Monday, March 31, 2014

News of the Screws - is the traditional Sunday scoop returning?

It was as if a time-shift had occurred yesterday, with several tabloids leading their Sunday morning coverage with a classic kiss-and-tell sex scandal concerning one of the Great and the Good - in this instance, a Tory MP who was, perhaps, not so very great or so very good, but tabloids can't be choosers.

One of the great pressure group successes of recent years has been the Hacked Off campaign's targeting of the tabloid press, which some argue has led to a 'fear factor' amongst the papers that has denuded them of the classic sex scandal story.  Alex Wickham on Breitbart suggests that the climate of fear is gradually disappearing, and that the Sundays in particular may be resorting to type.  He also suggests, more tantalisingly, that there are more sex scandals still to come, although that these should concern primarily gay MPs could be an issue of concern.  Are they scandals because of the sexual orientation of the MP, or because there is a legitimate public interest to be served?  The recent Menzies case hasn't yielded a huge public interest case it has to be said - the story seemed in many respects to be a rather desperate one (a bit like the MP it reported on).

Nevertheless, if Wickham is correct, then the success of Hacked Off - whose activities are extensively reported by their principal mainstream media supporter, the Guardian, here - may indeed prove to have been merely temporary.  It takes more than a well organised, celebrity headed pressure group to stop the tabloids doing what they do best it seems - raking the muck.

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