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Rooney tunes

By Steven | September 6, 2010

The ever-excellent Inforrm blog fillets the UK tabloid media for their expose of footballer Wayne Rooney’s affair. It’s plainly private… so what was that public interest justification again?

Topics: Media ethics, Privacy tort | 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “Rooney tunes”

  1. E.Beer Says:
    September 11th, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    Interesting post…but I would argue that the press coverage given to Rooney is indeed public interest.
    He has, on more than one occasion, portrayed himself as a “family man” with “family values”. To a reasonable person, cheating and paying for prostitutes is not a family value, so I would argue that the public has a right to know that his actions go against his word.
    It would appear he has lied about his image, and given he is a public figure, and has said he considers himself a role model, the fact he behaves in a manner which is generally frowned upon by society would certainly be public interest.
    A similar case would be that of Naomi Campbell – she said publicly that she did not take drugs. It was proven that she did and was ruled that the public had a right to know that she lied. Is this not similar?

    Btw very good site. I’ve found your summaries of different aspects of media law very insightful and interesting!

  2. Steven Says:
    September 11th, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    My understanding from the Inforrm discussion is that Rooney’s presentation of himself as a family man came well after the affair. If so, I’m not sure where the hypocrisy lies.

    But even if it didn’t, I’m not very convinced by the role model argument (nor was Baroness Hale in the Campbell case if I remember rightly). Why exactly is it helpful to society if our role models are exposed as having feet of clay? Isn’t it equally arguable that the kids who look up to them are better served by not knowing about their foibles – or a danger that they’ll regard the behaviour as acceptable rather than abandoning their role model? (This is not to say that we should cover up material that’s in the public interest on those grounds, merely that the “role model” argument as a substitute for public interest doesn’t really work).

    In any event, isn’t there a difference between outright lying to the public (as Campbell did) and this concept of a “false image”, which strikes me as a convenient excuse for the media to go prying. And isn’t it too easy for the press to ask a celebrity “are you happy in your marriage?”, or “are you taking drugs” and then, receiving the obvious answer, proceed to use that as an excuse to dig for any aspect of marital disharmony or recreational drug use to dispel this false image?

    At the end of the day, what exactly is of legitimate public concern here? How is the public benefited from knowing this?

    I can understand, at a stretch, a public interest in being disabused of a false image that a celebrity was trading off: if Rooney was fronting a campaign for “Family Values” magazine or something. But that does not seem to be the case.


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