Saturday, 4 May 2013

The freedom of the press - to lie

The owner of the Daily Express is Richard Desmond.  The editor is Hugh Whittow.  The writer of a particularly shameless article today is Giles Sheldrick.  I mention these names because newspaper articles don't come about by accident.  They are the result of deliberate decisions by men who consider themselves free to debase the whole concept of truth.  This is propaganda of the most egregious kind, peddling an interpretation of figures which have been shown to be false.  These men don't have to explain why they do this.  They are not answerable to the people they insult and denigrate.  They just make money.
If you have read the article, you might also read this piece in the New Statesman; or, if that's a bit left-wing for your taste, this one in the Economist.  You might also read FullFact's analysis of the figures, written back on 24 April.  But the circulation of the Express is nearly 600,000, and presumably those people read it because it confirms their prejudices, not for truth.
Related to all this is an interesting piece on the Left Foot Forward website, which graphs the number of times the word "scrounger" has been used in British newspapers since 1994.  It takes off steeply from 2010. Some of the comments under the article rubbish the accuracy of the exercise, but it remains fascinating.

PS:  I later discovered this, even worse, article in the Daily Mail.  They've added a bogus "workshy map of Britain" to fuel the lie of those "found fit to work".  It's breathtaking in its sheer dishonesty.  The writer is someone called Amanda Williams.  I wonder how much she was paid for this scurrilous trash.  These two papers between them continue to make Britain a nastier place than even the politicians know how to do.


  1. When the lame old nag the News of the World was taken out behind the back of the stable and put down by its master Rupert Murdoch, I for one shed no tears. Like its sister paper the Sun it peddled a simplistic black and white view of politics, society, foreign affairs and so on. The Daily Express is in the same bracket along with other poisonous rags such as the Sun on Sunday, the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, The Daily Telegraph and the Sun "mini me", the Daily Star, also owned by Desmond. Reminds me of a funny Not the Nine O' Clock sketch where a character played by Rowan Atkinson goes into a newsagent and buys a copy of the Daily Star ad a porno mag. He then rolls up the Daily Star INSIDE the porno mag!

    Looking at the above article in the Express, yes it is disgusting. Just looking at the picture should turn readers off. It looks so fake. Archetypal layabout dole scrounger with his feet up with expensive tablet PC in hand and obligatory pint of beer! So pathetic, I almost wish I could grab the writer by his lapels and tell him to grow up!

    "Shameless individuals were only identified after the Government introduced stringent tests for those claiming to be too unwell to get back into work."

    To use the term shameless to describe those on benefits is not just disgraceful, it is the perfect example of divide and conquer.

    "Hundreds of thousands are still waiting to be assessed, but last night there were signs the crackdown was working as tens of thousands have dropped their claims rather than face a medical."

    Does the writer really know why EVERY ONE of these individuals drop their claims? No doubt some will do so to avoid the humiliation and anguish of being assessed by ATOS.

    The Leveson Enquiry looked at phone hacking of the phones of individuals. Some such as Hugh Grant wanted tough government backed regulation of the press. Others like Private Eye editor Ian Hislop urged caution saying "we should not throw the baby out with the bathwater" and that new press laws are not needed. However, if we have sympathy with those who have had their phones hacked, where is the sympathy and justice for those LEGITIMATELY claiming benefits? When a major media group deliberately smears an entire group of people and reprints Smiths spurious use of statistics, we have no other choice other than to suppose that certain sections of the right wing media and the government are in cahoots with regards to pushing through an anti-welfare state agenda. This section of the media and this rotten government have worked hand in glove turning private sector worker against his public sector counterpart by liberally using terms such as 'non-job'. We have seen the employed turn against the jobseeker with words such as "shameless, work-shy, feckless, lazy, handouts and of course SCROUNGER"! More recently we have seen the odious Smith try to turn future pensioner against current pensioner by suggesting wealthier pensioners return their free bus passes and TV licenses! The man clearly has no shame!

    We do not have a free press in this country despite what some say. Far too many titles are in the hands of a few wealthy men. Men who can shape and manipulate public opinion and have the ears of ministers and a virtual key to No. 10 Downing St.

    Even Rupert Murdoch says the era of newsprint could be over soon. He predicts Newspapers will be gone in 20 years time. I guess whatever we think of Murdoch, when a 'newspaper baron' like him says this, we have to take notice. Circulation is falling rapidly across most titles and some like the London Evening Std. and the Metro have to be given away! If he is proven correct, then I repeat what I said about the demise of the NoTW. I will not shed a tear is certain titles are no more in a few years time.

  2. The worrying thing that perplexes me is when I ask the WP what help is available?...Blank stare..What I mean is as a 50 year old can I retrain?..Blank stare..Are there any programmes available?.. A call to the Supervisor.."Are you being disruptive?.. No a simple question,what help is available to help me become employable."We have a policy regarding disruptive behaviour,if you continue in this manner you will be liable to a sanction" I have been polite and feel that this,as stated in your Mission statement,that you provide"Training and a tailored pathway into work"...Where? On the wall behind you! That is from a previous programme! It is dated 22 Jan 2013 and has the ESF logo,do you or have you ever had ESF funding in Wales?

    Security arrived and escorted me off the premises Sanction? Unsure,mobile phone recording? You better believe it(and on the recording it states that I will be recording this)

    1. I'm usually happy to publish your comments, but can you try to keep to the subject of the post!

  3. Sorry,Historian,but being "Work Shy" was what it was meant to address. All I wanted was for an outline of what was available,these "Programmes" offer little or nothing and the more you ask he more hostile the response.

  4. Shame about The Daily Mail's geography. They seem to have confused Manchester, Stoke and Sandwell on their map. Or doesn't it matter as they're all "norf of Watford"?
    Back to school for someone?

  5. One worrying aspect of all this is the fact that newspapers do not report the news as such. Here they fighting a losing battle to rolling 24 hr. news channels and the internet. Once printed, the news they contain becomes instantly obsolete. They have ceased to be relevant as a the major news source for several years now. I for one have not bought a newspaper regularly since 2001.

    However, what newspapers are in a position to do is analyse major news stories, events and data. They should also be taking governments to task and questioning such spin and statistics. Not as the Mail and the Express do which is to prop up a governments lies and mistruths. This brand of lazy journalism of the worst kind is as useful as a paper raincoat! Smith, Hoban or Freud may have well have writhen these articles themselves. Propaganda at its best. Or should that be worst?

  6. I predicted on this blog last week that the Tories would lose many seats in the local elections because of their incompetent handling of the economy. I did not expect they would lose out to UKIP. Come the next General Election in May 2015 it is not out of the question the right-wing press will get behind UKIP. If they poll well and win enough seats they could hold the balance of power and this could lead to a far-right coalition government - exactly 70 years after Britain and the US defeated facism in 1945.

    The implications of right-wing press support for UKIP is potentially very dangerous. Remember that many the Daily Mail and many Conservative MP's sympathised with the ideals of 1920's/30's European facism, to the extent that it paralysed relations between Britain and the Soviet Union. This led to Stalin seeking a pact with Hitler, rather then Britain, an agreement which allowed Hitler free to attack Eastern Europe.

    If UKIP and the Tories form a coalition government it could mark the return of European facism and a military conflict between the right and left somewhere in Europe similar to that which tore Spain apart in the 1930's.

    The economic parallels between inter-war Europe and now are quite striking, therefore the potential for the same political events to repeat must also exist.

    The British right-wing press are deliberately amplifying this economic anxiety to push their own facist-lite political agenda and destabalise the post-war liberal policial consensus. The potential consequences of their words and actions are terrible.

    1. You use the term "fascism" rather too freely. There are neo-fascist parties in Europe, but UKIP isn't one of them -yet. Most of their voters are naive, ill-educated and don't understand what the party is really about. I agree that the worst outcome would be for the Tories to move even further to the right, but don't let's get carried away.

    2. Regarding UKIP. I sorta get the concerns of Anon (5 May 2013 12:56). Before I call UKIP 'fascist', I would call them xenophobic, bigoted, opportunistic and simplistic. In their language, outlook and policies.

      Heck, even their founder Dr Alan Sked thinks little of UKIP calling them extremely right wing, xenophobic and racist. He said this a recently as last week just before the recent local elections.

      The fact that a section of the public support UKIP as well as the recent benefit 'reforms' shows just how people can be swayed by newspaper headlines and opinion pieces. Tell a lie or even a grain of grain of truth at best to enough people over a period of time and like a Chinese whisper it will take on a life of its very own and become a hard fact for many!

  7. Like iMatt, I've not bought a newspaper for many years. Personally, I think newspapers are an out-of-date method of getting news and information about current events, considering how mobile the internet is these days. They came out long before TV and radio showed up and it just seems that their purpose has shifted ever so slightly. All they show these days is how bad the world is getting. Economics, scandals, unemployment, more scandals, propaganda and "celebs". No thanks, not my cup of tea. I know, I sound cynical but that's what happens when you find you can't open a newspaper without reading about the latest nonsense that's going around. When was the last time anyone opened a newspaper and read a real feel good story? Yeah, I thought so. :(

    1. But you underestimate the influence of the press, even with a declining readership. TV and radio take most of their news from the press directly or from the news agencies which supply the papers. Print journalists comment ad nauseam on TV and radio. And don't forget the newspaper proprietors and their huge influence on politicians.

    2. Plus we have to look at newspaper owners such as Rupert Murdoch owning TV channels such as Sky, Fox Broadcasting / TV / News and more. He had a quarter share of ITV until recently.

      Richard Desmond owns Channel Five as well as a plethora of porno channels.

      So as Historian says, these men have a major influence on British media even without their newspapers. Murdoch keeps News Int'l which publishes The Times, Sunday Times and The Sun largely for nostalgia as newsprint is in his blood. It is how he started.

      However, the Times and Sunday Times are losing money. Only the Sun is profitable. There was talk of Murdoch pulling out of the British market for good esp. in light of the phone hacking scandal. News Int'l accounts for around just 1% of Newscorps profits. So Murdoch does not need his British newspapers to survive. However, they do for the time being provide a convenient method of exerting his influence.

  8. these newspapers peddle bread and circuses. real news now isn't in print- it's in the wind. by searching twitter, blogs and other online forums people are able to make their own opinions, put together their own news, without the bias or contradiction synonymous with newspapers. the printed word is on borrowed time. the mail especially is shifting more and more of it's content toward vapid 'celebrity gossip.' bread and circuses.

    that being said, i do check mailonline quite often, and it's encouraging, affirming even, when you see that the top rated comments on welfare/work programme / unemployment issues are usually anti-austerity, pro-people, anti government propaganda.

    the majority of people out there are smarter than you think. they know a smokescreen when they see it. that gives me hope.


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