Just as most people were packing up for the weekend, the Twittersphere and, eventually, the Mainstream Media were lit up with the story that Chris Huhne had apparently sent out a private text message to his 8,007 Twitter followers, including many of the great and good of “Fleet Street”.
The message said:
From someone else fine but I do not want my fingerprints on the story. C
So what was this “story”? – we are all now wondering.
Think about it.
Chris Huhne had obviously been having a private text exchange with (that ubiquitous Huhne Aunt Sally) “a staff member” (if you believe what Huhne told the BBC’s excellent Peter Henley; the Independent speculates that the person on the other end of the exchange was the Sunday Telegraph’s Peter Hennessy).
So, the other exchangee was not a novice to the world of media stories, one can reasonably assume.
I think it is then safe to take the next step of logic and assume that there was a plausible assumption on the part of both exchangees that Huhne’s name might be published within the story as a named source. Otherwise, Huhne would not have thought that it was necessary to say that he did not want his “fingerprints” on the story.
So, taking that line of logic, the story concerned was probably quite inconsequential, bearing in mind that someone reasonably experienced in press matters (i.e. the exchangee other than Huhne) was reasonably expected (by Huhne) to think that there was potential for Huhne’s name to appear in the story. Otherwise Huhne wouldn’t have bothered to state the opposite.
Unless, of course, the story was so explosive that Huhne needed to state, for the absolute avoidance of doubt, that his name shouldn’t be on the story. In that case, we can look out for a monumentally earth-shattering story coming out in the next 48 hours which would have made Huhne’s enemies look very bad, were it not for the fact that everyone will now know that this is the Huhne “fingerprintless” (not) story.
This “#tweetfailgate” story would not have taken wing so much, had it not fed into the general assumption that Chris Huhne practises media manipulative skullduggery behind the scenes.
However, as I said when I supported Chris Huhne for the LibDem leadership (a position of which I am still very proud), thank goodness that the LibDems have a few people, like Chris Huhne, who know their way around the dark arts of the media.
We’d be pretty lost if we were all a bunch of naïve idealists without the hard-nosed nous which people like Chris Huhne bring to the party.
Paul Walter blogs at Liberal Burblings