Brooks Newmark has had an unfortunate run of bad luck, and has been the latest victim of the harsh and brutal world in which British politics now lives. The separation of a public figure’s personal life from their professional life is always tricky to get right, and it can result in the destruction of one or both, should either of them bleed into the other. Chris Huhne and Liam Fox are other characters from the current government, who have also felt the force of the justice blood lust demanded by popular media.
Obviously this isn’t something limited to politics, the recent scandal involving the hacking of personal Apple accounts of many celebrities, including Jennifer Lawrence, is an example of the obsession with ‘gossip’ within the entertainment business. However, it is perhaps more interesting to look at how similar tactics are branded in different ways. Should a politician do something questionable in their personal life, which is then picked up by the media, the chances are that they will be forced to resign from their position, however in the case of the leaked photos, this breach of personal privacy is, quite rightly, branded as immoral and totally unjustifiable. Meanwhile politicians seem to be fair game when it comes to picking on personal weak spots, some claim that this is part of the duty of accountability that the press performs and that those in charge of us should be subject to a very high level of scrutiny.
While this is a fair case, it is very easy to see that it has gone too far. The tactics employed by journalists in order to generate stories have simply lost their basing in reality. While it is important that investigative undercover journalism is undertaken to highlight illicit activities, tricking someone into committing an offence or an act of indecency surely isn’t the same as a person making a positive, independently conscious decision to perpetrate the same act.
The true victims of this behaviour are not the individual who behaved in a certain way, but their family and friends, those with strong personal ties to these individuals, who are then left with bitter feelings towards someone they feel has ‘failed’ them. The poison within our mass media can be shown by the decision taken by elements of the media to print text messages sent between Chris Huhne and his son Peter, during his court hearing in 2012. That the contents of such personal and private messages were published shows the lack of humanity with which our popular media now operates.
The whole reason for Brooks Newmark’s resignation was fabricated; the recipient of the photos was an undercover journalist, digging around for a story. Are we really content to allow the media to continue to ruin lives and disturb the political waters simply to sell more copies?