Two weeks ago The Sunday Telegraph’s Melissa Kite wrote a highly speculative piece about a shadow cabinet reshuffle. Fox was to be sacked, Hague to be demoted and David Ruffley would enjoy a massive promotion. ConservativeHome covered it here. Iain Dale fisked it here. Alan Duncan MP rightly dismissed it as shoddy journalism here.
Ms Kite has authored a piece for today’s Sunday Telegraph about the whole business. Rather than defending her original article today she continues the mudthrowing tactic that she adopted last week in a post for The Spectator’s new blog. In that post she blamed the criticism of her article on misogyny and the Christian right. (Note to Melissa: Alan Duncan is not a member of the Christian right).
I have no regrets about ConservativeHome’s two postings on this affair. Despite all of Ms Kite’s mudthrowing there is only one dominant issue here: Journalists can no longer write speculative pieces for Sunday or other newspapers and expect no scrutiny. Before the blogosphere people that might have been injured by the pen of Ms Kite and her colleagues could, perhaps, hope that the offending newspaper might publish a letter of correction in a subsequent edition. Now the scrutiny of lazy journalism is fast and sometimes too furious. I say "sometimes too furious" because Ms Kite is right to complain about the nastiness of some of the comments that appear on some blogs. I would say, however, that the comment threads of her own Telegraph and of other major newspapers can also be nasty and I would defend ConservativeHome by noting that our comments policy means hateful and personal comments are usually deleted and result in a IP ban for their originator. Ms Kite’s tactic of quoting blog comments from one permissive blog and trying to smear all Tory blogs is consistent with her behaviour from day one of this little exercise. She is a journalist who is hating being held accountable.
There is a real need for the still-young-blogosphere to grow up (and tomorrow ConservativeHome will be announcing an initiative to help this site to be a trusted publisher) but there is also a need for Ms Kite to grow up. Time will prove that Melissa Kite’s 6th May piece was "shoddy". Journalists who have long held politicians to account can now expect much more scrutiny themselves. Ms Kite’s noisy response to the Tory blogs won’t change that.
And, Ms Kite, as for your claim that "Tory blogging is close to death" – ConservativeHome is set for our busiest ever month.