Page:Britain's Deadly Peril.djvu/94

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raison d'être of the Press Bureau, it is assuredly not maintained for the purpose of assisting in the circulation of utterly futile fiction about the progress of the campaign.

Again: Are we told the truth?

Early in January a report—passed of course by the Censor—appeared in practically every newspaper in the country, and probably in thousands of papers in all parts of the British Empire, announcing the capture by the British troops of a very important German position at La Bassée. The engagement was described as a brilliant one, in which the enemy lost heavily; circumstantial details were added, and on the face of it the news bore every indication of being based on trustworthy reports from the fighting line. It is true that it was not official, but the circumstances made it so important that, inasmuch as it had been passed by the Censor, it was naturally assumed by every newspaper editor to be accurate. A few days later every one was amazed to learn, from official sources, that there was not a word of truth in the whole story! Yet the Censor had actually passed it for publication. And so the public pay their halfpennies to be gulled!

I say, without hesitation, that this incident casts the very gravest reflection on the discretion and efficiency of the whole censorship. To permit the publication of an utterly baseless story of this nature, is simply to assist in hoaxing the public and the crying of false news. We await the next hoax. We may have it to-morrow. Who knows? The Censors in the matter are on the threshold of a dilemma. If the story in question were true, it ought to have been published on official authority without delay: as it was untrue, its publication should have on no account been permitted.