Friday 31 July 2009

Political correctness gone mad story round-up

No Sleep 'Til Brooklands has recently covered two 'PC gone mad' stories - one about playground games, and one about police wearing Union Jack badges.

And there has been another today, with the widely reported news that the Union Flag barred from the ID card: Ministers don't want to offend Irish nationalists or, as the Sun puts it, Union Jackass. The Sun widen the field by suggesting the move is to

avoid upsetting groups who may not identify with the UK symbol

Which means foreigners and Muslims.

The news has also popped up in the Telegraph and even the Guardian.

Unsurprisingly, it's not quite accurate.

Look at how the Mail reported an earlier launch of the ID card design (pictured left) - British identity cards will be covered in EU symbols - September 2008. That story focussed on anti-Europe hysteria - it's got two small EU images, so it's hardly 'covered'.

But curiously, given today's story, it doesn't mention the Union Jack at all.

So why is its absence a problem now? Especially as those EU symbols have now been removed.

Moreover, the new design includes four new images - that of a rose, daffodil, thistle and shamrock - to represent each of the four countries of the UK, along with the royal coat of arms.

This is political correctness gone mad. Apparently.

Mail moderators do the right thing for once

The Daily Mail have taken the unusual step of both deleting comments, then stopping any further ones, on the story Girl, 15, 'forced to marry illegal immigrant who then raped her and assaulted her little sister'.

The first line of the story, incidentally, claims 'Police are hunting a suspected illegal immigrant'. So is he an illegal immigrant, as the headline states definitively, or isn't he?

Earlier today, the messageboard included remarks such as one along the lines of 'just another day in the immigrant community' as if raping 15-year olds was an every day occurance among immigrants - and it was rated positive until it disappeared.

Could it be that the comments were becoming so unacceptable (given the uncertain legal position of the case) that even the Mail moderators were worried?

Two more false stories Katie and Peter

The People has paid undisclosed libel damages to Peter Andre over untrue claims he made 'inappropriate sexual advances to a woman who looked like his estranged wife'.

Meanwhile, in other Jordan-related news, the Star was up to its old tricks yesterday, with its totally misleading front page headline. It's hard to believe people are still interested in this saga, but it must sell papers or they wouldn't bother. Anyway Jordan lover's £2m drug bust implied Alex Reid was involved in criminal activity. The first paragraph didn't dispel that impression:

Jordan's new lover Alex Reid was arrested and quizzed by police in a massive drugs ring bust centred on his gym, the Daily Star can reveal.

Except, half way through the story it admits:

the police soon realised Alex and others had nothing to do with drugs or crime.

Definitely worth a front page, that one.

Thursday 30 July 2009

It's OK if you're famous

Kirstie Allsopp was being accused of having a moustache in one of those petty Mail website stories which finds fault with famous people. Once she complained, the story disappeared.

Shame its anti-immigrant stories can't be expunged as easily...

Meanwhile, the Express (again) has actually apologised for totally inventing a story about Heather Mills.

Nobody benefits from 'immigrants on benefit' stories

The news that the weekly cash support payments for asylum seekers are to be cut from £42.16 to £35.15 is a disgrace. Yes they live in paid-for accommodation, but to survive on £35 per week - £140 per month, £5 per day - is dreadful. As is the suspicion that this is almost certainly a response to the endless anti-immigrant-and-all-their-benefits piss we read in the papers so often.

Most recently yesterday, when idiotic judge Ian Trigger spouted off about something he appears to know nothing about. The case in front of him was of a drug dealer who, when his visa had expired, claimed asylum, was refused and then he disappeared. As he was here illegally he couldn't have been claiming benefits anyway. But eventhough neither the judge provided no evidence to back up his wild claims, all the usual papers decided he was telling the truth.

You can tell, because the Express put Foreign spongers scandal, by judge on the front page, and the Mail's Hundreds of thousands of migrants here for handouts, says senior judge includes the word 'senior' just so you know he's an impeccably reliable source. The Express relied on their usual suspects - Damian Green, Migrationwatch and the Taxpayers Alliance - to back up the 'truth' of what the judge had said. Inevitably, the BNP picked up the story too.

The Express sub-head decided to say 'hundreds of thousands abuse benefits', as if claiming benefits is automatically abusing benefits when a 'foreigner' does it. Which is not only wrong, but is also not what the judge said - the word 'abuse' does not appear in any of his comments.

And what he did actually say was bollocks. He referred to 'people like you' when addressing the Jamaican drug dealer eventhough he came to the UK on a visitor's visa so wouldn't have been eligible for benefits then either.

And are 'hundreds and hundreds of thousands' coming to the UK just to 'avail themselves of the generous benefits'? Well no, because the benefits aren't 'generous' and they really aren't as easy to get as he and the papers - and that fool Carole Malone - seem to believe.

Look at the still-hardly-covered report which showed those workers from Eastern Europe were in work and paying 37% more in taxes than they claimed in benefits.

Or the 2008 IPPR report which showed:

Very few post-enlargement migrants claim state benefits (only 2.4% of those registering for National Insurance numbers between May 2004 and December 2007 did so in order to claim benefits)

Or even a figure the Mail itself has reported - that in 2007, Eastern European migrants claimed £170million, which amounts to a fraction of overall social security benefits expenditure. (Total managed expenditure on social security benefits in 2007/8 amounted to £140 billion - £170 million is 0.12% of that.)

It's worth reading the government guidelines for who can and can't receive benefits. For example, non-EU nationals with limited leave have to wait two years to claim. Those from the newly expanded EU countries (so-called A2 and A8 nationals) can claim benefits related to housing if they are working, but have to work continuously for 12 months before having access to other benefits. In other words, by working, they have paid in to the system. Asylum seekers get £42 a week.

This is what the judge called 'generous benefits'.

But back to the cutting of asylum seeker support payments. The Independent has written an editorial lambasting the plans, and put them in the right context. The Refugee Council - a group the tabloids often 'forget' to contact for a quote' - issued a press release which stated:

These changes mean they will receive a little over half of what the government says is the minimum people need to live on.

But the Mail report the story as Asylum seeker payouts to be cut as officials admit they are 'too generous', thus confirming all the prejudices that already exist. The story even repeats that nonsense about £1,700 grants that wasn't true two days ago, and isn't true now.

And predictability the messageboards are alive with deeply unpleasant, xenophobic and mostly totally inaccurate anti-immigration ranting. For example:

there's more "foreign nationals" in this country than natural born brits, we're the minority now - J, blackburn lancs, 30/7/2009 10:57

Natural born Brits are a minority? Errr, J, no they aren't. There just aren't.

Why does a single asylum seeker get given more than the basic state pension? - Eleanor, UK, 30/7/2009 11:05

Basic state pension - £95.25 per week. Last time I checked, that's more than £35.15, Eleanor.

reduced to £35.15 a week!, NO NO NO. it should be reduced to £00.00 a week, why should we pay a penny, how much are the french paying them?, nothing i bet, hence why they want to be here - Ian, Sussex, 30/7/2009 9:36

Except, Ian, the French pay them 10 euros a day, which is £59.74 per week, which is also more.

We should not have this problem.If they are in danger why dont they seek asylum in the first safe country.How many French asylum seekers are there - cockneyrebel, folkestone uk, 30/7/2009

Well cockneyrebel, in the last quarter's asylum figures, France took more than the UK did.

why should they get any money at all, if we are good enough to provide them with a roof over their heads, they should be grateful for that - martha, w midlands, 30/7/2009 12:03

So Martha you think they should be happy with a roof? No food, or drink, or clothes. They may have just fled somewhere fearing for their life, and we should starve them.

How does all this crap get through the moderators when it is clearly not true? It's not a case of free speech, because the Mail bans so much which doesn't toe the line.

In fact, if you go by the comments, you get this impression from people who read the Mail: all asylum seekers are 'bogus'; all come through Calais; all are scroungers who don't deserve any sympathy or help, especially not financial help; all are coining it in.

So many say asylum seekers should receive no financial support that they either want them to starve to death, or they just don't believe the UK should provide refuge to people who experience things that these selfish bastards couldn't even imagine.

Given the endless flurry of stinking xenophobic filth the Mail shits out on a daily basis, none of that is very surprising.

But that doesn't make it any less depressing.

Wednesday 29 July 2009

Widdy foams at the mouth

Ann Widdecombe has blundered into the debate over the film Antichrist with a totally unsurprising rant in her Express column. It is almost guaranteed that she hasn't seen the film, although, unlike Christopher Hart, she isn't stupid enough to admit that.

The column isn't posted on the Express website, but this is it:

Hardcore pornography should not be shown at cinemas so why is Antichrist...deemed suitable for an 18 classification?

Errr because it isn't 'hardcore pornography'?

Have our censors become so inured to the extreme material paraded before them that they no longer recognise pornography when they see it?

No. As their recent R18 certificate for, ahem, Granny the Tranny shows.

An 18 certificate is supposed to mean not suitable for children, not unsuitable for adults as well.

Well if you think it is 'unsuitable' for you as an adult, don't watch it. The BBFC guidelines for an 18 certficate state, with some (mainly criminal) exceptions:

the BBFC’s guideline concerns will not normally override the principle that adults should be free to choose their own entertainment.

Quite right too. But Widdy goes on:

Doubtless the makers relish the publicity but if enough local authorities refuse to sanction it for public showing then it might hit them where it hurts them most - in the profit margins.

It is almost guaranteed that Lars von Trier would find articles like these highly amusing. And it is equally likely that the film has gained at the box office from the publicity. But really, this was always a niche film and its opening weekend takings of £99,092 shows that - it's only being shown in 38 cinemas. Compare that to the 600 showing the new Harry Potter which made £19.7m in its first weekend.

Newspapers should publish a list of shame, naming those authorities who allow it a screening in their cinemas.

Yes they should - then we can all find out where we can see it.

This film isn't avant garde, it isn't experimental, it isn't challenging: it is just the sort of porn you might reasonably expect to find hidden away in sleazy backstreet shops for consumption by the dirty mackintosh brigade.

Yes, that is what she really thinks. And she gets £55,000 a year for vigorous intellectual insights like that. It does seem curious that she seems more concerned about an erect penis and - shock - a married couple depicted having sex, than she seems to be about the well-publicised violence.

And from the descriptions, 'challenging' seems quite an apt word for the film. But to describe it as wanking material seems totally bizarre.

In his review, the Telegraph's Sukhdev Sandhu referred to:

the foaming-mouthed witch burners of the popular press out in full, end-of-the-world effect. It is, they hiss and scream with the moral certainty of which only the most self-regarding ideologues are ever capable, a work of pornography.

Ann Widdecombe as a 'foaming-mouthed witch burner'?

Surely not.

Even the Mail admitted it wasn't a million

As a post-script to the completely untrue Mail and Sun story about a million failed asylum seekers getting free NHS treatment, a search of the Mail archives finds an interesting article from just over a year ago.

It is a report on the legal test case that helped lead to a rethink of the rules. And what did it conclude?

More than 11,000 failed asylum seekers could win right to free NHS care.

11,000? That's not a million. What a surprise.

(That story also includes the curious term 'failed refugees', which means absolutely nothing.)

Tuesday 28 July 2009

Calais immigrants take YOUR cash...except they don't

The migrant scare story of the day comes in the form of the Global Calais Scheme, which the French and the British are hoping will disperse immigrants from the town. There is little to be found on these plans from the UK Border Agency, but most of the papers disprove the angle they put on the story towards the end of their own articles. Here's a run down of the headlines and first paragraphs:

The Mail's version, Britain paying illegal migrants in Calais £1,700 to return home, is co-written by our old friend James Slack.

Illegal immigrants queuing to enter Britain are being offered 'bribes' worth £1,700 to return home instead.

The Express goes for You pay for migrant sneaks to go home, which claims:

Migrants trying to sneak into Britain illegally from France are to be offered £1,700 of taxpayers’ money and a plane ticket to return home in a new scheme that is set to cost millions.

The Star's Illegals get £1.7K bribe to go home goes with:

Migrants queueing to enter the UK from France are to be offered £1,700 of taxpayers’ money and a free flight home.

While the Sun's Migrants ‘paid off’ said:

Illegal migrants queuing up in France to enter Britain are set to be offered £1,700 each and a free flight home.

All of which clearly point to one thing - the British taxpayer is going to pay £1,700 to illegal imigrants.

But then the Telegraph tweaks the story a little, but rather crucially early on in its article:

Under the scheme, migrants will be offered a plane ride home as well as resettlement assistance and retraining when they get there. The French government is also offering 2,000 euros (£1,724) in cash.

Hmm. Really - the British taxpayer won't be paying that £1,700 after all? No. As anyone who bothers to read to the end of the Mail and Express stories will learn:

A spokesman for the UK Border Agency said: 'The Government does not give cash handouts to migrants in Calais, and the bill for these flights is met by the French government.

'We are contributing with the French to the Global Calais Project, which persuades those barred from entering Britain to go home, which will ultimately save the British taxpayer from the cost of enforcing a removal.

So how does 'we don't give cash and are not paying for the flights' turn into 'the British taxpayer is paying £1,700 and for flights'?

An Express health exclusive

Doing exercise is good for your health.

Not what you would consider a classic 'hold the front page' story.

But then this is the Express:

Is Media Monkey reading this?

On Friday, I posted that Mail film reviewer Chris Tookey had included in his review of Antichrist a none-too-subtle dig at his Mail colleague Christopher Hart, who laughably dismissed the film without having seen it.

It was somewhat surprising to open yesterday's MediaGuardian and find a Media Monkey Diary piece which sounded very familiar.

My post:

Which begs the question - why the fuss? But then the most interesting paragraph of all. He says:

In its defence, Antichrist turns out to be not the picture that I have seen vilified in the press, sometimes by writers who lack any context of recent cinema with which to compare it, and in at least one case by someone who hadn’t even taken the elementary step of seeing it.

Who does he mean? Surely not Christopher Hart? Writing in the, er, Daily Mail.

Media Monkey's post:

In Friday's Daily Mail, film critic Chris Tookey got terribly worked up in his review of Lars von Trier's Antichrist, describing it as "not the picture that I have seen vilified in the press, sometimes by writers who lack any context of recent cinema with which to compare it, and in at least one case by someone who hadn't even taken the elementary step of seeing it". Who could this frothing buffoon be? Quite possibly Christopher Hart, who in an op-ed rant on Monday declared: "You do not need to see Antichrist to know how revolting it is. I haven't seen it myself, nor shall I." Where did the piece appear? In the Daily Mail, of course.

A coincidence? I think we should be told, etc...

Monday 27 July 2009

MailOnline proves that sex sells

The latest figures on hits to newspaper websites revealed that MailOnline had become the most popular newspaper website in Britain. They received 29.3million unique visitors in June 2009, up 83% from June 2008.

As Peter Preston commented in yesterday's Observer, the Mail website is a vastly different animal from the newspaper and often resembles nothing more than an issue of particularly downmarket sleb obsessed weekly mag.

Martin Clarke, the Mail's Online editor, said:

'Obviously we are delighted to have regained the number one spot in terms of monthly unique visitors and we are particularly pleased with the increase in UK traffic. This is the result of steady and consistent growth since the redesign of our site in May 2008.'

Er, no, it's a result of being obsessed with tits and ass, and covering such crucial news stories as soap stars wearing bikinis...complete with 17 pictures.

Sunday 26 July 2009

Carole Malone and the BNP

Carole Malone, the awful, knee-jerk columnist, once described by Charlie Brooker as 'so repugnant in print you want to climb inside the page and vomit ink down her eye sockets', has given us the benefit (no pun intended) of her woefully ignorant - and, yes, repugnant - views on immigration.

In today's News of the World, she has written a column so bereft of intellect or evidence or sound argument, it's hard to imagine anyone getting paid for such crap. And not just crap - full of wild exaggerations and lies - but noxious and inflammatory crap.

In her third paragraph she refers to Migrationwatch as 'respected'. Oh yeh, by whom? She brings up this week's poll about a cap on immigration, but if you feed people an endless supply of misleading anti-immigrant propaganda, chances are they are going to start believing it. And Malone's column is the latest piece of ill-informed rubbish.

She's on the side of the working class - a side she would know all about given her no doubt highly paid column. And numerous TV appearances. But she says:

They're the ones who can't get houses, medical treatment or access to social services because immigrants are always first in the queue...all those British people who've paid their taxes and worked hard get shoved to the back of the housing queue, the health queue, the jobs queue.

And here is a quote from the Welfare and Housing section of the BNP's 2007 Mini Manifesto:

Britain has become a land where foreigners and scroungers come first, and decent, hard-working Britons are taken advantage of. Immigrants come here and are immediately given council homes while Britons are pushed further and further back in the queue. Scroungers - both foreign and home grown - sit at home and receive benefits paid for by high taxation.

Notice any differences? No. Nor me.

The access to housing queue myth was disproved just a few weeks ago. Where is her evidence for the other two claims? She doesn't provide any. And no, Carole, Barry down the pub doesn't count as a reliable source. She actually repeats the housing and healthcare claim three times.

She talks about these people 'simmering with anger' and 'resentment', but they 'aren't racist'. It would be hard to say the same about her obnoxious BNP-type rant.

She can't even be bothered to differentiate between immigrants, illegal immigrants and asylum seekers, which shows just what a idiot she is. Here's her next gem:

All you have to do to get everything Britain has to offer is to turn up illegally with some sob story of how your own country is too dangerous or that you're a lesbian who'll be shot if you stay there and Hey Presto, it's like you've won the lottery! And, in effect, they HAVE.

Free houses, free cars, free healthcare and free money. Hell, they don't even have to work or speak the language. Even the suggestion they should is seen as racist in Brown's Britain.

They can just live as they did before, only with a whole heap more money and zero responsibility to the country providing it.

This is clearly referring to asylum seekers. In which case, of course, they can't work (unless she wants to join the Refugee Council Let Them Work campaign?).

I'm not sure I have heard of the 'free car' thing before. Where is her evidence for this? Who is giving out these 'free cars'? Fact: asylum seekers don't get 'free cars'.

As for getting 'free houses' this is very often very basic Home Office-paid-for accommodation. Asylum seekers do not get council houses or housing benefit.

And 'free money' amounts to £42.16 per week to live on. £42.16 is 'everything Britain has to offer' and a 'whole heap more money'? Perhaps Carole would like to try that if it is such a life of luxury?

And if she does mean illegal immigrants, then they wouldn't be entitled to even that.

Her suggestion that everyone turns up here 'illegally' is straight out of the BNP school of thought who believe there is no such thing as 'legal asylum seekers in Britain'. And to dismiss people's experiences of violence, intimidation and torture as 'half decent sob stories' is wretched. She says people

lie and cheat their way in and who are STILL entitled to housing and healthcare.

The truth now is that anyone can get into Britain providing they've got a half decent sob story and just one word of English - "benefits".

That's 'the truth'? Er, no. Of course not.

There are 30 comments in response, all but one of which are gushing in their support:

  • 'My hero !!!'
  • 'Everything you say is correct Carole.'
  • 'such a good and sensible column'
  • 'So true!!'
  • 'Carole, you hit the nail right on the head. What a great piece of writing.'
  • 'a brilliant piece of writing and every word is true'

Except every word isn't true. But while ignorant people read and believe this totally ignorant, misleading and inflammatory rhetoric, the BNP will continue to thrive.

Well done News of the World. Well done Carole. My hero...

Star spins web of deceit on Jackson death

The Daily Star has been up to its old tricks of putting misleading headlines on its front page. Yesterday, its lead splash was:
The story, the latest in a long line linking Conrad Murray to Michael Jackson's death, began:

Key evidence linking Dr Conrad Murray with Michael Jackson’s death was destroyed just three hours before the singer was reported dead, police believe.

So when the following day, the Daily Star Sunday leads with this, it appears the suspicions had been confirmed:
Except he didn't really confess to anything. Certainly not to murder, which is what it heavily implies. Instead, the story says:

MICHAEL Jackson’s secret stash of potentially deadly drugs was only found by detectives after the dead star’s doctor “blurted out” its hiding place.

Dr Conrad Murray’s revelation came in an informal police interview without his lawyer present. One senior investigator said yesterday: “It was almost by accident that he said it.”

Any story about Jackson's death - particularly those based on anonymous stories - needs to be taken with a large pinch of salt - espcially when it's in the Star.

The same article, incidentally, also 'exclusively' claims Jackson overdosed three times in his last 18 months - a far bigger story, if true, than the one they actually lead on. So it's very likely not true either.

Did the Express get it wrong? Surely not

The Mail on Sunday sent two journalists undercover at a swine flu helpline call centre. Two things stand out:

One, why the need for two, and did they take the place of two people who might have been there to do a proper job, long term?

Two, they didn't report seeing any non-English-speaking migrants at all. Strange that.


Changed the template for the blog, to make it look a little cleaner and less...narrow. Hope you like.

Saturday 25 July 2009

Once again, positive immigration story totally ignored

In yesterday's Independent and Financial Times, there were a reports about Eastern European migrants taking jobs and benefits in Britain since EU expansion in 2004. The stories were based on some academic research from University College London, namely Professor Christian Dustmann.

And what did the research conclude?

Immigrants from the eight Central and Eastern European countries that joined the European Union in May 2004 are less likely to be claiming welfare benefits and less likely to be living in social housing than people born in the UK, according to a new paper from UCL. What is more, they have made a positive contribution to the UK fiscal system, paying more in taxes than they receive in direct and indirect public transfers (such as benefits, NHS healthcare and education).

Here are some of the key facts from their press release:

  • A8 immigrants who arrived after EU enlargement in 2004, and who have at least one year of residence – and are therefore legally eligible to claim benefits – are about 60% less likely than natives to receive state benefits or tax credits, and to live in social housing.
  • Comparing the net fiscal contribution of A8 immigrants with that of individuals born in the UK, in each fiscal year since enlargement in 2004, A8 immigrants made a positive contribution to public finance.
  • In the latest fiscal year, 2008/09, A8 immigrants paid 37% more in direct or indirect taxes than was spent on public goods and services which they received. This is even more remarkablebecause the UK has been running a budget deficit over the last few years.
  • In 2008/09, A8 immigrants represented 0.91% of the total UK population, but contributed 0.96% of total tax receipts and accounted for only 0.6% of total expenditures.

Prof. Dustmann is quoted saying:

“A8 immigrants are on average more educated than natives and figures show that they experience rapid wage growth during their stay in the UK. We should therefore expect their tax payments to increase considerably over the next few years.”

A quick search of each newspaper's website, and Google News, indicates that the Mail, Express, Sun, Star, Telegraph, Times and Guardian have all ignored these findings. You would think the usual suspects would like a bit of academic research on immigration, rather than relying on half-assed, biased Migrationwatch bullshit.

But when the answer doesn't suit their agenda, they clearly don't have any interest in reporting the facts.

In Janaury 2007, Express editor Peter Hill gave evidence to the Joint Committee on Human Rights. Amongst many extraordinary and unbelievable claims ('I constantly reinforce this message, that we must be truthful in what we say'; 'It is very wrong of people to suggest that we cannot be truthful in our headlines. We must be able to be truthful in our headlines') he said the following:

'I think all my journalists are well aware that I do like the newspaper to be fair, and certainly to be truthful; but we have to report what we see. Quite frankly, there is not an awful lot of positive news on this particular subject. I am afraid most of the news is of a very negative nature'.

So here's a positive immigration story. And he doesn't bother running it.

At the same hearing, Mail Managing Editor Robin Esser said:

The idea that they are running around looking for inflammatory things to say about asylum seekers is wrong.

Really? So why has the Mail ignored this UCL research to report on the 'Bloody Siege of Calais', One of Queen's guards is an illegal immigrant, and Three Ethiopian exchange students 'vanish' during trip to Houses of Parliament?

(The Queen's guard story is interesting for the language used. An unnamed military officer uses the phrase 'the potential damage an enemy could do there' as if an illegal immigrant is not only automatically 'an enemy' but also a definite security threat. This was in the same manner as the the Sun's Loo Goes There story about a stowaway on a bus that went to Sandhurst. That story said: 'Afghan illegal who got into Sandhurst could have been a Taliban suicide bomber bent on causing carnage'. Because - of course - all Afghan's are Taliban, and all illegal immigrants are dangerous potential suicide bombers. The Mail version of the Afghan Illegal Immigrant at Sandhurst story, incidentally, included a crucial line towards the end: 'They were unable to confirm the man's nationality.')

Anyway, the same that Hill and Esser were lying through their teeth, The Guardian's Alan Travis told the Committee:

Recent Mori research in this area showed that Daily Express readers think that 21% of the British population are immigrants. The Daily Mail readers say it is about 19%. Guardian readers say it is about 11%. We are all actually exaggerating. It is only 7%.

Yesterday's Independent also included an investigative feature which claimed that in the past 23 days, 21 foreign language students in Brighton had been targeted by criminals. Some of these crimes were thefts from their homes, but there have been several more violent attacks, including two Uzbeki teenagers (14 and 15) being told to 'Speak English' and being called 'Pakis' as the attackers tried to force their way into their house.

Cause and effect. Cause and effect.

Friday 24 July 2009

Sun apologises for falsely blaming Gypsies

Back in May, it was mentioned on this blog how the vandalising of a Surrey Police helicopter was blamed on 'Gypsies' by the Sun, Mail and Telegraph, despite the fact a police spokesman said the perpetrators were 'unknown'.

A reminder of what the Mail alleged to have happened:

After threatening staff working in the operations room, they set about wrecking the helicopter, smashing six of its windows and causing tens of thousands of pounds worth of damage. The incident happened at 10pm yesterday after weeks of aerial surveillance on the travellers’ site, where detectives believe stolen goods have been hidden.

So, can you guess what the Sun published yesterday?

Surrey Police have not blamed gipsies for an attack on their force helicopter, no staff in their operations rooms were threatened by gipsies and no gipsy site was being targeted for a raid as we reported on May 14.

We apologise for the mistakes and are happy to set the record straight.

As Septicisle pointed out this is 'pretty comprehensive' for an apology. But how come the Mail and Telegraph versions have not been retracted or apologised for?

A little post-script to that Migrationwatch poll

There were a few oddities about the Migrationwatch poll that appeared yesterday asking people their opinions of a 70 million population, a reduction in net immigration, and their views on Home Secretary Alan Johnson.

One other oddity stood out, but I wanted to check it out with YouGov first. Click this to see a bigger version of the results, as presented on the Migrationwatch site:
It seemed very strange that the voting intentions of the sample were missing. Or had they been deleted on purpose?

Well YouGov have the full results on their website, with those voting intentions in place. Of the 1956 people surveyed, 653 were listed as Conservative, 383 as Labour and 279 as Lib Dem, with 641 others.

The poll results showed that the Conservative voters were far more concerned than the other two groups. 90% of the Conservative group were worried or very worried about the 70 million mark, compared with 75% Labour and 76% Lib Dem.

I can't claim to be an expert on weighted/unweighted samples, but the fact Migrationwatch appears to have deleted these numbers suggests they were trying to hide something. But if the sample was favouring Conservative respondents - a third of the sample - it is hardly surprising how the results turned out.

And that's true about one thing - the survey respondents were asked about their newspaper of choice and 42% of them chose the Mail, Express, Sun and Star. That may well reflect the popularity of those papers, but it might just reflect what happens when people get force-fed endless negative tabloid stories about immigration.

Sun invents Jackson/Geller story, because there aren't enough true odd Jackson/Geller stories

A curious, unrevealing apology in the Sun today to Uri Geller, with a charitable donation on top. It reads:

On December 18 we wrongly reported that Uri Geller had collaborated with the late Michael Jackson on a recent project.

We now accept that our story was without foundation and that Uri has had no involvement with any such scheme.

We apologise to him for suggesting otherwise and have agreed to make a donation to the Uri Geller Charitable Foundation.

A 'recent project' and 'scheme'? What could they have written? It looks like it might have been this:

Michael Jackson and self-proclaimed psychic Uri Geller are to launch a joint bid to end the global economic crisis, according to reports.

Geller is said to be keen to install subliminal messages into Jackson's music which will encourage people to have a more positive outlook.

“Uri is convinced the power of positive thought can lift us out of economic gloom,” a source told the Sun newspaper.

“Him and Jacko recorded a spoken-word message and want to put it behind the track so it can penetrate people’s subconscious.”

Really? That wasn't true? It does the beg the question: where did the get the story from - or did they just make it up for themselves?

Harry Potter and the Website of Innuendo

The Mail website apparently thinks it is incredibly interesting that Daniel Radcliffe supports the Liberal Democrats. But why do they need to imply on their homepage that his 'big secret' is not supporting Nick Clegg but that he's gay?

UPDATE: Oh - and they aren't the only ones. The Sun have been playing the same game:

Clarification in local paper which linked Travellers to murder

A resolved complaint from the PCC, where the Leatherhead Advertiser misleadingly blamed 'Travellers' for a murder:

Complaint: Mr John Dwyer of Great Bookham complained that the headline “‘Travellers linked to Demko murder case’” and first paragraph of the article had misleadingly claimed that “travellers” were directly involved in Matthew Demko’s death when this was not the case.

Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the newspaper published a clarification and apology headlined “Travellers – an apology” in a suitably prominent position. The wording was as follows:

In an article headlined "Travellers linked to Demko murder case" (29 January 2009), we stated that members of the travelling community may have been involved in the murder of Matthew Demko. The defence for Michael Jordan - the accused party who has now been acquitted of the crime - did state in court that a police officer involved in the investigation had claimed that members of the travelling community had been in the area. We wish to make clear that while the case is still unsolved, using the word traveller in the headline was too strong for the article. We are happy to clarify this position and apologise for any offence caused.

Who could he mean?

The world's most predictable film reviewer, the Mail's Chris Tookey, has given Antichrist a one star review. What a surprise.

He does give the film some praise, saying:

Parts of the picture are exquisitely crafted. They have a lyricism and a milky, dreamlike quality that evoke memories of the Russian film-maker Andrei Tarkovsky, to whom the film is dedicated.

He does at least given a fair and well argued account of why he dislikes the film, and dismisses claims the film is 'torture porn'. He adds:

The sad truth is that there is nothing in Antichrist that...[the BBFC]...has not let through before, with an 18 certificate.

Which begs the question - why the fuss? But then the most interesting paragraph of all. He says:

In its defence, Antichrist turns out to be not the picture that I have seen vilified in the press, sometimes by writers who lack any context of recent cinema with which to compare it, and in at least one case by someone who hadn’t even taken the elementary step of seeing it.

Who does he mean? Surely not Christopher Hart? Writing in the, er, Daily Mail.

Thursday 23 July 2009

Totally deluded

As if to make the point once again that Richard Desmond does indeed influence the articles in his paper, the story Daily Express owner: I set record straight has appeared, which includes his statement on the libel case he failed to win because the jury didn't believe what he said. In full, it reads:

Richard Desmond, Chairman of Northern and Shell, which owns the Daily Express and Sunday Express newspapers, tonight expressed satisfaction at the end of his three week High Court battle against the journalist Tom Bower.

Mr. Desmond said: “I sued Mr Bower for defamation because he made inaccurate and damaging allegations about me, yet he refused to apologise and publish a correction.

"Bower made a series of errors about events and timings and even got the name of one of my newspapers wrong.

"His biggest mistake was in thinking I would not go to court to uphold my reputation and the resulting action has cost many hundreds of thousands of pounds to defend a few ill-thought-out remarks that were not even essential to his book.”

Mr. Desmond concluded: “It was worth it to stand up in court and set the record straight.”

Umm, yeh, but you lost, Mr Desmond.

Funny how the totally impartial editorial team forgot to mention that bit. In fact, reading that article you would almost think he had won.

He didn't. He lost.

Great news!

I can hardly contain my smiles on hearing that Richard Desmond has lost his libel case against Tom Bower.

This presumably means the jury disregarded his evidence, which may very well make him, officially, a liar.

As if we didn't know. Some of his evidence was clearly untrustworthy - such as the claims about him not using his awful rags to settle scores, when evidence about his long-running fights with the Mail is well known.

He also claimed - on the witness stand - he only read Bower's book on holiday in August 2007, when he had in fact instructed lawyers to take action in July.

The court also heard a tape of Desmond threatening Jafar Omid with the words: 'I am the worst fucking enemy you'll ever have'. He also said:

It's seventy-five grand, you know, and I think, fuck me, you know, we've done so much, you know, business together, you know. And we got, you know, a little, what's the word, situation over seventy-five grand.
This from a man whose newspapers, you know, complain about the language skills of others.

He denied he meddled with the editorial side of his papers - his friendship with Mohammed Al-Fayed clearly had nothing to with endless of pathetic Diana conspiracy stories appearing in the Express.

He has issued a statement, post-verdict, in which he has said:

I sued Mr Bower for defamation because he made inaccurate and damaging allegations about me...It was worth it to stand up in court and set the record straight.
Set the record straight? The jury clearly didn't believe what his version of 'the record' was, so what is he on about?

On top of all the libel payouts that the Express and Star have incurred recently, it's hard to believe that anyone bothers to buy either paper any more.

But the Express with its veneer of respectability (very thin, but the people who buy it do think it's a quality paper) it gives credibility to its incessant abuse of, and misleading articles about, minority groups.

I happen to have picked up a copy today and was amazed at how much advertising it had in it. A very rough count of quarter, half, or full page ads suggested that of the 80 pages, around 28 were adverts - that's 35%. (Compared with today's Times, for example, which had around 14 pages of ads out of 72, around 3 of which were for either the Times or Sunday Times, which is 19%).

It is a quite shockingly low rent piece of tat, with an insidious, racist agenda.

And its editor and owner are now both proven liars.

Lies, damned lies and immigration polls

Here we go again.

Migrationwatch has done a poll. It has produced a press release based on the results. It has emailed them to the newspapers. The Mail and Express have published them without raising a question. Deja vu, all over again.

The results of the poll are not very surprising. It finds that most people want a cap on immigration, and are worried about the population hitting 70 million. Given that just a few days ago Migrationwatch was issuing completely false claims about a million illegal immigrants swamping the NHS, it's hardly surprising that people who read and believe such crap then become anti-immigrant in their views.

On top of that, in the last few days the tabloids have told us they are going to be manning the swine flu helpline eventhough they can't speak English, they're stealing council houses (even when they aren't), they're cutting off their fingerprints, they're holding up British tourists at knifepoint, they're killers, fraudsters and ruining's been an endless cycle of nasty coverage.

And then they wonder why people might want to cap immigration.

But Migrationwatch can never play fair. Its last poll included some semantic trickery which rendered the whole exercise worthless. And when the Mail quotes a Home Office spokesman saying the poll is 'based on leading questions' it needs a closer look. The first question asked was:

According to official statistics, the population of the UK will rise from 61 million today to around 70 million in 2028. How would you feel about a population of this size?
But the problem with this question is with the multiple choice answers which were:

  • Delighted
  • Wouldn't mind
  • Slightly worried
  • Very worried
  • Don't know

Does anyone else detect a bias towards the negative there? Surely there should have been a choice along the lines of 'not worried' - the distance between 'wouldn't mind' and 'delighted' seems rather larger than between 'slightly worried' and 'very worried'. This is, of course, partly the responsibility of YouGov, which should know better as a reputable polling firm.

It should perhaps be added that YouGov was founded by Stephan Shakespeare, who is also the largest shareholder in the firm. He also owns ConservativeHome, was a former Conservative Parliamentary candidate and a spokesman for Jeffrey Archer during his London Mayor campaign...

It's the second question of the poll that raises the biggest question. Here it is, in full:

According to official figures, around 70 per cent of that estimated increase – about 7 million people – is likely to be as a result of immigration. Some argue that this will put great strain on resources in the UK, while others argue that the economic benefits justify this level of immigration.

To stop the population rising to 70 million, net immigration needs to be cut from around 250,000 per year to around 50,000.

In your opinion which of the following is the right level of NET immigration for Britain (i.e. the number of people who enter minus the number of people who leave)?
The first sentence - a 'likely' percentage of an 'estimated' increase is very woolly. The second makes the negative far more attractive than the positive angle - especially since Migrationwatch endlessly (and erroneously) tell us there is no economic benefit. The third sentence is unbelievably leading and also total bollocks - if net immigration is rising, then it is almost certain that 70 million will be reached at some point. It is simply not credible to say net immigration of 50,000 a year would 'stop the population rising to 70 million.' (Indeed, forecasts say it would hit that figure after 2081)

Guess what? 22% of respondents did plump for net immigration of 50,000. There were more (32%) who went for 'one in, one out', while 22% said no immigration at all.

Of course, the consequences of no immigration are not explained in the same, leading detail as the answer Migrationwatch wants - its policy is for a cut to around 60,000 a year. Amazing how these things work out, huh?

The third question reheated Home Secretary Alan Johnson's statement that he did not 'lie awake at night' worrying about the population hitting 70 million. 78% then said he was 'out of touch with people like me'. Do 78% of the people in this country really 'lie awake at night' worrying about that? Almost certainly not, so why is he out of touch?

In order to back up their case, the papers have added in a second poll which was done by Ipsos for the UK Border Agency in March. From the 26 page results document, it picks out one fact that suits them - that 81% said they favoured a cap on immigration. Of course, that doesn't mean that these 81% wanted the same cap the Migrationwatch poll suggested, but the mixing of the two polls implies as much (after all you might want a cap at 500,000 net, it's still a cap).

In fact, some of the other results show opinions on immigration issues are softening. The papers don't bother reporting any of these. Asked 'what is the most important issues facing Britain' the number of people saying 'immigration' has reduced from 24% in December 2006 to 7% in March 2009.

29% said immigration was not much of a problem or no problem, up from 22%. When asked about whether it was a problem in 'your local area' 78% said it was not much of a problem or no problem.

When asked if they agreed with the statement 'Immigration is good for Britain' 40% agreed (tend to agree, strongly agree), up from 32% in 2006. Those who disagreed went down, from 48% to 36%.

Even when respondents agreed on statements such as 'too many immigrants in Britain' and 'Britain should accept fewer asylum seekers', the numbers were still down on 2006.

Why would the tabloids regard these figures as not worth reporting? And when will they show some backbone and not take Migrationwatch at face value for everything?

Wednesday 22 July 2009

Swine flu and immigrants: Express heaven

Here's the Express' fourth swine flu front page in five days - the same paper that was telling everyone to 'keep calm' about swine flu on 17 July.

But now it's managed to take two of its favourite type of stories - health scares, anti-immigrant lies - and put them into one article.

The idea that 'migrants man swine flu helpline' should surely be seen as a positive thing. But of course it isn't - this is the Express after all.

The story starts:

Immigrants who can barely speak English will be used to man the phones at emergency swine flu call centres, it was revealed yesterday.

Which, after the headline, makes it sound as if immigrants who don't speak English will be the only people you can speak to if you call the swine flu helpline. It goes on to say:

hundreds of people with few English language skills and no medical training will join the 1,500 team taking calls from the public.

So now it's only hundreds and not all? And is that hundreds 'with few English language skills' and hundreds with 'no medical training'? This whole story, incidentally, is based on quotes from anonymous sources, so it is of course entirely reliable.

But no English and no medical training? Sounds serious. At which point, you start to wonder: if the helpline needs 1,500 operators, where is it going to find that many people with 'medical training' in a few days? Wouldn't they be doing their medical jobs? And is medical knowledge really necessary - surely it's only asking what symptoms a caller has from a prepared list?

Then an 'insider' involved in the recruitment process reveals:

hundreds of immigrants were being signed up to offer a swine flu diagnosis to the public because the posts had to be filled quickly.

'Hundreds of immigrants' and 'hundreds of people' who can't speak English and with no medical training. Must be the same people, right?

Well, not quite.

Once you turn to the page 5 continuation, it becomes very clear that the claims of 'taking anyone off the street' and having no 'medical background' actually applies to everyone. Indeed, the second half of the story doesn't mention immigrants at all.

And then there's the pictures on the story. Both are very blurry and both credit the BBC as the source. It seems they have been very selectively chosen to focus on bits of a queue where there are a few foreign looking people in order to bolster the slant they have put on the story. In fact the front page picture of the back of some heads - one of the least revealing pictures ever seen on a front page - could be taken from a queue from anywhere for anything.

But if we take the pictures at face value - the caption says they are queuing 'to be interviewed for jobs at the call centre in Watford' - how does that square with one of their source's statements that:

As long as they can provide proof of their date of birth, they can get through the recruitment process. When I speak to them on the phone they can barely understand what I’m saying and even those who can speak English are very difficult to understand.

They're queueing to be interviewed but he's talking to them on the phone? And anyway, in the current economic climate, it seems highly unlikely that there aren't lots of people who would be willing to do the job.

If he (as the anonymous person involved in recruiting) is recruiting people who can't speak English very well, it seems it's him who's not doing his job very well. Yet he's still reliable enough to be the source of a front page story...

BNP joins Sun, Mail and Migrationwatch in spreading lies

Following on from the Mail and Sun, the BNP has added its view on the news that a limited number failed asylum seekers will be eligible for free NHS treatment. (The Express has covered the story too, although Macer Hall only put the figure at 'thousands' and while he did rely on quotes from Migrationwatch, he didn't use the 'one million' figure at all.)

It's titled '‘One Million’ Failed Asylum Invaders Get Free NHS Treatment', and although it keeps the figure in quotes, it doesn't for a second make clear it's a total guess:

British taxpayers will be forced to pay for the medical care of ‘a million’ failed asylum invader scroungers as from today
And it goes to acknowledge the source:

Independent think tank MigrationWatch has already responded by saying that the new move will open the floodgates to “up to a million illegal immigrants.” Migrationwatch chairman Sir Andrew Green said the rules gave the “green light” for illegal immigrants to get free NHS care.
Independent indeed. Still, Sir Andrew must be delighted his comments are receiving more coverage.

Tuesday 21 July 2009

Sun follows Mail with asylum scare story

The Sun has outdone the Mail in scaremongering reporting on the plans to allow some failed asylum seekers access to free NHS treatment.

'NHS to be swamped by 1m illegals' includes the emotive word 'swamped' in the headline, the words 'to be' as if it is definitely going to happen, and the figure of 1 million from the 'experts' (don't laugh) at Migrationwatch.

The Mail version did at least say it only affects 10,000-20,000 asylum seekers, amongst all the other (much larger) figures it threw around. The Sun only mentions the million figure, and like the Mail, it doesn't give any indication as to what this figure is based on. The Migrationwatch website still isn't explaining it either.

Recommended - the Mail and Antichrist

Head over to Mailwatch to read Jamie's superb destruction of Christopher Hart's ridiculous What DOES it take for a film to get banned these days? rant against the film Antichrist. (Bryan Appleyard had a similar article in the Sunday Times a few weeks back, although at least he bothered to watch the film first).

Hart's pearls of wisdom include: 'You do not need to see Lars von Trier's Antichrist to know how revolting it is. I haven't seen it myself.' It does seem bizarre that anyone could write over 1,200 words about a film they haven't even seen...

The other notable bit is the way he turns this rant against modern culture into a rant against the EU, claiming it funds the Danish Film Institute, which funded the film, thus your taxes have paid for this 'sick, pretentious trash'. As Jamie found, the EU isn't involved. At all. (Any complaint to the PCC on that point would almost certainly be dismissed because the article is an opinion piece.)

PCC rejects complaint against Mail story, despite the evidence

The Press Complaints Commission has rejected a complaint from former London Mayor Ken Livingstone over an article that appeared in the Daily Mail in March. It seems as if the PCC goes out of its way to produce the most perverse and senseless decisions you can possibly imagine.

The Mail story - Ken 'zero-tolerance' Livingstone escapes fine after being caught 'dodging train fare' - made it quite clear that Ken had escaped punishment for not having a ticket because of who he was. It revealed:

Despite failing to pay the £7.50 single fare from Paddington in London to Slough, Berkshire, he escaped the 'automatic' £20 fine for the offence.

Mr Livingstone, 63, admitted his error at the ticket barrier but was simply waved through by staff and allowed to buy the fare from a ticket machine.

There's then an anonymous 'witness' who confirms the conspiracy:

However, a witness said the former mayor was greeted with smiles by staff, who gave no warning. He added: 'Mr Livingstone had the good grace to look embarrassed. The staff seemed to think it was funny'.

And just to be more outraged, some entirely superfluous information:

Mr Livingstone has a lucrative career as a £13,000-a-night public speaker and hosts a radio show on London station LBC.

Which is, of course, followed by a quote from the Taxpayers' Alliance's Mark Wallace, who roars:
He has been let off just because he is famous.

An open and shut case. Well, not really. Here's the evidence Ken gave to the PCC:

The complainant said that the paper’s failure to contact him before publishing the articles led to the omission of some key facts: that a suicide on the Jubilee tube line had delayed his journey, meaning that he had arrived at the station just two minutes before the train’s departure and with no time to buy a ticket; that the ticket collector on the train had not reached him before he arrived at Slough, meaning that he could not buy a ticket on board; and that he himself had approached station staff to say that he needed to purchase an extension ticket.

It was inaccurate to suggest that he had ‘admitted his error’, had been ‘warned not to do this again’ or – as a witness had stated – ‘had the good grace to look embarrassed about it’. He had not received preferential treatment or provoked a ‘public furore’ as the coverage had suggested. Indeed, the train company had confirmed that ten other passengers had avoided a fine for similar reasons.

A version of events which makes the Mail story look petty and not exactly newsworthy. In its defence to the PCC, the Mail said the article had made clear he was late and had to run for the train. It just neglected to mention the bit about the suicide.

But here's how the PCC reacted to all that. Take the 'public furore' quote, which appeared in a short diary piece by Mail columnist Richard Kay the day after the article appeared. The PCC ruled:

critical statements made by third parties about the incident were sufficient grounds to support the columnist’s summary of the issue as a ‘public furore’.

Which appears to be suggest that if the Taxpayers' Alliance issue some idiotic quote based on half the facts, there is a 'public furore'. That really is a frightening thought.

The PCC also states:

Whether or not it was technically correct that the complainant had ‘admitted his error’ was not significant given that he had accepted that he had approached station staff to tell them that he did not have a ticket.

Which tranlsates, roughly, as: 'Eventhough this wasn't correct, we don't care'. What does 'technically correct' mean? If you are complaining about an article being accurate, or not, surely being correct - technically, or otherwise - is rather important.

But the final line of the judgment is most bizarre of all:

Finally, it did not consider that failure to mention that ten other individuals had avoided the fine...would have altered the general understanding of the situation.

Clearly, this is total bullshit. The whole article was structured around the fact Ken got special treatment for who he was. Indeed, many of the messageboard comments are along the lines of this one: 'One rule for him and another for the rest of us' (Glenda, Ammanford., 18/3/2009 07:15).

And remember the quote from the Taxpayers Alliance:

He has been let off just because he is famous.

If ten other people were involved, and had also avoided the fine, then it would have entirely altered the 'general understanding of the situation'. To claim anything else is pathetic and totally incomprehensible.

Incidentally, Paul Dacre, Editor of the Mail, is Chair of the Editors' Code of Practice Committee, which oversees the Press Complaints Commission code of standards.

Littlejohn steals joke from comments pages

Remember all those messageboard cretins laughing because Cherie Blair had swine flu, and all those soi-disant comedians repeating the 'that's because she's had her nose in the trough' 'joke'?

Apparently, one more cretin thought the joke needed repeating.

Mail misrepresents health story to create anti-asylum scare

Failed asylum seekers will get free NHS care in U-turn to protect human rights that 'could attract 1m' says the Mail.

Notice that none of these people need NHS care because they might be sick. It's because of their human rights. It's like a Littlejohn wet dream.

But the key thing about the way the Mail has presented the story is - once again - about the numbers. The headline implies a million failed asylum seekers will be joining those Gypsies in the dcotor's queue ahead of you.

Surprisingly, this is not a story by either James Slack or Steve Doughty, but Daniel Martin. His grasp of the issues are equally terrible however.

'NHS treatment will be available for tens of thousands of failed asylum seekers', the story begins.

'The decision increases the numbers potentially able to use the NHS by tens of thousands', it repeats three sentences later, just in case you aren't outraged enough yet.

And then, just when you were wondering where that headline figure of a million came from (as if you needed telling):

the campaign group MigrationWatch believes it could open the floodgates to 'up to a million' illegal immigrants.

Never saw that one coming, did you?

Neither the Mail, nor the Migrationwatch website appears to explain on what evidence this 'million' figure is based, but coming from them, it's probably just plucked out of the air.

Anyway, the Mail goes on to say:

'There are understood to be around 450,000 failed asylum seekers who have not left the country'.

This is an old canard that the Mail (and Express) keep using and which is not correct. This is the figure for the so-called legacy cases (except they aren't all cases, they aren't all failed asylum seekers, because their cases haven't been resolved, and those that now have have been rejected by factor of 2:1).

But the implication is that that is another possible figure for the numbers of failed asylum seekers about the get free NHS treatment.

That is, if it's not a million.

Or tens of thousands.

In fact, the Mail then reveals: 'only 10 or 20,000 are directly affected by the new rules'.

Oh. That's not quite what had been implied earlier - especially as they won't all be sick or need treatment. A quick look at the NHS website reveals what the plans actually are:

asylum seekers whose claim has been refused but who are being supported because there are recognised barriers to their return home should be exempt from charges

Which is odd because the way Mail reported it, it sounded like all failed asylum seekers were getting free NHS care. In fact, it's a very specific group, and a very limited group.

And, perhaps most important of all, within that very specific and limited group, it's people who are sick. But apparently, the Mail doesn't think that matters one bit.

Facebook terror continues

The Mail's latest example of Facebook signalling the end of the world is a party that turned into a 'riot'. They aren't the only ones who covered it - Google News shows the Guardian, Mirror, BBC, PA, Scotsman and Telegraph did too.

But the presentation of the Mail's story deserves comment. For one thing they claim there were '150 unwanted guests' which - added to the wanted ones, suggests a far larger gathering than Hampshire Police who said it was 100. Indeed, the police claim 30 people were involved in anti-social behaviour and not all 150 as the Mail implies.

The party was organised by two neighbours - 17 year old Jordan Wright and 15 year old Seva Nurueva. Here's the Mail's third sentence:
But far from regretting the damage and disturbance caused by the party, one of the teenage organisers said: 'It was wicked.'
Which may well be accurate, but is it the whole story? The Mail goes on to quote a concerned neighbour and Ms Nurueva's dad, who expresses his outrage. But why do they not quote Seva herself?

Because in both the BBC and Guardian versions, she says:
'We are really sorry for all the damage we caused. It was scary - I did not really know what to do. All I did was cry.'
But because the Mail wants to portray all kids as feral and out of control, it chooses to ignore her apology and regret, and instead focus on the other idiot. Because young people, with their Facebook, are sure to get Mail readers in a tizzy.

So much so, that one commentator on the Mail story writes:
Time to get rid of the internet. It's far to dangerous. We survived long before it was around and will long after it's gone.
- sub, london, 20/7/2009 11:55
Surely, surely that's a joke?

Not news

As if to prove that the tabloids will write about anything that happens to either Katie Price or Peter Andre, the Mail, Star and Sun all rushed to report that the latter had fallen off stage during a set at the T4 On the Beach concert.

Indeed, the Mail considered it so important it assigned two reporters - Donna Mcconnell and Tamara Hardingham-Gill - to the story.

Here's what happened - Andre was walking down some steps, mid-song, when he stumbled, lost his footing and then jumped off the stage. And that really is it. You can see the video on both the Mail and Star versions of the story. And you may wonder what the fuss is about.

But then in comes a fan called Carly Wells, who is quoted in every version of the story. She says:

'One minute he was bouncing around the stage having the time of his life. The next he was flat on his face in front of us. There was a loud gasp as he fell - the stage was quite high up and it looked quite nasty. But he just picked himself up, brushed his trousers down and got on with it'.
It's hard to know if this person exists, because if she does, she clearly can't have seen the same incident. Since the Mail must have seen the video in order to embed it on their site, they could see he did not fall 'flat on his face' or even come close to doing so.

But the Mail adds its own embellishments, claiming he was 'lucky to escape serious injury'.

It's as if the Mail is trying to make it sound more serious than it actually was in order to try and make it seem worth writing about - by two journalists.

Saturday 18 July 2009

And that's the way it is

"We've always known you can gain circulation or viewers by cheapening the product, and now you're finding the bad driving out the good."
- Walter Cronkite

Mail supports man in discrimination case - because he's Christian

Everything about the way the Mail presents the story Christian teacher tells of race slurs by pupils aged 8 tells you it believes him over anyone else.

The story is of a teacher - Nicholas Kafouris - at a Tower Hamlets primary school who says he was forced out of his job after highlighting racism among kids at the school. He claims eight and nine year old Muslim children said things such as: "We want to be Islamic bombers when we grow up", "the Twin Towers bombers are heroes and martyrs", "we hate the Jews" and "we hate the Christians".

The picture of Kafouris which illustrates the story shows him sat in a very demure, sympathetic pose. The article consists mostly of his claims. Criticisms of him are mentioned, but dismissed on his say so:
Mr Kafouris, who is unmarried and has no children, was also reprimanded for handling a discussion about religion with a child 'inappropriately', which he denies.

He says assistant head Margaret Coleman accused him of shouting at pupils and telling them Muslims had produced suicide bombers - claims he rejects.
And the official line is relegated to one short quote from Tower Hamlets Council which is the last sentence of the article.

The comments are mostly in support of the teacher and along the lines of: 'Another nail in the coffin of this once & green pleasant land'. The entirely reasonable statement: 'Now lets hear the other side of the story', is marked -607.

It's funny too, how different the reactions are to this man taking his employer to court over claims of discrimination with Javid Iqbal and Tariq Dost because they were treated as whingeing money grabbers who should just get on with their lives.

Wonder why this Christian is not dismissed in the same way?