Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Mail hypocrisy over Moir continues

Early this morning on the Daily Mail website homepage there were three stories which were less than favourable to the BBC:

No-one's watching their new drama!

They're all on cocaine!

Anton has made his dance partner cry again!

Curiously, the latter has disappeared from the site. Headlined 'Anton Du Beke makes dance partner Laila Rouass weep in another bust-up' and still visible on Google, you can assume it has been removed because it was completely inaccurate.

Then came news that the Question Time audience would contain BNP members to cheer on their leader.

The day before, they focused on The X Factor 'trouncing' Strictly Come Dancing in the viewing figures. And on Frankie Boyle's Mock the Week joke about the Queen, which the Mail approvingly calls 'grossly offensive' before repeating it, just so readers can see how gross and offensive it is.

And on Monday it claimed the BBC were altering Humpty Dumpty to make it 'politically correct', explained Conservative Party plans for the 'out of touch' organisation and revealed 'Two jobs and a pension for the BBC's £500,000 executive Alan Yentob'.

Nine critical articles in three days. Anybody would think the Mail was trying to divert attention to another media outlet so it could quietly slip out of the spotlight.

Yesterday, Five Chinese Crackers asked: Whatever happened to 'SACK THEM!' which was the Mail's front page demand to the BBC to fire Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross over the Sachsgate affair.

At various times the Mail accused the BBC of a 'week of prevarication', being 'painfully slow' to react and criticising the organisation because 'nobody takes responsibility'.

The sub-head of the 'Sack Them' front page talked of an:

unprecendented backlash.

Given the Jan Moir article has received more complaints than any other (25,000 and counting), it's reasonable to say the Mail has suffered an 'unprecedented backlash' too.

So has anyone at the Mail taken responsibility after five days? Has anyone apologised? Has anyone resigned or been sacked? Has the Mail said anything at all?

Apart from Jan Moir's insult to injury 'reponse' last Friday the answers are: no, no, no and no.

In any other organisation, employees caught behaving so revoltingly would be lucky to keep their jobs.

That was the Mail. In an editorial. Talking about Brand and Ross. Now they are on the defensive, the sheer hypocrisy of their stance matches the sheer nastiness of the Moir article.

And what of their columnists? Suzanne Moore and Janet Street-Porter had their say, rightfully attacking Moir.

But what about Allison Pearson, who wrote at great length about how awful Ross and Brand were, including repeating all their rudest jokes, just so readers could be shocked?

Not one mention of it today in the entire column. She does a piece about 'moral cowardice', but ironically, it's on a different subject.

More interested in the X Factor, she says Cheryl Cole:

would never have made it into the live final of The X Factor

somehow forgetting she made it to - and won - the live final of Popstars: The Rivals.

What about Stephen Glover? He also wrote plenty about Sachsgate, criticising the BBC for having to have an apology 'wrung' out of it.

Yesterday, in his weekly column in the Independent Media Section, he didn't criticise the Mail for not apologising. In fact, he forgot to mention it at all. For a media commentator to neglect one of the biggest media stories of the year suggests he's not much good at his job.

So what about Littlejohn? He talked of last year's events as a:

stunning victory for common decency over the self-appointed, self-obsessed, metropolitan narcissists who control so much of our public life.

Yesterday, he was bizarrely quiet. There was none of the spluttering outrage he aimed at the BBC over the Sachsgate affair. Whereas then he complained that Ross and Brand had been allowed to:

bully and ridicule an old man and his granddaughter in the name of 'entertainment'

bullying and ridiculing a recently dead man and his mother in the name of entertainment is, apparently, fine.

All he said was:

Forgive me, I know I really should get out more, but who is Stephen Gately?

Hilarious. Of course, that line means he can mention it without actually having to talk about it.

So is the Mail succeeding in slipping out of the spotlight? It seems they are being allowed to. Outside of the Guardian, there is very little reporting from other newspapers on the subject. The Mail ran four consecutive front pages on Sachsgate. This has had nothing like the same coverage. Is it the fact they all know where the bodies are buried and are reluctant to criticise other newspapers? There but for the grace of God etc.

We wait for Friday, to see if Jan Moir's column appears and what she says if it does. She may (have been told to) come over all contrite and apologetic so as to head off any possible censure from the PCC (eventhough that scares no one - despite what editors say to the contrary).

The broadcast regulator Ofcom can censure on the basis of offence; the PCC can not. The newspapers can be as offensive as they like, but if they are 'within' the Code they get away with it. Just ask Littlejohn, Malone or McKinstry.

And Ofcom can fine broadcasters for transgressions. The PCC can not.

Mail Editor Paul Dacre is Chair of the Editor's Code Committee, which reviews and revives the Code of Conduct policed by the PCC.

After the payments to the parents of Madeleine McCann by the Express and Star, Express Editor Peter Hill was replaced on the PCC. Some may wonder how an Editor as atrocious and dishonest as Hill could ever have been on the PCC in the first place. But there was an example of a huge failing by an editor, which resulted in the PCC replacing him.

It seems extraordinary that the man ultimately responsible for the most complained newspaper article ever can possibly imagine he can continue to be the Chair of the Code Committee. As their website points out:

The guiding principle has been that the Code should be observed not only to the letter, but in the full spirit.

Even if the PCC find the Moir didn't break the letter of the Code, which wouldn't be a big surprise, was it within the spirit?

The Codebook also explains about the Code:

It should not be editors trying to tiptoe around the rules

In his foreward to the Codebook, which explains how the Code works, Dacre states:

Sometimes we get it wrong...Where there are legitimate public concerns, we must respond to them.

Indeed. So when is he, and the Mail, going to respond to the Moir article? You know, like they demanded the BBC do over Sachsgate...


  1. superb rebuttal to that vile pathetic excuse for a "news"paper.

    We need a "Sack the Bigoted Moir" Campaign

  2. The PCC is a useless organisation, despite the 25,000 complaints no action was taken until Gately's record company complained. It's self fulfilling club that serves the people who run it - the editors.

    Expect no or little action over Moir's blatant homophobia, we need as you mention an institution like Ofcom, somebody who actually has legal power.

  3. I hate to disappoint Sam, and anyone else who has correctly noted that Ofcom is a body which actually has teeth, but the likely winners of the upcoming General Election (the Tories) have committed to more or less abolishing it.

    Those of a cynical disposition may note that the announcement by David Cameron came hot on the heels of Ofcom judging that Sky were charging too much for other providers to use their content, and that the Murdoch empire is now backing the Tories.

    Note also that, following the BBC bashing rant by James Murdoch, the Tory Shadow Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, is talking the same language and has spoken of "tearing up the BBC's charter".

    Thus the way would be clear not only for appallingly biased newspapers, but for a UK version of Fox News Channel. You don't want to go there.

  4. @Tim Fenton - my god, Littlejohn's bad enough, but imagine a British Glenn Beck.

  5. Good article.

    I suppose there is a difference between this and "Sachsgate". The BBC is publically funded and has to provide a public "good" as a consequence. The Daily Mail exists purely to make profit for its shareholdesr.

    The BBC has some sort of obligation to apologise to the public if it falls short of providing the proper public service that it's supposed to. The Mail need only apologise if it's in it's commercial interests to do so.

    The sad thing is that there's probably nothing in it for the Mail to express regret or contrition over this. It won't have lost much in the way of readership or advertising revenue as a result (it's one thing to pull out of advertising on Fox, which gains you some good press attention in your core market; it's another to take your brand out of the site of a reasonable slice of your core market).

    What this whole episode highlights is the disappearance of the kind of filter that would, even 10 years ago, have sifted this out. That would have realised that, whatever other (worse) things the Moir column was, it was ill-judged, ill-timed and mean-spirited, and spiked it as a consequence. Instead, I doubt there'll be an apology offered and if the PCC demands one, it will be followed by a series of articles denouncing the PCC and in 6 months time, this will be remembered as an example of how a leftist bunch of internet geeks tried to silence the legitimate musings of an honest Daily Mail journalist.


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