BBC newsreader Huw Edwards has been accused by the parents of a young person of buying explicit images. This story about a media type has upset a fair number of media types who have sprung eagerly to the defence of their pal. Future media students will find dissertations such as ‘The media’s role in rank hypocrisy’ or ‘How the media look after their own’ write themselves after a quick glance at the recent puff pieces on Mr Edwards.
I’ve been playing ‘Spot the Edwardses’ dinner party guests’. There is a media-wide concern and empathy because Mr Edwards has a real family and a wife who are affected by these reports. Not the weird relationship itself but the reports of the weird relationship. Now the Sun have agreed not to publish anything else until the BBC have investigated. If it seems that Mr Edwards is getting a better deal than many others, you are being unkind and should refer yourself to his comforting character reports. And you definitely aren’t invited to dinner.
The Telegraph calls for understanding from mental illness survivor Sam Delaney, who hopes that Huw is shown love and kindness as a victim of depression. The family of the youngster who was allegedly feeding a crack cocaine habit by selling explicit images don’t get a mention.
The Telegraph also had a lovely piece by Judith Woods who says there are only losers in this story, including ‘most conspicuously’ the Edwards family. As for Huw, he is given a glowing report by Woods: calm, dignified, woven into the tapestry of our nation (really?), solid, stolid, there for us in a crisis. His wife? ‘Fiercely’ intelligent, quick-witted and kind, shunning the spotlight and coping with the ‘burden’ of five children. Judith chucks in the Prince Harry concern about defining public interest, not necessarily best judged by the public: allowing seedy low-class people tell stories to the seedy low-class press doesn’t meet the mark of public interest. The public need to doff their caps to those who know better. Of course Judith separates herself from that low-brow type of media and shares that even now she feels ‘grubby’ being part of the coverage. Judith is either their pal or maybe she just knows that they are her sort of people. I’d go for the former. That must be one hell of a dinner party.
Of course it’s not enough to rely on empathy for Mr Edwards alone. We also need a villain. The greedy tabloid press driven by grubby public interest, the BBC processes, the laws on free speech, will all do. In the Spectator, Danny Shaw writes that the BBC has some serious questions to answer. He thinks the complaint should have been prioritised because it risked causing ‘reputational damage’. Because that’s the problem. It’s one of reputation. He also asks whether ‘the alleged misconduct might have been a sign of inner turmoil linked to mental health problems’. Because, you see, we regular people don’t understand the pressures of high office. If Mr Shaw isn’t a dinner party buddy of Mr Edwards, he should be. Brave Emily Maitlis jumped in to call the BBC ‘distasteful’. Writer and man of the cloth Giles Fraser in Unherd is clear that ‘we get the journalism that we deserve and there is nothing the British public enjoys more than seeing the mighty fall’. With a public like this, he ponders, ‘how can we expect the media to do anything other than spend its time sniffing about after other people’s sins?’
Emily, Giles, Judith and Danny might share a nice dinner when this has blown over and raise their glasses to friendship or moral courage. They may of course raise their glasses to double standards, the power of connections or to the right sort of people, but probably not. And definitely not to Onlyfans.