When a Minister of the British government faces the heat of scrutiny from the national press, It is said that there are only so many days the PM can see their face on the front pages before their hand is forced in writing the letter their aides never wish scribe.
One minister has dodged the sword of the press when armed with innuendo. Mr Hague only dodged speculation about his sexuality when, with rumors fierce about his relationship with an aide, the aide was pushed into the papers guillotine.
The use of imagery by the press which shall be the attempted focus of this blog, was intriguing for those who claimed to know the back ally rumors of the Fox story, the phrasing of “close personal friend”, the initial tight lipped conservative support.
When enlightened with the nature of gossip, the imagery used by the press even the quality sheets, becomes highly charged.
The guardian’s front page image of Fox arriving at St. Pancras, conjures memories of comedy clowns. The over whitened grin and stretched cheeks like some kind of Spitting Image puppet or Bell/Brown caricature. The aim clearly being to bring ridicule on the man charged with high office for his supposed indecency in diplomacy.
The Independent’s image lends to suggestions of a carry on character, with the wide angle distortion and sly grin, the illusion of comedy and camp is unavoidable and inseparable from the mind when accompanied by the rumor and speculation around the reality of the relationship shared between Mr Fox and Mr Werrity.
Innuendo has been such a staple method of communication for British media that publications such as Private Eye have hewn their entire house style with it.
Private Eye, whilst illustrating this story, on its front page didn’t hold back as much as the dailies, most likely due to Ian Hislop’s undying stubbornness against libel suits. With the loaded statement from Liam Fox’s mouth of “We’re just friends” it brings the idea of a relationship beyond that held between two heterosexual men, into clear resonance around the debated sense of impropriety and lack of reasoning for the constant presence of Werrity at meetings and on trips abroad.
The use of innuendo in the press suffered a laughable attack from Tory MP Louise Mensch on Have I Got News For Youwhen she tried to claim the press had been harsh in their reporting and suggestiveness of the articles commenting on the affair. Mrs Mensch challenges Hislop saying “There was some rather cheap innuendo, wasn’t there?”
Which allowed Hislop to reply in his usual dry flip with “If Werrity had been a young girl 17 years younger than a minister, who they met at a University, put in his own house, given a job, stuck with her and taken on holiday to a 4 star hotel. Then you’d have seen some proper innuendo!”
Innuendo is a simple way of allowing the reader of papers to feel they are in the know on the undercurrent of the story. You allow those readers who are aware, to feel the smugness of knowing, without letting the secret out the bag and opening yourself to libel suits.
For your entertainment and as a reward for having read my blog post here is the video of the exchange between Louise Mensch and Ian Hislop. Enjoy!