This Friday’s Phrase is ‘moral dimension’: ‘I hate to sound old-fashioned, but the trouble is that politics no longer has a moral dimension,’ writes Deborah Orr. And now it can be revealed: [Shock! Horror! 72 point black bold type!] it seems that it’s not just politics that lacks a moral dimension but even some members of the Fourth Estate. As our reporter writes:
In old days men had the rack. Now they have the press. That is an improvement certainly. But still it is very bad, and wrong, and demoralising. Somebody – was it Burke? – called journalism the fourth estate. That was true at the time no doubt. But at the present moment it is the only estate. It has eaten up the other three. The Lords Temporal say nothing, the Lords Spiritual have nothing to say, and the House of Commons has nothing to say and says it. We are dominated by Journalism. In America the President reigns for four years, and Journalism governs for ever and ever. Fortunately in America Journalism has carried its authority to the grossest and most brutal extreme. As a natural consequence it has begun to create a spirit of revolt. People are amused by it, or disgusted by it, according to their temperaments. But it is no longer the real force it was. It is not seriously treated. In England, Journalism, not, except in a few well-known instances, having been carried to such excesses of brutality, is still a great factor, a really remarkable power. The tyranny that it proposes to exercise over people’s private lives seems to me to be quite extraordinary. The fact is, that the public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything, except what is worth knowing. Journalism, conscious of this, and having tradesman-like habits, supplies their demands. In centuries before ours the public nailed the ears of journalists to the pump. That was quite hideous. In this century journalists have nailed their own ears to the keyhole. That is much worse.
[Legal Dept: plagiarism alert: this has been ripped off from Oscar Wilde’s The Soul of Man under Socialism.]
[Ed: He won’t sue: we can soon smear him if he tries. He’s an ex-con so we can always buy him off. See if we have his phone number. Run this in our ‘Fearless and Free’ slot. On no account mention socialism.]