Calls for Andrew Marr to go grow louder


10:15 am - April 27th 2011

by Sunny Hundal    


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The BBC’s former political editor Andrew Marr is coming under fire, even from journalists, for eventually admitting he took out a super-injunction to protest his privacy.

But Marr’s decision to go public only came about after Private Eye launched a challenge to the injunction last week.

On the Today programme on Tuesday, Private Eye editor Ian Hislop said:

As a leading BBC interviewer who is asking politicians about failures in judgment, failures in their private lives, inconsistencies, it was pretty rank of him to have an injunction while working as an active journalist.

A similar point is made by Charlie Beckett, who heads up the LSE’s journalism think-tank Polis.

Like any citizen Marr had a perfect right to defend his privacy. But as a journalist he must have realised his legal actions would reduce his credibility as someone who can interrogate the powerful and famous about their personalities as well as their policies and actions.

Marr now admits that his actions were hypocritical, but I think it’s worse than that and that’s why he shouldn’t really be doing political interviews anymore.

Blogger and tweeter Fleet Street Fox is a lot more brutal and to the point:

As a result of all this Marr can never question a politician about their private life, however legitimate the enquiry could be. He cannot comment or ask about fatherhood, paternity rights, the legal system, the creeping privacy law no-one in this country has voted for, or even raising a child when arguably his actions will have harmed the one involved in this story.

Andrew Marr should never work as a journalist again. He probably will, because the BBC can be very stupid like that, but his credibility is shot, his impartiality is gone and his reputation is ruined.

It’s time for Marr to go.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


1. Shatterface

‘Marr now admits that his actions were hypocritical, but I think it’s worse than that and that’s why he shouldn’t really be doing political interviews anymore.’

Its not ‘worse than that’, its precisely that.

‘Andrew Marr should never work as a journalist again. He probably will, because the BBC can be very stupid like that, but his credibility is shot, his impartiality is gone and his reputation is ruined.’

This is puritanical bullshit dressed up as political principle. If Marr shouldn’t ask politicians about their personal lives it is because their personal lives are largely not our fucking business.

Its about time the BBC stood up against moralistic hysteria.

2. Shatterface

‘As a leading BBC interviewer who is asking politicians about failures in judgment, failures in their private lives, inconsistencies, it was pretty rank of him to have an injunction while working as an active journalist.’

This, again, is moralising bullshit: personal privacy is not the same as covering up personal conduct in the execution of a public role. A politician fiddling his or her expenses to house someone with whom they are having an affair is not the same as hiding the affair itself.

Meh, I can’t help but think this (and the moralising, pitchforks aloft screed of the anonymous Fleet Street Fox) detracts from the larger issue of super/injunctions themselves. Marr made a stupid decision*, sure – but show me someone who hasn’t, particularly in the world of the meeeja, and I’ll eat my hat/the deficit.

*Also, haven’t we known about Marr for a while now? Didn’t the hateful Mr Staines break this story on his blog about 6 months ago..?

@2 & 3: I think it’s not so much the moralising as the practicality:

Marr: “So Minister, have you been shagging around?”

Minister: “Very interesting that you would ask that question…. *five minute monologue on Marr’s activities*”

Marr: “Erm… bugger.”

5. Chaise Guevara

Agree with Shatterface and S Pill. Incidently, why does everyone feel the need to demand that anyone who does something you dislike should be fired? When a politician demands that the PM stand down at every PMQs, or a paper calls for someone’s head on a plate in every issue, the whole concept loses its impact.

Falco’s right in that this will make it harder for Marr to demand answers from politicians on similar subjects, but that’s about it.

The question is why did I need to know whom Andrew Marr was bonking with?

@3

Fleet Street Fox appears to have the hateful Mr. Staines as one of her blogroll links (along with the tedious Mr. Cohen).

‘The question is why did I need to know whom Andrew Marr was bonking with?’

I agree with Bob B. That information wasn’t ‘in the public interest’. I don’t agree with super-injunctions but I don’t agree with the culture of salacious gossip that passes for ‘news’ in this country either. I have no opinion on Andrew Marr’s employment at the BBC. I don’t think it is really my business who works for the company or not.

@ 8 QRG

Although I agree with your general thought, there is something to be said that Marr opened himself up to this by being a monstrous humbug as Hislop has pointed out; you can’t expect to write the kind of things Marr did complaining about judge made privacy law, and then cry about it later when you are exposed for the staggering hypocrisy!

He has arguably damaged himself, his professional reputation and his family more by taking out the injunction than if he had just come clean about the affair in the first place.

“I don’t think it is really my business who works for the company or not.”

You do pay his salary, you know. (I assume…!!)

I usually have some regard for the useful public service performed by Hislop and Private Eye but an implied claim that the public needs to know about any extra-marital sex encounters of every celebrity, media personality or prominent journalist is patently ridiculous. Why only the sex? Why not what they eat, weigh and the details of their abolutions? It really doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. It took long enough for the scandal of MPs’ expenses to emerge and that was and is a critical commentary on the personal integrity of our politicians:

In the last Parliament: More than half of MPs guilty of over-claiming expenses
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/mps-expenses/7161198/More-than-half-of-MPs-guilty-of-over-claiming-expenses.html

@11 Bob B

Way to miss the point….

…. it isn’t about his sexual pecadilloes, it’s about his hypocritical stance on the issue, and his lack of judgement. Infidelity does not ipso facto make him (or indeed any other adulterer) unfit to retain his position, it does however speak to his integrity and judgement.

@3

I have the impression that I’ve known about it for a couple of years, but maybe it just feels like it. Or I’m an actual time lord.

Bob,

I usually have some regard for the useful public service performed by Hislop and Private Eye but an implied claim that the public needs to know about any extra-marital sex encounters of every celebrity, media personality or prominent journalist is patently ridiculous.

I did not infer this from Hislop’s comments.

What I understood from Hislop (and now Private Eye) is that Marr was being a hypocrite when on the one hand he sought and won such an injunction and on the other voiced complaint about judge-made privacy law.

15. Shatterface

‘…it isn’t about his sexual pecadilloes, it’s about his hypocritical stance on the issue, and his lack of judgement. Infidelity does not ipso facto make him (or indeed any other adulterer) unfit to retain his position, it does however speak to his integrity and judgement.’

No, it speaks to the fact we don’t have privacy laws which distinguish between public interest and prurience – which is what this case is about.

I’ve slept with people I probably shouldn’t have, I’ve taken substances that are illegal, I’ve lied and I’ve cheated. If it has no impact on my job there’s no public interest. If Marr can no longer ask a Minister about his sexual conduct – about fucking time!

Mr S Pill,

*Also, haven’t we known about Marr for a while now? Didn’t the hateful Mr Staines break this story on his blog about 6 months ago..?

In 2008, in fact. I won’t link to it as I don’t know if Sunny would get into trouble, but you can easily find it via one of Guido’s recent blogs.

@12: “Way to miss the point….”

Each to their own, of course, but I really regard the slowly emerging news of the scandal of MPs’ expenses and about a Parliamentary system which allowed that to flourish as of far greater public importance than learning about who is bonking whom.

Frankly, I don’t care who is bonking whom unless they are politicians going about pressing the importance of “family values” upon us. John Major was all for family values and then the little arrangement with Edwina Currie came out into the light of day.

I’m with Shatterface on this. So now we know Marr’s a hypocrite, but how does that character flaw in any way impinge on his ability to do his job?

I also think there’s something deeply unpleasant these days with the way every little fuck up by someone in the public eye gets met with a barrage of calls for them to be sacked.

@ 14 ukliberty

“What I understood from Hislop (and now Private Eye) is that Marr was being a hypocrite when on the one hand he sought and won such an injunction and on the other voiced complaint about judge-made privacy law.”

Just so; it’s not about some illegitmate prurient interest in who Andrew Marr has an affair with (frankly I could care less, and fully accept can be seen as nothing to do with the public interest defence which “might” be operative in such cases generally).. it’s about his (reportedly) self acknowledged hypocrisy.

@15 shatterface

“No, it speaks to the fact we don’t have privacy laws which distinguish between public interest and prurience – which is what this case is about.”

No..it really isn’t. I support your view that in general there is no public interest in the sexual mores of public figures. However, there may be times where there IS..and this seems to qualify, as would some politician espousing family values being caught being unfaithful, or perhaps a known but closeted homosexual in parliament supporting Clause 28 to use an example from the olden days.

@ 18

“I’m with Shatterface on this. So now we know Marr’s a hypocrite, but how does that character flaw in any way impinge on his ability to do his job?”

The point surely is that it might well do so, in as much as his very public humiliation for being uncovered as a humbug may cause him in future to pull his punches, or refrain from asking the right questions. It may not…but how do we know?

As Bob B. notes above with reference to Mr Major and Edwina Currie, their personal lives are their own… the issue is what happens when such people are in positions to promote values and policies they feel free to flout when nobody is looking?

21. Chaise Guevara

@ 19 Galen10

“No..it really isn’t. I support your view that in general there is no public interest in the sexual mores of public figures. However, there may be times where there IS..and this seems to qualify, as would some politician espousing family values being caught being unfaithful, or perhaps a known but closeted homosexual in parliament supporting Clause 28 to use an example from the olden days.”

Agreed, but unless this applies to the Marr case I don’t see how it’s relevant. Freedom of the press should not always extend to people’s private lives, but should extend to matters of public interest. That doesn’t preclude someone’s private life from being of genuine public interest and thus publishable.

22. Chaise Guevara

@ Galen again

“The point surely is that it might well do so, in as much as his very public humiliation for being uncovered as a humbug may cause him in future to pull his punches, or refrain from asking the right questions. It may not…but how do we know?”

Maybe… but that’s not why the OP wants his head.

“Power,” as Henry Kissinger put it, “is the ultimate aphrodisiac,” and he was awarded the Nobel Peace prize, whether for that observation of for something more momentous is uncertain. As Tom Lehrer remarked for the occasion, “When Henry Kissinger was awarded the Peace Prize, political satire became obsolete.”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHhZF66C1Dc&playnext=1&list=PL6E4B62E9F0B277B7

@22

“Maybe… but that’s not why the OP wants his head.”

Perhaps not…. kind of hard to tell from the OP unless you know something else. I’m not particularly saying I agree that he needs to resign, or that he should be sacked; I do however think that his lack of judgement make his job more difficult from the point of view of being an investigative journalist.

don’t see why that’s so hard for people to grasp.

“don’t see why that’s so hard for people to grasp.”

Because extra marital bonking is of trivial public relevance unless it’s by politicians campaigning on platforms extolling family values and berating single parents.

26. Mr S. Pill

@16

You’re quite right. And I think PE has been running innuendo since before then that was easy enough to work out (you know the kind of thing, “why is X so concerned about Y? surely nothing to do with Z”). All in all this is a storm in a teacup as it has been public knowledge for so long. Another stick to beat the Beeb with from the likes of the Mail & Sun of course – Murdoch must be gleeful.

@25 Bob B

OK… it obviously IS too difficult for some people to grasp.

It is of relevance in Marr’s case because of his previous negative statements relating to judge made privacy law, and his subsequent actions in trying to benefit from exactly those laws. This has an impact as he may in future be suspected of letting his personal experiences impact on the way he handles similar issues when interviewing others.

Extra marital bonking may generally be of little consequence except to those directly involved and their families…. but that doesn’t mean it is never in the public interest to investigate and/or disclose it. Given the circumstances, I think most people can see that Marr brought this on himself, and that his hypocrisy caused a lot more damage than owning up to the affair at the time would have.

28. Mr S. Pill

@27

“his hypocrisy caused a lot more damage than owning up to the affair at the time would have.”

This, a thousand times. Now is the perfect time for any journos to own up to extra-marital shenanigans… although maybe Friday would be a better day for surprise announcements. 😉

@28

To facilitate communications and avoid later charges of hyprocrisy, perhaps we could have an online central notice board where all could post latest info about their current progress in extra-marital bonking. Or Max Clifford could be given a running public contract by government communications to issue press releases. Just a thought.

30. Flowerpower

Andrew Marr isn’t an “investigative journalist” by any stretch of the imagination. He’s a former pundit turned political interviewer. I can’t see how this matter really impacts upon his ability to quiz Osborne on the economy or pass patsy softballs to Ed Miliband.

What does worry me a bit is that ….presumably… part of the original rationale for seeking an injunction concerned the interests of the child at the centre of this case, which Marr then believed to be his. Now a DNA test says otherwise, it would appear that Marr now thinks the child’s interests can go hang. Or, at any rate, it’s down to the mother to safeguard them, not him. I guess all of us would put a higher priority on our own kids’ interests than those of others, but it does seem a bit rough to do a complete reverse-ferret on the privacy issue just ‘cos the lab says he’s not the dad. That said, there may well be all sorts of complexities we wot not of.

As for the “public interest” – if the true father turns out to be just another journo (or other ‘civilian’) then it isn’t anyone’s business. But if it’s a politician?????

31. David Watts

“It’s time for Marr to go.”

Or maybe it’s just time for journalists to stop obsessing about the private lives of politicians and celebrities and to focus instead on genuine issues of public interest.

I support Andrew Marr 100%. It ought to be illegal to disclose details of someone’s private life in the media without their consent, unless they’ve actually broken the law. I can’t see how a rational person could disagree.

@32 Chris

I think plenty of perfectly rational people disagree with you, since your position basically takes away any “public interest” argument.

I think that would be seen as moving the pendulum too far in the other direction, even though I agree that in most other respects private lives should remain just that.

34. Chaise Guevara

@ 32 Chris

“It ought to be illegal to disclose details of someone’s private life in the media without their consent, unless they’ve actually broken the law. I can’t see how a rational person could disagree.”

Well, what if we have a politician saying that extramarital sex is wrong, and campaigning against child support for unmarried parents on that basis, who then turns out to be having an affair? On the one hand, publishing that info would still be a breach of privacy, and the MP’s conduct does not affect the logic of their argument. On the other, it suggests strongly that their campaign has ulterior motives, which the public arguably has the right to know.

I’m not saying you’re wrong on privacy, just that you could rationally take a different position.

Oh dear, the puritanical panty sniffers are all in a tiss because they were not allowed to know that a journalist was shagging someone. And right wing panty sniffers demand to know this kind of information because they believe in small govt.

Oh wait……….

Marr’s hypocrisy in taking out an injunction is only superseded by Sunny’s in calling for a public sector worker to be sacked.

There is a dark rumour – surely, it can’t be true – that Andrew Marr thinks 2+2=4.

If so, the stores will need to change all the checkout tills.

Meanwhile, let’s have that online bulletin board with the latest updates on who is extra-maritally bonking whom.

Marr is a hypocrite, and he deserves to be exposed as such, given that he sought a super-injunction. That said, he is a fine presenter, reporter and journalist — albeit with known leftist views – who always broadcasts with consummate professionalism and balance. I admire him: and I certainly do not think he should resign.

“10. cjcjc“I don’t think it is really my business who works for the company or not.”

You do pay his salary, you know. (I assume…!!)”

Exactly!

Some people forget what there taxes are used for….sigh…

Ha, since I saw this post I haven’t seen a single call for him to go. Growing louder, eh?

I think it makes a difference if you don’t moralise to begin with. Paddy Ashdown and various Lib Dems get away with a lot more in that sort of department because the assumption is (even within the party) that some sort of sexual deviancy comes with the membership card. I remember once attending a multi party, political pub quiz in which the question “which MP was found asphyxiated with an orange in his mouth” was followed by a call of “its got to be one of ours” from the Liberal Democrat’s table. Compare with the various Tory philanderers who sank without a trace.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Calls for Andrew Marr to go grow louder http://bit.ly/fjFViU

  2. Martin

    RT @libcon: Calls for Andrew Marr to go grow louder http://bit.ly/fjFViU

  3. Pucci Dellanno

    RT @libcon: Calls for Andrew Marr to go grow louder http://bit.ly/fjFViU

  4. Gael

    RT @libcon: Calls for Andrew Marr to go grow louder http://bit.ly/fjFViU

  5. Trakgalvis

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