And finally... There's news just in about me
Andrew Marr and Dermot Murnaghan were each caught breaking the first rule of journalism this weekend: never become the story. Tim Walker reports
Tim Walker is The Independent’s Los Angeles correspondent, covering entertainment and other concerns from the West Coast of the US. He was previously a features writer and the editor of the paper’s diary column. His first novel, Completion, is being published in January 2014.
Tuesday 11 September 2012
When Angus Deayton was deprived of the hosting duties of Have I Got News For You in 2002, after allegations of his vice-related antics were printed in the News of the World, BBC sources suggested his dismissal was "nothing personal... but Angus had become the story". The same phrase presaged Alastair Campbell's resignation as Tony Blair's communications director the following year, after Campbell had attacked the BBC for its coverage of the run-up to the Iraq War. "People say, 'Well, it's a problem because you have become the story,' and they keep talking about you and writing about you and there's not much you can do about it," Campbell told Andrew Marr, then the Corporation's political editor, in an interview.
That warning might now be reasonably applied to Marr himself, and to Dermot Murnaghan – the two newsmen whose encounters with women other than their wives were splashed across the weekend's papers. Marr, formerly the holder of a super-injunction to prevent revelations about an affair, was photographed in what he calls "a farewell clinch" with a female producer during a party to celebrate the completion of his latest documentary series. In one of the images, Marr's hand appears to have slipped beneath the woman's waistband, apparently on its way to her bottom. Marr says he cannot remember that incident: "It was just two drunken journalists having a farewell clinch after working fantastically hard together for two years. There is no romantic connection between us."
Meanwhile, Sky News anchor, Eggheads host and father-of-four Murnaghan was spotted in a London park in his Lycra cycling gear, canoodling with his make-up artist. Their rather public smooch was redolent of Piers Merchant, the married former Conservative MP who, in 1997, was snapped snogging a 17-year-old Soho hostess in broad daylight. Isn't it strange that such experienced hacks, who for years have watched unfortunate politicians have their extramarital shenanigans exposed by the tabloids, should allow themselves to be caught, too?
Perhaps they presumed that there was some kind of gentlemen's agreement among media professionals not to expose other media professionals' bad behaviour. Or perhaps they thought nobody would be interested. But in a time when privacy is at a premium, and when each and every salacious story must be filtered through layers of nervous editors, proprietors and lawyers – wary of the disapproval of Lord Leveson and co – it seems that journalists are turning their attention to the easiest, and safest, subjects of all: each other.
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