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Words. Let me slip into you .... I'mma make you my bitch

St. David's Day and today our topic is ethics.
Suppose you're a big journalistic shark in a tiny local puddle and the malodorous truth emerges. There it is, black and white in The Town Mewler, The Town Crier, The Town Sniveler, The Town Screecher, Bawler, Ejaculator, The Tattler Bellower and Bleater: one of your Facebook friends is a red-handed crook.
You know who you are.
In fairness, a while ago when you FB'd him as a 'Friend' you did not know he was a perp although you might, long and hard, had you been paying any attention at all, have suspected it. It's not like you are close buddies or anything, right? Just Facebook friends. Whatever that means.
What. Ever. But now that the truth is out, you can't write about him in The Tattler, surely? Still, there you are: the odour of malfeasance hangs in the air like a fart in a perfume factory. Do you immediately unfriend the bastard? You didn't ask my advice but probably you should. Let him know why. And then ask yourself some serious questions about why you became friends with the liar and the cheat, the thief and the braggart, this light-fingered and plunderous gunsel in the first place.
Maybe he asked you to become his Facebook friend - which is an old trick of miscreants, to hide in plain view among the prominent and legitimate folk, since the seraphic aura of the 'elite' can serve as outstanding cover for the kleptomaniacal activities of the more common criminal. In fact, sometimes, I'll grant you, it is hard to tell the two apart. But, as a big shot journalist, that is your job. Please don't hide behind 'it's only Facebook'. Indeed, see my earlier meanderings on the nature of Friendship in the age of FB, my pal Hosni Mubarak, and the reification of language: Here.
Anyway, I'll grant you that for the moment, the allegations against your felonious friend, while undoubtedly true, remain still unproven in a technical and strictly legal sense. But you can't hide your face in the sand forever. The fact is you've got wiggling, niggling, journalistic decisions to make about the nature of this Friendship, hombre. Because everyone can see that you are Facebook friends with His AssHoliness, you cannot therefore pretend otherwise and your problem is real and it won't go away unless and until you act.
The wonkiness of his reputation, the stink of it, lingers on the body of your own rep. And for a journalist, without an honest reputation, you are nothing. At least in my eyes, you are nothing.
Illustration: The Heist - 8"x13" watercolours - David Roberts

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