The Press: Fleet Street Rebellion

It could never happen in England, British politicians confided at the height of the Watergate revelations in the U.S. Even if such a scandal did occur, editors added wryly, the British press would never uncover it. Both law and tradition conspire against serious, sustained investigative reporting in Britain. Coverage of any subject before a civil or criminal judge, for instance, is restricted to reporting what occurs in open court. If the targets of an expose bring libel actions against a newspaper—Fleet Street calls them "gagging writs"—all discussion of the case is normally suspended, at least until the suits are adjudicated. Editors...

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