Tonight sees the umpteenth appearance of ‘Lord’ Conrad Black on British TV since he was released from jail. Appearing on the no-longer-remotely-funny Have I Got News For You confirms that Black is back.
Like many fabulously wealthy darlings of the Tory media who are feted, treated deferentially and allowed to regale us with their crypto-fascist views on shows like Question Time, it turned out beyond the scenes he had his snout in the trough on an industrial and highly illegal scale. When you think what the bankers have done and managed to get away with scot-free, you get an understanding of how naughty (and hubristic) he was.
I can understand why Black is touring the studios and getting his arse on any seat with a camera in front of it. He has a book to sell, and there is also the small matter of him being a psychopath. His behaviour: self-righteous, embittered, brazen and aggressive, bears all the hallmarks of someone who has convinced himself he has done nothing wrong. A gift for self-delusion characterises many convicted fraudsters. Jeffrey Archer is another example, and another right-wing Tory, coincidentally.
He’s an awful, revolting man who should still be in prison. Instead however he’s everywhere one looks right now.
And that’s the thing. I expect no better of Black. But why are so many other people, who should know better, so desperate to give him a platform to be so dishonest and boorish? Why is he being given so much airtime and allowed to present himself as either a wronged victim or a lovable rogue? Why are HIGNFY (I’d be less appalled if he was actually witty and fitted the usual profile of HIGNFY guests and presenters, Jeremy Clarkson excepted, but he’s about as funny as an episode of How I Met Your Mother) Paxman, Boulton et al giving him the oxygen of publicity, which right now he wants and needs desperately, if he is to make the comeback he is clearly planning?
Now I know why, dear reader. It’s a rhetorical question. He sells papers and increases viewing figures, so in a sense we are all complicit. Many of us can’t take our eyes off him like we can’t take our eyes off a car-crash.
But in the aftermath of the Savile scandal and the incompetence and cowardice it has exposed at the BBC, wouldn’t it have been nice for someone at that venerable institution to take a stand for once and refuse to allow Black on any of their shows? Wouldn’t that be a signal that a lesson has been learned?
Wouldn’t it be nice, just once, to see a display of editorial integrity on the part of our media and programme-makers?
So when Ian Hislop said to Black on the pre-recorded episode:
“You went to jail, you’ve come back, you would like to be rehabilitated. You’ve come here to say you’re innocent, which is sweet but not true.”
He is right, naturally, but he is also assisting him in that very rehabilitation.