Monday, June 18, 2012

Alastair Campbell's Liary

But I still love the relative, not the absolute, the cabbage and the warmth of a fire, Bach on the phonograph, and laughter, and talk in the cafes, and a turnk packed for departure, with copies of Tropic of Cancer, and Rank's last SOS and the telephone ringing all day, good-bye, good-bye, good-bye . . .

So ends 1965's The Dairy of Anais Nin Volume I. Few published diaries every create a stir.  Nin's diaries created a major stir that has lasted years.  Currently, in England, another diary is making a splash, Alastair Campbell's.  Andrew Grice (Independent of London) reported over the weekend:

Rupert Murdoch launched an “over-crude” campaign to force Tony Blair to speed up Britain's entry into the Iraq war, according to the final volume of Alastair Campbell's diaries.
Mr Blair's former communications director accuses the media mogul of being part of a drive by American Republicans to drag Britain into the controversial war a week before the House of Commons even voted to approve the intervention in 2003.

You can read the excerpt at the GuardianBBC News noted, "Rupert Murdoch called Tony Blair urging him not to delay the invasion of Iraq, former Number 10 communications chief Alastair Campbell has said."  Nicholas Watt (Guardian) adds, "In another blow to the media mogul, who told the Leveson inquiry that he had never tried to influence any prime minister, Campbell's diary says Murdoch warned Blair in a phone call of the dangers of a delay in Iraq. The disclosure by Campbell, whose diaries are serialised in the Guardian, will pile the pressure on Murdoch in light of his evidence to the Leveson inquiry." However, Erik Larson (Bloomberg) notes that Campbell immediately insisted that's not what he was saying and went on BBC Radio 4 and his blog to issue his denials.

AFP pounces on the diary to note "Blair though Brown was 'bonkers'."  (Gordon Brown succeeded Tony Blair as Prime Minister.  Both were members of Labour Party and Brown had been groomed for that position for several decades.) Tony Blair's online beloved, John Rentoul, runs with it at the Independent because he grasps wildly at any hint of masculinity that might waft off on Tony.

As everyone rushes to weigh in, it might be smart to consider the author of the diary.

In 2010, Chris Ames (Guardian) noted Alastair Campbell less than honest responses to the Iraq Inquiry:

Last week, I wrote that "showing how, when and why [Alastair] Campbell said something that was false is very easy". It has become easier as Campbell has now taken to contradicting himself. It remains to be seen whether the Iraq inquiry noticed.
Although the inquiry members certainly upped their game on Tuesday and showed considerable scepticism over Campbell's evidence, they still didn't quite nail him down over the involvement of his fellow spin doctors in what former cabinet secretary Lord Turnbull described this week as the "granny's footsteps" process of strengthening the September 2002 Iraq dossier from one draft to the next.
Spin doctors such as John Williams, who produced the first full draft, Daniel Pruce of No 10 and Paul Hamill, who was responsible for the February 2003 (really) "dodgy dossier", were involved throughout the process, as this letter from intelligence chief John Scarlett to Tony Blair shows.
Campbell gave evidence to the Hutton Inquiry before the letter was handed over and published, so Tuesday's session was the first time he has been questioned publicly about it and other evidence of spin doctor involvement. This allows us to compare what Campbell told Hutton with what he said this week. The two versions of the story could not be more different.

The diary?

Anais Nin's remains the most popular and most influential one of the last 100 years.  Some took it as truth.  It is called a "diary" after all.  Others knew it wasn't.  Some, like Gore Vidal, were very bitchy about it.  "Bitchy" really is the only term when Gore was well aware that Anais couldn't tell some things due to mores (sex with her father) and other things due to the law (she was married to a man in New York and to a man in California at the same time -- bigamy).  Gore didn't invent the term "liary" but he popularized it as applied to Anais' diaries.  After her death (and the death of the New York husband), Anais' journals would start to come out.  Covering the same time periods and much more explicit.  While people such as Gore participated in their portraits in the diaries, they aren't getting the same say in the journals. (A scary thought for Gore -- Anais uncensored on him will, among other things, refute many rumors about the two of them that he used to float.)

In his review of the fourth volume of the diary, Gore states of the diary's ability to cement Nin's literay reputation, "I am not so certain."  And "I am not so certain" -- a skepticism -- should greet all diaries published while the writer is still alive. 

That is especially true when the author, like Campbell, is known to be less than honest.  Translation, he and his publishing house will promote 'salacious' details for publicity only to walk them back later.  No one should take the book or Campbell seriously.

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Gentlemen's Journalism Club" went up Saturday and Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Standing Behind McGurk" went up last night.   On this week's Law and Disorder Radio,  an hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) topics addressed include Jose Padilla, austerity moves in Greece, student protests in Quebec and more.

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