So, today there has been a big hoo-hah in the media about a “sex scandal” involving the conservative MP Brooks Newmark. Supposedly, his behavior highlights the sexism rife in parliament. I would suggest it actually highlights the (lack of) media ethics present in our current society.
Here is the story, roughly. The Sunday Mirror (Labour-supporting red-top tabloid) wanted to explore the sexism and lechery of men in parliament, and so one of their journalists created a fake twitter profile – ‘Sophie’. Over a period of time, Sophie messaged Conservative MPs (and it appears so far only Conservative MPs) to encourage them to send them explicit pictures of themselves. One MP – Brooks Newmark – sent such a picture, after ‘Sophie’ sending him one of her first – and now he has resigned in a ‘sex scandal’.
The Sunday Mirror describes its investigation as directly related to the sexism of male MPs – suggesting that this is an embarrassment because the “sex scandal” comes as “Westminster faces angry calls to crackdown on a culture of lechery and sexism”.
Sexist? Sex scandal? Hardly. If this is sexist, it seems we have lost any sight of what the word actually means. And if someone sending a naughty picture of themselves after receiving one first constitutes a scandal, I fear I have actually woken up in the 1950s.
Let us consider what actually happened:
- A Sunday Mirror journalist creates a false profile and contacts Conservative MPs
- Newmark responds and they have a series of conversations
- ‘Sophie’ sends him an explicit picture
- Newmark promises not to show anyone her picture
- He says that he will send her a picture, but says she “MUST swear on a stack of Bibles you won’t show pics as I promise not to show pics of you?”
- Newmark sends picture
- Newmark is embroiled in a sex scandal and has to resign.
Reading this sorry state of affairs, I question why Newmark has to resign. Surely, if anyone is at blame for sending explicit pictures (which is itself doubtful), why is not the Sunday Mirror and the lying journalist?
On the subject of the Sunday Mirror, I’d also question why they only tried to ensnare Conservative MPs, and why they chose to release this right at the time of the Conservative conference?
This entire story is a depressing mess – and not because a guy sent an explicit picture of himself after receiving one first.