Friday 9 November 2012

Quotes of the Week: From taking on Lance Armstrong to what made Rebekah Brooks cry

David Walsh (top) in the Sunday Times [£] on the paper's legal battle with Lance Armstrong: "A letter from Schillings was couriered to The Sunday Times, reminding the newspaper that Armstrong had never taken performance-enhancing drugs and if we dared suggest he did, we would be sued. We didn’t back down and we were sued. Two years of endless meetings, preparing statements, lining up witnesses, getting subpoenas — it was hell...Britain was the only country where Armstrong allowed alibel case to proceed beyond the initial, sabre-rattling writ."

The Sun in a leader: "National Union of Journalists’ leader Michelle Stanistreet wants to surrender centuries of hard-won Press freedom for Government control of the Press. We would end up like Russia, Zimbabwe and Iran, with State stooges and politicians deciding what can or can’t be printed in your Sun. With journalists facing arrest for disobeying official censors, it would be the end of free speech in our country. Stanistreet should at least have the decency to ballot NUJ members before speaking out. And to think we had Bob Crow down as the most dangerous union leader in Britain."

Michelle Stanistreet hits back at the Sun on Press Gazette: "Do they really believe all of this? Or is this just part of the orchestrated and pretty predictable campaign the industry owners and editors are currently running in advance of the publication of the Leveson report, funded and motivated by the deep pockets and vested interests of those with who fear that they’ll no longer be able to get away with a form of self-regulation that has existed merely to serve their own interests for years?"

The Telegraph in a leader: "As Lord Justice Leveson and his committee prepare to issue their report into the phone-hacking scandal, and offer recommendations on regulation, those with the most to gain from constraining the press in its vital task of holding the powerful to account are doing their utmost to ensure that the Government endorses the most restrictive regime on offer. What is especially alarming is to find the National Union of Journalists – which claims to represent the industry – training its guns on its own side."

Michael White on the Guardian's Politics Blog: "Well, I stoutly defend the Telegraph's right to write rubbish. But this is poor stuff and would be even if it did not flow from a union-bashing newspaper (does it recognise the NUJ for negotiating purposes? I think not) owned by a pair of elderly property moguls, not locally resident for tax purposes, who have laid waste to the paper's formerly sturdy character."

Chris Wheal on Press Gazette: "The NUJ must ballot its members over whether or not to support statutory regulation (or regulation underpinned by statute).  It must announce that referendum now to stop members resigning. It must ask those who have resigned to rescind their resignations while the ballot goes on. And it must ensure the ballot is free and fair with both sides given equal space and resources to campaign among the membership for yes and no votes."

KelvinMacKenzie on the Huffington Post"So in the Sun today when a phone goes on the Sun newsdesk and the journalists are told a shocking story they then ask the nervous caller a strange question; Are you a state employee? Because if you are, no matter how big or important your story is, we cannot listen to you or pay you money for your information because both of us stand a healthy chance of being arrested. And so instead of beginning to investigate a major scandal the connection is broken and the frustrated journalists sit back and wait for the next X Factor handout or government announcement. Meanwhile, the Jimmy Savile's of this world will go free while those wanting to expose them face going to jail. It's barmy and its wrong."

Lord Fowler, Sir Malcolm Rifkind and others in a letter to the Guardian: "The prime minister was right to set up the Leveson inquiry. While it has been uncomfortable for both politicians and the press, it also represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to put things right. Parliament must not duck the challenge."

Professor Steven Barnett  and other academics in letter to the Guardian: "Were it not for the Guardian's commitment to courageous and outstanding investigative journalism – in the teeth of bitter resistance by the PCC and its controlling press interests – we would never have discovered the true scale of abuse and corruption in parts of the press. This is surely the moment to push for a genuinely independent regulator, founded in law, which could command real public trust and reinvigorate public interest journalism. For the Guardian meekly to surrender this opportunity in favour of yet more self-regulation is a sad finale to its own exemplary journalism."

Mail on Sunday in a leader: "The Government is immeasurably richer and more powerful than the massed battalions of Fleet Street, and routinely mishandles and mistreats powerless individuals. It also snoops on us without restraint, protected by the same laws that rightly punish journalistic phone hackers. Whatever proposals Lord Justice Leveson may have for press regulation, it is essential that they do not end by making the Government more powerful and unaccountable than it already is."

Dominic Sandbrook in the Mail on Sunday: "From the Leveson Inquiry in London to the attempted comeback of former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, and from the salons of Paris to the committee rooms of Brussels, there are disturbing signs of a backlash against democracy, free speech and the will of the people — a counter-revolution that could sweep away many of the liberties we take for granted."

Simon Duke in the Sunday Times [£]: "It is also debatable how much cost Montgomery can realistically strip out of Northcliffe. The Daily Mail group is run on a tight budget, and Steve Auckland, Northcliffe’s boss, has instituted several rounds of austerity cuts across the local and regional titles in recent years."

Peter Preston in the Observer on the Irish Press Council: "The Irish solution has flourished so far because, most of the time, it deals in persuasion – because it demands few of the penalties and obeisances Leveson has on his list."

Rebekah Brooks in email to David Cameron, leaked to the Mail on Sunday: "Brilliant speech. I cried twice. Will love working together."
[£] = pay wall

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