Ian Monk: The media dine out on hypocrisy

A friend who is crazily public spirited enough to be offering himself for election called me in bemused indignation at the double standards of the media.

He had been the subject of a finely written broadsheet profile, much of it culled from a convivial lunch, which dwelled satirically on his admittedly substantial appetite. 'It's a bit hypocritical - the journalist ate exactly the same as I did,' he told me good-humouredly when I suggested a restaurant might not have been the best meeting place.

Not a word of the journalist's intake featured in the report. A bit hypocritical? The media? Shock horror!

There are those cynics who believe few callings require such an application of double standards as journalism. Tabloids excoriate stars, sportsmen, politicians and businessmen over their private lives. Exposes of their supposed irregularities, foibles and deceits proliferate in print. Thence they are hoovered up for repackaging and re-telling on TV and online.

Lofty moral judgements are handed down as retribution is demanded and all too often forthcoming.

How fortunate we are to have a media peopled exclusively by individuals of such irreproachable moral standing as to equip them to sit in judgement on souls whose supposedly errant behaviour may just shift more copies. Heaven forfend that TV studios or tabloid newsrooms ever employed a single drunk, adulterer or drug user - or indeed, a glutton. Who would pass judgement on those taking the world to hell in the handcart so often invoked by our angry columnists?

Just imagine if stories about leading figures in the media were suppressed by that very media because of a series of tacit agreements that media dog should never snarl at, far less bite, media dog.

Oh, joy to be on the side of the angels in PR!

Who cares that the media accuse us of the most fearful hypocrisies? How, they cry, can we alternate between seeking publicity for our clients' enterprises and then shouting 'privacy' when there's nothing to sell?

There's only one remedy. Let's dine out together on the fact a touch of hypocrisy makes the media world go round.

Ian Monk is founder of Ian Monk Associates and a former executive at the Daily Mail and The Sun

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