Comment Of The Day: “Will The BBC’s Princess Diana Scandal Be A Tipping Point For Public Acceptance That The News Media Can’t Be Trusted?”

Princess Di

As he (and other veteran commenters) often do here, Steve-O-in NJ doesn’t merely comment on the post but elaborate and expand it, for which I am grateful. Literally by chance, my wife was watching a Netflix documentary on the Windsors, a British production that discussed the Bashir interview of the late Princess but spun it as an example of her vindictive and manipulative use of the press to strike back at the Royal Family. The producers did not, when it was written, know that Bashir had deliberately deceived Diana and her brother to provoke her.

One bit of rebuttal to Steve-O is, I think, required. Diana may have been “not too smart, not too stable” as Steve says, but like Donald Trump, who is also described that way by those who underestimate him, she had her own special genius and unique gifts. The most stunning quote in the documentary is Charles’ statement, in a letter to a friend before the wedding, that Diana was going to have a difficult time “always living in his shadow.” I am a stage director who has made a lifetime study of what gives an individual “presence” and star power, but it didn’t take an expert to discern that however young, naive and ignorant she may have seemed, Diana had blinding charisma. People with that particular gift cast shadows, they don’t get covered by them.

Here is Steve-O-in NJ’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Will The BBC’s Princess Diana Scandal Be A Tipping Point For Public Acceptance That The News Media Can’t Be Trusted?”:

So Bashir committed fraud and forgery, there’s no other way to describe it, and the BBC buried it. Generally speaking the elements of fraud are:

1. Misrepresentation of a material fact
2. Knowledge on the part of the accused that they were misrepresenting the fact
3. The misrepresentation was made purposefully, with the intent of fooling the victim
4. The victim believed the misrepresentation and relied upon it
5.The victim suffered damages as a result of the misrepresentation

Elements of forgery are:

1. False making – The person must have taken paper and ink and created a false document from scratch. Forgery is limited to documents. “Writing” includes anything handwritten, typewritten, computer-generated, printed, or engraved.
2 Material alteration – The person must have taken a genuine document and changed it in some significant way. It is intended to cover situations involving false signatures or improperly filling in blanks on a form.
3. Ability to defraud – The document or writing has to look genuine enough to qualify as having the apparent ability to fool most people.
4. Legal efficacy – The document or writing has to have some legal significance affecting another person’s right to something. A writing of social significance cannot be the subject of forgery.
5. Intent to defraud – The specific state of mind for forgery does not require intent to steal, only intent to fool people. The person must have intended that other people regard something false as genuine. A forgery is complete upon having created such a document with this requisite intent.

Sounds like both to me. Bashir should be in jail, but I’m sure the statute of limitations has long run. I’m disgusted reading this. He had written lies mocked up to fool Earl Spencer and Diana into believing that the Royal family was out to get her, to push her into spilling embarrassing facts and nasty attacks on her former in-laws. This would be criminal even if was just an ordinary woman having the ordinary problem of being dissatisfied with her marriage and not getting along with her former in-laws. It should get no pass because the people involved were public figures.

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Will The BBC’s Princess Diana Scandal Be A Tipping Point For Public Acceptance That The News Media Can’t Be Trusted? [Corrected]


I hope so. It’s a long shot, but you never know when something is the proverbial final straw. The BBC is often held up as a model of ethical journalism—that’s nonsense, but a lot of Americans believe it. Now we have proof of just how scummy and corrupt the BBC is, and the company can’t deny it.

An investigation into the BBC’s conduct that produced the 1995 interview of Princess Diana by Martin Bashir revealed that the interview was based on despicable and unethical practices. This shouldn’t surprise anyone who remembers Bashir, who became an MSNBC host and was sacked after saying on the air that Sarah Palin should be forced to eat shit. He handled the sensational interview in which Diana talked about her bulimia, the miseries of royal life, and her husband’s ongoing infidelity with Camilla Parker Bowles. Her shocking attacks on the Royals completed her rift with Buckingham Palace and, as Prince William said yesterday, damaged Diana’s relationship with Prince Charles beyond repair.

Even for a journalist, what Bashir did was beyong unethical tending into evil. Bashir told Diana’s brother, the Earl of Spencer, that he had acquired canceled checks proving the Royal Family was paying individuals, including Charles’ aides, to spy on Diana. He “acquired” them because he had the BBC’s graphics department to mock up fake checks to show to Spencer. This “evidence” convinced the Earl that Diana’s fears were justified, so he told her immediately about the supposed surveillance plot. This, in turn, so infuriated Diana that she agreed to a “tell-all” interview.

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Comment of the Day: “Murder House Ethics and the Validity of Feelings”

"Oh THAT! You would have cared about THAT?"

Tgt, the ghosts of whose earlier argument in series of comments haunted me prompted a revisit to the issue of murder houses and a seller’s obligation to reveal their history to potential buyers, came back with this Comment of the Day, thought-provoking, as usual:

“…I still want to know the line that determines what ethically does and does not need to be disclosed. It was never settled. This post generally boils down to another emotional appeal that something should be done in some cases. I want to know which cases and why those. Otherwise, my argument holds fast. I don’t see multiple murders (the latest clearly having nothing to do with the earlier ones) as being any more relevant than one murder.

“I also believe Jack misrepresented my position on emotion in general. Us rational humanists still mourn our dead, though we try to celebrate their lives more than anything else. While humans are not special in the concept of the Universe, we understand that we are special to ourselves and in our relations with other people. Humanism is about celebrating human life and relationships.

“As for death specifically, I see no need of a grave or burial rites. A dead body is just decomposing flesh. It does not need to be prayed for and cleansed. The person though, the lasting effects they have had on others, the memories of them – these are all important. I cried when a somewhat distant high school friend died in a freak accident at 17. I sent his family flowers on the anniversary of his death for the next 2 years. Why? Because it let his family know that he wasn’t forgotten, that he made an impact on other lives. It let them knew that people cared… people they only knew by name. I cherish the cards they sent in response. Continue reading

Murder House Ethics and the Validity of Feelings

We last visited the issue of the ethical selling of murder houses in February, when  the Jon Benet Ramsey house went on sale. I opined that even though Colorado doesn’t have a legal requirement that a seller must reveal the history of the house as long as it has no structural implications, there is an ethical obligation to let prospective buyers know about house-related events that might cause them to reconsider their decision to buy it:

“The truth is still this: there is something about the $2,300,000 house that makes it undesirable to a lot of prospects, and that means that even if the law doesn’t require the seller to tell interested house-hunters the story of the little dead girl in the basement, fairness and the Golden Rule do.”

The debate over this issue was unexpectedly intense. Ethics Alarms’ resident rational humanist “tgt” objected strenuously, writing,

“I don’t see how you can avoid the slippery slope question. Your basis is 50% of the population having a desire. Is that the cutoff? I think over 50% of people would prefer to live in a house where there hasn’t been child abuse. Go back a few years, and I bet a significant portion of the population would prefer to live in a house that had never had black occupants. Back in today’s world, more than 50% of the population doesn’t want to live in a haunted house. If a previous tenant thought the house was haunted, does the complete nonexistence of ghosts make not mentioning this a material representation? If an event is uncommon, does a realtor need to take a poll before deciding what is material and what isn’t?”

Karl Penny, however, bolstered my position:

“…the question is, does the realtor have an ethical obligation to fully reveal the history of this house. Well, the funny thing about behaving ethically is, it often requires us to act in ways that are not in our own immediate best interest… this may give a potential buyer a leverage point to negotiate a lower price for the house, to the detriment of the realtor, who could end up taking a lower commission as a result. No surprise, then, that the realtor would love to find a reason not to opt for full disclosure. But, if that realtor successfully conceals the house’s history from an actual buyer, one who would not have bought had they known otherwise? The realtor had a simple, human duty to disclose, even if it cost him money (and, yes, even if it cost me money, were I the realtor)….Jack’s right: this is Golden Rule time. If I am willing to treat with someone else in a way that I would not want anyone to treat with me, is that logically consistent (much less ethically consistent)? And would any of us want to live in the resulting society should everyone behave in that fashion?”

Now another house with a Hitchcock-worthy past is on the market: 9337 Columbia Boulevard in Silver Spring, Maryland, a state that also doesn’t require its realtors to disclose when a house has been the scene of a murder…or, in this case, three murders in the last decade. Continue reading