Black Watch: Today’s Top Stories

Black Watch: Today’s Top Stories

Beyond some late reporting on the Blacks’ party doings in the New York Post and the Daily Mail, today’s offerings are mostly of the commentary/context variety. The staunchly right wing R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr., founder and editor of The American Spectator, affords Lord Black a potted defence (researched primarily on Wikipedia, I suspect) in the staunchly right-wing New York Sun. The Financial Times revisits the Two Eds (Genson and Greenspan) suggesting that reviews of their performance to date are mixed, but it’s early days yet, yadda, yadda.

Of considerably more interest is former Sunday Telegraph editor Dominic Lawson opining in The Independent that the British media is shot through with misogyny. He offers two case studies: first, a murderer’s girlfriend pilloried unfairly for her supposed conspiring with her more obviously evil partner. The second example? Wait for it: Barbara Black.

That tired old story is now being trotted out as an explanation of the circumstances which have led Conrad Black to where he now is, on trial for racketeering and money-laundering in a Chicago courtroom—charges of which I very much hope that he will be acquitted.

“The idea of the much-misunderstood man led into foul acts by a scheming woman is a staple of literature down the ages—a tradition in which the British press is only the latest, lurid, participant. You don’t have to be a feminist to argue that it starts at the very beginning with the book of Genesis: Eve, transfixed by the snake (Satan), persuades Adam to bite from the apple, thus creating original sin, which blights humanity for ever afterwards… It is widely asserted that Black took money that properly belonged to the other shareholders in his newspaper empire, solely to satisfy his wife Barbara’s insatiable desire for frocks and rocks. This trite assumption is given greater verisimilitude by articles portraying Barbara Black—who has not been charged with any offence—as a cross between Cruella De Vil and Mata Hari. …I can only say that Barbara never struck me that way.”

One gets the feeling that this isn’t the last time this perspective will find its way into print and/or as an argument for the defence at trial. There’s little doubt that the prosecution will drag Attila the Honey into the mud—both through the introduction of his and her e-mails and evidence of her spending on the company dime. Lawson’s argument is convincing. The prosecution, in all its guises, should take note.

Maxine Carr and Lady Black: unlikely victims of our misogynistic attitudes [Independent] A Surprise Turn at The Circus [New York Sun] The jury is still out on Black’s ‘Fast Eddie’ defence lawyer [Financial Times]