Labour MP Keith Vaz is under fire after a tabloid secretly recorded alleged trysts with male escorts. We’re all victims, says Richard Lutz.
It’s a classic grubby newspaper sting, a cherished skill that the British newspaper industry has perfected in the name of press freedom.
Let some seedy person promise you a titillating piece of juicy telltale gossip, mainly to do with sex, name your price and then start rigging the secret cameras and microphones.
Then, disingenuously, when you have the evidence from this jimcrack kangaroo court, tell the victim you are running the grubby tale and give him or her “The right to reply.”
Usually, it gives the target the right to run for a lawyer. But big papers like the Mirror already have their own platoon of senior lawyers ready to do battle. It’s a stacked deck.
Mr Vaz, who has the knack for staying in the public eye as chair of a high profile Parliamentary talking shop (aka The Home Affairs Committee), didn’t really want this type of media glare.
But he got it and his career is finished because the tabloids knew this story would run the full cycle of a week’s coverage with its own logo emblazoned across TV, the web and rival papers (not unlike what this website has slapped on top of this article).
Of course, the sleazo press, with its nose in the gutter, winges about “…public interest…”But that is garbage. As all of us know, there is a huge difference between public interest and what a readership is interested in. And tabloid bosses know this, make money out it, and until recently, hacked phones over it (and maybe still do).
And really, who actually cares what a mid-ranking politician does in his private life? Who doesn’t, anyway, have stained laundry to hide? And what right does the salivating end iof the media have to slap it all over their front pages?
This male escort expose will not change the world, this country or our lives. But it will change the life of Keith Vaz. He is a victim, as is his family. As are his friends and colleagues. And we’re victims, too, for having this trash thrown in our faces.
And, I have to say, so are the journalists who relished and engineered this story because they have to earn a buck by working and living in a sewer of their own making.