We’ve all seen the news. We’ve all seen the clip and we all saw Phillip Schofield decide that the internet was a legitimate source for ITV1’s This Morning and a legitimate enough source for him to decide to potentially throw away his career. How insane?
Look Phillip Schofield is about as inoffensive as you can get. Reminds me a bit of Will McAvoy from The Newsroom before his meltdown at Northwestern. Someone who doesn’t rock the boat who people trust. However that all changed today when he decided to show the Prime Minister a list of names that he had found on the internet that are linked to a paedophile ring within government over the past three decades. Firstly just doing this is dumb and secondly he flashed it to the camera so that everyone could actually read the names. Yes the names are out there but it should also be pointed out that these names (bar one) have not faced any accusation from an accuser. They are just people saying they are ‘in the know’ and anyone can be ‘in the know’ on the internet.
I’m old school and don’t like witch hunts. If any of these people are accused of a crime then the police will investigate and they will be tried within the legal system. That is the way we work. We don’t try people in the court of public opinion as the court of public opinion would prefer to kill an innocent man on the off chance that they might have touched kids. Yes I’m more than happy to write that sentence. A large proportion of this country would happily take an anonymous accusation as fact and act as such.
This is why we have a legal system. We don’t have act without evidence. At this moment in time only one man has been accused of any crime and all the other names that Phillip Schofield showed on national television are not accused of any crime but now people think they are paedophiles. Mud sticks folks and you can’t take back what you do or say. These people are now smeared and that will never leave them and people will always think worse of them even if it comes out that the internet rumours were completely made up.
Lets look at what actually happened though as this wasn’t done on the spur of the moment. His producer will have known what he was planning to do and had clearly ok’ed it instead of telling Schofield that if he dared he’d be fired the moment the show went off air. It was a planned attempt to corner the Prime Minister and a planned attempt to take the moral high ground as being the man who had the balls to get the names out there and see how the PM reacted. He (and his producer) knew that would play out well amongst the public and would give the show a huge boost as it would make head line news.
The only drawback though is of course this behaviour is kinda not on. Malicious gossip is what they call it. Accusing people of crimes with no evidence in an attempt to smear them. He has of course since apologised – not for doing it but for doing it in such a way that the viewers could see the names. So he has no problem confronting the PM on gossip but he is apologetic that everyone else saw the name. No doubt he’ll be more apologetic if any of those people named decide to sue the network and/or him personally. I have always found being sorry is not an adequate defence in either a criminal or in this case a civil court.
I hate to call for someone to be fired for a mistake but as this excellent piece in The Telegraph says – it is a very legitimate argument to make. Schofield and his producer and seriously erred and a simple apology really isn’t good enough. ‘We’re sorry we have defamed several people. We have no evidence to back up the internets claims that they are linked to a paedophile ring but we decided to run it anyway on national TV because we thought (as this current juncture) baseless rumours were in the public interest.’
It doesn’t really fly does it> I suspect he’ll keep his job but he’ll get a serious bollocking and never do something so stupid again but if they want to fire him for that one mistake then I couldn’t argue too much with it. It was such an egregious error that it would be justified.
We shall see how it plays out…
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