More on the Max Mosley allegations

I don’t want to dwell on it, but I have a couple of extra thoughts on the Max Mosley allegations after reading some more articles on the subject.

Firstly, this one from Planet-F1. The site is not one of my regular visits, but this article caught my attention. And this paragraph in particular is interesting.

So far we have seen no denial from Max Mosley that he likes to spend his time with highly-paid dominatrix, giving out and receiving punishment and acting out bizarre role play. However since the story was revealed in the British Sunday newspaper, the photos of “spanking Max” that adorned the item on the website have disappeared.

The story remains, though, which would seem to indicate that although the photos were an invasion of Max’s privacy – they couldn’t get him to sign a model release form – the facts are not in dispute.

I am not a legal expert by any means, but this seems very interesting to me. If the photographs have been taken down, then Max Mosley’s lawyers have surely been in contact. Also note that the video has been removed from both the News of the World website and YouTube (though, as we all know, you can’t keep these things quiet on the internet these days).

So it looks as though Max Mosley has successfully had the images and video removed from the News of the World website on the grounds of invasion of privacy. But he has not succeeded in removing the actual allegations. Like I say, I could be off the mark on this. But a lot of people are noting that Max Mosley has not yet come out with a denial.

Now, on to my second point. Yesterday I, and other bloggers (e.g. F1Fanatic, BlogF1, F1Wolf), mentioned the fact that the mainstream F1 websites had ignored the story.

Now all of the websites I singled out in yesterdays post have mentioned the scandal in some form or another. Presumably the editors of the websites each woke up on Monday morning and realised how ridiculous it was that they did not even mention this story that potentially has huge implications for Formula 1.

The excuses some of the websites have come up with are pretty weak. Here is what Grandprix.com had to say for itself:

We would not normally cover such stories, but this one may have a significant effect on the FIA, and the world of motorsport and we feel that it should be noted.

Yeah, about 24 hours after everyone else noted it!

Then there is Pitpass’s excuse:

Pitpass would like to make it clear that it doesn’t do private lives, not unless a story has serious implications on the sport.

Fair enough on the first part of the sentence, but the second part then goes and undermines it. Of course this story has serious implications on the sport, even if the allegations turn out to be false in the end. It is not as if we are talking about a flag marshal being caught kerb-crawling. This is an allegation about the President of Formula 1’s governing body taking part in acts that make light of and fantasise about victims of Nazi death camps.

This is not a mere sex scandal. If it was, I doubt many people would care very much. It is the clear fascist overtones of the allegations that bring this to the public’s attention. You don’t have to be a rabid hater of Max Mosley to realise that this immediately brings the governance of the sport into question. People are rightly asking how someone who fantasises about fascism can be trusted to lead, say, a scheme such as Racing Against Racism.

As I said in the post I wrote yesterday, I do not think that newspapers should sniff around in people’s private lives, even if I don’t like the people in question. I also said that what happens between consenting adults is not the business of anyone else. Furthermore, I pointed out the dubious reputation of the News of the World and the vested interest that News International has in undermining Max Mosley.

But I recognised the potential importance of the story for the future of the governance of Formula 1. I realised that these allegations undermine the authority of Max Mosley unless it can be determined that they are false. I saw that people will question if someone who has Nazi fantasies is fit to be the President of an organisation such as the FIA.

So why couldn’t Pitpass, Autosport, Grandprix.com et al. say that? They just had to say that allegations surround the President of the FIA. They can tiptoe around the finer details if they want. But they cannot ignore it. This is a big Formula 1 news story — there can be no question about that.

My guess is that on Sunday the websites were too scared to upset the powers that be in F1. But you can’t keep these things quiet. The editors of the websites in question woke up on Monday to find that the entire world was talking about the Max Mosley allegations except the major F1 websites. What a patently absurd situation.

And the media wonders why people are increasingly turning to blogs.

15 comments

  1. you may have read this already, by here’s a comment from mike doodson worth remembering:

    “Like second-rank F1 drivers whose lap times miraculously improve around contract time, we freelance journalists tend to get a bit nervous before the season as we wonder whether there’ll be a credential for us.”

    http://www.grandprix.com/ft/ft20164.html

    in a lot of these cases, an fia credential is ones livelyhood, and we mere mortals shouldn’t judge to harshly.

    certainly there’s an argument to say that fia shouldn’t wield such power, but maybe that’s for another day.

    when it comes down to it, bloggers have nothing to lose. we are the future, no question, but let’s be perfectly honest, it’s very rare any of us break a story, mostly we’re commenting on second hand news.

  2. I agree Sidey. Bloggers almost always rely on someone else to break the news. There are exceptions to that, but it is worth remembering. Nevertheless, if on Sunday I wanted to find out what the allegations meant for the future of F1, I would have been far more likely to find it on F1Fanatic than Pitpass et al.

    Also, I thought online journalists couldn’t get accreditation anyway, so they surely have nothing to lose in this respect. It is just a few months ago that I heard Chris Balfe from Pitpass on the radio saying how great it was that Pitpass was independent and willing to stand up to the FIA, but that it had come at a cost as the relationship they had with the FIA in the past no longer exists. Well, Pitpass doesn’t look so brave now.

    Of course, you are right to say that the real scandal here is not the actions of Pitpass, Grandprix.com et al. I sympathise with their position. But it speaks volumes of the amount of power the FIA now has over even the supposedly fiercely independent F1 media outlets.

  3. It my suspicion (as probably suspicion of everybody else, see above 🙂 ) that all the mainstream F1 media were simply cautios. Passes to pitlane and paddock are hard to come bye …

    But what I found even stranger than the absence of any news on Sunday was what happened on Monday … All the sites published some sort “do not accuse anybody” take on the story and all of them at the same time … Like if someone coordinated it …

    On Mosley’s reaction, friend of mine called it Loud Silence …

  4. “saying how great it was that Pitpass was independent and willing to stand up to the FIA”

    didn’t know that. always assumed they were best mates with bernie.

    “Like if someone coordinated it…”

    very interesting observation. could be that they clubbed together in order to put on a united front… “the fia can’t take *all* of our passes” etc.

  5. It may not have been just the accreditation that delayed the big sites. I know that I was quite shocked when I first read the news on Sunday morning – for a while I didn’t know what to think. Keith felt much the same way, according to what he wrote at the time.

    It’s one of those things that need to be pondered upon before rushing in with an ill-advised comment. Sidepodcast was pretty wary of naming names at first, too, as I recall.

    I wrote something on it this morning (Monday) having considered it for 24 hours – but I’m still working out the ramifications and reading others’ reactions. At the moment, I think it means Max’s tenure is over – whether he accepts it or not…

  6. “Sidepodcast was pretty wary of naming names at first”

    still am, although we we’re twittering the news from the moment we heard about it. which was something like 9am.

  7. That’s generous of you Clive but I was actually at Brands Hatch watching the touring cars! But I reckon when the news involves Max Mosley naked behind, ignorance really is bliss…

    Although I did wait a while after reading the story before posting – you can’t be hasty with stuff like this.

    Do Pitpass send accredited staff to Grands Prix? I never thought they did. What about Grandprix.com?

  8. Well that’s what I was wondering Keith. Like I said, I was under the impression that Pitpass, Grandprix.com and other internet-only websites like them couldn’t get accreditation. I think most of the news they get is from moles and suchlike. You just have to look at the websites to tell that. Half of Pitpass’s “news” items are press releases copied verbatim, while the other half is in the “psst, over here mate” vein.

  9. joe from grandprix.com has accreditation, certainly.

    some of the writers for pitpass also have accreditation, but not sure how many.

  10. Clearly, what holds back the big sites is the fear of being sued. And it’s the advantage of small sites like mine – we’re essentially unsuable because we don’t have any money (well, I don’t, anyway). I’ve decided that sod it, if Jody Scheckter can say what he thinks, so can I – Max has to go, whether he likes it or not. Even Bernie has abandoned him, which says something about his guilt.

  11. There’s a fascinating quote in The Times today that I saw over at F1Wolf.

    Here’s what Bernie has to say today:

    The trouble with Max is he’s been brave and there is bravado at the moment, but I don’t think it’s going to be easy. And if he starts to sue, from what I understand, the chances of him winning would be slim and, the trouble is, it’s just a lot more ink for the press.”

  12. “we’re essentially unsuable because we don’t have any money”

    on the internet we also have the ability to ‘disappear’ and popup somewhere else 🙂

  13. Surely this attack on Max is as a direct result of the legal cases being conducted against these media rags.

    When did they ever print the truth about anything.