The photographs of Charles Saatchi with his hands to Nigella Lawson’s throat were, in his own words, “horrific”; though he was quick to state that they “give a far more drastic and violent impression of what took place.” His subsequent explanation of this altercation with his wife as “a playful tiff”, when taken together with his own admission that she was in tears, lacks credence. What is also problematic, though, is how this incident was treated by Mr. Roy Greenslade in The Guardian; and it has implications, I think, for how the media treat their coverage of alleged acts of domestic violence.
Mr. Greenslade’s article is primarily concerned with the media’s behaviour, condemning their “rush to judgement” upon seeing the pictures. Yet Mr. Greenslade has rushed to a judgement of his own, stating – without foundation – that following this incident “the couple went on living happily together afterwards”. [My italics] There is no evidence for this assertion, which implies that whatever happened was summarily shrugged off in the following days. It is simply presented as fact.
This assertion is problematic, if not dangerous. It can have the effect of brushing what looks to be a very serious incident under the carpet; and, ironically, is a textbook example of how the media should not have responded to the emergence of these photographs.