We have no way of knowing whether what the television companies present us with is true or false, accurate or totally fraudulent. The bond of trust has been broken.
In Britain, we used to have not just the best television in the world, but the most trustworthy. We can still retrieve it. But we must learn again the most important lesson of all - that programmes always matter more than profits.
WE HAVE abolished bear baiting, public executions, cock-fighting and disembowelling. But we've replaced them with something which, in its own way, is equally obscene. Trash TV. Trash TV relies on a bottomless contempt for the audience. Give 'em anything, they're so thick they'll never notice. Truth and lies are melded into one in a sacrifice on the altar of the great God, ratings.
However Vanessa, Trisha and their minions try to claim a fake respectability, we are back in the Middle Ages sniggering and throwing tomatoes at village idiots in the stocks.
News of the World
THERE ARE now two cultures in this country: the culture of the great majority, increasingly formed and driven by popular television, and the culture of the increasingly marginal educated minority, which is pretty much indifferent to popular (particularly daytime) television. The ghastly Oprah Winfrey, queen of the American confessional was sneered at when she said last week that the increasingly violent format of confessional television shows will lead to real deaths.
She may be exaggerating, but she has a real point. "Can public taste keep on sinking?" she asked. "Yes, it can - I have to get out." So should Vanessa. So should the BBC.