Saturday, 9 January 2010

New year, same old BBC-hating Mail

On Saturday 2 January the Daily Mail made clear it had no intention of changing anything for the new year.

Bullying the BBC, claiming Muslims are taking over, and a lack of good journalism were all present and correct in Lynda La Plante attacks BBC, saying Corporation would take a Muslim boy's script over hers - a classic headline to get Mail readers drooling.

Factually, the article is accurate. In an Telegraph interview, La Plante did say:

'If my name were Usafi Iqbadal and I was 19, then they’d probably bring me in and talk,' said La Plante. 'But... it’s their lack of respect that really grates on me.'
La Plante, who is 63, said: 'If you were to go to the BBC and say to them, ‘Listen, Lynda La Plante’s written a new drama, or I have this little Muslim boy who's just written one’, they’d say: ‘Oh, we’d like to see his script.’'

Her use of 'little Muslim boy' is incredibly patronising and to criticise the BBC for looking for new talent makes no sense.

But of course, her words were carefully chosen. It doesn't take much to work out why she choose 'Muslim' rather than someone from another religion.

To be fair to both the Telegraph and the Mail, they didn't stick the counter-quote, from the BBC controller of drama, at the end of their stories. It is quite revealing:

Ben Stephenson said: 'I don’t quite understand these points because Lynda had two pieces in development with us. She has one piece at the moment, and one piece that we paid fully for the script development.'

So she's involved with two projects at the BBC and is complaining she can't get noticed at the BBC because of all the 'little Muslim boys'. That makes perfect sense.

The problem is that the Mail didn't question whether what she said was even accurate, and that is why it is shoddy journalism. In the Independent, Susie Mesure spoke to several Muslim writers who were rightfully dismissive of La Plante. Sarfraz Mansoor said:

'I would love to meet the Muslim writers whose output is currently clogging up the television schedules: can she name any of these mythical individuals or are her comments simply a headline-grabbing way to yet again bash the BBC and blame Muslims?'

It's an obvious question, but one the Mail had no interest in asking.

And the people leaving comments got the point exactly as the Mail intended:

And all voted positive. Whereas this retort was massively rejected:

A few days later, the Mail noted (twice) that the BBC Trust was to undertake a review of its science coverage over claims it is biased on issues such as climate change.

The Mail, of course, has outstanding science coverage. Just a few days ago, it published an article critical of previous Mail health articles. EvidenceMatters has pointed out a recent miracle milkshake to tackle Alzheimer's article bears little resemblance to reality. And in August last year, Mail Science Editor Michael Hanlon pointed out:

one soon forgets that zombies, so far, exist only in the imagination.

The Mail's 'Case Against the Corporation' includes the following on wi-fi:

The BBC exaggerated the dangers of wireless computer networks in schools needlessly panicking parents, children and teachers.

Not that the Mail would ever publish scaremongering articles about wi-fi:
And those are just from the first page of the 90 results for wi-fi found on the Mail's site.

On climate change, the Mail says:

Critics say the BBC has gone beyond reporting the science of climate change...

This from a paper that has Richard Littlejohn droning on (and on) about polar bears and how climate change isn't happening, and providing not one iota of actual scientific evidence to back up his argument. In his 8 January column, he said the difference between weather and climate was purely a semantic one, and that because it was a bit nippy in his Florida home at the moment, global warming can't possibly be happening.

Other columnists have spoken of climate change 'hysteria' and 'superstition'. This is, apparently, just 'reporting the science'.

Most astonishing of all, the Mail draws attention to the BBC coverage on MMR. With a straight-face, it says:

Some critics say the BBC gave too much publicity to anti-measles, mumps and rubella vaccine campaigners at the height of the MMR-autism debate ten years ago.

Last April, Editor Paul Dacre tried to pretend the Mail never had a problem with MMR, dismissing that as an 'urban myth'. The articles listed here prove otherwise, a list which includes the fairly unequivocal:

Vaccine is poisonous substance

Oh, and there was this:
But don't expect the Mail to launch a review of its science coverage any time soon.

Next, the Mail was giving prominent coverage to 143 complaints that had been made about the Christmas episode of Doctor Who.

Tardis fans see red over Matt Smith's ginger joke explained:

It was an unexpected introduction to the 11th Timelord... and has prompted a flood of complaints from viewers. ‘I’m still not ginger’ Dr Who announced following his regeneration at the end of the New Year’s Day special which saw Matt Smith, 27, replace David Tennant, 38, as the TV's most famous time-traveller.

Unfortunately, the off-kilter comment was perceived by many as a sign of relief from the new arrival. As a result, it quickly led to complaints from outraged viewers that Dr Who and, by proxy the BBC, were anti-ginger.

Parents of red-headed children were particularly upset by what they perceived to be an insult. They claimed the programme, which was the second part of a Christmas special and was seen by 11 million viewers, would encourage victimisation.

The remark 'I'm still not ginger' was actually an expression of disappointment, a running-joke from David Tennant's first appearance as the Doctor ('Aww, I wanted to be ginger. I’ve never been ginger.')

So the 143 complainers simply misunderstood a joke. And it takes the Mail a long time to point this out (in the seventh paragraph and below a photo) because it wants to make it seem like the BBC is in real trouble again.

And, in the same vein, one day later, this:

The news that women have boobs shouldn't really be a shock to the Mail, given the amount of half-naked women it has on its website every day. Indeed, they had no problem showing Hugh Grant on TV with this bikini-clad woman.

The Mail, however, is highlighting this one just because it is the BBC. And they have usefully taken three screenshots so you can see just how much cleavage was on show.

Which, incidentally, was not very much.

One pic includes a ludicrously pervy caption:

And notice the 'enlarge' option, just in case you want a closer look at 'the very top part of her cleavage'.

With some class, Reid herself replied:

'...after breastfeeding three children, I'm amazed that people think I still have a cleavage worth complaining about.'

There is the odd anti-Reid comment, including the staggering:

But most of the 233 comments the Mail has allowed to be published rightly point out that these complaints - and the Mail's story - is pathetic.

So how can the headline claim she is 'under fire'. Here's how it goes.

Mail hack needs a story attacking the BBC. She scans the Points of View messageboard on the BBC website, finds some wafer-thin complaint about a bit of cleavage and turns it into a 'BBC under fire' story.

Well, a non-story.

A non-story that was lead picture story on the Mail website for many hours.

And the Mail hack in question? Georgina Littlejohn. She really is her father's daughter. The quality of her stories and her writing is just as dismal as his. Her recent gems - all of which are the most inane celebrity bullshit imaginable - include actor has a beard, former popstar goes to Tesco, current pop star smokes a cigarette, another pop star drinks a smoothie, singer has two hour plane delay and actor kisses girlfriend.

And when not writing mindless drivel, she's writing mindless drivel that is nasty and petty, such as this attack on Lucy Davis, who Littlejohn abuses simply because she had the audacity to emerge from an eleven-hour Trans-Atlantic flight without make-up and posh clothes on:

A word of advice for any female celebrity getting off a long-haul flight - don't forget to apply your make-up first... she didn't look too happy to be facing the flashbulbs dressed in unflattering casual clothes and sporting blotchy skin and bags under her eyes. The only thing she had appeared to have applied to her face was a smudge of lip balm which was smeared haphazardly across her lips.

It's typically charming stuff from the Littlejohn clan, isn't it?

But back to the BBC and, of course, Jonathan Ross.

The idea that Paul Dacre and many other people at the Mail would be smiling with smug satisfaction at forcing Ross out of his job is a horrible thought.

Enough has been written about Ross' decision to quit the BBC already. Lots of it in the Mail. They were desperate to rub it in. He'd been 'humiliated' and 'humbled', he was 'infantile' and 'immature'. They made it clear the BBC had got fed up with the criticism Ross attracted, thus patting themselves on the back for a job well done.

With his Radio 2 show being pre-recorded in the wake of the overblown Sachsgate affair and the Mail making excessive fuss about any risque joke or comment Ross made and using it to attack the BBC, it's little wonder he had had enough. And, with the BBC likely to come under scrutiny in an election year, his statement that:

'It's a good time for me to move on and probably not a bad time for them either'

seemed understandable. But the Mail wouldn't have that. They just wanted to imply that Ross quit because he couldn't get his hands on any more of your money:

You can't help but hope he does as much to offend the Mail in the remaining six months of his contract as possible.

Needless to say, there have been a staggering number of comments on the staggering number of stories about Ross in the last couple of days. Curiously, the Mail have not even been moderating these comments. Why not?

When Jan Moir wrote another woeful column on 1 January (about David Tennant), comments were moderated and after 154 had been published - most of them lambasting the endlessly uninteresting Moir - comments were no longer accepted.

But when it comes to Ross, moderation is switched off and over 1,000 comments are published, the majority highly critical of him and the BBC.

You would almost think that was deliberate so as many insults could be thrown at him as possible.

Some of them are worth highlighting, because it's not just him that cops it, but also his kids (aged 12, 15 and 18):

And, worst of the lot:

Sachsgate was about people making poor-taste comments to someone based on something a family member did.

Good to see that the Mail and its readers are still outraged by such behaviour...


  1. Great stuff MacGuffin.

    I found the science section particularly interesting. How come they always get it wrong?

    They scaremonger when the science suggests we shouldn't be worried, but they don't scaremonger when the science says we should be worried.

    I don't get it.

  2. I wish the Fail would start lambasting ITV instead. I have never watched one programme on that channel that was worth it. But the BBC has Top Gear, QI, Mock The Week, Have I Got News For You...
    Just shows what uneducated fools read (and write for) the Fail.

  3. You think ITV is bad, you should try STV. Having opted out of most of the half-decent stuff ITV does show, STV is now resorting to documentaries on haggis hunting, shortbread making and re-runs of Taggart.

  4. Wow, 580 Mail readers gave a negative vote to Mohammed from London's eminently reasonable comment on the Lynda La Plante article. And 521 rated positively the incisive opinion that "THE UK IS STILL WHITE AND ENGLISH SPEAKING!". Yes, isn't it ridiculous that the BBC insists on broadcasting all its output in Urdu, and that nothing by Lynda La Plante is ever seen on our screens?

    The existence of these idiots really depresses me sometimes.

  5. I presume Georgina Littlejohn got her job due to her natural eye for a story and formidable writing talent? Ah, thought so...

  6. This entry is brilliant. It proves like no other the need for legislation to force newspapers to tell the truth.

  7. good work, old chum! i must say that i consider myself one of those few people in the country with some modicum of sense (it's good to see there are others on here too :p), and am glad to have found myself in good company here. the behaviour of the daily fail is not altogether surprising, though it certainly remains somewhat of an irritation. they'd be more amusing if so many people didn't take their articles seriously. i'm rather pleased that there are people out there still tearing their absurd attempts at journalism apart along with the regurgitated chinese whispers often espoused by the fail's audience of credulous, knuckle-dragging morons.. i'm still waiting for the headline: 'asylum seeking paedophiles take ALL our jobs AND rape diana's corpse!!1!' :D
    keep up the good work, old sport!


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