Thursday, 26 July 2007

In the mirror

Something bugs me about this - but I'm not sure what.
It's the Mirror's account of its reporters' bungled attempt to 'test security' at a rail depot. I first heard the story in a late night news bulletin on the BBC on Tuesday evening ... and was, uncharitably, puzzled not to see the cock-up reported in the Mirror the following day.
Roy Greenslade has this account of the Mirror's reasons for not reporting on its own reporters ham-fisted debacle.
When they did get their backsides in gear, the account was a cross between pusilanimous and whining.
"The Government wants us to trust them over 56-days' detention. The disquieting experience of these two Mirror journalists raises hugely worrying questions
bleats the intro.
Hang on - the Mirror incompetents were in the jug for a few hours. Fifty six days? What's that got to do with it?
Plus; "worrying questions" would have been raised in my mind if they hadn't been shaken down pretty thoroughly - in fact, I wonder if 12 hours was enough.
I suppose the thing that both worries and bugs me is the unquestioned assertion that planting something dicky with wires on a train is, in fact, a "legitimate assignment" for a journalist.
On the one hand, it has to be right that the media tests the assertions of authority, that they're doing all they can to make us safe. On the other, it's - frankly - not that oozing in enterprise to skulk around a train yard with a box of tricks ... or, for that matter, to smuggle something nasty onto a plane knowing that, except in the most knuckle-headed foul up, you'll get away with it.
And I suppose the thing that bugs me is when it does end in a knuckle-headed foul-up ... isn't the only legitimate response to say - 'yup, this time we lost'. If you're testing security and the security works, then - I would have thought - you say so.
To flick it round as the Mirror did to argue that holding a couple of buffoons for a few hours to check out their story, that going to their houses to check that story stacks up is somehow oppressive is, at the very least, perverse.
Yes - of course checking those assurances about our security is legit; but, please, when you've shown that guys who plant stuff on trains get caught ... say so. End.
What's that line about 'if you can't take a joke you shouldn't sign up ...'?

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