Magazine article The Spectator

What Happened to Honesty?

Magazine article The Spectator

What Happened to Honesty?

Article excerpt

New York

My friend Tom Fleming, editor-in-- chief of Chronicles, and a polymath who doesn't tolerate fools or knaves, recently wrote that when he's described as a journalist, he takes it as an insult. `Journalists are to writers what kept women are to wives . . . ' The American version of Paul Johnson went on to say that even the old standards of mercenary journalism have collapsed. `Most journalists no longer even pretend to follow the news. All that matters to them is their celebrity status on TV.' Egotism, rudeness, ignorance and total dishonesty make for a depressing spectacle, and nothing depresses more than today's television, on both sides of the ocean. Then there's politics, as practiced by today's politicians. `He never told the truth when a lie would serve,' was the great Douglas MacArthur's judgment on FDR, and the same can now be applied to virtually the entire world of politics and journalism. Bill Clinton and Tony Blair are, of course, the masters of the direct lie, able to look straight into the camera and tell incredible whoppers with a sincerity that would make Mother Teresa blush.

What a depressing thought at Christmastime. I don't watch television except for sport and the golden oldies, but at times I happen to channel-surf and run across a comb-over clown like William Kristol always extolling the fairness of shooting Palestinian stone-throwing teenagers with armour-piercing missiles - or a loudmouth like Chris Matthews beating the war drum. Kristol wears make-up a la Mae West, but it does very little for him. My spies tell me he also suffers from terrible halitosis. Where do the networks find these low-lifes? Once upon a time I used to listen to the news and more or less believed the soothing voices of the speakers. No longer. Too many channels have diluted the talent, and now it's almost freak time. A disgusting-looking man like Alan Dershowitz (O.J. Simpson's mouthpiece and saviour) is on almost every night, discharging hot air, humbug and hyperbole, and no one as yet has taken out a fatwa against him and the clowns who invite him on the air. And speaking of the latter, I just read a marvellous book by Michael Beschloss called The Conquerors. The book is built almost entirely around the conversations of high-- up American officials trying to decide what to do with Germany. Roosevelt's close friend and secretary of the treasury Henry Morgenthau wanted revenge. He wished to see Germany, one of Europe's greatest countries, stripped of its industries and turned into `something like the used-up areas of Nevada deserts where only ghost towns, rusting machinery and abandoned mines remain'. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.