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2003-09-23 Press destroys lives

Everyone in the public arena risks being destroyed by the press. Anyone who has seen Big Brother on Channel 4 will know that it takes a matter of days before the tabloids have pinned labels on the unfortunate contestants  Boring John, Thick Jade and Nasty Nick. The gutter press is poised to pounce on peoples inadequacies and weaknesses, and before long these celebrities are ridiculed beyond all.

 

Anthea Turners dream of stardom has turned into a nightmare where she is seen by most a press laughing-stock, and as I have mentioned before, Michael Jackson is every journalistic vultures dream!

As soon as any leak of anything salacious trickles through, the person in question is guilty until proven innocent. Look at the life of rising star John Leslie - he will always be viewed with suspicion even though the rape allegations were dropped and after his ten months in hell he was proven innocent. His flourishing TV career was in tatters and even now TV companies are hardly queuing up to offer him jobs.

After the charges were dropped, he stood on the courthouse steps, a broken man holding back tears, proclaiming his innocence as he had from Day One. He had been tried and executed by the media immediately the allegations had surfaced, and now he is hastily attempting to rebuild his career and personal life, aided by those who had stood by him all along.

Matthew Kelly also disappeared from our TV screens under suspicion, again guilty until proven innocent. Now he is back, but thanks to the media, will we ever be able to view him in the same light again? Should there not be some sort of law that prevents these leaks destroying careers and lives before the alleged have had a chance to even speak? The multi-talented Michael Barrymore (a star people either love or hate) has had all his dirty washing publicly aired  his broken marriage, his outing, the suspicious death at one of his parties, not to mention his addictions. He now seems to have totally abandoned his career goals.

The Conservative MP Neil Hamilton and his outspoken wife Christine are seen as 3-in-a-bed swingers thanks to a woman trying to make a quick buck. Whatever political career Hamilton had has been discarded, and now they appear from time to time in anything from reality TV shows to Rocky Horror shows!

The unexpected end to that tale is that Christine has proved herself to be a popular and talented TV personality. Of course, some politicians deserve the ridicule they bring on themselves, for wasting peoples time and money on their sordid dealings. I ask you, who has ever heard of rearranging your prison term around your holidays?

Often politicians make one flawed comment or judgement in a weak moment which haunts them forever, and can even lead to their resignation. If one mentions the name Edwina Currie, one immediately conjures up in ones mind bad eggs and an affair with the Prime Minister.It does not always just stop at career destruction.

Despite using the press to her advantage and having them more or less wrapped around her little finger, it was ironically the papparazzi which eventually killed Princess Diana. Even more recently, the suicide of Dr David Kelly has been top of the news. His research into Weapons of Mass Destruction on behalf of the government was leaked by Channel 5 and further, and left him with no alternative (as he saw it) other than to take his own life.

Working in the press and TV has its dangers too, as we have seen by the death of ITVs Terry Lloyd during the Iraqi crisis. Many cameramen and behind the scenes TV staff have lost their lives in a similar way. For us in Ireland, the most famous example is the life of Veronica Guerin. I recently witnessed Cate Blanchetts flawless performance in the title role of this superb film. Every Irish person ought to make it their business to see this movie. Veronica Guerin brought the Irish drugs problem to the fore and exposed the sickening drug underworld. Her life was destroyed by the press, in a different way, but her achievements and her example will never be forgotten.