prescott before loudly telling everyone watching exactly how to hack a phone. I can only assume he was going for so many injunctions being taken out against the programme that it never gets broadcast again.
4. David Mitchell really needed to have wrapped up that item much earlier than he did. Stil, cutting away to a visibly startled Jimmy Carr (oh sorry, he always looks like that) was quite funny.
5. John Prescott really seems to be enjoying himself now that he's not bound by party lines or press officers any more.
6. I'm coming round to appreciating Malcolm's views on journalists ever more.
Ten seconds... the pain begins.
Fifteen seconds... you can't breathe.
Twenty seconds... you give up and turn off the Jeremy Vine show.