Saturday 27 October 2018

Scoop! (not)


On the latest Open Thread, Sir Topham poses some interesting questions about Chris Cook's latest piece:

Sir Topham Hatt27 October 2018 at 12:39  
Chris Cook from BBC Newsnight has written a very odd article about a painting hanging in a obscure junior minister's office from 2012-15.
What are his motives? Why raise something of little interest about an art choice 6 years ago? 
Is he trying to make a political point or a #MeToo point? Or just virtue signalling his solidarity with women who feel uncomfortable? 
Is he trying to mischief make or entertain?  
It’s liberal claptrap. Why am I paying my licence fee for such rubbish? 

Newsnight had put in a FoI request and obtained documents showing that Conservative ex-minister Dr Dan Poulter chose six government paintings for his private office including a block print called "Bios" by Tadek Beutlich, which some people think resembles female genitalia. 

Chris Cook reports that "Women working in the Department of Health have said it was unsettling, but they elected not to complain about the art; that might bring them into conflict with a relatively powerful man within the department". 

Late on in his piece, he adds:
Dr Poulter's representatives said that a tabloid newspaper inquired about his picture choice, but also said that the story "was not pursued because it was so patently absurd". They added: "The artwork was selected for our client by his private office".
...which alerted me to the strange fact that The Mail on Sunday had preempted Newsnight's investigation by actually publishing a report on exactly the same story last November headlined Ex-Health Minister accused of sexual harassment is embroiled in row over 'rude' art on his old office wall that resembled a woman's genitalia.

In other words, the tabloid newspaper did pursue the story, as Chris Cook would have known if he'd have done a spot of Googling before starting work on his investigation.

Indeed, I myself actually remember the Mail story from last year. As soon as I saw the painting I knew I'd seen it somewhere before. (And, yes, obviously I clicked on it at the time because of the headline!)

So quality BBC reporting strikes again: Regurgitating a Mail on Sunday scoop from almost a year ago without realising it!

Super, smashing, great!


  1. I'd just like to point out that if your genitals do resemble this painting, you should seek medical help immediately.
    This appies to all of the sexes currently available.

  2. Chris Cook's cooked up another cock-up. Well spotted Craig!

  3. The name rings a bell with me. Isn't he the reporter who's been doing a series of reports on parliamentary harassment? That would be the context for this one.

    1. Yes, that's him, and this piece must be a part of that - albeit at a stretch.


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