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Richard Bacon opens up in a moving interview about Caroline Flack and online trolling

Feb 18, 2020
joining the studio now by Richard


TV and radio presenter Richard it's great to have you back in the studio under sad circumstances came to mind very quickly when I heard the terrible news about Caroline Flack over the weekend because I know you know her but you also you were one of the first people i know anyway that did some serious journalism about


what is who are what kind of being what do they do what they did to you yeah take me back to that a few years ago. I was because we used to work together on radio and I just filled in for Simon Mail on a radio show and there's just one troll who was threatening my life and not in any significant way but they were very aggressive messages to lose one.
richard bacon opens up in a moving interview about caroline flack and online trolling
For my part, my son Arthur had just been born and he was threatening to kill him and things like that, so I tried to look into it and made a documentary where I tried to track them down and then I talked to experts and it became the serious if it was before For


to be as prominent as it is now, Billy, I'd never heard of it until you did it, so it must have been a little under eight years ago, I guess, and it was, you know, I learned a lot and I think there's definitely something about a combination of access to an audience and anonymity when you put these things together having a keyboard and an audience generating a reaction from an audience, then people don't really know who you are, those things together take away from human nature, that's horrible and kind of magnified by the process and I think you said you also saw it with Caroline that there's an instinct in a lot of us and me and they're not just trolls to be honest which is making snap judgments very simply ists about a situation that's actually really complex and we don't know anything about and often when we don't know the person at all, yeah, I think that really bothered me because of Caroline's case and people trolled and, but, to be obvious. like i say a lot of people were having these conversations i know we are having these conversations there was an element of when she was arrested and there was that incident involving her boyfriend people were enjoying it they were treating it like gossip and my first thought was partly having made that documentary, but also this will seem like a sigh tone, but I've been in AAA a few times and if you go to AAA, I can't guarantee that you will. stop drinking forever, but if there is something you learn from AAA it is because it is a process in which people share stories.
richard bacon opens up in a moving interview about caroline flack and online trolling

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richard bacon opens up in a moving interview about caroline flack and online trolling...

When you hear a story like Caroline's, your first thought is, well, there's a vulnerable human being who needs help, and that's how I think we should all react to those stories that whether you knew her or not, and especially if you did employ her what you're dealing with is someone vulnerable who needs help so as you start sh could be a cause for concern and even if you can't empathize with the accusations you can sympathize and and and be careful it's accusations in number if the accusations anyway be careful she's famous be careful she's going to be attacked by trolls and just keep in mind she's fragile and i think if we could it's about empathy isn't it in a way? and it's about if we could stop treating stories like they're funny, if we can stop judging and hoarding things we don't do.
richard bacon opens up in a moving interview about caroline flack and online trolling
I really understand I think if we stop and help vulnerable humans we will all be in a better place I remember the early days in the training course actually of my career I I One of the questions I asked one of the teachers in the course was why the local news in particular is obsessed with traffic accidents and said it's the jungle it's that I'm in the tree safe watching the traffic accident happen I would like to know that the traffic accident has happened not like - but when I listen to it I feel more confident because it hasn't happened to me and I wonder if there's some kind of version of that when we see those particular famous people in trouble we think oh for a moment I'm the right one I'm better and also because they are famous, it's, it's, it's a weird relationship that now they've been shot down because they were famous and they had what you imagine is some kind of golden existence and now they've fallen flat on their face and therefore just there's an instinct to hoard it and definitely find it entertaining and like I say I never want to sound better than anybody but I'm applying my experience okay okay sure but I'm trying to apply my experience from that documentary but also having heard painful stories in places like hey and me she was obviously vulnerable and me i dont know what happened to ITV for example i have no idea what the response was but i hope she sure understands why you suspend someone from tv, but I just hope they offered help, you may not have received help.
richard bacon opens up in a moving interview about caroline flack and online trolling
I don't know enough about it but I just hope she was treated as a vulnerable person, well the ITV and LA statement speaks violent. about her in a very clear term hmm so hopefully it reflected on what they could have done everything correctly. is there any because we're talking at this hour about how we control what seems to be an uncontrollable beast, you know, the internet,


social media, did you seek to get this person prosecuted? went to the police and the police couldn't do anything about it because the person was using a server in Canada and that is often very difficult for the police a troll can operate in our country but if they use a server from a different country , the police have no jurisdiction over that country and I can't find the person, I just can't find them and therefore often I can't track the people, that's the reality in the case of that documentary I think that he or she freaked out because I put it on TV. that it was something I could do that other people can't do, but it's trolling, it's hard to track them, what I hope we can do is maybe address human nature a little more and do what I've already done. said i think all these things should be lessons in empathy, just stop and reflect on the impact of these stories, the impact of gossiping and talking about someone, and remember that you often don't know what people are going through inside that , to be honest I would say that almost every adult in the world has some kind of internal turmoil that you don't share and these situations tend to be very, very complex and when someone gets into trouble all we have to do is help them and when you go back to your troubles all those years ago briefly in Blue Peter which was before social media, right?
Oh yeah, so that was bad enough, I guess even before social media came along, but it's a different world now, isn't it much worse? I was here I guess I won't tell you and I was falsely fired when we weren't so I found that very heartbreaking actually well it's because it's also about what's hard I think when reporting facts about you that you know they are not true and it is very difficult to correct them, isn't it? Yeah, and you have to be resilient in front of them and when that happened to me for the first and only time, it really did happen to me in a meaningful way.
I was resilient in the sense that I still knew how to defend myself, but I was devastated by it, yeah, and and I think you know that, and if you really take it as an example, it's relatively, it was a small thing compared to Caroline and a lot of other stories and yeah and yet you know from that experience how devastating That was and you actually imagine it was magnified and had power, yeah yeah, to millions and someone who was already vulnerable. government investigation into how public figures are reported and I think that's probably a good idea.
I would probably assume celebrities in general or rich and have a very nice life, but there's something about putting yourself out there that makes you vulnerable and I think that wouldn't be a bad idea. I don't know what the answer is, but I think you think about it. Yes. I don't think celebrities should have children. Homosexual thoughts. I don't think celebrities should have special protection against for example, if they've broken the law and it's in the public eye and they bother you, you know some of it will be harsh around the edges, some of it will be a top to bottom report. down, but some of it won I don't know if but it's t The degree to which the second part of the more brutal reports is manageable or not, I suspect it isn't, maybe it isn't, but I think brutal is a good word , is part of the brutal reports, many reports would have been fair and reasonable. and looking inappropriate when she was a story was a public story there is nothing wrong with reporting the story it's just a matter of and it's more or less it's not just the harbinger of the public it's trolling it's social media actually this case takes the cps but it is if we are being too brutal with people when they are the most vulnerable.
I think that's the question and I think some of the reporting would have been fine and some would have gone too far and just adjusted just to stop and reflect. about how we stop and reflect on how we talk about these people right now is not going to be a bad thing, especially when we are away from celebrities and the spotlight you know you have young children you know children in schools are being bullied without piety on social media, sometimes, particularly as they get older, maybe it's just as valid a conversation in that field as it is in the celebrity field, isn't it?
I think it all comes down to empathy. I think I think I think it's just that. that word is the heart of all these discussions one thing i learned from that documentary is that bullying in our follows kids home so if you get bullied at school you go to your room to your room and turn on facebook and bullying continues before computers and bullying social media just having bullying just happened it's good to read someone closes the door and goes home and now you can't and and i think on all levels yes we are talking about trolling yes we are talking about CPS if we're talking about reporting if we're talking about bullying following kids home in some way it's about empathy and it's about understanding in some way that occasionally we need to take a moment Pause and reflect and think about the people as vulnerable human beings going through internal turmoil and just making sure we're not making things unnecessarily and unfairly worse and gross them and brutal a good word words is the right word

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