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When the press goes bad

by Claire Loneragan

It’s tempting to think that a country loses its press freedoms when laws are passed that limit free speech and the government starts locking up journalists. But that’s not the only way it happens. And it’s not what is happening now, in the UK, where editors and journalists have issued their own gagging orders.


Not every newspaper. Not every media outlet. But enough, and importantly, our state broadcaster and media of record, the BBC, has gagged its own journalists on certain issues.


Nowhere is this more apparent than with Gender Identity Ideology and so called “gender affirming healthcare”. For the last 10 years or so, the main broadcasters – particularly the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 – have promoted “gender transition” as A Good Thing. From I Am Leo to Butterfly, from RuPaul’s Drag Race to Jamie Windust the idea that confused children must be allowed to “transition” and that adults are whatever they say they are goes unchallenged.  


This goes well beyond the sphere of entertainment and has fully infected the news cycle, including local and national papers.


In December 2021, the Daily Mirror reported “Woman jailed over cocaine-fuelled sex with dog in disgusting incident” in an article that used female pronouns throughout and made no mention that this “woman” was in fact a man, although the accompanying picture left no room for doubt. In April 2022, The Metro expected the public to believe that an “Ex-soldier exposed her penis and used wheelie bin as sex toy in public”.


In both cases it was clear that these “women” were no such thing – people aren’t that stupid. But there is considerable pressure from activists for police to record these crimes as having been committed by females and to force the public to accept these men as women. Pressure that caused serious blowback when “Isla Bryson” (Adam Graham) was to be placed in a women’s prison in Scotland. And again, more recently, when “Scarlet Blake” was reported by the BBC as a woman and his crimes were recorded by Thames Valley as having been committed by a female.


The result of these continuing and blatant lies in our news media is the loss of public trust. When a headline announces that a woman has committed some awful crime, we now assume that a man is the guilty party. And when the BBC reports that “Four teenagers have been charged over an alleged transphobic assault in which an 18-year-old woman was stabbed” we perform the mental gymnastics required to understand that it is almost certainly a man who has been stabbed.


The effect is destabilising – we know that we are being lied to. We must puzzle through the narrative and reverse the meanings to get to the truth. This is not what a free press should deliver, and with every lie the integrity of our media is damaged further.


The BBC have poisoned their own well through omission too. They have repeatedly failed to reflect the reality of men in women’s sports and, much worse, minimised and ignored the damage done to children who have been given puberty blockers and wrong sex hormones. The decision to stop NHS prescriptions for puberty blockers – a hugely significant moment in an ongoing medical scandal – was reported by the BBC not by a health editor but by their LGBT & Identity Producer Josh Parry instead.


The WPATH Files – the evidence that clinicians do not have evidence to support their clinical decisions for gender affirming care – was not reported at all by the BBC. Tens of thousands of children damaged by ideologically driven doctors worldwide is a huge story, but not a peep from our state broadcaster.   


We have grown to expect that journalists will be brave. They go into war zones, they uncover wrongdoing in the criminal underworld and corporate boardrooms, and in doing so many put themselves in real physical danger. Having the backing of their editors and fellow journalist gives them courage, because they know their actions will be held up as important and morally right.


That is not true for those who dare to speak out against Gender Identity Ideology. Life for journalists like Suzanne Moore and Hadley Freeman was made intolerable by their colleagues at the Guardian. They were considered not just factually wrong but morally compromised. To continue to speak under such circumstances – pilloried by colleagues and former friends – takes real courage. It’s so much easier to go along with the herd.


All of this matters because a free press is one of the pillars of democracy. We would notice if the government was to pass a law curbing press freedom. But the poisonous influence of groupthink has taken hold almost unchallenged, and all to shore up the lie that men are women if they say they are.


If your aim was to undermine our western liberal way of life, it would be a very effective way to get started.



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