I ´m in Spain now for a week. Before I left I watched the first part of the BBC ´s ´History of the Iraq War ´series, and I have no intention of watching any more, because it won ´t do my blood pressure any good. I don ´t think I ´ve ever seen such a shallow and essentially reverential piece of telehistory. Within ten minutes I was ready to scream with frustration at the tv set, which is really a very futile activity.
The first problem was the content. Watching Cheney, Hadley, Blair talk about their conspiratorial plotting was a deeply depressing and quite disturbing experience, which confirms my view that these are men without even the semblance of moral conscience. Not one of them showed the slightest sign of regret or remorse or any sense of having done anything wrong.
They chatted about their part in the Iraq disaster with a kind of pride, as though they were talking about how they laid down guitar tracks on Classic Albums, rather than a war in which hundreds of thousands of men, women and children were killed and maimed, and a country shattered – all thanks to their sleazy and moronic machinations.
Not one of them showed the slightest capacity for insight or reflection. Listening to their slick blather made it clear that they didn ´t care then and they don ´t care now. Evil would be too strong a word to describe men who are so essentially banal and hollow, and so devoid any moral compass except power.
It was sickening to hear Blair talk about how ´we decided we were going to remake the Middle East ´. Disgusting to listen to Paul Wolfowitz uttering the cliche about Saddam ´using WMD against his own people ´ – the same Wolfowitz who once declared that he only used WMD to justify the war ´for bureaucratic reasons. ´ Horrible to hear Blair ´s ghastly apparatchnik Sally Morgan say that the anti-Iraq war demo was a ´dificult day for us ´ and talk about how angry her boss was when he was raked over the coals on tele shortly before the war by a group of anti-war women – probably the only time in his political life when Blair was ever treated the way he deserves.
But the worse thing about the programme was that the BBC let them say whatever they wanted without challenging them. The journalist never asked a single penetrating question, never offered any real alternatives to what Blair & Co were saying. The programme was about as forensic as a banana, and made Chilcot look positively inquisitorial by comparison.
It wasn ´t even history from the top down – just the official story told by the ´key players ´- for the BBC the only people worth hearing – in the way they wanted it told. The journalists who made the programme were clearly so awed by their privileged access that they let them get away with it.
Journalists aren ´t supposed to do this, but the people who made this programme are not journalists, but scribes of power, gutless sycophants and glove puppets who shame, not just the BBC, but journalism itself.
All in all a pathetic display, which says a great deal about the state we ´re in.