The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth
Whatever government decides about Leveson’s recommendations, it is online outlets like the Commentator who put forward the best counter-weight against the worst behaviours of the mainstream media
“The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”. It is not without reason that that is the basis of a legal oath that has been part of English Law since at least Medieval times, having evolved probably as the simplest and most satisfactory formula. This is because the truth can be distorted by only reporting some of the facts; and by giving misleading indications or innuendos about how to interpret these facts. Sometimes the truth can be used to give legitimacy to lies.
I recently found myself the victim of a gross distortion of the truth and misrepresentation of my beliefs and reputation by the mainstream media. I wish Leveson was still taking evidence, as my experience certainly would have been informative to his enquiry.
To briefly summarize, I lazily re-tweeted someone else’s tweet that linked to a quote from Hitler in 1927 stating that Nazis were socialists.
As it was a re-tweet, it didn’t even mean it was my opinion; a re-tweet just means ‘have a look at this – there is something interesting about it’. I clicked the re-tweet button because it affirmed the point that the origins of Nazism are from Socialism, not from the right – as is the case with other Fascist parties.
Margaret Thatcher rightly said about the National Front: “Communism and the National Front both seek the domination of the state over the individual. They both, I believe crush the right of the individual. To me, therefore, they are parties of a similar kind.... The National Front is a Socialist Front”. I believe the BNP are also left wing.
I didn’t think anything more of my re-tweet – to be honest, I forgot I’d done it. But that didn’t stop a local person who clearly wanted to make trouble (presumably a political opponent) ‘reporting’ this to the local press. Heaven forbid that the actual whole truth should get in the way of a good story – this, to the mind of the local media, was potentially a great story; it was, after all, about Hitler and a Conservative Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner (DPCC).
Much to my horror and disgust some of the initial headlines and stories that came out in the local media seemed to indicate some kind of endorsement of a Hitler quote, and by implication, Hitler himself. As someone who is a longstanding human rights and anti-genocide campaigner (and has a long track record on human rights in Sri Lanka and campaigns against the BNP) this has been the most shocking and abhorrent part of the whole episode.
Even worse, this distorted story was picked up by the Daily Mail – whose article was not just based on half truths and omissions – but also contained inaccuracies. It did not even bother to contact me to check if this story – with the potential to wreck my career and reputation – had any truth in it at all. I have subsequently complained to the Press Complaints Commission.
I was forced to resign from my DPCC role to try to stand up for myself. But the press and media kept misreporting the story. No-one was reporting what the tweet was actually about – the socialist roots of Nazism and the left wing nature of modern fascist parties. I had potentially lost my reputation (and my place on the Conservative parliamentary candidates list).
The mainstream media had once again seemingly ridden roughshod on an innocent person’s reputation; and the regular assertion by the BBC and others that Nazis and fascist parties are ‘right wing’, or ‘far right’ was left unchallenged.
That was until the Commentator picked up the story. Its report didn’t blindly copy what other reports had said, but looked at the actual re-tweet. Its Executive Editor also contacted me – but he didn’t need to ask for my version of events, as a simple investigation had already revealed the truth.
The Commentator ran its report, highlighting that “the point [of the re-tweet] is a widely held belief amongst right-thinking historians and academics, that National Socialism has its roots in Socialism, rather than on the Right…. she has an excellent background in combating extremism and human rights abuses.”
After the Commentator article (which has the advantage of the readership that my own website does not), other online journalists started to run the full and undistorted story, including: ConservativeHome, Iain Dale, James Delingpole, Cutley (Telegraph blogs), Douglas Murray, and many others. The truth – full and undistorted – was finally put forward. In fact the Commentator’s article even managed to start a sensible (and long overdue) debate about where on the political spectrum Nazism and Fascism actually lie (see these articles by Dan Hannan, Ed Kozak, and the New Statesman).
Whatever the government decides about Leveson’s recommendations on press ethics, in my view it is online newspapers like the Commentator, and other online bloggers, who put forward the truth that is the best counter-weight against the worst behaviours of the mainstream media.
Rachel Frosh has been a doctor in the NHS for over 20 years. In 2010, she stood as the Conservative parliamentary candidate in Harrow West, a campaign which the editor of this website was proud to support, and still is. Until her resignation, Frosh was also the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner in Hertfordshire
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