Eddie Mair 4pm - 7pm
Richard Bacon opens up in a moving interview about Caroline Flack and online trolling
17 February 2020, 16:31
In a moving interview Richard Bacon, who knew Caroline Flack, reflected on the effect tabloids and trolling may have had on her and championed empathy instead.
Shelagh Fogarty said that when she heard the sad news that Caroline Flack had taken her own life, Richard Bacon came to mind both because he knew Caroline and also because he was one of the first journalists to investigate trolling, something which many people have attributed to being a source of her suicide.
Reflecting on her death, he said, "Almost every single adult in the world has got some sort of inner turmoil they're not sharing with you and these situations tend to be very very complex, and when someone gets into a mess all we should do is help them."
While Richard worked on the radio with Caroline there was a troll that threatened the life of him and his newborn son Arthur, which lead to him making a documentary where he tried to track them down.
He observed that the combination of being able to generate a reaction from an audience while remaining anonymous can "bring out a side of human nature that is horrible and is somehow magnified by the process.
"You saw it with Caroline as well that there is an instinct in so many of us which is to make very simplistic snap judgements about a situation that's actually really complex and about which we know nothing."
"When she got arrested and there was that incident involving her boyfriend... people were enjoying it and treating it as gossip."
Richard said that he has learnt through his documentary and through his experiences going to AA, "When you hear a story like Caroline's your first thought is there's a vulnerable human being who needs some help. And that is how I think we should all react to those stories.
"Whether you knew her or didn't know her, especially if you employed her, what you're dealing with is someone who's vulnerable and needs some help. So our starting point should be one of concern."
He called for people to have some empathy and stop treating stories as funny.
Richard said when watching famous people specifically, it can be intriguing to watch those who appear to have a "gilded existence" end up "falling on their face."
Caroline was "obviously vulnerable", he said, and while he has no idea how ITV treated her, he hoped she was treated as a vulnerable person, to which Shelagh acknowledged ITV's statement talked of her in extremely dear terms.
He acknowledged there was nothing wrong with reporting the story of Caroline's assault charge, to which she pleaded not guilty, but he questioned whether we are being too brutal to those who are at their most vulnerable.