Backlash

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Well they’re off!
As the backlash unfolds against the coverage of child sexual abuse, out come the false memory articles.
I have counted four in the UK press this week.
The first one was in the Sunday Times. I wrote about it here. It was copied in the Daily Mail a day later.
Then there was The Guardian with a review of a book that I wrote about here.(The review was written by a man who thinks the British Empire is a bit of a false memory too!)
Then there was The Conversation aticle which I mentioned here.
If there is one thing you cannot fault the false memory movement for it is timing. They are brilliant at it.
The backlash wasn’t unexpected. Already last year Tom Watson had written,

 Right now the Daily Mail is leading a campaign for deeper investigation into historic cases of abuse. Yet at any point in the future they are just as likely to do a ‘reverse ferret’ .

That point in the future would seem to be the Panorama Documentary.
The expression “reverse ferret” is new to me. Apparently it means:

a phrase used predominantly within the British media to describe a sudden reversal in an organisation’s editorial line on a certain issue. Generally, this will involve no acknowledgement of the previous position.[1]

The term originates from Kelvin MacKenzie’s time at The Sun. His preferred description of the role of journalists when it came to public figures was to “stick a ferret up their trousers”. This meant making their lives uncomfortable, and was based on the supposed northern stunt of ferret legging (where contestants compete to show who can endure a live ferret within their sealed trousers the longest). However, when it became clear that the tide of public opinion had turned against the paper’s line, MacKenzie would burst from his office shouting “Reverse Ferret!”

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