Paul Foot Was A Jackass - An Occasional Series Attacking A Now Dead Upper Class Revolutionary's Reporting Of The Lockerbie Case
I'm reading John Pilger's anthology of investigative journalism 'Tell Me No Lies', at the moment.
Although I would imagine the feeling wouldn't be mutual, as time goes on I'm developing quite a lot of respect for Mr. Pilger; more eagle-eyed readers will have spotted his webpage on the sidebar. Although there are times when he goes way OTT, he cannot be faulted for either his sincerity or his directness; and those Brits who might care to criticise him should recall the observation made by Andrew Marr in his book 'My Trade', that Pilger was not radicalised by anything happening in the Middle East or Southeast Asia, but by the sight of poverty in the North of England.
However, there are times when he strikes out; and including the late Paul Foot's crapulous ruminations on the Lockerbie case in 'Tell Me No Lies' is one of them. They amount to little more than a shambolic collection of gossip, innuendo and outright mistakes.
I never saw Foot on television without a Jacobin's sneer on his face. As time passes, one came to realise that if his revolutionary struggle had ever been successful, he might just have been the kind of revolutionary who would have had no difficulty in ordering his enemies' execution; perhaps even do the deed himself. For revolutionaries like Foot, everything is political; one has to wonder whether his journalism was merely an extension of revolutionary struggle, actions undertaken to undermine and destabilise the state you want to overthrow. That's the only light in which some of this stuff could ever make any sense.
Example - In a 'Private Eye' piece of 29 December 2000 entitled 'Campbell's Soup', he wrote concerning the trial in The High Court in The Netherlands that,
"The three judges listened in near silence as Mr. Keen set out his formidable case. They were not so silent when Mr. Alistair Campbell (no relation to the Prime Minister press secretary, but the Scottish Lord Advocate Depute and therefore a government minister) argues that the case against Fimah should continue".
This is nonsense. Mr. Campbell, now Lord Bracadale, was Home Advocate-Depute. Advocates-Depute are not ministers.
Now this is a glaring example of Foot's incompetence (or perhaps lack of integrity - everything's political, after all, and there is no reason why the journalistic good faith of a journalist who also happened to be a revolutionary should not be capable of being questioned) that just jumps off the page. How many others are lurking out there?