Saturday, 27 March 2010

Richard and Judy and the tabloid innuendo club

In the Femail section of today's Mail website is this:

The 'jibes' appeared on Thursday 25 March when, under the headline 'Richard and Woozy', The Sun's Neil Syson decided to stick the boot in:

Former telly queen Judy Finnigan looks like she could do with a couple of hours rest on her old couch after a boozy lunch yesterday.

She was joined by hubby Richard and daughter Chloe for the meal at a cafe-bar in Hampstead, north London - washed down by a few glasses of wine.

Before most people had even seen it, Richard Madeley had tweeted:

'We're on it' suggested lawyers were involved, and the Sun's online article soon disappeared.

But not before the never-knowing-pleasant Georgina Littlejohn had managed to borrow (ahem) the pictures and ideas for the Mail website:

She wrote:

She has been subjected to allegations of alcoholism which she and husband Richard Madeley have always furiously denied.

But these pictures of a tipsy-looking Judy Finnigan are certainly not going to do her any favours or convince anyone that she's not partial to a drink or two.

This nasty little article suffered the same fate as the Sun one, disappearing from the website before the end of the day.

Today's Mail article is, presumably, a way of correcting the record without the Mail having to actually apologise. Indeed, they can pretend it was nothing to do with them:

But as she was photographed emerging, looking bleary-eyed and linking arms with her husband and daughter, everyone assumed the worse.

'Everyone'? Really? Or just some vile hacks with little journalistic talent looking to invent a story around a pap shot?

Until now, Judy's attitude, as it was with her depression, her miscarriage and her hysterectomy, has been to grin and get on with the job.

But this time it is different: the insinuation that she needed help walking because of an ongoing alcohol battle has been too much to bear.

Yes, how dare people 'insinuate' such a thing. The Mail must be appalled at such behaviour...

Richard, her loyal husband, is so furious about the false rumours that he decided to speak out to the Mail in a bid to show people just how wrong the stories are.

So when the Mail says it 'can reveal' the truth, and that Richard is speaking out 'to the Mail', they're covering the fact they are almost certainly doing this to avoid any further trouble over the original article.

Richard goes on to explain how they did go for lunch and yes, Judy had a glass-and-a-half of wine, but:

'Judy has ruptured the anterior cruciate ligaments in both her knees, and, like most people with this condition, appreciates an arm or rail going up or down steps or curbs.

'Crude comments were also written about her eyes. Again, for the record, Judy is recovering from not one, but two, operations in recent weeks on her right eye.

The Mail even include this break-out quote, just so no-one misses their furious back-tracking:

The original articles were full of spite and bile and completely bereft of anything resembling news. The Mail has given space to one of the people involved and pretended to be above it all, despite having gleefully poured fuel on the fire in the first place.

It now admits the original story was 'wrong' but appears to be getting away with actually apologising for it. No word from the Sun yet, but they look like getting away with it - deleting the story and acting like it never happened - too.


  1. I suppose being columnists for a rival paper doesn't help them.

  2. I thank you because you and the fellow blog writers(Angry Mob and Anton Vowl)have made me read the papers far more critically, and as a consequence, far more angered about how low standards of journalism have sunk. Thank you for pointing these things out, you do a great service and I wanted to thank you for it.

  3. I don't quite understand this. The Sun prints an article which is bog standard shoddy papparrazo based crap. R+J get the lawyers on to it, but not before a bargain basement columnist for the DM website gets hold of it and sticks a daft opinion up on the site...

    The DM prints a long article in its traditional media edition, which I'm sure has a much larger audience amongst the DM's target readership than the website (let's face it, the DM is pretty net hostile except for following the news about vacuous US celebrities on twitter).

    So in your world, where no matter what the DM does it is the root of all evil and bigotry and never ever to be trusted etc., even though they gave R+J a much larger platform to set the record straight with, even though the offending article was removed from the website...

    You just can't give them a break in the slightest can you? I don't like the DM one bit, but I have to admit this particular article does seem like you are just having a go at them. You give no credit for a) the removal of the article (which only ever appeared online for less than a day, per your blog post), and b) the opportunity afforded to R+J.

    You are constantly berating, and rightly so, the DM for its 'churnalism' and seeming inability to check facts and go for the sensationalist angle. Surely their printing of this story and the removal of the other should at least be acknowledged as a step in the right direction, no matter whether or not you personally have a problem with the supposed implication of one or two of the sentences ("insinuated" etc.). Also, I'm fairly sure that the websites of most of the tabloid press, and most of the rest of the press as well, will allow articles to be posted by their journalists with only brief moderation - they pay their journalists relatively well at the national level because they trust their instincts on stories, no matter how fluffy (this was filed under TV and Showbiz, hardly Politics or anything remotely important). You have pointed out several times that factually incorrect articles have remained online for days or even weeks - this one was hours and got removed very quickly.

    C'mon MacGuffin, you write a good blog but don't let your personal distaste for certain newspapers override your own journalistic standards, else you will become guilty of sensationalism and not letting irritating things like facts get in the way of your articles. You are better than a member of the Littlejohn famiy - try and stay that way!

  4. Charlie - Thanks for your comment.

    I take your point but I just wish that newspapers would be more willing to actually say 'sorry' rather than pretending these mistakes never happened (burying apologies, using weasel-words to avoid using the word 'apologise' etc).

    My problem with this article was partly that it was almost certainly done under threat of further action, and partly that the Mail was trying to pretend it had absolutely nothing to do with the original claims.

    And frankly, I think the original was despicable - because of the nastiness and because it was stolen from the Sun without any fact-checking or attempt to get a comment.

    I'm glad that Richard and Judy seem satisfied with the new article - in the end that is most important.

    However, if a hatchet job like this was done on someone who wasn't famous, would the Mail have given them so much right of reply and so quickly? I doubt it.

  5. Usually when the DM put the word 'NOT' in capital letters in the middle of a statement it means they don't actually believe the statement. Despite the article starting with Richards denial the longer it went on their were a number of references to Judy enjoying a drink especially when she knows there are photographers around.


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