Thursday 30 April 2009

Mail points and stares at lesbian

The Mail has some mild homophobia of its own today, in an article about Kelly McGillis coming out as a lesbian. At time of writing, this is their main picture story on their homepage. How anyone coming out is considered important news these days is surprising (OK, not including the Pope). But how it becomes one of the main stories of the day when it's a 51 year old actress who hasn't made a big film for nearly 25 years, I don't know.

What's baffling is this line: In 2000, she further fuelled speculation when she filmed a lesbian sex scene in 2000 thriller The Monkey's Mask. Apart from the inept use of 2000, how is someone doing a same-sex sex scene 'fuelling speculation'? I haven't noticed any 'speculation' that Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor are gay after they kissed in I Love You Phillip Morris.

When will these papers grow up about gay issues?

Sun's shower of homophobia

The latest instalment of The Life and Times of Jade and Jack is to be found in a Sun story so full of homophobia it makes you wince. Tweed flees naked Boy George in jail shower propagates the notion that all gay men are sex mad, unable to control themselves, and always interested in younger men.

As this story is based on that most reliable of sources - 'a pal' - it's almost certainly not even true.

Jack apparently 'turned tail and ran from the showers in prison — after THREE encounters with naked gay star Boy George.' Notice he's 'naked gay star'. They don't say 'naked straight Jack'. He's naked because he's in the shower. And why does he have to 'flee', as the headline says?

'Shy Jack, whose Big Brother star wife Jade Goody died of cancer last month, repeatedly met beefy George...George, 47, who stands 6ft, is said to be an intimidating figure for young prisoners at the jail.'

Note how 'beefy' (sigh) George only intimidates 'young' men. And let's not forget Jack is serving his second prison term for a second violent assault, so let's cut the 'poor shy intimidated Jack' crap.

'A pal told The Sun: Jack knew what Boy George was in jail for and didn’t want to take any chances.'

'Take any chances'? What does that mean? George was convicted of beating an escort with a chain. Why did Jack think that was going to happen? Well of course, that isn't what is meant here, they are implying every cliche about jail showers is true.

The pal says:

'Jack isn’t exactly the most comfortable person when it comes to getting attention from other men. As soon as he saw Boy George was standing there naked having a wash he was gobsmacked.'

The use of the word 'gobsmacked' is entirely deliberate, and only emphasises this is probably made up. But who said Jack was 'getting attention' from him anyway? All the story says is he saw George in the shower.

The story also mentions George was 'wiping himself down' (yes, he's in the shower!) and that there was 'fleeting eye contact', which suggests something far more erotic than ever actually happened.

More likely, the Sun found out that Jack and George might be serving time close to each other and invented the whole story to make George seem like a sexual predator. Because, in their mind, that's what all gay men are.

[EDIT (8 Jun): Two weeks later, The Sun admitted it was total fictional bullshit]

Wednesday 29 April 2009

More on Peter Hill

Roy Greenslade has done a good job of highlighting six mistakes (I'd call them lies) from Peter Hill at yesterday's Select Committee hearing. Can anyone name one reason why Hill keeps his job? Can anyone remember an exclusive broken in Hill's paper - and by that I mean one that was true - that has set the news agenda?

How the tabloids cover crime

Anyone on the mailing list of the Institute of Race Relations will frequently receive batches of emails in their inbox highlighting news stories about racism. Having looked through some of these recently, one thought struck me - that I hadn't noticed any of these incidents mentioned in our favourite tabloids.

So in an entirely unscientific (and possible entirely useless) experiment, I randomly selected 13 articles from the past few weeks, mainly attacks against members of the black and ethnic minority community. I then searched the websites of the Sun, Express and Mail to see if any of them had reports on the story. The results won't surprise anyone, but here goes...

1. Man accused of five racist attacks in 11 minutes (Coventry Telegraph, 24 April 2009) - Jason Baker was charged with three counts of racially aggravated assault and one count of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm following the two incidents on March 30. He is accused of punching two people in the face, shouting ‘Get back to your own country’ at one of them, and later fracturing the skull of an Asian builder after hitting him with a hammer.

None of these tabloids covered the story.

2. Teachers report 'racist bullying' (, 23 April 2009) - A Teachers TV survey of 802 teachers has found that nearly half say racist bullying is a problem in their schools.

The Express covered in Racism is ‘still rife in schools’ (although the quote marks help put a suggestion of doubt around it)

3. Racist escapes terror charge (Scotsman, 15 April 2009) - Neil MacGregor has admitted threatening to blow up Scotland's biggest mosque and to behead one Muslim a week until every mosque was shut down.

None of these tabloids covered the story.

4. Racists force out Polish family (Newtownabbey Times, 15 April 2009) - Vandals smashed windows and sprayed graffiti at a property in the Forthilll Drive area - the latest in a series of sickening attacks in recent were smashed and the front of the house was painted with racist slogans including 'White Power' and 'Poles Out'.

None of these tabloids covered the story.

5. Alcoholic Tonbridge gunman jailed (thisiskent, 3 April 2009) - Ian Pennells admitted possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence after firing a .22 air rifle after terrorising two men in a drunken racist attack.

None of these tabloids covered the story.

6. Knife attack on Polish man (Paisley Daily Express, 31 March 2009) - A Polish man had his leg slashed after being ambushed by a gang of five men.

None of these tabloids covered the story.

7. Family speak out over racism terror (Newtownabbey Times, 26 March 2009) - An Indian woman has spoken out about the numerous racist attacks she and her family have been subjected to over a year and a half in Newtownabbey, near Belfast.

None of these tabloids covered the story.

8. Chef's jaw broken in racist attack (Asian News, 25 March) - Abdul Motin, who owns Shaheen Takeaway, was left with a badly broken jaw when thugs entered his premises on Friday night and threw a glass bottle at his face. He was hospitalised and needed reconstructive surgery on his jaw after the most recent in a string of attacks going back three years.

None of these tabloids covered the story.

9. £4,000 for Pendle race abuse teacher (Lancashire Telegraph, 25 March 2009) - Ajaz Ditta, a teacher who was racially abused by pupils at a Pendle school, has been awarded £4,000. The school has been ordered to implement changes and to take advice from the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

None of the tabloids covered this story. But note how the Sun, Mail (twice) and Express covered the case of Erica Connor who was 'branded a racist at a mainly Muslim school', so they're only interested when the racism is against white people.

10. Off-duty officers 'attacked' man (, 23 March 2009) - Southwark Crown Court has heard how three drunk, off-duty police officers attacked and racially abused Ghanian Ernest Domfeh on a Tube train in London.

The Mail did report on this story in Three drunk off-duty police officers 'attacked Tube passenger and called him a black b******', although have used quote marks to suggest they don't believe it, and have also used a deliberately unflattering pic of the victim, puffing on a cigarette.

11. Muslim inmates in racism claim (, 21 March 2009) - Muslim inmates at the Glen Parvae young offenders institute in Leicestershire have told the BBC that they have been verbally abused by staff. The complaints echo critical reports published by the prison inspectorate, citing similar racial taunts at other prisons.

None of these tabloids covered the story.

12. Police officers in abuse case accused of 60 other assaults (Guardian, 21 March 2009) - Police officers involved in the 'serious, gratuitous and prolonged' attack on Babar Ahmad that led to the Met police paying him £60,000 in damages have been accused of sixty previous assaults against other Black or Asian men.

All the tabloids including 'outraged' stories that Ahmad had been awarded damages. The Mail reported on the allegations here although with great scepticism.

13. Racist stab attack man locked up (Glasgow Evening Times, 4 March 2009) - Grant Murphy, 18, who stabbed a 14-year-old boy eight times in a racist attack in Glasgow city centre has been jailed for four years and three months.

None of these tabloids covered the story.

So there it is. 13 stories and only three articles appeared in the three tabloids (so 3 out of 39). This isn't scientific - articles may have appeared in the paper but not been added to the site (especially with the Express) but I think that's unlikely.

It could also be argued that these stories never appeared in the Independent or Guardian either and that would probably be true. But the point then is that those papers aren't so quick to publish stories where asylum seekers or minortiy ethnic people are the perpetrators, as the tabloids clearly are. It's not hard to imagine the coverage a roles-reversed version of story 3 would look... And the differences in the reporting of the teacher's compensation stories (no. 9) are stark.

When Ian Blair suggested the media is institutionally racist in its coverage of crime there was a predictable outcry from the media. Surely not us, guv. The Mail was happy to emphasis claims he'd 'lost the plot'. The Sun said: 'How dare Sir Ian use them as a platform for his political correctness? Besides, his assertions are absurd'. Clearly my little survey is very limited, but I am absolutely sure more examples would produce the same results. The tabloids have little interest in crime when the victims are from ethnic minorities, but dwell on it excessively when they're the perpetrators.

So, to end, a story from page 371 of Flat Earth News by Nick Davies:

I spoke to a man who had worked for the Daily Mail for some years as a senior news reporter. He said: 'They phoned me early one morning and told me to drive about three hundred miles to cover a murder. It was a woman and her two children who'd been killed. I got an hour into the journey, and the news desk called me on my mobile and said, "Come back." I said, "Why's that?" They said, "They're black."

Tuesday 28 April 2009

Peter Hill is still a vile, immoral liar

MediaGuardian are running a story about Peter Hill's appearance before the Media Select Committee today. I will need more time to look at what he said, but it seems laughable to suggest that he would offer to resign over publishing 100+ false stories about Madeleine McCann. Because that would credit him with far more morality and conscience than he's ever exhibited in his bloody awful rag.

They all look the same

What troubles? Rihanna is all smiles again as she soaks up the sun with Chris Brown lookalike headlines a Daily Mail story by Dominique Hines. One of their 'stories' that's just some pap shots of a sleb wearing not much.

But even a cursory glance at the pic in question shows that the mystery man who 'could pass for [Chris Brown's] double' doesn't actually look much like him at all.

Indeed, three of eight comments so far have said the same thing.

But you know how it is at the Mail. Those non-whites, they all look the same, don't they?

Monday 27 April 2009

Recommended - Dacre lies!

Worth reading this post on Rhetorically Speaking about Paul Dacre telling some lies about Mail coverage of the MMR nonsense at last week's Select Committee.

What the writer doesn't mention, which follows on from the final line, is that Dacre is the Chair of the Editor's Code of Practice Committee. Some 'independence'.

Sharia law is coming. Oh, no, it isn't

The Daily Mail's story EU judges want Sharia law applied in British courts gives the paper a chance to do two of its favourite things: bash Europe and suggest Islam is going to take over the UK.

The problem is, as you might expect, is that the story isn't very accurate.

As the Mail sees it, 'an EU plan calls for family courts across Europe to hear cases using the laws of whichever country the couple involved have close links to'. And of course, they suggest this means Saudi Arabia, although reasonable people might assume this is more aimed at people from other European countries who have freely moved to other parts of the EU.

Well, firstly, the so-called 'Rome III' is only draft regulation. Secondly, Rome III is not even new but been floating around for several years. Thirdly, the UK government opted out of Rome III is November 2006.

Indeed, in a letter from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Department for Constitutional Affairs, Baroness Ashton said:

The Commission has, however, brought forward no evidence to demonstrate that this is a real problem, and the Government remains to be satisfied that such rules are genuinely necessary.

The Centre for Social Justice report on which the Mail's story is based reveals all this. To quote the key passages (from pages 15-16):

There was a consultation and the UK, unusual among EU countries, had the power to opt out and did so. Subsequently a couple of other European Union countries who always only apply local law, emboldened by the UK approach, indicated that they were also unhappy with this new legislation, even though they did not have an opt out power.

The consequence is that the European Union has temporarily shelved its plans to impose applicable law on all European Union countries. Nevertheless Brussels has made it clear that it wants to review the position and still seeks to impose applicable law wherever possible. The UK must therefore be ready to deal with this proposed change in the law.

To repeat: the European Union has temporarily shelved its plans to impose applicable law.

The Mail does admit in its final paragraph that 'least nine EU states - not including the UK - are said to want to push ahead with the Rome III plan'. Said to? Rather vague, and the fact that the UK retains its opt out means this goes into the Shit that's never gonna happen category.

Mail - still can't stand Jonathan Ross

Was June Brown aka Dot Cotton humiliated at last night's BAFTA's? She was nominated but didn't win. Does that constitute a humiliation?

The answer is no, of course not. So when Jonathan Ross is nominated and doesn't win, is he 'humiliated'? Well, according to the Mail, he is.

It's unsurprising that they would make a big deal out of him not winning after their endless campaign against him following the 'Sachsgate' over-reaction. But whereas June Brown was 'overlooked', he is 'humiliated' and 'snubbed'.

The Mail claims: 'The decision suggests that some of his peers have grown tired of his antics in the wake of the Andrew Sachs affair.' In fact Harry Hill won the 'best entertainment performer' award both for the second year running, so it doesn't actually prove any such thing.

His red carpet quote that: 'There are certain members of the Press who may have an agenda against the BBC and me perhaps,' at least shows the Mail knows when it is being talked about. And there's nothing like a bitter tabloid to keep a feud going.

Wednesday 22 April 2009

Daily Star celebrates St George, but doesn't follow any of what he stood for

The Daily Star have been obsessing over the impending St George's Day, blurring the line between patriotism and racism. Today, three pages and an editorial are dedicated to him. It includes a '10 facts about our hero' which includes a helpful reminder that 'George never slew a dragon.' Thanks for that. I'm sure most people realise that already, as they don't exist... person who doesn't realise is Emma Wall. Reporter for the Daily Star. In her full-of-irony article St George's Daze: Kids haven't got a clue about him, she laments the results of a new poll showing 'half of us are clueless about our in 10 young people do not even know when St George's Day is.' She goes on:

Shock new figures show 25million have no idea why the famous dragon-slayer is our patron saint despite a recent swell of English pride.

Clueless indeed.

The article continues with a quote from the editor of This England magazine, Stephen Garnett. He says:

“St George stands for everything that makes this country great – freedom of expression, helping those less fortunate, tolerance of other people’s beliefs, kindness and standing up for what you believe to be right."

But when did the Daily Star ever exhibit any of those characteristics? Its editorial rants about 'mass immigration,' 'PC loonies' and 'Islamic extremists' having 'confused our sense of identity'. Note that these people are not considered one of 'us'.

The Muslim Luton protestors were exercising freedom of expression but were vilified by the Star. Asylum seekers are less fortunate, but their second editorial calls them all undeserving benefit scroungers. The Star certainly doesn't tolerate the views of the so-called politically correct.

So what is it about St George they do like? The answer is, it appears, rather sinister.

Will the Star write any old made up shit and stick it on the front page?

Yesterday I noted how the Daily Star had a misleading headline on its front page (again!) for what was possibly one of the thinnest stories that's made a front page for a long time. Well it's two in two days.

Talent Sue: The Movie reheats the idea of a movie of Susan Boyle's life. But it goes further.

It puts a pic of Angelina Jolie next to one of Susan.

The sub-head declares 'Angelina Jolie is up for the lead role!'

The first paragraph categorically states 'Angelia [sic] Jolie among big names lined up to play her.'

Anyone with any wit would already realise this is bollocks. But read further (as a clue, the continuation is on page 10...) and the clearly shameless journo Katie Begley writes:

Here are a few suggestions, some of them cheeky, of those the Daily Star thinks would be perfect for the role.

And it goes on to list Miriam Margolyes, Kathy Bates and Angelina Jolie.

So the Daily Star had a quick poll of their 'newsroom' and came up with the list which they then report as a factual front page news story. For a film that doesn't actually exist.

Truly, truly, pathetic.

Quick thought on the terror plot that probably wasn't

Now that charges have been dropped against all those arrested during the very high-profile operation in the north-west just before Easter, I do hope the tabloids - and all media - will report on this news with the same vigour and prominence that they covered the original arrests.

Of course, all that's stopping them will be the budget and the fact they won't want to say 'they weren't going to blow up the Trafford Centre like we said - sorry about that.'

Still, with unemployment figures topping 2.1 million and £90bn of public borrowing, you could say it's a good day to bury bad news...

Nick Davies threatened for telling the truth

Nick Davies told the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee that two newspapers had threatened to smear him because of his book Flat Earth News.

Davies said he was called by a journalist from the newspaper in question, which he declined to name, alluding to a "grotesque sexual smear about my wife that was going into the paper".

He added that, even though he did not have a wife, he was told by the journalist that the paper was still going to run the story but with his denial in the copy.

"I called the editor and told him that I had tape-recorded the conversation with the reporter in which he admitted that it wasn't true and I told the editor if the story was published I would make public that conversation. They backed down," Davies told the committee, which is investigating libel, privacy and press standards.

Flat Earth News contains a 34 page chapter on the Daily Mail...

Tuesday 21 April 2009

How they aren't related

Like something from the Private Eye's 'How they are related' column, The Sun makes an effort to avoid saying that Dick Best's racist comment about Delon Armitage was made on Sky Sports News (owned, like The Sun, by Murdoch):

Rugby coach in TV racist slur

TOP rugby coach Dick Best’s reputation was in tatters last night after he made a racist remark about an England ace on live TV.

The former British Lions boss was asked to name the team he would send on the up-coming tour of South Africa.

He picked Trinidad-born Delon Armitage ahead of Ireland winger Tommy Bowe.

He was asked why and — thinking his microphone was turned off — said: “Well, you’ve always got to have a coloured boy in the team somewhere.”

Sky Sports News presenter Mike Wedderburn, who is black, looked shocked.

Co-host Millie Clode apologised.

Last night Armitage refused to comment. A spokesman for The Telegraph, for which Best has written columns, said: “We have no plans to use him in future.”

Ex-soccer boss Ron Atkinson made a similar mic mistake and ended his TV career in 2004 by calling Chelsea ace Marcel Desailly “a lazy n****r”.

Racism and homophobia

Which way will the Daily Mail and its readers jump when someone makes an intolerant statement?

Today we had Sky Sports apologises after Dick Best makes live race slur against Delon Armitage, where the man in question said:

'You've always got to have a coloured boy in the team'.

There is an almost total lack of the type of outrage the Mail would have expressed had this been someone on the BBC. Especially Jonathan Ross.

The story goes on:

His co-presenter Millie Clode later apologised. '(Best) made remarks that he thought were off-camera.'

Which is fine with the Daily Mail because Carol Thatcher's remarks were off-mic (and a 'joke' - a joke which we have still yet to hear, even as she defended herself on the Andrew Marr programme on Sunday) and the Mail doesn't mind that type of racism.

At time of writing there are only 3 reader comments. The two rated negative say: 'there is no defence for such a comment,' and 'His comment was crass and stupid and totally unnecessary!' It takes a special kind of bigot to rate those the negative comments on show here. By tomorrow, you can imagine all the 'political correctness gone mad' comments will be present and correct.

But what happened yesterday when the Mail comments section became full of...fairly reasonable comments. Magistrate quits after telling Steps singer Ian Watkins 'gays are paedophiles' in documentary was the headline. The Magistrate in question - Byron Butler - is quoted as saying:

'I think probably it's a suspicion of the mainstream that they [gay men] perhaps will interfere with young people and so on. And that's historically been the case....That is the danger - paedophiles.'

Yet almost all of the comments were critical of Butler, calling his comments 'scary, 'stupid' and 'not suitable for a member of the human race'. Bravo - although the commentator saying that he is 'entitled to his opinion' is also rated positive.

So racism and homophobia are still fine, but equating gays and paedophiles is even beyond the pale for them.

Talent Sue not had a makeover

The Daily Star treated its readers (if they can read) to another misleading front page headline about a reality TV show.

'Talent Sue Makeover Shock' jumps on the Susan Boyle bandwagon (when will the backlash begin...) and clearly implies she has had a makeover. In fact, someone they call 'computer wizard Ian Angel' took her face, made it look both totally unreal and totally unlike her, and then stuck it on the body of a waving Sarah Palin.

I'm not sure whether it's more insulting to call this wizardry or a front page 'picture exclusive'.

Saturday 18 April 2009

Classic immigration scare story from the Star

Britain welcomes million Moldovans, declares the Daily Star today. Sounds like a definite statement of fact. But as this is both a) an immigration story and b) in the Star, you know it isn't quite what the headline says.

And you only need to read the first line to see the back-peddling:

Britain is set to be swamped by up to a million Moldovans after crazy European laws opened up a back-door route for them.

The use of the word 'swamped' is appalling, but sadly all too common. But notice how it is now 'up to a million'. In other words: not a million at all.

The Romanian President has said he wants to simplify the process to give citizenship to Moldovans who have family ties to Romania. It has not yet been done, and possibly, may not be - it is a reaction to internal Moldovan politics and it is likely the EU will have something to say about such a plan. But as Romania is an EU country, that would allow those Moldovans - thought to be a million - the same rights to travel around Europe as other citizens.

And of course, the Star is trying to sell the idea that when, not if, the plan goes ahead, and every single eligible Moldovan does seek Romanian citizenship, then every single one of them is going to head straight to the UK. Which, of course, they won't.

Friday 17 April 2009

Lies, Express lies and statistics

On the front page of early editions of the Express was the curious headline 'Marriage is on way out'. Before you could say 'where is it going?', the police-baton-bruise on the leg of a G20 protestor had taken over.

But the story lives on in 'Weddings plunge by 40,000', a mindlessly partisan article by Sarah O'Grady. The headline comes from this: Between 1996 and 2006 some 40,000 fewer marriages were recorded. Fewer than when? What does that actually mean?

Using figures for just England and Wales, there were 278,975 marriages in 1996. In 2006, that was 239,450. So there were nearly 40,000 fewer marriages in 2006 compared to 1996. But O'Grady writes it in a very clumsy way.

She adds: Since Labour came to power, at least 4,000 fewer marriages have taken place every year.

And look at the Excel file here and it isn't as simple as dividing 40,000 by 10 years. For a start, 1996 wasn't the year Labour came to power - if you take the 1997 figure as the start, the difference with 2006 is only 33,000 less. The table also shows that between 2001 and 2004, the number of marriages actually increased for each of those years, before declining again. A decline that has been going on fairly steadily since the early 1970s.

So how does the Express come to the conclusion that 'critics blamed Labour’s 12 years in power for this erosion of traditional family values'?

If these figures go up to 2006, that is only 9 years of a Labour government. Of the 10 years between 1996 and 2006, Labour wasn't even in government for nearly a year and half of that period. Of the rest, there were increases in the number of marriages in four other years.

And compare this with the Major government from 1990-97. There were nearly 59,000 fewer marriages in 1997 than in 1990 - nearly double the decline under Labour.

But of course, the Express will never let the facts get in the way of a bit of political point-scoring. So in a shortened version of the same article, the headline becomes 'Has Labour destroyed the British way of life?' and the editorial thunders that 'The decline in marriage is doing terrible harm'. Three articles, not one suggesting this is an on-going decline...

Wednesday 15 April 2009

Recommended reading

Two posts by 5CC - one on some migrant numbers in the Mail, another on more unreliable 'foreign crime' stats in the Express.

St George banned during two day St George celebration!

Yesterday this blog covered the Daily Star's blatantly untrue front page and wondered whether it gets away with it because no one takes the rag seriously. The problem is, the Star doesn't just limit its crap to 'sleb' TV and Royal tittle-tattle.

Today's front page has a small teaser story headed 'St George ban anger'. Its continuation inside reads St George banned but it's okay for Muslims to abuse our troops.

And just about everything about this story is provably untrue.

Let's take the headline. St George has not been banned. Indeed, there is a two-day event celebration taking place at Wrest Park. Two days from 10am-6pm. That's a lot of St George if he's 'banned'. And as this and this shows, there was a similar celebration last year too.

The story begins:

Patriotic Brits blasted a council yesterday for barring a St George’s Day parade – after letting Muslim fanatics abuse our soldiers. Anyone wanting to stage an event in Luton, Beds, has to seek permission from the council’s Safety Advisory Group (SAG). But while fanatical Muslims were given the green light to gather and scream insults when the Royal Anglian Regiment returned from Iraq last month, an application for a St George’s Day celebration this month was turned down.

Later on in the story, as you usually find with these sensationalised stories, the truth comes out. A Luton Council and Bedforshire Police spokesman said:  

“The SAG was unable to comment on the application because of a lack of information such as detailed route plan, full risk assessment, and timings of the event.”

So these 'patriots' are so interested in holding a parade, they can't even say when it starts and ends and where it will go. On top of that, and this was curiously omitted from the Star story, is that the applicant was a man named Paul Ray who runs a blog called Lionheart (I won't link to his wretched site) and was arrested in 2008 over inflammatory comments on his website. A man who sought political asylum in South Carolina.

A quick look at the blog sees him supporting the BNP in a post called 'Jihad against our children'; another reveals the 'Horror of 21st Century Britain'. In another he asks: 'Do you want your children to become Pakistani Muslim drug and sex slaves?' Why a man who wants to leave Britain or constantly tell you how awful it is is regarded a patriot, I don't know.

But if the Star wants to throw its support behind a St George's Day parade organised by a BNP supporter, then it should be more open about the people involved.

There was a protest against the decision to dis-allow this parade on Monday 12 April. The Star reported on this too, with a story beginning:

Police broke up a march yesterday by British people wanting to “reclaim” their streets from Muslim fanatics.

This is a typical Star 'them and us' tactic - notice how 'British people' want to reclaim the streets from Muslims, as if a Briton can't be a Muslim and vice versa.

It's hard to verify the facts of this protest because no media outlet apart from the Star appears to have reported on it. They claim the gathering was 'stopped and then broken up by police' and a protestor called Craig McKoy claimed he had two teeth 'smashed in by a policeman's truncheon during the event'. Maybe he did, and in this post-G20 period, accusations of police force should be taken seriously.

But the Star's own story makes it clear that 'Monday's rally was stopped because there had been no application to the Safety Advisory Group,' and was therefore illegal. And Bedfordshire police's own statement says the protest 'ended peacefully' and they had enough warning to ensure it 'remained a peaceful event'.

[EDIT: Thanks to Richard at Bartholomew's Notes on Religion, who has also discussed the Luton protests and the Star story. He points out that Bedford Today did report on the 12 April protest, but didn't mention the two missing teeth, but did mention someone throwing a brick at a policeman. This wasn't in the Star story either. And was also something the Muslim Luton protestors didn't do...)

What is so disconcerting about all this is the way the Star is fuelling the delusional hate-filled rantings of people like Paul Ray with stories like this. The story is clearly supporting his agenda in the way it is framed. It pushes a false claim about St George being banned despite a weekend long event dedicated to him and sets up a 'them and us' clash against Muslims. The Star sides with Ray, Ray sides with the BNP. So where does that leave the Star?

(As an aside, a man called Glen Jenvey is a member of Paul Ray's 'St George  D-day in Luton' Facebook group. Is it really him?)

Express and aspirin

Two months ago, the Express told us an aspirin a week helps fight stomach cancer.

Five months ago, the Express told us an aspirin a day could help fight prostrate cancer.

Today, the Express told us an aspirin a day could cause bleeding in the brain.

The story goes on to say:

British experts welcomed the findings but urged people using aspirin not to suddenly stop taking their medication.

Yes, doctors warn people not to suddenly stop taking their medication. As people might if they read something sensationalist about that medication on the front of a newspaper.

Tuesday 14 April 2009

Daily Star. Front page lies. Again.

Prince Wills wrecks his RAF plane, screamed an unequivocal Daily Star front page this morning. The story begins:

BUNGLING Prince William wrecked a £2million RAF plane after flicking the wrong switch in the cockpit. The heir-head blunder cost a fortune to fix and left Wills the laughing stock of his pilot mates. The 345mph RAF Tucano was grounded for more than a week as air force investigators pored over it to discover what had caused a 700 degree Centigrade temperature surge.

Serious stuff indeed. Then the very next line says:

But they found nothing wrong with the plane – and put it down to “pilot error”.

Read that again. Just to check you read it right. This plane was 'wrecked' in the headline, and had 'nothing wrong' with it by sentence four. The story even ends with this quote:

A Buckingham Palace spokesman added: “We are aware of this incident. But we can confirm there was no damage done to any aircraft during Prince William’s training’’.

So what the hell is this doing on the front page, presented in this totally misleading form? Is it just that no-one takes the Star seriously any more that it keeps getting away with splash after splash of completely untrue drivel?

Monday 13 April 2009

Here come the made up stories about Hell's Kitchen

A new series of a reality televison show begins, and the Daily Star has already run a untrue 'sex plot' story on its front page about said series. It has quite a bit of form doing this but obviously it sells. Daily Star readers really are THAT stupid.

So the latest is 'Sex plot rock's Hell's Kitchen'. What is this plot? Well there isn't one. Firstly, underwear model Danielle Bux has done some, umm, underwear modelling to promote herself and the show. And married couple Anthea Turner and Grant Bovey, who are both on the show, said that if they have sex, they'll have to be quiet as the walls are thin in the hotel (and that is an 'if'). So no sex plot. No 'promise to get hot and steamy'. Therefore, no story. Expect another tomorrow.

When is offensive not offensive?

Fourteen council staff suspended for circulating 'anti-Semitic' joke on email reads a self-explanatory Mail headline. Later in the article it states: sources say the jokes were racist...some of the emails are believed to have contained anti-Semitic comments.

So when the Mail writes this: The 'offensive' jokes are believed to have been sent in flurry of exchanges between staff, including social workers, why does it feel the need to write 'offensive' in quote marks?

Is it because it wants to suggest this is another 'PC gone mad' story? Or is it that racist and anti-Semitic jokes just aren't plain offensive to the Mail?

Not revising = bad exam results exclusive

Here's some shock news from the Daily Mail - students who spend a lot of time doing other things when they should be revising don't do so well in exams.

This is the stunning conclusion of this story: Pupils who spend time on Facebook do worse in exams, study shows. It's based on some academic research, although this is the type of stating-the-bleeding-obvious stuff that gives academic research a bad name.

This is the latest in the Mail's bizarre anti-Facebook obsession. First it gave you cancer. Then it rotted the brains of children. Now it makes you crap in exams.

In fact, the research was based only on university students, and I don't think anyone calls them pupils, as the headline does. There are lots of things you can call uni students, but pupils isn't one of them. But using this word makes it seem like your children are at risk. Again.

Recommended - Angry Mob

Well worth reading Uponnothing's account of how the papers reported a girl's death.

Saturday 11 April 2009

Mail - laughing at people with mental illness

The Mail has run what appears to be an interview with actress Emily Lloyd today. Natalie Clarke's article begins:

A couple of weeks ago, Emily Lloyd was photographed walking her dog in the street where she lives. It was noted that she was wearing torn jeans and her hair was unkempt. An old mattress and bags of rubbish were strewn across the steps leading up to her flat in Hackney, East London - a million miles away from Hollywood. What, it was asked, had become of the one-time golden girl of British cinema.

The problem with this new story when it talks about what was 'noted' and 'asked' a few weeks was that is was the Mail doing the noting and asking. A insidious, mean-spirited piece of typical Mail bullying, it noted she emerged from a 'scruffly flat' (which they hadn't been inside, so how do they know?), with 'little sign of her trademark smile' (she was walking the dog) and 'traipsing up and down the streets of Hackney' (which is where she lives, so why wouldn't she be?)

The original hatchet job (sorry, story) did make mention of various mental health problems she has suffered over the years - which begs the question as to why picking on her for not smiling while walking her dog and wearing ripped jeans is any great help.

Clarke goes into greater depth about these problems in her interview, including revealing Lloyd has had chronic insomnia for two years. (She also mentions meeting her at a studio to do photos to accompany the article, yet there are none shown on the website).

And towards the end, Clarke writes:

She is bemused by reports she has been 'linked' to Pete Doherty. 'I've never met him in my life,' she says.

And where did those bemusing reports get repeated recently? Yes, the original Mail story:

In 2006 Emily was linked with singer Peter Doherty but since then has kept a distinctly low profile.

Let's just hope Ms Lloyd can get over her problems and get her life back on track. Photographers outside her flat and point-and-laugh articles such as the original are not going to help.

Thursday 9 April 2009

Jade - back from the dead!

The terror arrests did at least knock Jade off the front page of the Star for the first time in...ages. Certainly their last 6 lead stories were 'about' Jade but it probably goes back even further than that.

And as if desperation hadn't already set-in, the 8 April lead was a classic piece of Daily Star bullshit.

Jade's back in BB. But she's dead. What the hell are they on about? Are they going to exhume her body for one of the tasks? Well, no...

Big Brother bosses want one of Jade Goody’s closest pals to star in the new series so her “fantastic spirit can live on for ever in the house”. Celebrity-obsessed Scouser Jaiden Micheal, 25, is “nailed on” to be one of the 14 contestants entering the BB10 house in June. He is already being tipped by producers as hot favourite to win the reality show.

Of course, the last time Jade's 'fantastic spirit' was in the house, it led to the Shilpa-gate racist bullying fiasco. The producers want to re-live that? Unlikely...

And who is this guy anyway? The Star calls him 'would-be celeb blogger and reality show star' which suggests he's got no talent but been in Heat a few times. He's been on a Living TV show called Diet and Dancing apparently, and is in PR. Great to have a front page splash for him then.

I may end up looking foolish but I'll say here and now there is no chance that this is going to happen.

Making up a target for a deadline

A little earlier this afternoon, Chief Constable Peter Fahy of Greater Manchester Police gave a very open press conference regarding the arrests of 12 men in the North West last night.

This morning's newspapers were full of stories, partly aimed at Bob Quick, whose blunder saw the operation brought forward - according to Fahy - by only 24 hours. This doesn't stop the Mail lambasting Quick for the size of his pension, despite the fact he's devoted 31 years to the police service.

But there was another common thread.

The Daily Star front page read 'Terror plot to blow up top footie grounds', suggesting that: Fears were growing over a bomb threat to last night’s Euro cup clash as police foiled a “major” terrorist attack....There is no immediate suggestion the stadium was the target but one of the raids was just three miles away.

Of course, since they mention that the 'raids were brought forward after a serious security blunder' it's hard to understand how they think a football match beginning within hours of the arrests was a target. But this is the Star we're talking about.

The Mail ran with 'Terror gang' may have been 'plotting to blow up shopping centre and nightclub' which claimed: Police believe possible targets were the Trafford Centre shopping centre in Manchester and a nightclub frequented by footballers.

The Express said 'Shops and nightclub were terror target' and went into greater detail: Senior sources also revealed the alleged terror cell planned to attack the Birdcage nightclub in Manchester city centre or the Trafford Centre shopping complex. The nightspot, with its dancing showgirls, has become hugely popular, attracting thousands of clubbers each week. Detectives believe it was chosen as a symbol of “western decadence”.

The Sun led with 'Four potential bomb targets' which said: Intelligence sources believe the Trafford Centre and a huge Manchester nightclub called The Birdcage were being eyed-up by the gang. And today it emerged that two other major shopping areas in Manchester had also been under observation. The Arndale Centre and St Ann's Square — both in the heart of the city — had been visited by some of the suspects.

The last line is a classic - why is it surprising that some people living in Manchester had visited major Manchester shopping centres?

However, in Fahy's news conference, he was asked specifically about the targets. And as the Independent reports, he said this:

Clearly, there's been some speculation about certain locations, particularly in the North West, concerning this investigation. There is no particular threat against any particular location and certainly not the ones mentioned in the media.

Hmm. Surely the media wouldn't indulge in such unfounded speculation as they rushed out stories for the first editions. Would they?

Wednesday 8 April 2009

Mail runs extended ad to Playboy

What is going on with this story about Jodie Marsh on the Mail website today? Since when did the Daily Mail spend so much time praising and advertising Playboy?

In a 675 word article, they mention Playboy 8 times. From the story:

The greatest surprise of all, however, comes with the discovery of exactly who has toned down her usual 'style' so tastefully - it's the team from Playboy.
The photos were taken for the launch of to show that behind the glamour girl image and layers of make-up is a pretty young woman.
She told Playboy: 'My glamour girl image worked for me when I wanted to be known as a party girl but my new image says a lot more about the different sides of me.
For the Playboy shoot, she was given a soft fringe and her hair was dyed coppery-brunette.
She said: 'Playboy have given me a very elegant look and my hair is back to its natural colour which I think really suits me'.
She told Playboy: 'Once men meet me they realise that I'm more fun and intelligent than they may have thought'.

There are also two captions:

Sexy shoot: Jodie describes her Playboy look as 'classy and sophisticated'

Virginal beauty: Jodie Marsh looks almost innocent in this shot for Playboy

And, on top of all that, seven photos from the Playboy shoot, everyone carrying the bunny head logo.

I'm not sure how this extended advert fits in with the Mail's general attitude towards sex, and including not just the URL of the Playboy site but actually having it as a clickable link is very strange. Especially after they were telling us how awful porn was.

And a few years ago, they said this about Jodie Marsh:

Critics in the past have poured scorn over the glamour model for deluging young women with false values and aspirations. Many argued she is encouraging young fans to perceive her as an enviable example of how exploiting looks and sexuality can prove an easy ticket to fame and wealth.

Exploiting someone else's looks and sexuality for readers and website hits is, however, fine...

Monday 6 April 2009

She's too fat! She's too thin!

The Mail was one of several newspapers that relished the chance to pick on Jennifer Love Hewitt when she dared go swimming in a bikini when she wasn't a size zero. The Mail referred to her having 'piled on the pounds', a 'curvy, cellulite-riddled physique' and 'imperfections' in November 2007.

By August 2008 she was much more to their liking having lost 18 pounds in 10 weeks. She revealed her 'new slimline figure' after being 'criticised for her weight gain' (I wonder who did that?)

In October 2008 she was still looking in 'terrific shape', with a 'toned' and 'fabulous figure'.

But the Mail is never happy. So today - 6 April 2009 - they suggest she has 'lost too much weight'. She is now 'skinny' with a 'tiny frame' (imagine that for someone who is, according to a Google search, 5'2") and, when out in a tracksuit and snapped by a pap, looked 'worn and tired'.

Looking at her arms in the latest pics, they don't look significantly thinner than in the October pics, so it looks like just another example of picking on a woman because of her weight. First she's too big, then she's too small, even when she's not that much (if at all) smaller than a few months ago when she was 'terrific'. For once I agree with one of the comments on the Mail story - 'leave the girl alone'.

Mail likes teen girls (cont.)

After calling a 14 year old girl 'stunning' a week ago, the Mail is now leering over a 16 year old girl. This time it's Miley Cyrus who is 'growing up fast' - which is a fairly sleazy euphemism. She appeared at the Academy of Country Music Awards in a 'revealing evening dress' that 'flashed some leg and back', eventhough it's not a very revealing dress at all. She 'looked years older than 16', they leer.

In fact, when not being pervy, the story is comparing Cyrus' dress with that of Nicole Kidman, making out that the former had on a 'less modest' dress. But both are wearing a floor-length gowns with a split in the leg, and while one has her whole back out, the other has her shoulder and part of her back out. There doesn't seem that much difference really...

Friday 3 April 2009

Told you so

The shooting in America today just reminded me of the Charlie Brooker's Newswipe clip about how excessive coverage of the German school massacre could produce a copycat within weeks.

Sun pays damages for calling actor a woman-beater

The Sun will now have to pay out £75,000 in libel damages to former Eastenders actor Mohammed George after falsely accusing him of beating up his girlfriend.

His lawyer told the court: "In a nutshell the allegation against him is that he flew into a rage in the street in the early hours of the morning of December 3 2006, and beat up his then girlfriend and mother of his daughter, acting like a wild animal and leaving her sprawling in the street when he ran away."

It seems George was cautioned by police over the incident but the extent of embellishment and use of colourful language seems to have been the cause of the problem with the story.

Mail hypocrisy on religious symbols

So a school bans someone from wearing a symbol of their religion for health and safety reasons and it is brilliant.

Another school bans someone from wearing a symbol of their religion for health and safety reasons and it is an outrage.

Can you guess where this is going?

Well the Daily Mail website is at time of writing leading with a story of a Muslim woman who was banned from parents' evening at her son's school because she was wearing a veil. The story says:

The 34 year old was refused entry on health, safety and security grounds with the headteacher stating visitors' faces should be visible at all times.

The headteacher is quoted saying: 'the difficulty would be if a number of ladies wearing veils were free to wander the corridors or rooms', thus re-inforcing the views of Mail readers that all Muslims are up to no good.

And the comments are exactly as you expect, repeatedly saying 'good' and 'about time' and 'when in Rome...'

Now step back a couple of years. 12 January 2007. And a Daily Mail story that begins:

A Catholic schoolgirl was asked not to wear a crucifix on a chain because it breached health and safety rules, her father said today....Her father, Danny Devine, 30, of Canterbury Street, Gillingham, told the Medway Messenger: "It's just political correctness gone absolutely mad. It's a harmless crucifix and she wears it as a symbol of her religion.

The comments are indignant stating: 'Claiming the issue is about Health and Safety just makes the School look silly' and 'Another load of PC gone mad'.

Of course there have been plenty of other stories like this - such as this 12 year old banned from wearing a chastity ring, which isn't even a proper religious symbol, just a faddish fashion item made popular for schoolgirls by the Jonas Brothers. Or this story which includes in the headline the direct comparison between a chastity ring and 'Muslim and Sikh symbols' despite the clear difference between them.

But the Mail loves running stories like this because, for their twisted agenda, it is further 'evidence' that Christianity is under attack.

Thursday 2 April 2009

Recommended reads

Excellent post at 5CC about a typically misleading 'look what is being done for the Muslims' story regarding headscarves and the fire service, and a nice look at the use of the word 'Now...' to start headlines (something the Express seems particularly fond of).

And Jonathan's picking apart of the latest Express immigration scare.