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The only thing astonishing about the Hutton report…

…is that so many people are astonished that a paragon of the establishment like Lord Hutton should take the view that whatever the government’s ministers say should be presumed to be correct whilst that of mere journalists, even those working for the state owned media, should be assumed to be dissembling.

Did anyone seriously think the outcome would be otherwise?

I realise this is The Story Of The Moment, but simply cannot get that worked up over the difficulties of institutions of which I have such low regard to begin with.

10 comments to The only thing astonishing about the Hutton report…

  • Certainly it seems to have caught the BBC unawares. Which says something, though I’m not sure exactly what.

  • Kelli

    I think we Americans are just waking up to the fact that the BBC has both the power and will to shake the UK’s elected Government to its very foundations–and that it does so while sucking at the Government’s teet! Having no comparable institution over here, I think even those of us who care enough about what goes on in England to follow the news rather closely didn’t really GET it before.

    Look at the NY Times imbroglio by comparison: readers, journalists, pundits and shareholders became outraged by shoddy, slanted politics under Howell Raines–heads rolled, everyone moved on. The Beeb does not need to “sell” itself (how cheap, how common!) as it gets all that public money. Its leaders have convinced themselves that anything less than slandering public figures would demonstrate servility and be tantamount to propaganda. And it takes a civil servant’s death, months of investigation, and an utter vindication for the PM to get the fangs of this monster removed from the neck of poor Tony Blair!


  • Cobden Bright

    What I have seen of the Hutton report is actually extremely damning. It shows that the government made a political decision to harden the tone of the language used in the intelligence reports. It shows that there was no clear and present danger to UK national security – the exact opposite of the claim strenuously made by Blair.

    The report contains information that, if true, labels Blair a deceiver who led the country into war under false pretences. It’s just that Mr Hutton has decided not to focus on that information, but instead to bash the BBC. Now while I am normally in favour of BBC bashing, in this case the general crux of their argument was right – the government interfered in the *substance* of the intelligence reports, in order to advance their political agenda. That may not be “lying”, but it is clearly deception and dishonesty.

    It is Mr Blair who should be resigning, not Greg Dyke. The BBC have been hoodwinked by an establishment whitewash.

    The ideal conclusion would be if the private media and opposition now pick up on the details hidden deep in the report and emphasise them. A lot rests on Michael Howard’s shoulders – although he *appears* weakened now, this is not the case at all. All the Tories have to do is smear Hutton as an establishment stooge – not difficult – and then stick the knife in on the details hidden deep in the report. They may not get Blair to resign, but they could weaken him seriously.

  • Julian Morrison

    Politicians manipulate, journalists make stuff up, darkness is black, water is wet.

  • ed

    What I think is most astonishing is that there’s at least one media pundit who thinks that reporters shouldn’t face repercussions for any mistakes they make in reporting, regardless of how many mistakes or how severe.

    I guess the way to make the problem of inaccurate reporting go away is to no longer define it as inaccurate. Perhaps almost accurate. Or psuedo-accurate. Or within the targeted accuracy range.


  • Findlay Dunachie

    Let’s get this straight. People who are pleased with Hutton were and are pro-war; those who are not, were and are anti-war. Whether or not the dossier was or was not sexed up made little difference to either lot at the time. No one, but no one remotely believed that anyone in the UK stood in any danger of being hit in 45 minutes. The question was: shall we act now or shall we back down?
    Next point: Was the BBC, broadly speaking, anti-war? Answer, Yes.
    Next point: Did anyone object to Lord Hutton presiding over the enquiry?
    Answer: Not to my knowledge.
    Next point: Did the anti-war lobby, and the BBC, expect the Enquiry to damage the government?
    Answer: Almost certainly
    Last point: Should the word “Libertarian” be associated with “Liberty” and “Freedom”, and Libertarians argue about what was the best way to extend Liberty and Freedom, to the extent we have it ourselves, to the Iraqis as they were under Saddam Hussein?

  • James

    Findlay, yes, absolutely on all points. The reply to Perry’s ‘did anyone seriously expect’ is a straightforward yes. I do not remember one single commentator who predicted this outcome, nor anyone impugning Hutton’s independence, beforehand. There are no grounds for people to come over all tired and cynical simply because the enquiry failed to supply their political outcome. But this is what happened over WMD: prior to Blix’s return to Iraq in late 2002, noone doubted that Saddam had them. Now everyone claims that there never were any and that they’d known that all along.

  • I for one fully expected WMD’s to be found in Iraq and I was also a supporter of the war (and still am)… that said, my reason for supporting the war was always primarily the libertation of Iraq from a fascist dictator, not the WMD (that was ‘nice’, but not the main attraction). My many articles on Samizdata on the subject should show I am at least consistent.

    I am also on record as regarded the ‘dream scenario’ as one in which Tony Blair ‘did the right thing’ (which he did) and is then cruxified politically, post-Saddam. The fact I supported Blair’s stand on the war does not make me wish him well otherwise… and the notion that BBC takes a nice hard kick in the cobblers is always going to bring a smile to my face, but that does not mean I think that a report which seems to be giving politicos the benefit of the doubt whilst doing the opposite for mear journalists is anything to rejoice about.

  • Verity

    Findlay – I was and am pro-war and I am furious about Hutton. First, this was an investigation into the suicide(?) of Britain’s most seasoned microbiological WMD expert, and Hutton ignored the testimony of everyone except a psychiatrict who had never treated Dr Kelly. The testimony of his wife of 30 years and his daughters is apparently worth less than that of a psychiatrist – an iffy “profession” at best – who had no professional dealings with him. Tells you right there the weight that Hutton accords to the opinions of silly women.

    Perry – If you are reading this, the page is now a little clearer, but still very dark. Now I can see the gun, although not clearly. But it appears to be pointing at the reader. Perhaps because I’m a Scot, but, if it is, this is very bad news.

  • jake

    I am an American student currently writing a paper ofer LOrd Huton’s report and am intreasted to hear any coments your members have on this matter. if any one is intreasted in taking the time, please e-mail me @ rnj0006@unt.edu my name is Jake.