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The Spectator at war

The Spectator at war: Censorship and mystification

6 December 2014

8:30 AM

6 December 2014

8:30 AM

From The Policy of Mystification, The Spectator, 5 December 1914:

Let us say that we have not ourselves suffered from the Censorship at all. We have never submitted, and have never been asked to submit, any article to the Press Bureau. Such censorship as has been exercised in our columns has been the purely voluntary censorship which is exercised at all times, whether in war or in peace, by every editor who has any sense of public duty, and that remark, we believe, applies to the whole British Press, daily and weekly. We have, of course, constantly asked ourselves whether it would be wise on general grounds to make this or that comment, or whether we ought to refrain from comment which we thought sound in itself because we knew or believed it to run counter to the Government view, and to be likely to interfere with their action and policy. Our feeling was that, as the Government and not we were responsible for the conduct of the war, it was our business as good citizens to support their action, even when we did not think it wise. There can be only one driver of a coach, and as long as he is on the box he must be trusted, and no effort must be made to jog his elbow or snatch at the reins. For example, there are certain things which we believe it would be to the public interest to say about foreign States, and which it would be practically impossible for the Government to suppress even under the most exaggerated interpretation of the rights of the Censor ; but these comments we have not made on the ground just given—that it is the Government who are responsible for foreign affairs, and we must not do anything which in their opinion, whether right or wrong is no matter, would injure or weaken them in the difficult task before them.


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