Tuesday, April 16, 2024
HomeCOVID-19Inexcusable – this lazy, cowardly, sitting-on-the-fence journalism

Inexcusable – this lazy, cowardly, sitting-on-the-fence journalism


‘I HOPE there is no “next time”, and that the political class will never again think nationwide lockdowns are a proper policy option in a liberal democracy.’

If you want to experience what it feels like to be flicked lightly across the face by a damp, lukewarm dishcloth for all eternity, I heartily recommend the latest ‘we got it slightly wrong’ pandemic mea culpa from Freddie Sayers at Unherd, of which he is executive editor. 

As mea culpas go, it’s almost more irritating and less convincing than the recent offering from Piers ‘the science changed’ Morgan. Though Sayers concedes that the media was partly responsible for the disaster of lockdown, and even hints that as a member of the ‘dissenting minority’ he didn’t do a great job of opposing it, he nonetheless takes care to absolve his own publication of any culpability.

He writes: ‘In the early days of 2020, we had only intuitions – there was no real data as to whether lockdowns worked, as they had never been tried in this way. As millions tuned in to our in-depth interviews on UnHerdTV with leading scientists, we made sure to hear arguments in favour of lockdowns as well as against. Devi Sridhar made the case for Zero Covid; Susan Michie said we should be locking down even harder; Neil Ferguson (whose last-ever tweet was a link to his Unherd interview) told me how exciting it was that the world was attempting to stop a highly infectious disease in its tracks.’

Well, there is the answer to your implied question, Freddie, mate, staring you in the face. The reason you (and, to be fair, 99.99 per cent of all other journalists) failed utterly to resist the biggest assault on human freedom in the history of the world is that you were so busy sitting on the fence, congratulating yourself how impeccably balanced you were, that you forgot to do your job.

Let’s just examine a few of the ‘leading scientists’ whom Unherd cites on its boast list.

Devi Sridhar: a photogenic Rhodes Scholar whose doctorate in anthropology has somehow made her such a public health expert that she landed a Bill-Gates sponsored, World-Economic-Forum-promoted post at Edinburgh University, often appearing on TV as an ‘expert’ to promote the pandemic and big up vaccines.

Susan Michie: an avowed and unrepentant Communist, committed to the wholesale transformation of society on socialist lines; great admirer of China’s system because it is not ‘individualistic consumer-oriented, profit-driven society’; herself extremely rich, being descended from an earl, and having sold the family Picasso to Qatari royals for £50million in 2013; urges tirelessly for more Covid restrictions and ideally wants masks and social distancing to remain ‘for ever’; served on Government’s Sage committee and now works for China- and Bill-Gates-dominated World Health Organisation.

Neil Ferguson (aka Professor Pantsdown after being caught breaking the lockdown rules he himself championed in order to pursue his affair with his mistress): computer modeller, based at heavily Bill-Gates-funded Imperial College London, whose wildly pessimistic Covid projections were used to justify draconian policies such as lockdown; track record of failure – using models described in one review by Professor Michael Thrusfield of Edinburgh University as ‘severely flawed’ – goes as far back as the 2001 foot and mouth disease crisis, when more than six million cattle, pigs and sheep were mass-slaughtered.

True, Sayers interviewed plenty of scientists from the sceptical side of the fence, including Sunetra Gupta, Karol Sikora, Michael Levitt, Jay Bhattacharya and Anders Tegnell, the Swedish public health official responsible for Sweden’s decision to stand alone and resist lockdowns. But why would any halfway responsible journalist not have done?

Remember, all this happened during a period of global restrictions on human freedom unprecedented even in times of war. The onus on journalists, surely, was to find out whether any of these draconian measures were necessary, not to gold-plate the tyranny by trotting out largely uncritical interviews with government-associated scientists defending the new bio-medical totalitarianism.

On the one side were a handful of brave doctors and scientists prepared to risk professional suicide by speaking the truth about everything from Covid’s low IFR rate to the riskiness of the novel mRNA therapies being imposed by governments on their populace. On the other was the bullying, blustering, Big Pharma-funded Establishment and compliant mainstream media, insisting – with little if any real-world evidence to support it – that this was the world’s biggest health crisis since the ‘Spanish Flu’ for which no countermeasure, however intrusive, could be too extreme.

Any notion that there was ever any moral equivalence between these two groups is surely absurd. If one side is telling the truth and the other is merely promoting lies, propaganda and appeals to authority, how does it make any sense to go looking for the middle ground between the two? To do so doesn’t enhance the truth: it dilutes it with an admixture of Establishment mendacity.

This is the problem with the kind of ‘balance’ Sayers seeks to persuade us is a sign of good journalism. No, it’s not. It’s a sign of lazy journalism, cowardly journalism, splinter-up-its-bum-from-sitting-on-the-fence journalism. In fact, it’s an inexcusable dereliction of duty.

When you go to a restaurant, you don’t get handed a mass of raw meat and vegetables and cook it yourself – well, not unless it’s a Korean barbecue – because that’s what chefs are for. And so it is, or certainly ought to be, with journalists and journalism. Sure, in part it’s a process of fact-finding, of collecting the raw ingredients. But the other, at least as important, part is the act of curation. You need to supply your audience with the information they need to make a considered judgement. Obviously they haven’t had as much time to sift the data as you have. So you need to give them a steer towards where, in your belief, the truth of the matter lies.

How is any journalist to know where the truth lies? Well, I’d say that from really quite early on in the Covid pandemic it was pretty bleedin’ obvious.  Sure, many of us may have fallen for the initial propaganda – those images, perhaps, from the overcrowded hospitals in Northern Italy where patients were supposedly dying in droves. But it wasn’t long before the truth began to trickle out: when, for example, the infection fatality rate on the Diamond Princess cruise ship proved to be no more dramatic than a fairly average flu outbreak; when doctors around the world reported remarkable success in treating patients with hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin, only to find themselves and their treatments mysteriously proscribed by the authorities; when the charts began to show a clear correlation between the vaccine roll-out and increased fatalities. Any journalist with an ounce of integrity ought to be have on to these leads like a terrier down a rabbit hole.

What I noticed during this period was something I had also noticed during my years covering climate change: there was just SO much low-hanging fruit freely available for any even vaguely curious journalist to pick. That is, you didn’t need a PhD in Investigative Journalism to be able to rootle out evidence that the ‘pandemic’ was oversold; that it was being promoted by deeply vested interests; that dissident voices were being suppressed by the Establishment (as would surely be unnecessary if the Establishment were telling the truth); that these experimental mRNA treatments rushed out with indecent haste were doing more harm than good. All you needed to find this stuff was to be able to turn on a computer and conduct an internet search.

So no, I’m really not buying Sayers’s disingenuous line that lack of ‘data’ prevented journalists from effectively interrogating lockdown policy (or any other aspect of the pandemic response). I think journalists for the most part didn’t question the official narrative because they didn’t want to question the official narrative. Some had been bribed with government advertising; some had been cowed by Ofcom rulings or the strictures of their editors; some felt instinctively reluctant to stray beyond the Overton Window of acceptable discourse; and some, as appears to have been the case with Unherd, deluded themselves that by adopting a ‘balanced’ position between official propaganda lies and counter-narrative that they were somehow occupying the reasonable middle ground.

None of the terrible things that have happened in the last three years – the destruction of life and livelihood, the assaults on freedom, the state bullying and coercion, the vaccine deaths and injuries – would have been possible if the media had done its job, engaged in a modicum of basic research, and spoken truth to power. The ‘pandemic’ was, above all, a military grade psy-op – an information war, waged relentlessly against ordinary people by a wicked, cynical and ruthless Establishment. And the journalists who ought to have been on the front line of this information war, fighting on behalf their readership, instead mostly chose to desert their positions or to put out propaganda for the enemy.

It simply won’t do for Sayers and his media colleagues to wring their hands in despair at the fact that the majority of the public – at least if you believe the opinion polls – remain wedded to the notion that lockdowns were an effective and necessary thing. If they feel that way now, maybe they should have done a better job of making the case when it might have made a difference.

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James Delingpole
James Delingpole
James Delingpole is host of the Delingpod podcast. The Delingpod: The James Delingpole Podcast (

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