Thursday 29 April 2010

You gotta fight.... for your right... for booooobies. Allegedly.

Today's Page 3 is quite something (and we can probably expect further examples to rival this and Monday's absurdity as we get closer to election day)

This is such a startling array of shameless deception and doublethink it's hard to know where to begin, but let's start with what should be obvious to anyone reading this with both hands:

- These two MPs would not need to call for a coalition against Page 3 if one already existed, and the Sun clearly implies that it does on Page 3.

- Even if we're to accept the fallacy that the opinions of these two MPs are now the policy of their respective parties, the Sun is turning a blind eye to Tory MP Nadine Dorries, for example, and her recent calls for a more modesty in print. (For the record: Nadine's abortion nonsense has formal backing that goes right to the top; her typically shouty outburst about women's bits does not.)

- Of course, the Sun have confirmed that the Tories won't be backing this policy that doesn't really exist, but you'll note there's no response from the other parties... it's almost as if the Sun didn't bother to ask (or didn't bother to report the answer). Let me guess; they called Cameron's head of communications, Andy Coulson, former editor Sun Sunday sister title News of the World, who shockingly confirmed to the paper blatantly siding with his party that they with would not be backing a ban on the jiggling jewel in their crown. (This assumes, of course, that Coulson didn't engineer this little masterpiece in the first place.)

- Human Rights Act? Would this be the same Human Rights Act that the Sun has vowed to scrap? [1, 2]

- If these models want to guarantee that they are free to speak their mind without hindrance on Page 3, they will probably want to start with their editor. Assuming, of course, that this is their opinion and not another example of young women being exploited as mouthpieces for Rupert Murdoch. They may not have these concerns at all, though they'd be right to.

- As for this 'plan' being "barely credible", well, I have to agree with them there. It's barely even a plan.

This tabloid is plumbing the depths in their panic. It will be worth seeing how much they're willing to bank on Page 3 in coming days (while simultaneously maintaining that it's a 'harmless little joke').

Page 3 :: Girls + Words from Tim Ireland on Vimeo.

PS - Dick Mandrake rocks. That is all.

Monday 26 April 2010

Porn at 16? We used to support it, now we don't...

First off, apologies for the relative lack of posts here. It's not because there's been a dearth of material, as the paper's coverage of the election can be crudely categorised as falling into two camps, firstly smearing Labour and the Liberal Democrats while indulging in some truly stomach-churning sycophancy towards David Cameron, but more because the election itself is detaining me more than I thought it would.

Here though is the latest attack on the Liberal Democrats, which is not just only slightly less ancient than the Daily Mail's splash last Thursday, but also somewhat hypocritical:

FURIOUS mums have slammed Liberal Democrat plans to let 16-year-olds watch and star in PORN films.

The controversial policy has faced blistering criticism in the chatrooms of Mumsnet, a popular website for mothers.

Under the Lib Dems, the legal age for viewing or appearing in adult movies will be cut from 18 to 16.

But the policy - overwhelmingly passed at the party's conference in 2004 - has now been savaged on the internet by women who claim it is "essentially legalisation of child porn".

We'll ignore the "FURIOUS MUMS" part and just focus on the policy itself, which is perfectly true, if not really mentioned or discussed since 2004. The BBC's news report from the time puts across the party's justification, which is more than adequate in pointing out the disconnect between the age of consent and the age at which you can watch other people engaging in sex:

Mr Foster made the case for allowing 16-year-olds to view pornography during a censorship and freedom of expression debate.

While he had worried the proposals would encourage pornography into schools, "the reality is sexually explicit material is already readily available to 16 and 17-year-olds on the internet", he said.

"Our current policy on censorship and freedom of expression is not only out-of-date, it's inconsistent and it's confusing," Mr Foster said.

"We still do not allow 16-year-olds to watch sex, despite the fact they can currently have sex, lawfully marry and indeed, a woman may choose to have a baby at 16.

"This certainly seems out of date given that as Liberal Democrats, we would extend to 16-year-olds full political and social rights ...

"The proposals are intellectually sound - 16 and 17-year-olds in this country are living in a twilight zone between childhood and adulthood, having lost their children's rights, yet only gaining adult rights in a piecemeal fashion, some at 16, some at 17, some at 18.

"This motion merely proposes consistency on the suitable age for obtaining adult rights in line with the well-established Liberal Democrat policy on 16 as the common age of majority.

There is no mention of allowing 16-year-olds to "star" in pornography incidentally, but then that's where the Sun's hypocrisy enters into it. After all, if we're going back 6 years here, why don't we go back slightly further and remember the fact that the Sun, along with the likes of the Star and Sport, were more than happy not so long ago to err, allow 16-year-old girls to pose topless on their third pages, as Samantha Fox, Maria Whittaker and Debee Ashby to name but three did? Why shouldn't "intelligent, vibrant young women who appear ... out of choice and because they enjoy the job", as former Sun editor Rebekah Brooks (nee Wade) described page 3 models, be allowed to do the same today? Or has the Sun changed its mind in these paedophile-plagued times? The law itself certainly has been, as the 2003 Sexual Offences Act regardless of permission now outlaws 16-year-old topless models, and you somehow doubt that it would be a Liberal Democrat priority should they enter into government with either a Commons majority or as part of a coalition to change it.

Still, another Liberal Democrat policy unearthed and exposed as mad, and if the quote floating around from the paper's political editor Tom Newton-Dunn is accurate, hopefully another step towards ensuring that his job is well and truly done.

Tuesday 13 April 2010

Fizz Royal Highness falls flat.

(Major hat-tip to Tabloid Watch on this.)

It's always amusing when such a banal front page falls apart within the space of an entire day, as happened to yesterday's super splash claiming that Prince Harry had spent £10,000 on champagne in just 4 hours. There really isn't any excuse for it, either: St James' Palace is always fairly open with the press, but they balance this with being very quick to correct inaccuracies, as they have in this case:

"Prince Harry spent approximately an hour and-a-half at the nightclub, where he enjoyed a bottle of beer and a glass of champagne. Prince Harry did not buy anyone else any drinks.

"A friend of Prince Harry hosted the entire evening. It is not true to suggest that Prince Harry spent large sums of money at the club. The £10,000 figure is nonsense."

In other words, if Harry did provide others in the nightclub with drinks, or were at least under the impression that he had, they were most likely being paid for by his friend and not by him.

The Sun has attempted to cover this in the usual fashion: by making up quotes from "friends":

But one chum close to the Prince said: "Harry is very much the the (sic) life and soul of the party so it's easy for people to think that he's getting the drinks in - especially after they have had a few themselves.

"Harry had a good time - but clearly it wasn't as lively as that of the group he met. He's saving the partying for once he passes his training."

Still, not a bad way to follow-up a completely inaccurate front page story - by dumping the "clarification" back on page 19.

Wednesday 7 April 2010

The Sun and endless false dichotomies.

No other comment really needed on this especially vile leader. The line on welfare is remarkably tasteless, even for the Sun:

SOME people are saying they can't see the point of voting on May 6.

They could not be more wrong.

Next month's General Election will be a defining moment for Britain.

However sick you may be of Westminster's antics - and The Sun shares your disgust - this is not the moment to look the other way.

The decision Britain makes will chart our course for a generation.

On the ECONOMY we must decide between reckless Labour spending or sensible Tory savings to cut debt.

On EMPLOYMENT we must decide between Labour's tax on jobs or Tory growth.

On STRIKES we must decide if we want unions running our country.

On DEFENCE we must decide who will best look after Our Boys.

On IMMIGRATION we must decide how to find the right balance.

On CRIME we must decide between yob rule or tough justice.

On HEALTH we must decide whether endless public money will stop filthy hospitals killing patients.

On WELFARE we must decide how to bring thousands of benefit skivers back into the mainstream of society.

On EDUCATION we must decide whether State or parents know best.

On the ENVIRONMENT we must take far-reaching decisions that will shape our children's world. Likewise with ENERGY.

On EUROPE we must decide how far Brussels can push us around.

It does though keep the best line until near the end:

But the choice is entirely yours. We will keep you informed so you can make up your own mind.

Informed along the lines of this completely free of bias and lucidly argued editorial, one presumes.

Friday 2 April 2010

Adjudication over "Boy, 12, turns into girl" report.

The Press Complaints Commission upheld the complaints under clauses 1 and 3 of the code, but rejected further breaches of 3, 4, 6 and 12:

A married couple complained to the Press Complaints Commission through the charity Mermaids that two articles headlined "Boy, 12, turns into girl" and "Now boy, 9, is girl", published in The Sun on 18 September 2009 and 19 September 2009 respectively, contained inaccuracies in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) and intruded into their daughter's private life in breach of Clause 3 (Privacy) of the Editors' Code of Practice.

The complaint was upheld.

Separate complaints under Clauses 3 (Privacy), 4 (Harassment), 6 (Children) and 12 (Discrimination) were not upheld. A further complaint from a second couple through Mermaids was also not upheld.

The complainants' child was born as a boy but had begun to behave as a girl from an early age. At 8, her parents allowed her to live as a girl at home. She then moved from primary to secondary school and her name was changed. Following incidents of teasing, the secondary school held a meeting with other children to explain her new situation. After this, some parents of the children had discussed the matter online and threats had been made against the family. The 18 September article reported the story - without naming the family - and a further article appeared the next day.

The complainants said that the article was inaccurate when it stated that their daughter was "preparing for sex swap surgery". There were other inaccuracies in the piece in regard to: the child's uniform; what she wore for swimming lessons; her hairstyle and accessories; the colour of her micro-scooter; and the provision of toilet facilities in both schools. These points gave a misleading impression of the child. The complainants also said that the newspaper had passed on their contact details without consent to a TV production company, which then wrote requesting an interview.

The newspaper said that the child now looked, acted and wished to be treated as a girl and was in that sense "preparing" for surgery. The other points did not appear to be significant, but it offered to publish a correction and apology on them. The newspaper accepted that it had passed on the complainants' details to the TV production company. The subsequent approach had been made by letter only and no interview had taken place.




The Commission agreed that the cumulative effect of the inaccuracies served to give a misleading impression of the girl's appearance and behaviour at the school. This was unacceptable and the newspaper should have taken greater care when publishing details of such a vulnerable child. This raised a breach of Clause 1 of the Code.

In addition, the newspaper had passed on the family's details to a third party - therefore identifying the child - at a time when it had been specifically informed that further contact from the media was unwelcome. Given that the newspaper had recognised the need to avoid naming the child publicly, the decision to identify her to a third party (who would not otherwise have known who she was) was clearly an error. The paper had shown a failure to respect her private and family life in breach of Clause 3 of the Code.

The Sun really can't seem to get its facts straight when it reports on children - first the Alfie Patten fiasco, which the paper got nowhere near the amount of criticism it should have had for claiming that he'd fathered a child when he had not - now this, getting almost every factual detail about the girl's life at school completely wrong. It would be interesting to know who this third party was that the Sun released the name of the child to, just to see whether there was potential collusion between broadcasters owned or co-owned by the same parent company as the Sun, but that's a detail stricken from the record. Naming and shaming it seems is all right for paedophiles and criminals, but not newspapers that breach the PCC's code.

The punishment for these serious breaches of the code? Err, no apology whatsoever it seems, just the publishing of the adjudication as is always required. Would be interesting to know on what page it features, especially considering as if I remember correctly both of these reports featured on the front page of the paper. Is it any wonder that so many turn to our learned friends for recompense when the PCC's rulings are so pathetically weak?

Thursday 1 April 2010

Spot the deliberate April fool.

As you might have expected, the Sun is outraged by yesterday's decision that Sky must reduce the price at which it sells its sports channels to rival broadcasters:

THE beauty of competition is that YOU decide what to watch on your telly.

Unlike the BBC, no one is forced to pay for Sky TV, part of the company that owns The Sun.

But Labour have decided Sky must hand over its content cheaply to rivals who have never taken Sky's risks to revolutionise TV sport.

Nor made the massive investment that won Sky rights to events like the Premier League and Test cricket.

Sky pays around £1billion a year to UK sports. That will be hit if the firm has to take less for its content.

Labour the party of business? A ragbag of meddling Lefties, more like.

Did you spot the deliberate mistake? No, not that Sky has ever revolutionised anything, but rather the paper's strange decision to blame the Labour party rather than err, Ofcom, the media regulator which actually made the decision. It's doubly strange as the paper's actual report correctly identifies Ofcom as the body behind the ruling.

Undoubtedly this is simply another of the paper's April fools, of which there were a further four, as surely the paper's leader writers wouldn't deliberately blame the government for something that has absolutely nothing to do with them whatsoever. If they had, then the Press Complaints Commission would surely take a dim view of such an egregious lie, coming as it does only days before the election campaign is officially launched. Clearly, the Sun would never try to mislead voters into believing that Labour is threatening their beloved sports on satellite; now that really would be a scandalous, unfounded and certainly libellous allegation.