Dead Men Left

Friday, May 13, 2005

That "Galloway" business

Roy Greenslade states what has become clear over the last two years:

There will be many who snort contemptuously when I say that Galloway is now more sinned against than sinning because he has become so unpopular with both the media and political elites that they regard him as outside the normal rules of the game.

Indeed, to defend him places the defender beyond the pale too. But the victim of what has all the hallmarks of a media feeding frenzy deserves a fair hearing, not only for his personal benefit, but for those he now represents - and in order to confront journalists with their own misguided agendas.

It is amongst his greatest strengths that Galloway has an enviable capacity to anger precisely the right people almost to the point of insensibility. Had the Telegraph, for example, bothered to apply normal journalistic standards when presenting their overblown claims about "Saddam's little helper", they would not have received such a drubbing in the libel courts. The Christian Science Monitor happily (if unwittingly) reproduced forged documents claiming Galloway was in the receipt of staggeringly large amounts of cash from the oil-for-food programme. A moment's pause would have suggested it unlikely that a high-profile, well-monitored and controversial MP would have been receiving personal oil revenues that would have made Rockerfeller blush. They, too, ended up paying damages for libel.

And now, in the rehashed evidence presented by the Senate committee - evidence, incidentally, already in the public domain, and now merely warmed-over a bit - we find similarly absurd claims. The Mariam Appeal, through which Galloway is alleged by the Senate committee to have disguised his payments, was cleared of any wrong-doing by the Charities Commission. Yet they claim it was used to disguise payments made for up to 20 million barrels of Iraqi oil. This is a ludicrous, fantasy-land figure; it perhaps shares some ancestry with the ludicrous, fantasy-land figure retailed as "45 MINUTES FROM DESTRUCTION".