Saturday, 30 May 2009

Mail heaven - attacking Muslims and the BBC in one story!

A man on a political discussion TV show makes a false claim about an organisation. The organisation complains. The broadcaster offers to apologise (and perhaps pay damages). You would not think there could be much cause for complaint about that. Except when the broadcaster is the BBC and the organisation is a Muslim one.

So the Mail has splashed the story on its front page. Because that's YOUR licence fee that may be going to them Muslims if that £30,000 is paid.

At the moment, it says that is an just an 'offer' and the BBC says: 'No final settlement has been reached'. So that £30,000, which is not mentioned on the BBC news version, may not even be accurate (and probably isn't).
None of which stops the Mail comments pages being over-run with all the usual remarks attacking the BBC and Muslims. It includes lots of 'What happened to freedom of speech?'-type statements, which were noticeably absent when those attention-seeking Luton protestors disrupted a sopldier's parade.

One commentator (Paul Hunt, Uk, 29/5/2009 22:26) says: 'And politicians scratch their heads wondering why the BNP are doing so well'. He doesn't seem to grasp that if the BNP are doing well (and that remains to be seen) the reason is more likely to do with false claims being made by minority groups, which then become widely believed.
In this case, former Telegraph editor Charles Moore claimed the Muslim Council of Britain 'say that it is actually a good thing, an Islamic thing, to kill or kidnap British troops'.
So apparently, those sentiments do not help the BNP. Trying to get those sentiments withdrawn does.

For the record, the MCB said only a week ago that it: 'wishes to make clear that it no way supports the targeting or killing of British soldiers anywhere in the world'.

The Mail helpfully puts quote marks around the word 'slur' to describe Moore's comment, as if there is some doubt about whether they are...

It's a little hard to tell which part of this is meant to be a ' payout row' since we don't know what the payout will be, if there is to be one at all. But the Mail has delighted in whipping up some anti-Islam and anti-BBC 'outrage'. Charles Moore was said to be 'angered' and was not consulted on an apology, but then he does have form in making incorrect statements about Muslims in that Policy Exchange/Newsnight row.

(On the upside, at least the Mail have done a long article about the balaclava clad thugs from last Sunday's Luton protest. [EDIT: 2 June - this has now been pulled from the site after the subjects complained])

Friday, 29 May 2009

Mail goes back to Luton

More Muslim updates in the Mail, this time further developments in Luton. They are reporting that after Friday prayers, a group of 200 Muslims challenged the twelve men who disrupted the soldier's parade a few months ago.

The Mail and other tabloids have long asked the Muslim community to stand up to extremists. Now they have, and it's nice to see the Mail acknowledge that. They quote Farasat Latif, of the Islamic Centre in Luton, who said:

'We have been fighting these Muslim extremists for you. They represent nobody but themselves. The community decided to move them on because the police won't. We have asked them, but they did nothing. I don't know if they will be back. We have been the victims twice over - from the stupidity of Muslim extremists who metaphorically pour petrol and fan the flames of the right wing extremists. This was a peaceful demonstration and we hope they get the message that the law-abiding community is sick and tired of them.'

The Mail - and other papers - should be delighted. We will see how the others report it, if they bother to at all, as it shows Muslim's demonstrating against Muslim extremists. But the Mail is still rather grudging - they give Sunday's events another mention, but explain that it was 'disrupted by white, right-wing extremists'. 'Disrupted by'? Surely 'organised by' is what they mean?

Another Muslim scare story bites the dust

Teacher sacked after 'making pupils kneel and pray to Allah' during RE lesson is the headline on a curious story on the Mail website. Curious because, as the third sentence makes clear: 'an investigation by the school concluded that there was no truth in the allegation'.

As someone who did re-enact Islamic prayers during RE at school, I fail to see much of a problem with learning about other religions in this way. Of course, that might make them a little less scary and the Mail wouldn't want that.

But the story goes on (and on) quoting outraged parents, quotes re-heated from the Mail's original story on the incident from July 2008.

That article was strident from the first line: 'Two schoolboys were given detention after refusing to kneel down and 'pray to Allah' during a religious education lesson'.

But the school says after a nearly year long investigation that: 'the governing body wish to make very clear that they were completely satisfied that at no point did that member of staff make children pray to Allah or put boys in detention for refusing to do so'.

Hmm. Which still leaves a question as to why she was sacked. And also - why has the Mail not apologised for printing what now appears to be a misleading story in the first place?

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Gaunt defends white blonde immigrant; makes racist claims about others

Jon Gaunt's latest diatribe is another against 'every Tom, Dick and Abdul' (how many more times does he have to use this feeble Littlejohn-like 'joke'?).

He's on his high horse. A woman has arrived in Britain without the proper papers, so she was detained for 11 hours and then put on a plane home. Gaunty was delighted.

Except he wasn't. Take a look at the woman in question and see if you can guess why...

Yes, she's young, blonde, female and white.

But does she even need a visa? According to the UK in Australia (FCO) site:

Most Australian citizens visiting the United Kingdom for a holiday or short business trip do not need a visa provided they meet the requirements of the Immigration Rules.

Since he claims she was only here for a friends wedding, it appears there is a bit more to this story than Gaunty suggests. Imagine that. But even if not, it's still striking double standards based solely on skin colour. And he's not done yet.

He goes on to claim illegal immigrants - all those Abdul's - only come to this country for 'a lifetime of hot and cold running benefits' without apparently knowing illegal immigrants would of course get no such thing. Because they're illegal immigrants.

He goes on: 'those in control of immigration (I use the term very loosely) would rather let in those who want to leech off us at best and preach hatred at worst'. So there it is - the two options which, in Gaunty's world, encapsulate the motives of all immigrants. To claim the best thing immigrants do is 'leech of us' is insidious racism and, as it's an opinion piece aimed at a group, there's not the slightest thing the Press Complaints Commission could do about it.

Luton (cont.)

The story of the Luton protest rumbles on, thanks to Richard Bartholomew. It is clear that the pic the Mail used to illustrate the protest by 'anti-war Islamists' was not the right event. It was taken in March at a completely peaceful rally and was attended by many more Muslims than the controversial protests at the army parade which started all this.

More here.

Express snubs truth

The Express story Uproar as PM snubs the heroes of D-Day is one of those articles that claims there is some 'uproar' but fails to provide any evidence that anyone is actually outraged, except for the paper itself.

What is immediately noticeable is that the picture used is of Gordon Brown laughing. Brown has never been the most photogenic of people, but this image has been used for two reasons. One is because it makes him look a bit weird. The other is that it appears that he is laughing. Right in the face of these snubbed D-Day veterans.

But are they snubbed? Here's the story:

Gordon Brown was yesterday accused of snubbing war heroes because there will be no D-Day commemoration at Westminster Abbey next month.

Mr Brown said in March that he hoped there would be a service in London to mark June 6 being 65 years since the Normandy invasion, which claimed the lives of 17,566 British troops.
But it was revealed last night that no such event will be held.

But then it says:

A Westminster Abbey spokeswoman said "there will be no special service”, adding: “We are in discussions about perhaps having something at a later date but nothing is planned for June 6.”

And then:

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “We have held discussions with the Normandy Veterans Association about a service at Westminster Abbey to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the D-Day landings. The NVA’s preference is for a service to be held later in the autumn and we are meeting with Westminster Abbey in the coming days to discuss this further."

So according to that, the veteran's themselves did not want a service on that day. They get Vera Lynn to sound a bit upset - probably having told her half the story - but nobody from the NVA is in 'uproar'. Still, the Express, which put aside any pretence of balanced political reporting long ago, decides it's all Brown's fault. He is even blamed in the same story for the fact the French haven't invited the Queen to the Normandy events. Whereas the Mail just blames those cheese eating surrender monkeys across the Channel.

(On political bias, the Express has a story about middle class views on the economy, which is turned into a story about MP's expenses and greed, and is not only illustrated with a picture of a Labour MP, but a Labour MP who is a Muslim.)

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Look how shocking this is! No, REALLY look!

The tabloids - especially the Mail - do have a habit of writing a story which says 'isn't this shocking?' and then provides copious amounts of pictures to prove just how shocking it is.

For example, many years ago, the Mail ran several pages of comment and screenshots revealing how shocked it told us we must be about Channel Five's infamous gameshow Naked Jungle.

But this seems rather more serious. The article Teen beauty contest that lists vital statistics branded 'a shop window for sex offenders' gives details of a competition called Miss Teen Queen UK, an online beauty pageant for 13-19 year old girls. The 'quote' in the headline is adapted from comments made by the Director of Kidscape.

The problem is in the first paragraph, which reads: 'A beauty pageant has been labelled a 'shop window for sex offenders' by a leading children's charity after it published the breast sizes of girl entrants as young as 13.'

And how does the Mail choose to illustrate this story? With a screenshot of one contestant's profile - and it's readable. So although her face is pixelated, her 32B chest measurement isn't. If the Mail finds it so repulsive for the organisers to publish 'the breast sizes of girl entrants as young as 13' why publish the breast size of this 15 year old on its website? (Also seen are her waist and hip measurements, and her dress size.)

The Mail uses two other pictures from the site - one a young girl with face pixelated (although easily identifiable, if you wish to find her) and a screenshot of the website homepage, where one of the models has her top unbuttoned quite low.

What the Mail wants to do is not only be appalled, but also 'prove' how evil the internet is (again). At least it's not Facebook this time. But the use of these particular images seems gratuitous and rather creepy - if the Mail really finds this so awful, why use screenshots revealing what it is most complaining about?

It's likely the Teen Queen site has had more hits today as a result of the Mail story than at any time previously. It is, at time of writing, the eighth most read story on their site. So are they really concerned that this website is a 'shop window for sex offenders'? Because they appear to be doing all they can to point people to that window for a look.

Damages follow apology

Three and a half months ago, the Mail apologised to four women it claimed we're superficial in the article 'How women are so afraid of losing their careers or their figures they're choosing adoption over childbirth.'

Now the paper has agreed to pay £10,000 in libel damages to three of the women and 'the Mail had accepted the allegations were "untrue and should never have been published"'.

How generous of them.

Littlejohn also ignores Sunday's violent protest

Richard Littlejohn's latest column - published today - makes no mention of Sunday's violence in Luton.

Compare that with the very prominent mention he gave the original protest.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Look at the trouble the Muslims caused

Anton at Enemies of Reason has posted on the Mail's coverage of yesterday's anti-Islam march in Luton. He points out that the headline: Nine arrested after masked mob's march against Muslim extremists turns violent appears to be calling the wrong people extremists.

What is striking is the coverage in other papers too. Take The Sun, which manages to devote a massive 74 words to the event. The Express managed 271, the Star 223 words and the Mail 508.

Every one of these papers had the original protest by a dozen Muslims against British soldiers on the front page.

So Muslim protest by a small handful of loudmouths which includes shouting, banner waving and no violence is front page news.

A protest organised by right-wing groups like March for England, attended by 500 (mainly young white men) which descends into violence and nine arrests for 'public order offences, criminal damage and assault' deserves only a few lines. (Luton police state in the Express story that once CCTV footage is looked at, more arrests may follow.)

March for England's peaceful protest

There is also weird sympathy for the organisers too. The Mail says 'March for England was said to have organised the rally as a peaceful protest.' It quotes an anonymous marcher saying churches in Luton are 'regularly being set fire to', without any evidence to back this up.

The Star allows an organiser and March for England spokesman to say he was '“disappointed” the trouble had flared. “That sort of thing couldn’t have been further from our minds,” he said.' Yes, obviously it was totally unexpected that it would turn violent. No one would ever have guessed that. Those protestors turned up with their balaclavas because they thought it would umm be cold.

At least The Sun, in the words it does manage to write, points out what happened. The 'mob of 500 left the route of the march...stoned cops and attacked a young Asian man. Banner-waving drunks, some disguised under balaclavas, trapped terrified Asian staff inside a restaurant.'

Even by the standards of the Islamophobic tabloids, the imbalance in the reporting of these two events is quite stark.

Mail's weight-watch continues (cont...)

Another day, another load of female celebrities having their body shape analysed by the Mail.

'Woman eats chocolate cake' surely isn't newsworthy, no matter who the woman is. But the Mail website thinks it is when it's Angelina Jolie. The tone is along the lines of - look at the 'slim and slight...frequently branded underweight' movie star EATING CHOCOLATE CAKE. Look! Look at her now!

Of course you could read it as the Mail saying - look, you can eat chocolate cake and still be 'slim'. But frankly, isn't making a big fuss out of someone eating chocolate cake - currently their fifth biggest picture story - more likely to make it seem something that is worthy of comment or not quite right?

Lower down the page, the Mail have published some pap snaps of Pamela Anderson in a bikini on a beach. Mail Editor-in-Chief Paul Dacre was obviously a big fan of Baywatch because the story is effusive - calling her 'Mailbu Barbie', 'flaunt[ing] her famous curves' and her 'slender legs, bronze tan, and toned tum'.

More worryingly considering all the plastic surgery she has had, the Mail says she has a 'body to die for'. Is the Mail suddenly a fan of enormous fake boobs? Do they really consider this a 'body to die for,' something that should be aspired to by all women?

Mail's weight-watch continues

A couple of days ago, the Mail was picking on two women for not being quite as thin as the Mail wanted them to be. Now, they're picking on one woman - Trinny Woodall - and writing two stories in three days about how she's far too thin. Although the other pictures in the story don't show her looking that much different now compared with then.

On the other hand, the Mail has found a woman whose weight it likes. It's Daniela Hantuchova, the tennis player who, during her late teens, was subject to rumours of an eating disorder. She is quoted in the story as saying she did 'change shape, because there was too much pressure' on her, but has 'turn[ed] things around'.

But can the Mail really describe her (pictured) as having a 'rounded physique'? The best part of a year ago - in June 2008 - when the Mail reported for the first time on her 'healthier look' they called her 'curvy'.

Yes, of course, it's great that she has overcome any such problems with her weight, but 'curvy' and 'rounded' she is not. For one thing, the Mail should stop re-heating year old news. And secondly, they should stop obsessing about the weight of various famous women. Especially as they seem to have their priorities for judging these things skewed.

Friday, 22 May 2009

'Look at fatty' shouts Mail at woman of 'ideal' weight

Brains and beauty: Cambridge student reaches beauty contest final despite weighing 10st, sneers the Mail.

'Despite weighing 10st' implies that 10st is somehow unsightly.

In fact, given that Emmalina Thompsell is 5'5", her body mass index is 23.3, which puts her squarely in the 'ideal' range on that scale. The height-to-weight ratio on this chart also puts her squarely in the 'OK' range. Not underweight. Not overweight. But the right weight.

The picture is the girl in question. Can't you just see how the Mail thinks she's hideously fat? Even by the Mail's usual standards of picking on the weight of women, this is a disgrace.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Payouts latest

The Mail on Sunday has had to apologise and pay damages to MP Tom Watson over an allegation made by Iain Dale over the Damian McBride email saga. As if the best way to respond to a story about the spread of emails containing smears is to write a column containing a smear. Ho hum. (Dale's apology appears to blame left wing bloggers and his source for the error.)

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Deeply flawed poll from Migrationwatch is not questioned by the papers

The latest press release from Migrationwatch is swallowed hook, line and sinker by the Express and the Mail - as usual. This time, it's a poll that YouGov have done on behalf of Migrationwatch, which apparently shows the British public don't like immigrants very much. Imagine that.

But, as ever with Migrationwatch, the detail needs examination, because it doesn't really stand up to scrutiny. For a start, a finger needs to be pointed at YouGov for asking two questions which seem solely designed to produce the answers Migrationwatch want.

One was: In general, how concerned are you about the issue of immigration? Are you…? Very concerned, concerned, not concerned, not at all concerned or don't know.

The question is flawed. You can be 'very concerned' about immigration because you are 'very concerned' about the shabby treatment many immigrants receive from both the immigration agencies and the media. But if you say 'very concerned' in answer to that question, it is only interpreted one way by Migrationwatch.

But this gives them the answer that as 36% are very concerned and 43% are concerned, then 79% of the public are 'concerned' about immigration. The question of context is missing, as it is with the other, arguably more important question that was asked.

Which was this: According to official statistics, foreign immigration has been running at a net figure of about 300,000 a year over the last five years (that is, there are 300,000 more immigrants each year arriving in Britain than emigrants leaving Britain). What do you think would be best for Britain?

And the answers to choose from were these (with percentage of responses in brackets):
Net immigration of more than 300,000 a year - 2%
Net immigration of 300,000 a year - 3%
Net immigration of 200,000 a year - 4%
Net immigration of 100,000 a year - 8%
Net immigration of 50,000 a year - 17%
No net immigration (e.g. "one in, one out") - 39%
There should be more emigrants than immigrants - 16%
Don't know - 12%

Based on the fact that the final three answers (ignoring the don't knows) got 72% of responses, and 50,000 would represent a cut of about 84% on 300,000, Migrationwatch and the papers got their 'seven out of 10 voters want immigration cut by more than 80 per cent' line.

Migrationwatch's press release starts: 'A new poll has found that more than 7 out of 10 adults want immigration cut by over 80%.'

The Mail story starts: 'Seven out of ten adults want a massive cut in immigration, a poll has revealed.'

The Express story starts: 'Seven out of 10 voters want immigration cut by more than 80 per cent, a survey has revealed.'

But the survey doesn't say that. The survey asked about net migration being cut, not overall levels of immigration. Can they really not tell the difference?

(For the record, on this survey, the 250,000 cut is around 84%; on overall immigration figures - using 2007's 577,000 total, a 84% cut would be 484,680 people - nearly twice as many.)

It is also worth pointing out that based on this graph from the Office of National Statistics, net migration has not been running at 'about 300,000 a year over the last five years'. In fact the highest year for net migration was 2004, when it hit 244,000. In 2006, it didn't even hit 200,000. So where is there the slightest evidence that net migration is 'about 300,000 a year over the last five years' - a figure repeated in both the Mail and Express? Using a figure 100,000 above what it should be will inevitably distort the reactions, and therefore the answers you get.

And asking the question in terms of using just numbers is meaningless too. Ask those people who want the '80% cut' if they want the fewer nursing staff and plumbers and see if they answer the same way.

New immigration stats reveal old tabloid prejudices

The state of the British economy has led the number of workers from Eastern Europe coming to the UK to fall by 50% compared to the first quarter of last year. The number of Eastern Europeans leaving the UK has doubled.

There has been a rise in the number of asylum seekers - although most of these have come from Zimbabwe and Afghanistan.

Guess which of these figures the Mail focuses on (despite having been quite generous to Zimbabwean asylum seekers in the past)?

[There is a new MigrationWatch story around today, regarding a poll on immigration - as you'd expect it looks quite flawed, but more on this later...]

Recommended reads

Septicisle has done a very fine analysis of the Alfie Patten case.

Embarrassingly, yesterday's post about Miley Cyrus sounded rather too similar to one at Daily Quail, which went further in exposing the hypocrisy of the Mail (shock!) regarding pics of the 15 year old Cyrus. I'll have to read other blogs before hurriedly writing new posts...

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Mail hearts Miley

At the start of April, the Mail was leering over Miley Cyrus as she attended some music award ceremony.

At the start of April, the Mail was leering over Miley Cyrus as she attended her movie premiere ('flashes her legs in a VERY short dress').

Yesterday, the Mail was leering over Miley Cyrus as she 'soaked up the sun in the Bahamas' in a bikini.

Miley Cyrus is 16 and a half.

Those apologies in full

More on Alfie Patten later, but still no apology from The Sun. Apparently, the paper is going to set up a trust fund for him. Max Clifford, who is representing the family, said on Radio 4 that: 'My understanding is that they [The Sun] haven't paid him [Alfie] any money at all.'

His 'understanding'? Either they have or they haven't. I don't believe Clifford doesn't know.

Meanwhile the Mail on Sunday has apologised for suggesting Tessa Jowell corrupt - only took a month for them to admit that error.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Sun - not the most truthful in Britain

Ten minutes ago, a breaking news email from The Sun pinged into my inbox. It revealed that Alfie Patten, who a few months ago was reported, by The Sun, to be the youngest Dad in Britain at 13, ummm, isn't.

DNA tests have proved he wasn't the father. DNA tests have also proved that The Sun published a wholly inaccurate front page story and hasn't, in light of this 'new' development, apologised.

I say 'new' because as the rest of the world knew this on 27 March, when it was all over Google News.

I'm not sure how this has come to be reported now, as there was an injunction banning publication of further details of the case, but all will be revealed in time.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Mail not being sued...sadly

Jonathan Ross is, apparently, suing over a story headlined: 'Daniel Craig leaves 'desperate' Jonathan Ross shaken and stirred', which was published in the Sunday Telegraph on 11 January and online.

The article claimed - entirely falsely, as it turned out - guests were reluctant to appear on his chat show after his Sachsgate suspension.

The Mail, in its anti-Ross frenzy, repeated the story on 13 January:
No doubt this was heavily borrowed from the original. It included this gem:

'It has emerged that Tom Cruise, who has been lined up for Ross's comeback on January 23, is having 'second thoughts' - specifically because of the Sachs scandal.

'Cruise will be in London to promote his latest film when the BBC show comes back, but a source close to him said: 'Tom was not aware that Ross had been suspended because of his behaviour.

''Now that Tom has been told about the phone calls he is having second thoughts. He does not want to be involved in any controversy.'

'Other celebrities are said to be fed up with the irreverent way they have been treated by Ross when they have been interviewed by him'.

It almost goes without saying, Tom Cruise did appear on Ross' first show back. So when will the Mail remove its version...

Anti-Islam green inkers harangue BBC

MediaGuardian is reporting that the BBC has received 115 complaints about the appointment of Aaqil Ahmed to head of religious programming: 'It is understood the "vast majority" of the complaints are about Ahmed not being a Christian.'

The Mail must be delighted.

Mail - not a fan of the Ghost Whisperer

The Mail's quite bizarre obsession with Jennifer Love Hewitt's weight rumbles on. In an article thin on content, but full of judgmental bitchiness, she is described as 'gaunt' with a 'waspy waist'. It goes on: 'Jennifer's famous bust seems to have shrunk, while her face looked drawn and cheekbones hollow...the actress looked a shadow of her former self.'

And as these pap shots were taken outside a Taco Bell, they add sarcastically, 'At least she's eating.'

Hewitt doesn't actually look much different to when she last appeared in the Mail - which was just over a month ago when they said she had 'lost too much weight'. So it's hard to see what's really behind this (non-) story.

But it gives them an opportunity to give the Hewitt bikini pics another airing. They say today: 'Her incredibly lean appearance was a far cry from this time last year, when unflattering bikini pictures of her emerged.'

Putting aside the fact those pics are actually 18 months old, is it any wonder that a woman who is mercilessly bullied for not being stick thin, then decides to lose some weight? And is it any surprise that the media then bully her for being too thin?

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Now migration makes the front page again

Here's today's Express. Two immediate reasons to believe the story isn't true. One, it's an immigration story on the front of the Express. Two, it begins with the word 'Now...'

The story does refer to migrants, illegal immigrants and these same people are said to be 'flooding' into 'Greece to claim asylum in Britain', if that even makes sense. So there's some confusion over who these people are - if they even exist at all...

The claim is that a trafficking gang recently arrested in Paris has revealed how it took £10,000 in exchange for a fake passport, visa and a flight to Ireland, where the 'migrants' then moved into Northern Ireland and then got a ferry to Scotland or Liverpool.

(The Mail version says they 'fly into Britain', as if Ireland isn't a seperate country...)

Of course 'smuggling' sounds like something underhand and hidden, which would be hard to do if they were in 'club class'. But the phrase 'club class' isn't actually meant to mean that - as this story from 5 years ago shows - although the headline makes it sound like it is.

But there are further problems with the story. One is that it assumes that passport control in Ireland is so appalling all these fake passports are waved through without any question.

It also fails to give any accurate indication of how many people have actually made this journey. The implication in the way the story is written ('migrants from across Asia and the Middle East') is that it is loads. But the French say the gang smuggled maybe 150 people in total over the course of 9 months. The Express admits - deep into the story - while 'most went to Britain, while others chose to start new lives in Scandinavia and Canada,' a fact that has been deleted from later versions of the story on the Mail site.

The gang are said to have made £500,000, but if they were charging £10,000 for this 'club class' service, that would only mean 50 people smuggled. If they claim it's three times more than that, then that would suggest very few paid for the 'club class' passage.

The Express says the migrants paid £3,000 to go from Greece to Paris. If 150 people paid £3,000 to get to France, that is £450, how many people did make the journey via Ireland?

In any case: 'The suspects have made full confessions in exchange for a reduction in prison sentences,' which suggests we shouldn't take all their claims as being totally credible.

Ditto the Express.

Gypsies smash up helicopter. Or maybe not.

Gypsies smash £5million police helicopter with axes in revenge for 'spy' flights, says the Mail. Gipsy axemen chop up cops' £5million chopper, reveals The Sun. Gypsies trash £5million police helicopter, adds the Telegraph.

Compare those headlines with those from the BBC (Vandals attack police helicopter) and the Get Surrey site Surrey Police helicopter grounded by vandals.

Notice the difference - and the interest from the right-wing papers in using race to identify the perpetrators?

The Mail claims the vandals caused 'tens of thousands of pounds worth of damage' although the BBC report - written two hours - later says: 'A force spokesman was not yet known how much the damage would cost to repair.'

But there is something else that the Mail, Sun and Telegraph claim to know but which appears to be in some doubt. Three lines from the end of the story, the Mail writes: 'A Surrey Police spokesman said the identity of the mob members was 'unknown''.

'Unknown'? So how can the papers claim with such certainty in their headlines that those involved were Gypsies?

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Stephen Glover talks total crap about Aaqil Ahmed

The intolerance shown by the Mail and its readers following the appointment of Aaqil Ahmed as head of religious programming at the BBC was noted here yesterday. Well, today it's spread to one of their columnists - not Mad Mel, but Stephen Glover.

Why can't the BBC understand that we are STILL a Christian country? he thunders in a rant to get Middle England trembling.

He says that the appointment is 'not a joke, I can assure you,' as if those impertinent Muslims shouldn't dare expect any publicly funded jobs.

He goes on: 'Let me say at once that I have nothing whatsoever against Mr Ahmed, who is, I am sure, an excellent broadcaster who may have much to contribute to the coverage of religion'.

Saying you have 'nothing against' someone is a clear indication that you do, and even that snide 'I am sure' is deeply unpleasant.

Then Glover shows us the depth of his research on Ahmed's CV: Some say that he has done a good job producing religious programmes in his present job at Channel 4, though he has been accused of intellectual shallowness, and last year some Roman Catholic priests alleged he had commissioned documentaries that appeared to contain a pro-Islam bias.

Glover produces this pathetically feeble piece of judgemental bullshit based on what he thinks 'some' people have thought, and then accuses someone else of shallowness?

'My quarrel is not so much with Mr Ahmed as with the BBC', he says, having just dismissed everything he has done.

But then Glover produces an argument so at odds with what he's writing, I'm (still) struggling to work it out. He writes:

Despite being required under its charter to provide religious programming, and despite being funded by licence-payers who overwhelmingly describe themselves as Christian, the Corporation has been increasingly pursuing what can only be, at best, described as a non-Christian agenda and, at worst, as an anti-Christian one. Do I exaggerate? I don’t believe so. Religious programming on the BBC has dwindled over the past ten years, and what remains is usually anodyne.

So the appointment of a Muslim as head of religious programming is an insult in a Christian country, and yet he admits that religious (by which he means Christian) programming at the BBC hasn't been much good for the last ten years. So what the hell is he worried about?

He admits that Ahmed's predecessor was a Methodist preacher. Glover says, based on no evidence at all, 'I imagine that having a Methodist preacher at the heart of the BBC was more than it could stomach'.

But Glover has just himself said that while this Methodist was in charge, the BBC was running an 'anti-Christian' agenda and 'anodyne' religious programmes. Yet Glover appears to think he should have kept his job. The contradictions here are so self-evident it leaves you speechless.

Towards the end he says: 'For all I know, Mr Ahmed may prove himself remarkably sympathetic to the sensibilities of Christians in his new job. One cannot, however, count on that, and it is interesting that he has said there should be more coverage of Muslim matters in the media'.

For all he knows? He doesn't appear to know very much at all. As mentioned yesterday, Ahmed commissioned the eight, hour-long programmes entitled Christianity: A History, a series the Mail was happy to plug at the time.

The idea that Christians are capable of producing programmes on other faiths but Muslims are not ('one cannot...count on that') is frighteningly intolerant.

And when there is the kind of ignorance and scaremongering about Muslims that Glover is indulging in here, and which his paper does almost every day, more coverage telling some truths about Muslims wouldn't be a bad idea.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Predictable outrage at the Mail as Muslim gets religious job

When I read the news that the BBC had appointed a Muslim as head of religious programming last night, I envisaged the outrage that would be shown by the Mail and its readers.

And they really are that predictable.

This appointment apparently means - according to Peter Jones in Amersham - that: 'This entire organization is rotten to the core and should be shut down with immediate effect.'

Other comments include: 'I've just torn up my TV licence', 'Obviously,' and 'Sounds just about right for lunatic left bbc.' All these get massive positive scores. Even the comment 'No comment!!!!' gets +137.

Whereas 'I'm sure he will do a good job', 'I don't see what the problem is,' and 'I don't really understand your objections to this since the BBC has said he was the best candidate for the job' all get hugely negative reactions (-300 and worse).

The Mail do point out that Aaqil Ahmed had recently commissioned the series Christianity: A History on Channel 4. But they don't go on to tell any views from the man himself - they are more interested in the views of Christians about this appointment. But of the Chritianity series, Ahmed described it like this:

Christianity: A History is the biggest project I have commissioned during my time at Channel 4. It’s almost unheard of for a mainstream broadcaster to dedicate eight hours of prime time television to Christianity in this way. I think it’s fair to say that it’s a big risk, but a risk I really wanted to take.

So in what ways is this a 'controversial first' as the Mail headline has it? Well, it isn't at all really. I say good luck to him.

Monday, 11 May 2009


The Daily Mail writes: The Simpsons' baby Maggie finally talks... and she sounds a lot like Jodie Foster.
Simpsons' fans may already know where this is going. But the last line of the story explains: Maggie had spoken in a previous episode, when Elizabeth Taylor provided her voice as she said 'Daddy'.

Right. So she hasn't 'finally' spoken then.

Star pulls on its jackboots

The Daily Star continues to give a propaganda boost to certain patriotic English (ahem) groups in Luton. They are reporting that an anti-extremist demo has been given the go-ahead 'in protest at Muslim hatemongers trying to split Britain.'

This is in response to the dozen infamous publicity-hungry loudmouths who picketed the soldier's homecoming parade in the town. How this very small group are going to 'split Britain' isn't very clear. But the sympathetic language for the 'anti-extremists' is very telling. The story goes on to say:

The rally is organised by March For England, which previously led similar campaigns on Baby P and Gurkhas’ rights.

Which of course makes them seem very kindly. But a look at their website or Myspace page shows a preponderance of imagery that seem to point in one direction - lions, lots of red and white - and protestations that they aren't racist. Why do they feel the need to do that?

Well, because they link to the websites of their 'friends' Lionheart and Tabloid UK, a site which seems to re-print every anti-immigrant story from the tabloids without critical comment. One of their friends on Myspace is a full of praise for the BNP. Most of their friends on Myspace and Facebook appear to be white.

They say (their caps):


But they follow that by saying immigration has 'ruined..our country' and is 'threatening our country’s identity'.

Back to the Star and the story continues:

Rally inspiration Wayne King’s Ban The Terrorists group has a 1,500-strong petition which it plans to present to Luton’s mayor Lakhbir Singh.

Banning terrorists is not really a hugely controversial line to take (only 1,500 signatures for that?), but the use of the word 'inspiration' again makes it clear where the Star's sympathies lie.

Is it cuz he is black?

Like the Express, the Star also has the same, intrusive Tesco ad on the front page. Richard Desmond must be coining it in.

But the story (and for once, they appear to have accurately reported what has been said elsewhere) is framed in a strange way. After all, would the headline have ever been written as 'White Prem ace held in 'race abuse' attack' if the attacker was white? The answer, of course, is no.

So why is do they feel it relevant to highlight that the attacker was 'black' here?

Express totally gives up on reporting news

There are several noticeable things about today's Express front page. One is that it has a unusually large advert for Tesco at the bottom - it is very rare for there to be ads on the front of a tabloid - but I can recall one that dominant. (ignoring the Express' feeble wrap-around on the day after Obama's inauguration).

Two is the total lack of a mention of the MP expenses fiasco. Surely it couldn't be that the day the details of the greed of Tory MPs come out, the most vocally Tory-supporting paper wants to forget the story? The Express put it on the front page for the last two days, when it was Labour greed being revealed. (The main story on the Tories amounts to only 283 words)

Thirdly, the story itself. Secret of how to beat cancer is a standard Express health headline. And like most of them, the story is pretty thin. The 'secret' turns out to be that one way to beat cancer would be to lose weight.

Yes, at the Express, a story along the lines of 'being fat is not good for your health' is considered front page news. And almost deserving of as much space as a Tesco ad.

Mail scare headline, contradicted by own story

The headline on today's Mail story Hundreds of illegal immigrants armed with knives and crowbars swarm round Calais trucks heading for Britain is a typical piece of scaremongering which doesn't even survive the third paragraph of the story. It's trying to pretend that these illegal immigrants are dangerous, heavily armed, brutal.

But in paragraph two we have 'around 100 illegal immigrants' and a few lines later: 'Some carry crowbars or knives to try to prise open a chink in the lorries' defences'.

So from 'hundreds of armed illegal immigrants' to 'around a hundred of which some carry tools to break into trucks' within a few dozen words.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Gaunt defends free speech - but only for some

Jon Gaunt has got little more than self-interest on his mind with his latest ranting column attacking Jacqui Smith for adding American shock-jock Michael Savageto a list of people banned from the UK.

A profile in the Telegraph reveals he's said: "Get Aids and die, you pig," the American radio "shock jock" told a purportedly homosexual man who once badmouthed his teeth. He has plenty more vitriol to go around. Latinos "breed like rabbits" , Muslims "need deporting" and as for autistic children, "in 99 per cent of cases it's a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out".

Savage has said he planned to sue over the banning, despite saying in 2006 he thought all Muslims should be banned from the US. Does he think they should all sue him?

Although claiming it's a free speech issue, why would Jon Gaunt want to defend a loudmouth, intolerant, right-wing radio presenter? Oh, wait...

He rather gives it away when he mentions that: 'Even DJs like me can be sacked for calling a councillor who wants to ban smokers from adopting a “health fascist”'. In fact this is a blatant lie - the direct quote of 'health fascist' should in fact be 'health Nazi'. Although clearly it's beyond the wit of Gaunty to know that fascist and Nazi are not interchangeable insults.

But when the infamous Luton protests happened Gaunty was suggesting they should not have been allowed. He wrote of Gillian Parker: 'As chief constable of the Bedfordshire force, her act of appeasement [just to add another Nazi reference] to Muslim fanatics by allowing them to demonstrate and ruin what should have been a proud day for the people of Luton was an insult to the brave men and women she is meant to lead.'

In his latest column he writes: 'In a mature democracy, all voices and opinions should be debated.' But that only appears to be for anti-Muslim opinions like his and Savage's.

'Now, more than ever, it is time for us to stand up and fight again — for the right for every true Brit to say what he thinks, when he thinks it.' Notice the use of 'us' and 'true Brit' as if there are people - and we know who he is thinking of - who aren't 'one of us' or 'true Brits'. Perhaps if his paper reported on today's survey on how Muslims feel loyal to the UK, he might learn something.

Express calls Muslims the 'most loyal people in Britain' shock!

Mark the day. It's almost impossible to believe, but the Express has a positive story about the British Muslim community today. It may be a first. The headline is 'The most loyal people in Britain' although it would of course be beyond them to say 'British Muslims are the most loyal people in Britain'.

The story is based on a survey by Gallup and the Coexist Foundation. The headline figure is that 77% of British Muslims say they identified strongly with the UK, compared to only 50% of the general public.

By contrast, only '36 per cent of the general public considered Muslims to be loyal'. There can be no doubt that the drip-drip of negative stories heavily influences that figure.

There was also a difference in the confidence they had in the police - 76% compared to 67% of the general public.

Perhaps one of the most notable numbers was that only 3% of British Muslims believed other religions threatened their way of life, while 26% of the general public did. Ditto about the drip-drip of negative stories.

The Times, Telegraph and Independent all lead with the 'loyalty' figure in reporting the survey findings. Although as if to prove it's not just the Mail's readers who are intolerant mouth-breathers, Janis from Melba, USSA (wherever that is) writes on the Times' story: 'No wonder since all you all do is appease the muslims. You know what they are after (the muslims) to take over the world.'

And guess what? The Sun doesn't regard this survey to be of any interest at all. It doesn't get a mention on their website anywhere.

Whereas the Mail, totally perversely, decides to highlight one of the few 'negative' aspects of the survey with the headline: Just one in 10 British Muslims feel integrated into society. The figure about loyalty to the UK is held back until the seventh paragraph. Before then, the Mail warns:

it found that more than a third are dissatisfied with their standard of living...The findings sound a warning that despite the efforts of ministers and Islamic leaders since the 2005 London bombings to build common ground between some Islamic communities and their neighbours, doubts, mistrust and resentment continue to exist.

Muslims don't feel integrated? With such ridiculously skewed reporting such as this - and reactions to the Luton Islamic Centre fire earlier in the week - is that any surprise?

Mail's obsession with Jonathan Ross continues

The release of the latest Rajar radio figures has given the Mail opportunity to crow over the fact that Jonathan Ross' Radio 2 show has lost 360,000 listeners since 2008.

'The desertion of almost a tenth of his audience will be linked by many to his lewd calls to veteran actor Andrew Sachs,' writes Jo Clements. Many at the Mail that is.

But Ross is still getting 3.03million listeners, so it's hardly as if everyone has turned off in disgust. And Terry Wogan's show has lost around 330,000 listeners over the same period but there's no headline article highlighting that drop.

Given that Andrew Sachs was quoted in an interview last weekend thanking Ross and Brand for the boost the 'Sachsgate' affair gave to his career ('I came out of it very well … my profile's up. Great! They did me good. Thank you very much'), isn't it time the Mail dropped it?

Mail uses paedophile story to push homophobia

The guilty verdicts against eight men involved in a paedophile ring in Scotland is a horrendous story. But even something this serious can be - for want of a better word - abused by shameless tabloids to further their agenda.

The Daily Mail decides to turn its insidious focus on to one element of the story in its headline: Gay rights campaigner led a double life as leader of paedophile ring that carried out a catalogue of child abuse. Because it likes to imply there's a link between homosexuality and paedophilia.

James Rennie was involved in LGBT Scotland and the Mail is clearly trying to fan some homophobic outrage by pointing out the group was 'a publicly-funded support group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people' and 'received £1.1million in 2008 from the Executive, councils and health boards.' He also 'lobbied strongly for gay adoption.'

The question is this: would any of this emphasis or detail be included if he was straight, married and worked in another charitable field? Probably not. Indeed, in the short picture profiles of each of the men, four of them are implied to be gay whereas the other four do not have any such mention of their sexuality. Why not?

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Islamic Centre burns, tabloids shrug

Remember how, following those protests by a group of placard-waving Muslims in Luton, the home and cars of one of them were attacked? Well the Sun is now reporting that an Islamic Centre in Luton has been 'gutted' in an arson attack.

Luckily, no-one was hurt. Although going by some of the comments, that isn't good news for Sun readers.

'Oh dear I won't get a wink of sleep tonight,' says exbootneck.

'Oh dear, how sad, never mind,' sneers Pete30601.

'Let this be a warning to anybody that slanders our wonderful military forces,' threatens sugoiboy.

Joepub is 'gutted' - but only because he thinks the taxpayer will have to pay for the re-build.

But the most curious comment comes from gloryglory who says: 'I wonder if there would be all this publicity if this was a Church that had an arson attack, and not a Mosque? No, I didn't think so, either.'

It wasn't a mosque, so the comparison isn't really on. But it's nonsense anyway - if a church had been burnt, we all know that it would be all over the tabloids. You know, like when Muslims were falsely blamed for attacking a soldier's home in Windsor.

But the most interesting bit of the comment is 'all this publicity'. That's 165 words in the Sun, and not one word in either the Mail or Express. Compare that with 'all the publicity' the original protests received.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Sun clarifies lies about Heather Mills

The Sun is the latest to make a 'clarification' - it clearly avoids apologising - about Heather Mills over a series of articles that have seen several 'clarifications' printed - including in the Express, Mail and Sunday Mirror. The Sun wrote:

HEATHER Mills has asked us to make clear she denies spending £10million of her divorce settlement, trying to sell her home to her ex-husband, masterminding a smear campaign against him and spending £1m on a swimming pool, £0.5m on staff wages and £6m on properties as we have reported. We are happy to make this clear and regret the misunderstanding.

Hypocrisy on royal bodyguards

Today the Mail is reporting Princess Eugenie mugged in Cambodia as thieves pelt her bodyguards with rocks. The story goes on to claim:

the fortunate escape is likely to vindicate the controversial use of round-the-clock protection for Eugenie and her older sister Beatrice...Both have faced criticism for the enormous cost of their security entourage.

'Controversy' and 'criticism'? Where from? Oh yes, that's right - it was in the Mail. On 18 April. They ran a two page spread asking Just why are we paying Princess Eugenie's £100,000 gap-year security bill? as it sniffed: 'Cavorting topless. Drinking till dawn. The gap year's a rite of passage. But for the sixth in line to the throne, it means embarrassing headlines for Grandma - and, more pertinently, round-the-clock bodyguards at great cost, paid for by you and me.'

Selective amnesia or shameless hypocrisy?

Express/Migrationwatch immigration scares (part 938)

Today's Daily Express front page is one of those that you look at and know isn't true. You don't even need to read the rest.

It's not exactly surprising that an immigration scare story that leads the Express is sourced from Migrationwatch. What is noticeable almost straight away about this one is that it hasn't reported MigrationWatch's briefing paper accurately. At all.

Migrationwatch states: 'A two child family living on the minimum wage whose parents live to 80 years of age costs the taxpayer between £900,000 and £1.1million over their lifetime.'

So that's '£1million' for a family of four. Not 'each illegal immigrant to cost us £1m' or a 'staggering £1million for each newcomer'.

As for that £1million figure, that is also highly dubious, although that is down to Migrationwatch rather than the Express (it's too much to expect Express hacks to do anything like fact-check, it's copy-and-paste all the way with Migrationwatch press releases.)

For a start, the paper is titled: 'Potential lifetime costs of an amnesty'. The doubt implied by the word 'potential' is of course absent from the Express, who use 'would cost'.

But Migrationwatch are basing their figures on highly speculative circumstances. It assumes every illegal immigrant is 25. It is assumes every illegal immigrant is going to get married and have two children who will claim child benefit for 16 years each (although it doesn't appear to assume these children will grow up and start working/paying tax). It assumes they are going to be in a minimum wage job for 40 years. It assumes they will then retire and live on pensioner credit for 15 years before dying at 80. It assumes every one of these families will spend their whole life in rented accommodation and will therefore spend 40 years on housing benefit - which amounts to £505,000 of the £1.1million 'cost' for London based immigrants.

That figure alone - half the total - based on that joint assumption about rented accommodation and minimum wage, seems so highly speculative it makes the whole thing seem like pointless scaremongering. Which is, of course, what it is. The Express' editorial even admits 'the Government and the Border Control Agency are unwilling to contemplate an amnesty'.

The Express do mention, in one paragraph, an IPPR report claiming that if these illegal immigrants were given an amnesty, they could pay around £1billion per year in tax. Now why wouldn't it put that figure in a front page splash?

What Susan Boyle won't do next

Another day, another Daily Star lie about Susan Boyle and I'm a Celebrity. Hairy Angel in Celeb Jungle makes it sound like a done deal. Of course, it isn't. The story is based on an anonymous source saying Boyle would be good for ratings. But it's all caveats - she 'could' be on the show, she is 'being lined up' for it, 'bosses reckon...[she] would be perfect.'

And as anyone who reads Daily Star reality tv stories knows, the 'anonymous source' doesn't exist.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Friday, 1 May 2009

Melanie Phillips tortures the truth

It's not a tabloid, by an article by Mail columnist Melanie Phillips in the Spectator requires comment as it includes such bizarre inaccuracies.

She is commentating on an article by Andrew Sullivan about the so called 'torture memos', released by the Obama administration.

At first she says 'alleged use of torture' which is a ridiculous thing to say now we know Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times. Bush apologists such as Phillips claim waterboarding isn't torture or/and that it works. Well, if it works, why do you need to do it 183 times in one month? And if it isn't torture, why were Japanese soldiers convicted and executed for doing it to American and Allied soldiers after the Second Word War?

Anyway, Phillips goes on to claim there is mindless anti-Bush lobby who wrongly accuse him and his cronies of linking 9/11 with Saddam, Al-Qaeda with Iraq.

'This claim was always false. Bush said no such thing...Bush did not at any time say there was an operational link. He said rather that there had been high level contacts.' She talks of 'repeated statements by the Bush administration that there was no evidence linking Saddam to 9/11'.

This is clearly, provably wrong. Here's Cheney on Meet the Press in September 2003 saying:

"We learn more and more that there was a relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda that stretched back through most of the decade of the '90s that it involved training, for example, on [biological and chemical weapons], that Al Qaeda sent personnel to Baghdad to get trained on the systems."

That's not making an operational link, Mel? OK, it's not Bush saying that, but Sullivan in fact accuses 'the Bush and Cheney ideology' of an 'operational link' so it would be intellectually dishonest of her to narrow that (yes, I know, that wouldn't stop her).

Bob Woodward in his book Bush At War quoted Bush at a Camp David meeting saying:

"I believe Iraq was involved, but I'm not going to strike them now. I don't have the evidence at this point."

David Corn, who has written a book on the lead up to war, says:

'Before the war, Bush said that Saddam "was dealing" with al Qaeda. He even charged that Saddam had "financed" al Qaeda'.


'What did Cheney tell Russert? Saddam, he insisted, "had a relationship with al Qaeda." When Russert pointed out that the intelligence committee "said that there was no relationship," Cheney interrupted and commented, "I haven't had a chance to read it."'

Watch this and see Cheney say Saddam had links with Al-Qaeda and that the lead hijacker on 9/11 met with Iraqi intelligence, and then lie about saying it, and then hear Bush confirm he said it.

The BBC also has a series of quotes here which shows how Cheney, Rice and Powell nudged and winked people towards a link. Note Cheney's statement that:

'We will have struck a major blow right at the heart of the...geographic base of the terrorists who've had us under assault now for many years, but most especially on 9/11.'

That was a few examples just from a quick Google search. I am totally convinced many more could be found. So why couldn't Phillips find any? Because like the loyal Bushies, she has an agenda to push and won't let anything like facts or evidence get in the way.

Littlejohn shows his ignorance. Again.

In between one mention of 'hell in a handcart' and two of 'elf'n'safety' (I shudder just typing it), Littlejohn once again proves his total ignorance of the matters he writes about. In a rant about the reduction in the number of job vacancies for migrant workers ('Believe it when it happens. There’s always a loophole') he says that there is still a shortage of orchestral musicians. Therefore:

Stand by for an influx of asylum-seekers arriving at Victoria coach station clutching violins, clinging to the roof of Eurostar with one hand while playing a clarinet with the other and tap-dancing their way through immigration.

Which manages to be both totally unfunny and totally incorrect. Because asylum seekers aren't allowed to work. You'd think someone who was so obsessed with the subject would at least know that after all this time.

Recommended - Angry Mob

Following two posts here about homophobia in the Sun and Mail, Angry Mob has gone into more detail about another Mail story that provides more evidence about what seems to be a rather ignored area of distasteful media coverage.

Star forced to apologise - again

The Star has apologised for the story about Prince William 'wrecking' an RAF plane. Two weeks seems a long time to correct something so obviously bogus, but then you get the feeling that had it been someone less important, it wouldn't have happened even that quickly.

We have been asked to make clear that, although the plane's engine had to be stripped and was out of action for a short time for investigation, no damage was done by the prince and the plane was not 'wrecked'. We apologise to Prince William for any embarrassment our article may have caused.

Note that this was on page 2, the original all over the front, and that all the details in this apology were in the original story. So the question remains - what the hell was this (non) story doing on the front page in the first place?