Tuesday 23 December 2008

Wii don't believe you

The Sun:
TEN people a week in Britain are hospitalised from playing Wii games.

The growing toll has prompted NHS doctors to warn of the dangers.

Wii-itis sufferers usually have excruciating pain in the right shoulder or knee.

A rheumatology consultant said: “Most are admitted after playing the tennis and running games which involve sudden movements and violent tendon stretching.”

Dr Dev Mukerjee, of Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford, Essex, said: “There has been a 100 per cent increase in patients complaining of Wii-itis.

We said we found all this difficult to believe and were going to ask the good doctor for the facts. We did, and Dr Mukerjee has kindly responded with the following.

"I have seen a few injuries related to patients using the Wii.

"I do NOT think its anything to do with the Wii itself, but rather the player over using the device.
There is no epidemic- I used to see 3 or 4 injuries and over the last few months there have been 7 to 10.

"The quote about 10 people admitted to hospital is INCORRECT. 10 people have been seen recently in hospital clinics is the fact.

"Broomfield (hospital) doesn't keep specific Wii stats, but we do have soft tissue rheumatism stats under which this type of injury belongs, and we haven't seen a great rise."

Health & science Editor Emma Morton used to be so full of praise for the Wii too.

Monday 22 December 2008

Chrismas is a time for giving and for gratitude.

Sometimes you really don't have to add anything to these stories. They speak for themselves. Compare and contrast tomorrow's leader column with today's report regarding the "feast" which the bloodthirsty murderers, psychos and other assorted nutjobs (surely patients? Ed.) at Broadmoor will be receiving over the holiday.

CHRISTMAS is a time for giving — and for gratitude.

This year, many families face worrying challenges. Yet the generosity of the British people — and warm-hearted Sun readers especially — knows no bounds.

They are willing to dig deep, emotionally and financially, for good causes.

So as we do our last-minute shopping, let’s spare a thought and raise a glass to absent friends and those less fortunate than ourselves.

Think of children in care, the poor and the elderly, many spending Christmas alone.

Remember our brave troops who, even as we are toasting good health and a long life, are risking their own under enemy fire.

*continues in phony lachrymose fashion for another 250 words*

KILLER Robert Napper is set to enjoy FOUR DAYS of festive feasting in Broadmoor — as hard-up families struggle with the credit crunch.

Monster Napper, who last week admitted slaughtering young mum Rachel Nickell, will be treated to gourmet menus over Christmas and New Year.

He and other patients at the top-security hospital will be offered mouth-watering fare headed by a full Christmas Day lunch of roast turkey, pud and brandy sauce — served up by nurses in party hats.

Fiends including Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe, Cannibal Killer Peter Bryan and Stockwell Strangler Kenneth Erskine can also tuck into full cooked or light breakfasts.

On Boxing Day the 278 patients will lunch on roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.

On New Year’s Day they can even have sirloin steak — and there are vegetarian, halal and “healthy option” dishes too. If they are still peckish they can munch a whole range of snacks including quiche, pizza, crisps, drumsticks, mince pies and gateaux.

In between scoffing platefuls many families can only dream of, Napper may find some time to do his job of feeding Broadmoor’s chickens.

Or he may listen to CDs or play games with other patients — many of whom will have used their Government benefits to buy gifts from catalogues.

In wards decorated with images of tinsel, stockings and holly, killers and paedophiles can watch jolly Christmas films on giant flat-screen plasma TVs.

And the highlight of Christmas Day is the awarding of a £50 cash prize to the best-decorated ward.

In contrast, staff get their Christmas dinner a week before December 25 — and have to PAY £7 each for it.

An insider said: “It’s a sick joke that taxpayers’ money ensures evil people eat like lords while staff have to pay. There are pensioners and people who have lost their jobs who just won’t believe these menus.”

An apology, cherish it.

Simply reproducing an apology from the Sun:

ON 20 August, we reported that funds given by BBC’s Children in Need to the Leeds Community School Charity were passed on to a neighbouring bookshop where two of the 7/7 bombers worked and it had been alleged that the money had then been used for propaganda videos.

We accept the assurance of Leeds Community School’s founder, Hanif Malik, that no Children in Need money was passed to the bookshop or the bombers nor was it used to pay for the propaganda videos.

We apologise to Mr Malik for the upset and distress caused.

In fairness, I think this story may well have started on Newsnight, but doubtless the Sun's hacks doubled checked it before running with it...

Saturday 20 December 2008

New sources needed

Gordon Smart gets it wrong. Again:

Tuesday 16 December 2008

Fooled on knife crime.

The Sun is in full voice over the dodgy knife crime statistics released by the government:

"HOME Secretary Jacqui Smith says sorry for pretending stabbings are down.

Falsifying evidence is embarrassing for a minister responsible for fighting crime.

But nobody believed Ms Smith — even BEFORE statistics chief Sir Michael Scholar blew the whistle."

Nobody? Really? Does the Sun really think that its readers are so stupid that they can't remember back to last Friday? From that day's leader:

"That horrific total is reason enough to welcome the small fall in knife crime that has followed a police crackdown in a few targeted areas.

This is largely due to increased stop-and-search police action — an anti-crime measure once condemned by politically-correct whingers as racially biased.

Those caught carrying knives are now three times more likely to end up where they belong: behind bars."

The Sun then believed the statistics - as long as they confirmed their own prejudices and gave them an opportunity to rail against the ever handy "politically-correct whingers".

Back to today's leader:

"The Home Office is scandalously incompetent, negligent and secretive."

Three adjectives which apply more than adequately also to the Sun.

Update: As Tim points out in the comments, Friday's page 3 girl also believed the knife statistics, making Rebekah Wade an even bigger boob than the ones she publishes.

Monday 15 December 2008

Monday morning quickie

Just a couple of bits from Matthew Norman this morning:
The first about that nice chap who spends half his life in Florida:
Kelvin MacKenzie leaps aboard Charles Moore's licence fee-avoidance bandwagon. Kelvin doesn't reveal whether he's criminalised himself like Charles intends, but he urges readers to do so, and well done to him for that. No one speaks with more moral authority on the failure to sack Jonathan Ross than the man who retracted a most sincere apology for libelling the dead of Hillsborough.

And the second is about your friend and mine, Gaunty:
During a joint appearance with Shami Chakrabarti on Jeremy Vine's Radio Two show last week, Jon Gaunt declared that "Magna Carta is for the nobs but the Human Rights Act is for the ordinary working man." Meanwhile, in his latest Sun meisterwork, he distances himself from every aspect of that legislation other than its enshrinement of the right to freedom of expression he believes should restore him to his berth on TalkSport.

Saturday 13 December 2008

£50,000 for breaking the law.

A highly curious but also insightful story into how "gotcha!" journalism works on the Sun has emerged:

"A man who plotted to covertly film a "hit list" of stars, including Amy Winehouse, taking drugs so he could sell the footage to newspapers was jailed for two years yesterday.

Johnny Blagrove, 34, and his girlfriend Cara Burton, 22, sold footage of the singer apparently smoking a crack pipe to The Sun for £50,000, but the video was later passed to police.

In the final scene of the tape, which was viewed by a judge at Snaresbrook crown court, east London, Blagrove laughs to himself after telling his reflection in a bathroom mirror: "You have succeeded. You have done it. You are going places. It's taken a while, but I've finally got what I want.""

What the Guardian article doesn't mention is that it seems to have been the Sun itself that turned in its source, having previously paid him £50,000, or far more than the average Sun hack will earn in a year. Having provided the police with the footage secretly shot by Blagrove of Winehouse, apparently smoking a crack pipe, they went on to raid Blagrove's home, where they apparently found additional footage of Peaches Geldof. Rather than keep this evidence for any potential trial, the police, having had their back scratched, seem to have given the video straight back to the Sun, resulting in their article of May the 5th:

"THIS is the video showing SIR BOB GELDOF’s daughter PEACHES buying drugs from AMY WINEHOUSE’s alleged dealer.

Peaches, 19, is seen offering to hand over up to £190 to the pusher – and then blurts out: “I need to get all that stuff off you tonight. Tomorrow I need Valium.”

Valium is often taken by users coming down from drugs.

TV presenter Peaches is now days away from a police quiz over the video obtained by The Sun.


But cops found the clip of her on a computer memory stick also containing scenes of Amy, 24, smoking crack cocaine.

Stills of Amy were published in The Sun four months ago.

Peaches’ dad Sir Bob, 55, said in the past he would “go f*****g ballistic” if she took drugs.

Cops seized the video from the East London home of Jonny Blagrove, 34, and Cara Burton, 22, suspected of running a celebrity drug empire.

Police sources said they believe Blagrove – a pal of Amy’s caged husband BLAKE FIELDER-CIVIL – and his lover wanted to use the Peaches video in a different sting."

Err, yes. Instead they apparently handed the footage over to the Sun for them to do just that, this time without them having to pay Blagrove any money for the privilege. 4 days later, this follow-up appeared:

"DRUG cops want PEACHES GELDOF to help them nail a drug dealer selling cocaine to celebrities.

Peaches, 19, has been quizzed under caution over an allegation of possessing the drug.

Her questioning arose from a video obtained by The Sun featuring her allegedly buying cocaine.

But cops have decided NOT to arrest Peaches — daughter of Live Aid hero Sir Bob Geldof — despite her being seen apparently handing over £190 for cocaine to a dealer.

She will be dealt with as a potential witness instead. Peaches was interviewed at a central London solicitor’s office on Thursday.

A report will now go to the CPS for consideration on charges. But one police source said: “It is hoped that Peaches, in particular, will appear as a witness in the case.

“We believe she was deliberately targeted by a drug supplier.”"

None of the accounts of the conclusion of the trial mention Geldof's involvement, so whether she actually did give evidence or not is uncertain.

To call this a very grey area in the terms of the law is something of an understatement. The Sun has to all intents and purposes paid someone £50,000 for breaking the law. It's not even as if it can fall back on the defence that it's exposing someone in the public eye taking drugs - it was hardly a secret that Winehouse was and still is a drug addict, having been in and out of treatment all year. Moreover, the Sun of course turned to its best friend: sickening hypocrisy. Having paid £50,000 to a man with 28 previous criminal convictions who ostensibly supplied a celebrity with the drugs which he then filmed her taking, their article contained the following platitudes:

"Amy’s spiral of self-destruction was revealed in a harrowing video filmed at her East London home and seen by The Sun.

It will horrify relatives and friends who fear she could soon end up dead.


Amy’s real friends believe she is now at constant risk of an overdose like the one which led to her notorious collapse last August.

One said: “Someone has to turn her around, otherwise a great talent will disappear forever very soon.”"

While on the side-panel "experts" including the Sun columnist Jane Moore call for her to be sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

Strangely, although the Sun's website carried agency accounts of the trial under the "Staff Reporter" byline, there doesn't appear to have been any report of the trial's conclusion in today's paper. Also strange is that all of the agency accounts appear to have a crucial detail pruned from them: the £50,000 paid to Blagrove.

It's not as if this sort of hackery is anything new - the News of the World's Mazher Mahmood was notorious for entrapping celebrities either with them buying drugs or buying them for others. The difference is that he was employed by the NotW; here they instead turned a blind eye to their source and how exactly he obtained the material. Considering that he has now been jailed for two years, doesn't the Sun have a case to answer as well?

Thursday 11 December 2008

Guilty until proven non-Muslim.

5cc takes a look at the Sun's decision to blame a riot on Muslim prisoners, reminiscent of past decisions to blame Muslims first and ask questions later.

All the fault of social services, obviously...

The latest Private Eye (1225) comments on the Sun's relationship with Karen Matthews (thanks to Justin):

The Sun supports teenage pregnancy

There's an article in today's Sun about the fact that Manchester City Council are handing out condoms to under-16s. The aim is to lower its extremely high teenage pregnancy rate and by doing so the various associated negative outcomes.

The Sun condemns them for doing so - it must think that abstinence is the way forward - and in support of its position quotes the "Campaign for Real Education", which appears to be a right-wing group simply intent on complaining about anything that happens which improves teaching methods.

It also complains about the fact that parents won't be told when their kids are given contraception - which is perfectly reasonable on confidentiality and health grounds, given that this has been the main area of complaint in the past - but concedes the fact that they were consulted before the scheme started. Therefore the parents must support it.

In any event, I support the council's actions, as they have been shown to reduce the levels of teenage pregnancy which is a good thing. The Sun should not be condemning them for doing this, but supporting them, unless it wants people to grow up in poverty which leads to lower prospects and higher crime rates.

The Sun and Marxism

Today's Sun leader column supports the government's plans to "get tough" on "scroungers".

Nothing unexpected you might think. However, in doing so it has a go against "Labour Lefties" and in "support" of its position quotes Karl Marx's famous saying "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs" which it says shows that "the welfare state was never intended to be a gravy train for freeloaders."

While I shouldn't need to state the obvious fact that not every unemployed person is a "freeloader", e.g. people who have been laid off over the last 18 months due to the economic downturn, the quote doesn't mean that.

It actually means that people get what they need no matter how much they have contributed to society.

Wednesday 10 December 2008

Toytown Terrorist

Lego is great. Everyone loves Lego. You can make absolutely anything out of it and the little figures come in all sorts of designs to suit... including a jihadist follower of Osama Bin Laden:
Photo: www.brickarms.com
A RANGE of Lego-style fighting figures — including an al-Qaeda terrorist — has been slammed by religious leaders.
The masked follower of 9/11 mastermind Osama Bin Laden comes with a rocket launcher, assault rifle and grenades.

Mohammed Shaffiq, of Muslim organisation The Ramadhan Foundation, branded the toy “absolutely disgusting”.

He said: “It is glorifying terrorism — the makers should be ashamed.

Except it's not. It is just a generic bandit, called 'Mr White':
While his other siblings shun the day, Mr. White basks in the sunlight. Boldly attacking when the sun is high, each toss of his 8 fragmentation grenades erupts in a miniature supernova of destruction!

The manufacturers also make the good guys too, although they don't warrant a mention. Presumably because it's ok to glorify some kinds of violence but not others.
Their range consists of this bandit chap, some American army figures and your more traditional baddies, Nazis (which also gets a mention in the paper).

Fox News ran with the 'story' and gave the ower of the company, BrickArms, the right of reply:
We do not sell an ‘Osama bin Laden’ miniature figure. We sell a generic bad guy minifigure with a Ninja scarf head wrap, the same minifigure that we have been selling for over a year now, with no associated ‘outrage.’

It does not represent anything; it is simply a bandit — a bad guy for the good guys to battle. Attempt to assign it a ‘personality’ only serves to create controversy that does not exist.

I also wonder if those pictures on the Suns' website are actually copyright of the Sun, they look everso similar to the ones on BrickArms site...

Tuesday 9 December 2008

Keeley's careless climate change calculations

Let's begin with some comments from the Sun's discussion boards yesterday:

"They're clearly all dole scrounging students with nothing better to do but doing drugs and trying to be 'groovy'..."

"These people like to call themselves anachists...I call them bleeding pests..they are usually middle class guilt ridden unwashed pretend reds."


Now you, like others, may have previously thought that the people protesting at Stansted were filthy work-shy hippies, or perhaps middle class posers, but today it turns out that they're actually idle rich:

THOUSANDS of ordinary families faced airport hell yesterday — as well-heeled youngsters blockaded Stansted’s runway in a demo over climate change. The protesters — whose Plane Stupid campaign counts sons and daughters of peers among activists — chained themselves together to halt flights... Adam May, 24, from Clapham, South London, whose flight to meet his girlfriend in Berlin was scuppered, raged: “It makes no sense. They should be banged up.”

In a clear attempt to paint the Stansted protestors in as negative a light as possible and set readers against them, the Sun's editor (who does very nicely for herself on overseas holidays, thank you very much) flexes her working class cred and brings us some completely irrelevant information about the alleged upper-class status of maybe 5 of the 57 protestors... plus a report from a war zone where "gun police" stand between us and chaos some bloke at the airport who, apparently, speaks for everybody.

Stepping quickly through yet another diversion into the discussion pages...

"The demonstrators don't seem to have realised that keeping planes up there waiting to land, or diverting them, simply burns more and more fuel... "

... we arrive safely at a very similar opinion to the one above, only this time on Page 3:

"I have some sympathy for the protestors, but causing so many planes to divert puts MORE carbon dioxide into the atmosphere."

1. Fifty scheduled services (to places much further away than the nearest airport) were cancelled yesterday, so unless Keeley has some clever sums to back it up, this assertion stands on very, very shaky ground.

2. A clearly stated aim of the protestors was the immediate prevention of "the release of thousands of tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere," but the act was also meant to highlight our cheap flight culture and its contribution to carbon emissions. One has to admire the brutal efficiency of Keeley undermining that legacy by the very act of discounting it.

That is, of course, to assume that this is actually Keeley Hazell's opinion we're talking about here. How these opinions manage to arrive on Page 3 and remain unfailingly in line with those of the editor is one of life's great mysteries, and several possibilities are open to us:

- Keeley arrived at this earnestly-held opinion all by herself and offered it unprompted when invited by Rebekah Wade to express an opinion on Page 3.

- Keeley offered a deliberate and disguised attempt to undermine the work of protestors when invited by Rebekah Wade to express an opinion on Page 3.

- Keeley read the comment about diversions and the related fuel consumption (posted to the Sun discussion boards by 'Cannydc' at 07:42 yesterday), found herself agreeing with it, and offered it as her own when invited by Rebekah Wade to express an opinion on Page 3.

- In a shock development likely to make the Andrew Gilligan saga look like a schoolyard folly, Keeley turns out to be 'Cannydc', a male civil servant from Norwich City.

- Keeley has allowed herself to be coerced into a minor role in a mild character assassination.


(Psst! There have been similar mysteries popping up like pert nipples recently, with a range of Page 3 lovelies expressing their opinion about specific measures to do with the economy. We are at present allowing these to quietly accumulate.)

Related news items:
BBC - Stansted protest cancels flights
Guardian - Stansted protest: Passengers vent frustration as officials pass blame

Sunday 7 December 2008

Getting it wrong

Another article that isn't specifically about the Sun, but, well, it's the only paper mentioned so...

The Guardian:
Buried away on today's [05/12/08] Guardian letters page is one of those short-and-to-the-point protests from a reader. If so many journalists who spoke to Karen Matthews and her dysfunctional family failed to rumble the fake kidnapping of nine-year-old Shannon, perhaps they will now be less judgmental about social workers who make similar mistakes, suggests Richard Moore of Bletchley.

Good point. Fat chance. Since her conviction yesterday of kidnapping Shannon to obtain a reward they hoped would be as much as £50,000, "Heartbreak Mum" Karen Matthews has been recast as "pure evil" across the Sun's front page this morning.

Thursday 4 December 2008

Kelvin MacKenzie vs the Manchester Congestion Charge

In today's Sun their ex-editor Kelvin MacKenzie has a column on the referendum in Greater Manchester on whether they should have a congestion charge, like in London.

MacKenzie isn't within my usual area on this blog. However, readers of my main blog will know that I have a keen interest in public transport matters and so I'll make an exception to comment on this, especially as I used to commute to work in Manchester from east Lancashire - by bus due to the appaling traffic, which has not noticably improved whenever I have been back - before I moved down to London, so I feel that I know a lot more about the topic than he does.

The idea is to charge people for driving into and out of the M60 with a further, higher charge for people who drive within Manchester city centre. It's not quite a blunt instrument as London's charge, as it would only apply during rush-hour, not the whole of the daytime and would only cover journeys which go with the flow of the main traffic, i.e. you would be charged for driving into Manchester in the morning and out of there in the evening, but not if you were travelling out of Manchester in the morning and into it in the evening. Furthermore, it would not be enforced until the planned public transport improvements which will eventually be funded by the revenue from it - including further extensions to the Metrolink tram network, including a badly-needed second line through the city centre, more buses and a version of London's Oystercard system - are actually in place.

Anyway, on to his piece.

He lists 10 "reasons" as to why people within Greater Manchester should vote against it, all of which boil down to the usual "War on Motorist" rubbish that the Sun seems to propagate. He also completely ignore the fact that Manchester does have a relatively decent public transport network at the moment and so it's not unreasonable to encourage people to use it.

He lists the fact that people would have pay £5 per day or £1200 to drive to work, ignoring the fact that lots of people already use public transport to get to work in Manchester and so would not be effected. He actually lists both the daily and annual charge as two separate "reasons" and
so that is in fact one "reason", not two, which is actually flawed so he's down to eight "reasons" straight away.

He also gives as two further "reasons" the fact there will be an initial charging area and that it may increase in size in the future, which in my experience would be no bad thing, and then states that this is a way to bring in road-pricing, i.e. it's the same point made three times. So that's another "three reasons" which are actually one "reason" which again is flawed, so that five "reasons" left.

He says that everyone pays and claims that the charge will lead to higher prices in, amongst other places, pubs and so he appears to be condoning drink-driving. He also states that the NHS will have to exempt people who have regular appointments. Not if they use public transport they won't. Four "reasons".

He states that each council in Greater Manchester would have to pay £120 million to pay for the planned public transport upgrades. He appears to miss - or, depending on your view, completely ignore - the fact that by raising money from a congestion charge, less would need to be borrowed. That's thee "reasons".

He rails against the fact that Manchester CC was told off by Ofcom for being biased. While it is correct that they were told off, he fails to say how and why this impacts on the charge itself. Two "reasons" against it.

He concern trolls (for the lack of a better term) about people on minimum wage having a discount, but states that only 7% of people would qualify. This suggests that there are a lot of jobs around which, if not decent-paying are enough to live off (this is Manchester and its suburbs we're talking about, not London). I'll won't allow this this reason either as another of the aims of the scheme is to have lower bus fairs, which would help people on low wages. One "reason" left.

The remaining "reason" is the fact that the roads aren't busy, but the motorways are and the charge does not deal with this. Experience from London shows that it leads to a drop in traffic levels over a long-term period (yes, the levels have finally gone back up to what they were pre-Charge, but that shows that it has had a big impact as they would be a lot higher if it was not there.). Anyway, as I stated above, I know from experience that certain areas, for example Bury New Road, are at virtual standstill during rush hour, so he's wrong. In any event, the charge does cover motorways so he's wrong on this as well. That's no "reasons" left. Oh dear!

By the way, he doesn't mention the fact that since the charge was introduced in London traffic levels have decreased and life expectancy has improved as well as the fact that it has raised money for public transport improvements. I wonder why?

Tuesday 2 December 2008

Really unpleasant story.

With the Sun having been whipping up hate for the best part of three weeks now over Baby P, it's hardly surprising that those involved have been receiving death threats. Reports the Guardian:

"A threat, warning that her daughter would be killed, was sent to Shoesmith's home address in London. The typrewritten letter, containing a photo of Shoesmith taken from the Sun, with the words "a Christmas box - your daughter will be in" attached, is one of many items of hate mail she has received. As a result, the police have reinforced her doors and windows and offered her protection. Her daughters, both grown up, live in London."

As only the finest press in the world would, they've also been harassing her relatives:

"At the end of the trial, Shoesmith's mother was traced to her home and told her daughter had been involved in the death of a child. She phoned Shoesmith in a distressed state, unaware of what the reporters were talking about."

"Her former mother-in-law was also upset when it was reported in a number of papers that Shoesmith's in-laws found her "ice-cold" and wanted her to resign. One report said: "A woman, who asked to remain anonymous but spoke for the family, said: 'She should have done the decent thing by now'." Shoesmith has received emails entitled 100 Ways to Commit Suicide and ecards with pictures of Baby P containing messages such as "forever on your conscience"."

The Sun naturally carried one of those reports. And despite everything, it's still saying that yesterday's resignations and the sacking of Shoesmith are not enough. Indeed, the leader says that if there are any pay-offs to those involved, they would be blood money. The paper presumably won't be satisfied until there is blood on its own hands.

Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right...

Media critic Michael Wolff's new book, The Man Who Owns the News, is excerpted in the London Guardian today. But it glosses over the details of a joke in particularly poor taste that the reptilian Newscorp billionaire told his Sun tabloid editor Rebekah Wade—who was was arrested a few years back for assaulting her supposed "hard man"* British actor husband—after "a few drinks in a posh London restaurant," about gay sex. "Seeing [Wall Street Journal publisher Robert] Thomson arrive, Murdoch whispered: "For God's sake, don't tell Robert what I said. He's a gentrified man ... very clever," it reads.

Also in the book, apparently (from Radical Royalist):
...Murdoch was devoutly anti-monarchy but that "the internal cash flow of News Corporation became highly dependent on The Sun's obsession with Diana".

The day Princess Diana died, in 1997, Mr Murdoch met a News Corp executive at a bar and got blind drunk. He was "mourning" the passing of a woman whose life had been a circulation bonanza.

*Heh. If it wasn't for that line, I would've quoted the Guardian itself.

Monday 1 December 2008

Gently stirring

The Sun is gently stirring things for the Conservatives.

Spectator Coffee House:
Tucked away in the Whip column of The Sun is this item:

“Now senior Tories are aghast at rumours that David Cameron was rubbishing them during a private dinner recently. He is said to have told a pal: “I’ve got six or seven people in the Shadow Cabinet capable of working in the government. The rest are useless.”

The way—and where—The Sun has reported this story suggests it is not totally confident in it.

Wot no outrage?

Mike Power (1:2):
Coooo! Miracle! Faith and Hope! Little fighters! Mother's decision will inflict pain, disability and possibly death on her children...so where is the outcry? Where are the headlines in The Sun.
Oh, here it is: 'They're Doing Great!' : http://is.gd/9GSU

A bit different to the headlines about another child having pain and suffering inflicted on it by his mother.

Update 03/12/08:
One of the conjoined twins separated at London's Great Ormond Street Hospital has died, the hospital has said.

Saturday 29 November 2008

More powers please!

Carrying on from yesterday, the Scum is at it yet again. Without there being any conclusive evidence whatsoever to yet link any of the attackers in India to this country, the security services and police must immediately have new powers:

"Nobody knows how many Muslims here today are plotting mayhem.

That is why we must give our security services the surveillance powers they require.

And we must let police detain suspects for as long as they need."

Just below, without any apparent causation or irony, the paper attacks the arrest of Damian Green in the following terms:

"THE arrest of Tory immigration spokesman Damian Green is a terrible blow to our democracy."

When giving the police utter impunity to arrest anyone in a similar way as they would a genuine terrorist is obviously not.

Thursday 27 November 2008

Being offensive

The Guardian:
A cheeky ad by the Sun gloating about Britain winning more medals than Australia at the Beijing Olympics, using a twist on Australia "Where the bloody hell are you?" tourism, has been banned by the advertising regulator.

The ad featured as a giant billboard on a truck comparing Britain's 19 Beijing gold medals alongside Australia's 14 with the strapline "Where the bloody hell were you?".

One complaint was received by the Advertising Standards Authority that the language in the ad was offensive and could be seen by children.

Wednesday 26 November 2008

New Labour killed by socialism!

Might have spoken slightly too soon on the pact between the Sun and New Labour. The Sun's piss-poor political editor, George Pascoe-Watson, has written a hi-larious obituary detailing the death of New Labour:

"THE tragic death of New Labour has been announced in No 10, Downing Street.

New Labour passed away after a 14-year battle with socialism."

It seems that a 45p rate of income tax on those earning over £150,000 a year equals socialism, in spite of everything else. Perhaps Pascoe-Watson's more concerned with his own predicament: chances are he earns over a six-figure sum, as does his partner, the equally piss-poor Sky News presenter Kay Burley. Rebekah Wade, the Sun's editor, almost certainly does, as of course does little Jimmy Murdoch, Rupert's son in charge of News International's European and Asian operations.

As we could expect from a newspaper whose editor is a close friend of the former prime minister, he receives the customary arse-licking:

"Its heartbroken father, Tony Blair, was too upset to comment.

The former PM spent 13 years in charge of the party, fighting off Left-wingers’ demands to soak the rich with tax hikes."

Pascoe-Watson also has some bizarre ideas on why New Labour was so popular:

"It won three General Elections with huge victories by befriending big business and encouraging wealth-creators to set up thriving firms."

Surely by convincing the middle classes that it could be trusted to run the economy, whilst being as right-wing on social policy and crime as it possibly could get away with? The befriending of big business was just a bit part, which became all encompassing and helped in the economy's downfall when the light-touch regulatory system, established by Gordon Brown and indicative of socialism, turned out to be a completely non-touch regulatory system.

Of course, this is just another indication of the Sun's betrayal of its own readers. Very few Sun readers will be affected by this onset of "socialism"; the 2% of the population which earns £150,000 a more or year generally don't read tabloids, or at least not the red-tops. They in fact will be the ones that will gain most from the pre-budget report, with only the rise in NI in 2011 likely to affect the majority, and it's still not clear whether those earning under £40,000 will be too badly affected by that. True, the government could have gone a lot further in helping the poorest, but if it had the Sun would have doubtless decried that as even more evidence of socialism. Murdoch's business interests and the amount being siphoned off by the state in tax, at least when his companies actually pay it, are as always the Sun's real paramount concern.

Profiting from knife-crime

Once again the Sun is whipping up hysteria over knives.

Yet the Sun does not seem to have any problems in profiting from the sales of it:

They must be covering the story to cynically profit from it. It's "utterly irresponsible"!

Tuesday 25 November 2008

The Sun's take on the pre-budget report.

If you want an indication of how stupid the Sun imagines its readers are, then you could do worse than see them again turning to Thunderbirds in order to explain the economics of yesterday's pre-budget report, capitals and bold used throughout.

We're not especially interested in that though, more in whether the PBR has shifted the Sun further from its embrace of New Labour towards the Conservatives, as has seemed evident since their praise for David Cameron's piss-poor conference speech.

Their leader, headlined the "death of New Labour", is perhaps not as critical as you may have expected:

"BRITAIN is apparently so close to meltdown that the nation must be plunged deeper into the red to avoid catastrophe.

Gordon Brown says it is not his fault that we are worst placed in the Western world to weather this storm.

We must blame America’s chaotic mortgage crisis — not our own overblown housing bubble or badly-run banks.

And it will take seven bitter years before we get our heads above water again.

But the Prime Minister cannot wash his hands of responsibility like that.

Yes, the whole world is suffering.

But Britain’s special weakness is, at least in part, down to Labour’s reckless 12-year spending spree on bloated and inefficient public services.


But make no mistake. It marked the death of New Labour.

In one emergency splurge, a beaming Mr Brown reverted to Old Labour’s natural big government tendency to big government tax, spend and borrow.

The clue is in the tax changes.

All the CUTS are temporary.

All the RISES are permanent.

Britain is once again a high tax economy. VAT will shoot back to 17.5 per cent after 13 months, with sharp hikes in petrol, booze and cigarette prices.

But the new 45p rate for high earners will remain — if Labour stays in power.

In hard times, few would argue against the wealthy paying their whack.

But who would bet this new rate, welcomed ecstatically by Labour MPs, will stay at 45p.

We are back on the slippery slope to the 1970s.

Other changes, including higher National Insurance and personal allowances, will hurt low and middle earners — and small business.

Yesterday, we saw the battle lines drawn for the next election.

If Gordon Brown succeeds he may well lead Labour to a fourth term.

If he fails — as Shadow Chancellor George Osborne warned — he will have mortgaged our future in an unforgivably reckless Budget.

It's not the job of the Sun to offer alternatives, but it's instructive here to note that it doesn't suggest a single different policy to the ones which Labour are pursuing. The Tories too, only get the one reference, and that's to George Osborne, who also offered few alternatives yesterday. If this truly is the death of New Labour, and that they have had to, out of desperation raise income tax, isn't really indicative of the party being over, then the Sun isn't as upset as you might expect it to be. Our bailouts, likewise, are small beer compared to those in the US, Rupert Murdoch's adopted home, where another $800bn has just been announced by the Fed, nearly 2 months before Barack Obama gets to the White House to introduce his own stimulus. For all the meetings and sucking up towards Cameron, Murdoch will doubtless expect him to come up with some sort of plan before he puts all of his eggs firmly in one basket. New Labour isn't yet dead, and neither is the pact the party has had with the Sun.

Shock: Prisoners eat proper meals

Once again the Sun has been blatantly stoking the anti-Muslim feelings within its readers.

MUSLIM prisoners at a top security jail were bought £3,500 worth of takeaway curries, it emerged last night.

The Sun seems to think that prisoners should have to subsist on bread and water... The prison
holds 458 people
(which the Sun does confirm), and according to the Sun one-third of whom are Muslim, i.e. 152 people. This works out at £23 each which is not an unreasonable amount for a proper curry from a restaurant.

Prison officers drove 40 miles to a restaurant after inmates moaned jail meals were not tasty enough.

The Sun doesn't say whether or not this is a round-trip. However, I admit that does seem to be something to complain about, as surely there must have been a closer curry house. Unfortunately, I'm unable to locate the prison and its neighbouring restaurants.

A non-Muslim ex-inmate at Whitemoor jail said: “They tried to do the curries in-house but the prison chefs couldn’t meet the budget of £1.80 per prisoner — and the Muslim inmates complained that it tasted rubbish.

That's probably because you can't even do a cheap and nasty curry on that amount of money. I know that to make one dirt-cheap you're talking at least £5.00.

And the curries were not checked for smuggled weapons on the way into prison in case they got COLD, sources said.

After all, a garlic naan bread is the most likely place to stash a gun.

I wonder if the Sun would have a similar article about the amount spent on Passover meals or Divali, never mind Christmas lunch.

Tuesday 18 November 2008

The Sun supports the rule of law?

There is a very strange article in the Sun today.

Once again the Sun is outraged, which in itself is nothing new. This outrage has been sparked by the fact that a police officer - who was suspended for saying (on Facebook for bonus marks) that suspects should be beaten up - is to be allowed to go back to work after being fined an at tribunal and will be going back on full pay after having a year off. Again, the fact that it should be outraged by someone being allowed to do their job again after 'getting off lightly' (not a quote, more of a paraphrase) is also nothing new.

What is odd is that it calls the guy "vile" for what he did. I have no views on the case, as I don't actually know what happened, but this must be the first time that the Sun has ever condemned about anyone being part of the string-'em-up/hang-'em-an'-flog-'em brigade, see for example, its own coverage of the L. B. Harringay "Baby P" case.

Has the Sun seen the light when it comes the concept of innocent until proven guilty and also how to deal with people who are merely suspects? Only time will tell.

Monday 17 November 2008

The continuing fallout from the Baby P case.

Rather sensibly, considering that the names of those involved in the Baby P case, protected by a court order, are currently flying around the internet like the latest unfunny meme, the Sun has closed down the comment sections on all its stories on the case, including on the article involving the suicidal social worker who was being told to kill herself by large proportions of those leaving messages.

It had first shut down comment on its message boards proper on Friday, a day before the article appeared, perhaps before the level of messages with their names proper included had reached their height. Predictably, although other sources are highlighting the Sun's original role in the names being distributed, Sky News is primarily blaming Facebook, although undoubtedly that site (which has a faintly terrifying 200,000 members in the Justice for Baby P group) has had a major role in it being made known. Other news sites that initially had the names of those involved available due to original articles on them being charged still existing online are also sensibly removing them, or are at least making them unavailable until the court order is rescinded. Only one major newspaper seems to be slow on that score.

Interestingly also, the Sun seems to be narrowing its targets in who should "pay the price for his little life". Originally it wanted all the social workers and the doctor involved sacked, as well as Sharon Shoesmith, the head of children's services in Haringey. In leader columns today (currently AWOL) and tomorrow it instead just wants Shoesmith to go. Could this possibly be because one of those it originally fingered, Sylvia Henry, has since been revealed to have wanted to take Baby P into care, but was apparently overruled by those above her? Similarly, the woman who the paper at the weekend described as being "suicidal" but nonetheless let readers comment on the article to urge her to go through with it, has also been described as having 18 cases on her books, more than the maximum 12 which they were supposed to have. It would be nice to think that when the facts change newspapers similarly change their opinions, but it'd also be nice to think that newspapers wouldn't run witch-hunts against such people when the whole facts are not known. Hopefully Henry and Ward will be forgiving of the paper for the letters, bricks and other nasty things that have probably been coming through their doors since their "naming and shaming".

(Cross-posted, word for word, from mine.)

Supporting our boys

Defence of the Realm has taken apart a bit of reporting by the defence editor Tom Newton-Dunn.
Political editor George Pascoe-Watson, of The Sun needs to talk urgently to the paper’s defence editor (or vice versa).

On 11 March of this year – to the evident approval of the newspaper, GP-W announced a "£40m kit boost for our heroes", telling us in an "exclusive" report that British soldiers in Afghanistan were to get "72 new Mad Max-style troop carriers in tomorrow's Budget".

Although the story had a picture of the early version (unarmoured) - with photoshopped grenade launcher - amd acaption, "Tough ... Supacat armoured vehicle", it seems that defence "editor" Tom Newton Dunn (don't they have reporters anymore?) does not agree.

Preferring instead a vehicle that cools the occupants using a fan and some rubber hose up the trousers.

Pay cut or a pay rise?

The Telegraph:
...[David Blunkett's] income from The Sun has fallen from a peak of £105,000 per year for a weekly column to no more than £50,000 for an annual contract for 12 feature articles.

The quality of his feature articles had better be good. They're costing twice as much each as his weekly column did.

Saturday 15 November 2008

Readers think tabloids are cynical and untrustworthy shock.

Martin Kettle draws attention to some rather unflattering survey findings:
"The survey asked the public how much they trusted 17 different professions to tell the truth. Top of the list as usual were family doctors, trusted by 94% of the public, followed by headteachers (83%) and judges (82%). Ministers and MPs indeed trailed far behind, trusted by 27% and 26% respectively - as the red-tops were quick to point out. At the very back of the line, though, came another group, tabloid journalists, who were trusted to tell the truth by a miserable 10% of the population. Yet this particular finding has not been published in any newspaper until now.

Even this, though, only scratches the surface of what this striking survey revealed about public attitudes to the media in general and to the tabloids in particular. Tabloid readers, the survey found, are more likely than the readers of broadsheet papers or of no newspapers at all to believe that standards of conduct in public life are low, are getting worse, and to think that the relevant authorities are not upholding the right rules. Given their exposure to the sort of stories quoted above, perhaps this is not exactly surprising.

What may surprise, though, is the scepticism of readers towards tabloids. The survey asked their opinion of the papers. Do they "do a good job of keeping politicians accountable?" Yes, said 43%. What about "help the public to learn about what is happening in politics?" Not so sure. This time only 31% of readers thought they did.

Then the figures become really dire. "Generally fair in their representation of politicians?" Only 13% thought that applied to the tabloids. "Look for any excuse to tarnish the name of politicians?" A massive 90% agreed with that one. "Focus on negative stories about politics and politicians?" Almost the same, 87%. And finally, "more interested in getting a story than telling the truth?" This time an overwhelming 82% of tabloid readers concurred."

This is in line with what we've argued here from the beginning: the readership of tabloids, including the Sun's, is both far more intelligent than many give them credit for and also thinks a lot of what they get up to is damaging to politics as a whole. The question this then poses is why do so many still then buy the tabloids when they dislike much of what they do? Is it masochism? Is it because they've always bought them, or their parents did? Is it for what else they produce, as Paul Dacre suggests, on entertainment and being entertaining? Or did those polled lie to the interviewers?

Whatever the answer is, tabloid editors ought to be far less confident and cocky than they are. For all their bravado about giving their readers want they want, this overwhelming shows that on politics are least, that is exactly what they are doing. All the more reason for them to be held to a far higher standard of accountability than they currently are.

(From an extended post which also goes into the reaction to the Baby P case.)

Friday 14 November 2008

Dangerous populism

The inconsistency of Mr. Gaunt

On the 3rd of this month I wrote about how "Jon Gaunt is the most appalling hypocrite". I pointed out that even though Gaunty had spent years railing against New Labour's "nanny state", his own moral politics demand even greater state control over our lives.

In this week's column, Gaunt's confused and duplicitous idea of state intervention was evident, as he tackles the tricky subject of Baby P - a story that has dominated the news cycle ::

A child needs a mum and a dad if possible.


The doctrine of always trying to keep the “family” together is garbage.

Jon walks his carefully constructed nuance with the words "if possible" and "always". He carefully checks the box marked "golden rule of rightwing social populism: the traditional family unit is best", and qualifies it by claiming that in fact this premise is "garbage". So which is it, Jon?

Also, this "doctrine" you speak of?

Social services remove children from their unfit parents all the time, usually to the righteous indignation of rightwing populists like as Gaunt. That the nuclear family is best, and that social services merely meddle in people's lives, has always been The Sun's default position.

Never has there been a doctrine of keeping kids with abusive parents. As one of our writers wrote this week, working in the Social Services is a thankless career. You're criticised for interfering in family life, yet you're crucified in the national press if you're too cautious in breaking up a family and a case turns into a criminal one.

Indeed, without even the slightest awareness of his own inconsistency, Gaunt for the second time in as many columns, refers to the Social Services (who he's arguing weren't strict or interventionist enough) as the "SS" - unsubtly comparing the department to Hitler's Schutzstaffel (this was also, no doubt, a little dig at his current personal woes).

You can't, in all seriousness, allude to the SS and then accuse the Social Service system of being wishy washy.

Now Jon Gaunt grew up in the care system. So he should be forgiven for having a complex view of the role of social services in our lives - but let's be frank, a careful and informed opinion hardly fits Gaunt's bombastic populism, does it?

This is the problem with this brand of lazy commentary: Gaunt and others are allowed to flit between attacking the nanny state for its social excess and demanding that heads roll when they're accused of not interfering enough.

Commentators never adhere to the same consistency they demand from politicians: a blatant disregard for the privileged position they hold in our society.

Bringing politics into the debate

Also in the same column; Jon Gaunt condemns Gordon Brown for accusing David Cameron of trying to score political points, during a PMQ session that featured a heated exchange over failures in the case of Baby P.

There was no party politics. But Labour have been playing at social engineering for the past 11 years. I believe the ultimate responsibility lies with them and the Guardianistas that they have created in every section of public life.

So in the very same paragraph where he argues that Cameron wasn't attempting to bring party politics into the debate, Gaunt launches into a partisan tirade against who he blames for the baby's death.

Hypocrisy? Gaunty? Never!

So it's not with the abusive mother and boyfriend, where the "the ultimate responsibility lies", or indeed the Haringey social services, but with the government and those loathsome Guardian readers [meme alert!].

Of course everyone directly involved in Baby P’s case must be sacked.

How very big of you Jon. Without knowing the outcome of either the police or government investigations, Lord Gaunty feels qualified to demand the immediate termination of everyone involved.

Is this not lynch mob journalism at its very worst?

Thursday 13 November 2008

A price to be paid for his little life.

Today's Sun provides a salutary lesson in just how its journalism works. Here's its editorial:

"SHAMEFUL, disgusting, cowardly and disgraceful.

There are no words strong enough to express Sun readers’ anger at the buck-passing and blame-dodging over the horrific death of Baby P."

What evidence is there provided that this is in fact what Sun readers think? A whole five comments, presumably left on previous stories, which it reprints in its main piece.

It continues:

"The scandal is down to Haringey council, the same one that let little Victoria Climbie be tortured to death eight years ago.

This time, platitudes and inquiries simply will not do. We’ve heard all that before.

Sun readers demand SACKINGS for all who share responsibility for allowing Baby P’s appalling death."

Are Sun readers demanding SACKINGS? Err, no, the paper clearly is, as again the main article states:

"As ALL defiantly carry on working today we call on our army of outraged readers to join our crusade.

We urge you to sign our petition for them to be kicked out of their jobs."

This is the ultimate example of how the newspaper hides behind its readers, whether they themselves agree with its leader line or not: the paper has decided that all involved should lose their jobs, regardless of any evidence that they were personally responsible for the death of Baby P. Its readers might now agree and might now sign their petition, but for the paper to pretend that it's been motivated by its readers into demanding sackings is clearly abject nonsense.

Almost chilling are the last three lines of the leader:

"Mr Brown can make up for being caught wrong-footed yesterday by showing he DOES share the nation's outrage.

Baby P will NOT be forgotten by The Sun.

A price must be paid for his little life, and we will not rest until that price has been paid by those responsible."

A price must be paid for his little life. The price is further ruining the lives of those that are already no doubt traumatised and anguished by their failure to protect a little boy that was in their care. Witch-hunts seem to be all the rage at the moment, and this one has the potential to be the nastiest yet. But it's not what the Sun wants, it's what its readers want.

The PM, the editor and the media mogul's son-in-law.

A story in the Guardian about Elisabeth Murdoch, Rupert's eldest daughter, and Matthew Freud, her husband, reveals a little about ex-prime minister Tony Blair and his relationship with the Murdoch's and in particular, the Sun editor Rebekah Wade.

This excerpt shows how close Tony was with Wade and how she and the Murdoch's seemed to work together to manipulate Tony.

Well, you would too if you could.

A Freud-Murdoch soiree held in 2006 provides glorious proof of this, complete with Blair in jeans, and the Wade connection. Back then, Freud was working with the Texan billionaire Philip Anschutz and South African casino magnate Sol Kerzner (who created the infamous apartheid-era resort Sun City). The pair had teamed up to try and win approval for a giant gambling venue at the Millennium Dome. There had already been a flurry of headlines when Freud had apparently used a private dinner to introduce the then culture secretary, Tessa Jowell, to Anschutz, but on September 20 2006, his jockeying on their behalf entered the realms of the absurd.

That evening, Blair had been having dinner with Wade at Cecconi's restaurant in Mayfair, owned by the Freud client Nick Jones. Wade apparently convinced Blair to come with her to a house party thrown by Freud to promote another of his clients: the Red credit card, launched by U2 singer Bono and American Express, and aimed at raising money to fight disease in Africa. With a year to go until he left office, Blair was - to quote one insider - "at the stage of 'Why not?'", and the pair duly arrived at Freud and Murdoch's west London home. "You go first and I'll follow," he told Wade, whereupon the pair entered a throng that included Bono, 50 Cent, Claudia Schiffer, Alicia Keys - and Kerzner. The story was, said one PR industry high-up, "classic Freud". "In one hit he publicises the restaurant and shows Kerzner rubbing shoulders with the prime minister. Blair was used."

Wednesday 12 November 2008

Would you like any ketchup with that?

Virginia Wheeler. Now there's a reporter that's cropped up before here. And not for good reasons.
This time Virginias' been caught out peddling 'PC gorn mad' rubbish.

The Sun:
THE Red Arrows have been banned from performing at the 2012 London Olympics as they are too BRITISH.

Barmy organisers claim the popular RAF display team’s military background “might offend other nations”.

RAF Red Arrows:
We are very happy to tell you that the story is complete rubbish!

Oh and I would love to see someone eat their computer.
Sun Hack Virginia Wheeler had announce the RED Arrows had been banned from the Olympics opening ceremony for being too British. But They will. When they do, Virginia has said she will eat her computerPicture: Private Eye.

Clarkson? Insensitive? Really?

The Mail failed to get Jeremy Clarkson out of the BBC, but maybe London's Greek community and the PCC will have more success getting him off the Sun's staff-list.

The London Daily News:
The BBC Top Gear and Sun columnist Jeremy Clarkson angered the Greek population of the United Kingdom with racist and insensitive comments made in his weekly newspaper column in the Saturday edition of The Sun, were describes Greece as a "toilet".

In an article "Holiday ad cuts a'tache" Clarkson refers to a recent campaign by the Greek National Tourist board in London, were a women is pictured with Clarkson referring "and a girl who didn’t look all that Greek either. She didn’t have a moustache for instance".

Clarkson referred recently to lorry drivers murdering prostitutes and was given a warning by the BBC, but to insult an entire nation in this manner is way off the mark.

The London Daily News has formally written to the editor of The Sun and a formal complaint is being made to the Press Complaints Commission which has strict guidelines over accuracy:

"i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures.

iii) The Press, whilst free to be partisan, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact."

Had these comments been made about Muslims or African-Caribbean’s there would have been calls for Clarkson immediate dismissal in any case The Sun has not made any remedy to date.

The London Daily News calls for Clarkson to be sacked from The Sun for making these comments

Tuesday 11 November 2008

Even stopped clocks...

...are right twice a day. And today is one of those times.

Jon Gaunt:
I’VE never smoked but I HAVE been in care and I know what it feels like as a kid to be alone, completely alone, with no one to love you.

So that’s why I know that the politically correct twits (with an A) at Redbridge council, East London, who have banned smokers from fostering children are completely and utterly wrong.

Tonight in Britain more than 60,000 children won’t have a special person to tuck them in at night, read them a story or take an interest in what happened during their day at school

But Jon just couldn't help himself:
TalkSport presenter Jon Gaunt has been suspended by the UTV-owned station after he called a London councillor a "Nazi" during a live debate.

Sony award-winning Gaunt, who writes a column for the Sun, also called the councillor an "ignorant pig" during the discussion about a local authority plan to ban smokers from fostering children.

Godwins Law, anyone?

Hat-tip, Scaryduck

Update 18/11/08:
Jon got the sack from Talksport.

Rebekah Wade on Dacre's speech

Rebekah Wade's view of Paul Dacre's attack of Justice Eady (from Press Gazette):
Graham Dudman, managing editor of The Sun, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: “The issue here is that [Mr] Justice Eady is unelected and unaccountable. Parliament has not made these decisions, one man has.”

The Sun's editor, Rebekah Wade, agreed with Dudman. She said: "I think a lot of people will be surprised that he sat alone in the Max Mosley case because there's no jury in privacy cases. As a paper we agree with everything [Dacre] said. It is long overdue - in a democratic society with a free press it cannot be in our interest that one solitary judge is setting legal precedent."

Again, distortions half truths. Justice Eady is not making them up as he goes along, he is applying a law. There are higher judges that can overturn his decision.

What we do not want in this country is a press that is free to publicly, arbitrarily punish people that does not fit into its' fluid definition of immoral.

Saturday 8 November 2008

Friday 7 November 2008

"This is no time for a novice"

An excellent little sound bite,isn't it. But where did it come from?

Some say Rebekah Wade. Bare knuckle boxer, editor of the Sun and now Gordons' speechwriter.

"It was during a dinner the night before Brown's speech in Manchester," I'm told. "Ed Balls muttered it while we were chatting about Cameron. No one picked up on it except Rebekah, who quite rightly thought it was dynamite and suggested he might want to get it into the speech quick-smart.

"Ed, like a loyal little terrier, duly scampered off back to his master with his tail up and the rest is history."

Wade has so far refused to take credit for it, unlike Alastair Campbell, who has boasted about coining some of Tony Blair's best soundbites.

Thursday 6 November 2008

It all depends on the joker in question...

With Ross and Brand having blown itself out, the next target for the permanently outraged was Jeremy Clarkson, having joked on Top Gear about truck drivers murdering prostitutes. While the Mail initially went to town, it toned the outrage down after the public failed to get behind it in a similar way to the former scandal. It wasn't helped, as Five Chinese Crackers points out, because the Sun, unsurprisingly considering it employs Clarkson, decided that the joke was funny.

Murdering prostitutes though is one thing; dead babies are obviously quite another:

"INTERNET sickos who mocked DEAD BABIES were banned last night after protests from grieving mums.


Lauren Elliott, 20, of Belper, Derbys, who has suffered two miscarriages, said: “It’s upsetting to make fun of such a heartbreaking subject.”

Could the fact that these jokes were being made on Facebook, the direct rival to the News Corporation owned MySpace possibly have anything to do with the Sun's apoplexy? Surely not.

A very special occasion

I understand that some people won't be welcoming the news of Barak Obamas' election as good news but likening it to terrorist activity is going a bit far.

Readers of Britain's popular Sun tabloid got a surprise Wednesday: When they opened their paper, they found a photo of Barack Obama instead of the traditional topless "Page 3 girl."
"It's not done very often," said spokeswoman Lorna Carmichael. "It has to be a very special occasion. We only do it after very dramatic news, like the 9/11 attacks or the London transport bombings, things like that."

Wednesday 5 November 2008

Them and Us

The Guardian, TV & Radio blog:
...there can hardly be anything else to add [to the Ross/Brand 'affair] right now regarding what my colleague Charlie Brooker described as the "gitstorm" - other than to remember how very close to real trouble Jeremy Clarkson and the Top Gear team came over Richard Hammond's near-fatal crash in September 2006. Clarkson, however, had columns on News International papers. He was on their team, which effectively caused that newspaper group, and all the others, to think twice and thrice before putting their steel-toecapped boot in to his kidneys. Perhaps if Jonathan Ross had kept his film review column on the News of the World, the Sun would have wondered about buying up the Max Clifford-ghosted outrage of Georgina Baillie. Perhaps this connection with News International would have caused Fleet Street's indignation to falter short of the tipping point.

Monday 3 November 2008

Cameron and Murdoch sitting in a tree....

David Cameron has never seen a bandwagon which he hasn't wanted to jump on. Accordingly, he just couldn't contain his thoughts on the whole Jonathan Ross/Russell Brand/Andrew Sachs debacle, and following the News of the Screws' feeble expose on BBC executive pay, he put pen to paper. Which newspaper though quickly decided his scribblings were worthy of publication? Why, that would be the Sun.

Just a couple of weeks ago after all we learned that Cameron had, thanks to Murdoch's son-in-law, visited Rupert himself on his yacht prior to jetting off on holiday. Whilst registering this in the members interests, he somehow forgot to mention he was going to see Murdoch himself. Still, these things can slip the memory.

If there was some sort of deal done on the floating fortress between Murdoch and Cameron, and the Sun's apparent swift praise for Cameron's conference speech suggests there may well have been, then Cameron's article isn't completely overwhelming in its sycophancy towards Murdoch's interests. He is if anything perhaps overly defensive of the BBC, including its current methods of funding, and whilst paying lip service to the idea that the corporation is biased, you have to wonder if his heart's fully in it.

One of the big points he makes though is over the pay issue, and how Mark Thompson, the BBC's director general, earns over £800,000 a year. As I point out in a somewhat extended version of this post, this is less than his ITV and Channel 4 equivalents earn by quite some margin. How much though, for example, is Rebekah Wade paid? Answer: we don't know, as the Sun is one of the few newspapers which doesn't have its pay deals fully open to scrutiny, unlike the Daily Mail, where Paul Dacre has previously earned well over a £1 million for his stewardship of the paper. Wade is reputed to earn less, but is it less than Thompson? Perhaps a clue is provided by how much James Murdoch, Rupe's son, is paid by BSkyB (PDF). In 2008 he received roughly £1,357,000, down from almost £3 million the year before after he stepped down from being CEO to become a non-executive chairman, having effectively taken over from his father his role as head of News Corp in Europe, or at least in this country.

The other obvious point to make is that the BBC stands in the way of Murdoch's complete domination of the media in this country, hence why it so loathes the corporation and is attacked by Murdoch's interests at every opportunity. For Cameron to have received Murdoch's apparent backing, he will have had to have guaranteed to not harm Murdoch's business interests, and also to be prepared to intervene on Murdoch's behalf if necessary, as it was revealed at the weekend Blair did. While Cameron will then have not gone anywhere near as far as Murdoch would have liked him to, Cameron still can't burn his bridges with the corporation until he is in a position where it won't make any further difference. Today's article will almost certainly be a further step towards Cameron gaining the affections of one of the few people who really matter, and the fact that he isn't even a British citizen and does all he can to pay as little tax in this country as possible doesn't matter one jot.

Gaunts' Britian

Talking of Jon Gaunt...

Matthew Norman:
In Brits we trust

On the op-ed page of The Sun are extracts from Gaunty’s Best of British: It’s Called Great Britain Not Rubbish Britain, and many thanks to Rebekah Wade for offering the choicest cuts from an opus on which I still haven’t lavished £18.99. Included in this saliva-inducing amuse bouche of Gaunty faves are not only the great British summer fete, pork scratchings, saucy seaside postcards, queuing (“What is it with us Brits and queuing?”), HP Sauce, marmalade and the NHS (no direct comparison with the French system, but we take the point).

Also making the cut is tolerance.