MICK HUME: Prince Harry is the one who's peddling falsehoods

MICK HUME: Prince Harry is the one who’s peddling falsehoods

Why are some people reluctant to be vaccinated against Covid 19? According to the British Medical Association ‘there is no simple answer to a complex problem’.

Prince Harry, however, knows better. For our ‘Duke of Epidemiology’, the answer is simple: vaccine hesitancy is all the fault of the ‘news’ media – and, no doubt, the British Press in particular.

It was at the GQ Men Of The Year Awards in London on Wednesday night, after all, that the prince – dolled up in black tie and tux – made a surprise appearance by video link from his California mansion.

He was there to give an award to the brilliant team behind the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

But His Royal Wokeness wasn’t about to miss the chance to put the boot into the media in front of a star-studded audience.

At the GQ Men Of The Year Awards in London on Wednesday night, Prince Harry (pictured) said Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy is all the fault of the ‘news’ media

Families everywhere, he pronounced, are ‘being overwhelmed by mass-scale misinformation across ‘news’ media and social media, where those who peddle in [sic] lies and fear are creating vaccine hesitancy’ and ‘eroding trust’.

In, outrageously lumping together the ‘news’ media with social media, it was Harry the hypocrite who could be accused of peddling misinformation.

His carefully inserted inverted commas around the word ‘news’ – as shown on the official transcript of his speech published on the GQ website – were clearly designed to convey the message that the mass media are liars, not to be trusted any more than the maddest anti-vaxxer on Twitter or Instagram.

It was yet another display of the prince across the water’s self-defeating and increasingly crazed hostility to the Press.

If Harry actually ever read the news, he’d know there has been no ‘mass-scale misinformation’ about the benefits of vaccination in our mainstream newspapers and their online outlets. Quite the contrary in fact.

And the vast majority of the British public have welcomed the NHS vaccination roll-out – as of yesterday, more than 79 per cent had received their second dose.

The prince’s blatant, two-faced attempt to tar the news media with the ‘misinformation’ brush reeks of the sort of cynical propaganda he likes to accuse the Press of spreading. 

He said families are ‘being overwhelmed by mass-scale misinformation across ‘news’ media and social media. Pictured: People protest Covid-19 vaccine in Trafalgar Square on July 24

By contrast, there has, of course, been a great deal of toxic trash about Covid and the vaccine in particular spread across social media and elsewhere on the internet.

Ironically, when Harry and Meghan updated their media relations policy in January of last year they signalled a shift away from a system that ‘predates the dramatic transformation of news reporting in the digital age’ which, they claimed, made it difficult for them to ‘personally share moments in their lives directly with members of the public’.

They also pledged to ‘engage with grassroots media organisations and young, up-and-coming journalists’. 

In a nutshell, they were embracing just the sort of sites and apps that have been most responsible for giving house room to conspiracy theories about Covid vaccines.

Harry and Meghan hate the ‘news’ media because, unlike their simpering social media fan club, its nasty journalists will insist on questioning what they say and do and pointing out the inconsistencies.

Why, as recently as last month, the British Press had the temerity to accuse Harry of hypocrisy for giving censorious lectures about carbon emissions before flying back from a charity polo match on a private jet.

When the Duke and Duchess of Sussex quit Britain, they insisted that they wanted to regain their privacy in a location free from media intrusion.

So they moved to ‘celeb central’ California, staged a global tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey, and then broadcast endless revelations about their most personal feelings and family relationships.

It is now obvious that what they really want is not privacy, but PR – the ‘freedom’ to tell ‘their truth’ without the fear of being questioned or contradicted by journalists. And woe betide those who fail to play their PR game. 

Harry and Meghan hire the most aggressive media lawyers to put the fear of m’lud into their critics, and will even threaten to sue the woke BBC news if it deviates from the Sussex party line, as it did in the dispute over whether or not the Queen had endorsed the pair naming their daughter Lilibet.

No doubt it was pure coincidence that Harry chose to launch his latest broadside against the ‘news’ media at a celebrity event where MailOnline columnist Piers Morgan was in the audience.

No doubt it was pure coincidence that Harry chose to launch his broadside against the ‘news’ media at an event where MailOnline columnist Piers Morgan (pictured) was in the audience

The event took place on the same day that Ofcom cleared Morgan of breaking broadcasting rules on Good Morning Britain, with his coruscating criticism of Harry and Meghan’s version of events, pre and post marriage, as told to Oprah.

Meghan even made a direct appeal to ITV’s chief executive Dame Carolyn McCall – a former chief executive of The Guardian, incidentally – to censure Morgan, and he was, in effect, forced out of GMB for refusing to grovel to the duchess.

Ofcom’s judgment – a robust defence of free speech – concluded that Morgan was entitled to ‘hold and express strong views that rigorously challenged their account’, even if some found his views ‘highly offensive’.

To prohibit such views would be ‘an unwarranted and chilling restriction on freedom of expression both of the broadcaster and the audience’.

Like all woke warriors, Harry and Meghan would not recognise ‘freedom of expression’ if they found it in their organic muesli. They demand the ‘freedom’ to impose a ‘chilling restriction’ on the free Press and deny the public the right to judge the truth for ourselves.

Freedom of the Press in Britain was won through a hard-fought battle against royal censorship, which only ended when Crown licensing of the published word was abolished more than 300 years ago. 

The last thing we need in the 21st century is a woke version of high-handed interference in the Press, by a prince of hypocrites peddling misinformation about the news media. 

Mick Hume is author of Trigger Warning: Is The Fear Of Being Offensive Killing Free Speech? published by William Collins.

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