Sunday, July 11, 2010


Like millions of my compatriots, I watched Sky's Raoul Moat coverage on Friday night as if it were entertainment. For non-British readers, Raoul Moat was a released prisoner who last week allegedly shot and seriously injured his former girlfriend, murdered her boyfriend and shot and seriously injured a police officer. Armed, he then went on the run, allegedly communicating to the police threats against police and public alike. All this took place in and around the Northumbria town of Rothbury, where the climax of the drama unfolded on Friday night as hundreds of armed police cornered their prey.

Now to the coverage: As usual, we were treated to Sky journalists interviewing each other. In the dull moments, of which there were few, the fillers of conjecture were staggering in their banality: "The police officers in that car looked pretty important", said one reporter of a vehicle which had passed so fast that no one could have seen anything. Chief crime correspondent Martin Brunt, as usual, got to stand outside the police station, presumably to demonstrate his importance. Meanwhile, his colleagues proceeded to interview anybody and everybody, whether they had seen anything or not. I kept waiting for them to interview a dog.

For a population that had been told to stay indoors because of the danger, there seemed to be a lot of people out and about, all with tales to tell of how they had seen this or that while "going for a walk along the river". This makes you proud to be British: an armed criminal is on the loose, the town is full of police armed to the teeth, you can't move in the streets for ballistic vehicles brought in from Northern Ireland and these people calmly go for a walk along the river. No wonder we won the war....

There were the inevitable "Hello, Mum, I'm on the teley" moments too, as some young men gathered just beyond the police cordon and behind the journalists jumped up and down and waved. A few yards away a man - an ex-convict who has allegedly threatened them, an alleged murderer but a man nonetheless - is holding a gun to his head and these guys think it's play time? Proud to be a Brit again...

Of the sad ending I will say little, except was it really necessary to play what were presumably a man's final shouts of agony again and again?

The next day Brunt was still there. outside the police station, as if he hadn't moved all night. This time Brunt was the voice of reason for, less than twenty-four hours after the stand-off, everyone had started indulging in another favourite British pastime - criticising the police.

Yesterday the coverage continued with Anna Botting - you know it's serious stuff when Anna Botting's there - reporting from the centre of Rothbury in the rain. How come Anna can stand in a torrential downpour and not get her hair wet? What's the secret, Anna?

"How did he look? Contemplative? I don't want to put words in your mouth", said Botting innocently as she interviewed yet another "eye witness". Botting's disappointment as she failed to elicit the word "suicidal" from her hapless interviewee was palpable.

"Did the police search there?" she asked another. This interviewee probably had as much idea as I do about where the police did or did not search, yet Botting kept on. There's going to be an ENQUIRY, Anna. Oh, sorry, Anna knows that, for her next utterance was, "And the rain will be part of the enquiry". For one glorious moment I thought she was going to say that God would be interrogated as to why it rained but then she added that what she meant was that the rain might have been the last straw for the fugitive.

What have Sky got against their reporter Lisa Dowd? Poor Lisa didn't even get a beano out to Portugal during the Madeleine McCann coverage. Instead, she had to stay in drizzly old Britain and look at the flowers and teddies. And yesterday there she was again, reporting on the flowers left for Moat. [Yes, you read that right. The British left flowers for the alleged murderer.] I think I'll start a campaign - "A Beano Abroad for Lisa". Do you want to join?

But what's this? Tonight we have heard from Lisa again, this time interviewing Moat's brother - an emotive interview which in my view should not have taken place, or not at this juncture anyway. This is Sky at its worst.

What does the Italian press make of all this? The incident has been reported but not in great detail and some surprise has been expressed at how much of the drama was broadcast on live television. My Italian friends, one of whom is a policeman, continue to be amazed at the fact that the British police are not armed as a matter of course. I tell them that on that count I really am proud to be British.


LindyLouMac said...

I do not have a good word to say about sky news coverage, this was yet another example of the strange take they have on events!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, LindyLouMac. I agree.

Nerys said...

You know what, this's the first I've heard of this, and I've been watching Italian news all week (and the odd flick to BBC World too). Baffles me how much of a bubble we seem to be in when it comes to international news.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Nerys. Yes, this got scant coverage in the Italian press but then, there have been shootings here to deal with. A military friend of mine says the press here are reluctant to cover such stories from abroad in case of copycat crime.


View My Stats