DOWNING Street press office was liberal with the truth over the Cherie Blair affair and told Fleet Street's finest that there was no story and no link between the PM's wife and fraudster Peter Foster. Well that's it then, if Downing Street says no story, there's no story. From my limited experience press offices hardly ever give you a story, and certainly not on this scale. It is their job to place the story they want. Obviously the press office was misled but it doesn't say much for the free press that they all retired after a single briefing. One newspaper did what journalists are meant to do, checked out the story through our sources. Has the media in Britain become so dependent on the Blair press machine that it takes everything it says as the whole truth and nothing but the truth? The fact that Fleet Street is furious is not surprising, they have been made to look rather silly. I wrote in this column a few weeks ago on how the media turned public opinion from the firefighters to the government. No prizes for guessing how this was achieved. The media will never trust Downing Street press office ever again, is a headline I have seen. When you are dealing with things political can you really give any organisation 100 percent trust? Now the might of Fleet Steet are turning on Cherie and I wouldn't like to be in her shoes. She may have been rather stupid but the story will die down. However, some good will have come out of this affair. The blind trust which the media has in the Downing Street press centre will be slightly damaged and as far as I am concerned that it a victory for the free press and to a lesser extent democracy.

Jason Moore

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