Tag Archives: Daily Mail

Plan-A

Ok so

Silly season is upon us. The Olympics is over and the press & media are flailing around like a thresh in a barn clutching for husks and straws of news to throw about.

At this time of year things are normally pretty desperate, but now more so than ever. Last year there were riots to report. Just last week we had wall to wall coverage of the world’s biggest sporting event. Now there is a bleary-eyed collective press hangover as families go on holiday and the news grinds slowly to a halt. Sure there’s Syria (but that’s foreign stuff stupid) and a few other *actual* stories for the media to feed on, but where’s the FILLER? The pap that you put between news and sport.

At this time of year the press are generally at a loss. It’s a great time to put out press releases. Churnalism reaches new highs in the month of August. You could probably put out a press release about a giant mouse in your garden eating all your carrots and they’d be sending the paps round before you could say glis glis.

Yes that’s right. Sheep. Text messages!

That’s why A-levels day is such a special occasion. It gives the media something to focus their efforts on. All those people who spent the last 2 weeks in Olympic park living it up get dispatched to schools around the country in search of bouncy young girls.

And that’s the other thing about A-level day. It seems that for one day and one day only the press seem to collectively engage in the dubious practice of ogling at young girls (ahem, except the Daily Mail which runs its sidebar of shame all year round). To be honest this is nothing short of sinister. Last year the FT ran a piece on how the media thirst for images of pretty pubescent girls was so established that schools were actively trying to market their best looking girls for the press to come and take pictures in order to help school PR. The exploitation gave rise to a blog, SexyAlevels which poked fun at the whole practice (now closed but living on via twitter)

This morning the biggest shock for me was seeing BBC Breakfast interviewing a BOY about his results. It was so out of kilter I thought I’d passed into another dimension where we lived in a matriarchy or something.

Not just one boy, but TWO. Has the BBC been taken over by FEMINISTS?

But the lone boy interview will always be the exception. Today the media start girls off on a lifetime of objectification and exploitation in our society by trying to squeeze in as many shots of them giggling, whooping and bouncing around in delight as they open their results.

Watch out for pictures like this. You won’t be able to avoid them

Maybe they’ll throw in some tears, y’know , for the people in their audience who like to see girls crying. Then tomorrow, like it never happened, the press will be all straight-faced again. As though they never willingly sent out legions of camera crews and photographers to schools with the explicit aim of gathering and publishing images of 6th form girls! A convenient and collective amnesia where regular journos go back to raising their eyebrows at the Daily Mail sidebar of shame and make ‘tut tut’ noises.

There’s another annoying news agenda that seems to go out on A-level day too. Suddenly the media love to read out letters, texts and emails from Joe Public about how graft is the key to success. You know the one’s those generic missives that get repeated like a mantra on every news and radio channel after every A-level skit.

“Troy Michaels has texted in. He says ‘I got all D’s at A level and failed to get into University. Now I’m a billionaire playboy with a wife, mistress and yacht. And I got it all through hard work'”

“Billy Balls says ‘I failed everything, even my mental health check up, so I had to work in a factory. Now I own half of Westminster and it was all down to good honest graft'”

It strikes me as odd that these get rolled out with such vigour, but they perpetuate the myth that the society wants to perpetuate, that it is somehow meritocratic. It’s not kids! For every success story they hold up like a cardboard cutout there are thousands more who will spend a lifetime working their fingers to the bone without ever rising above a relatively low-level of income.

This man is a great success story. He is the son of a Barrister and attended one of the countries leading independent boarding schools in Buckingham

Hard work doesn’t equal success and we do not live in a meritocracy. Privilege, position, networking, education, luck. All these things and more are components of “success” (as defined by society). Good looks probably help too, just ask all the girls getting their picture taken today!

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Know your enemy – Part 4 surely the end

Gah

Gah Gah Gah GAH.

Over a month. Over one fucking month. That’s how long it’s taking me to read one single copy of the Daily Mail.

Why? I mean the DM has been in the press for all sorts of titillating trolling reasons lately. First of all there was that whole Samantha Brick episode. You know the one? The one where the Daily Mail ran a piece by a women who moaned about how good-looking she woz when she wasn’t all that good-looking and the internet replied by saying she wasn’t that good-looking and she replied saying yes she was don’t be jealous and then she became all famous an’ stuff an’ she went on the telly an’ all the telly people laffed at her, an’ everyone felt a bit awkward cos’ it looked a bit like she wos bein’ used by the Daily Mail as a hate figure to send people like me to look at their website… so then the hole media got divided an’ Charlie Brooker got some sex toys out to make a laff on the telly an’ I made a laff at the telly an’ then Samantha Brick disappeared an’ mummy read me a story. It was the Hobbit. I like theHobbit.

SHE'S UGLY! No she's beautiful... NO she's irrelevant. Now go back to fucking sleep!

Yeah. Samantha Brick. Internet superstar. Someone no-one had ever heard of before was catapulted into every press orifice that she could be crammed into in the name of shameless self publicity. Hers and the Daily Mail’s. Good? Bad? Who cares! If it drives people to your website it wins. And the Daily Mail got that in spades didn’t they. They milked the whole affair dryer than a cow in a desert and bled Brick to death in the process.  Six stories later (that’s right the DM online dragged 6 stories out of her) I’d be surprised if she had anything left of her legendary beauty now. She’s probably just a flap of skin lying on a typewriter. Each new chapter in the saga brought in hundreds of thousands of unique page views, thousands of comments and left a bad taste in the mouths of millions.

But Brick’s not the only thing the Daily Mail’s been throwing out is she? I mean take this headline that I stumbled on a few days ago.

OMG the DM just made me LMFAO

It’s like the Daily Mail mother lode. There are internet Daily Mail headline generators that could not do justice to this. There’s no point in the Daily Mail even continuing as an entity now. They’ve done it. They’ve achieved their image of perfection. They’ve managed to get thieving Gypsies living in palaces into a stopry. Actually – the Daily Mail did even better than this. Because when it first came out I took a screenshot. It seems they’ve even had to tone down the headline.

THAT’S RIGHT – THE ABOVE IS TONED DOWN VERSION OF WHAT THEY REALLY WANTED TO SAY which was.

OMG I can't LOL at this because erm... it's actually really rather unpleasant.

With all this excitement spewing forth like black bile from the DM online you would think that the paper itself, you know: the one people usually pay for (not me ha ha I gets all my papers out of bins!) would be a real page turner. You would seriously think that with Brick, and Gypsies and twitterstorms and all that jazz, that the Daily Mail would be like a rollercoaster ride. Vomit inducing. terrifying, but ultimately quite thrilling and vaguely addictive.

Nope. I’ve struggled every day to pick it up. I’ve read classics in less time than it’s taken me to read one day of the Daily Mail.

Page 53 and we have recipes. What recipe would the Daily Mail throw up all over its loving audience do you think? The latest creation from Jamie? A bit of sexed up Nigella? Certainly not Blumenthal.. or potty mouthed Ramsay. Hold it. What’s this?

The Daily Mail - with recipes from the 80s to make you feel like the world never changed

A Tuna Pasta Bake? A TUNA FUCKING PASTA BAKE? I have NOT EVEN SEEN a tuna pasta bake in over 20 years. But here we are – in a paper caught in a time warp. They have recipes for dishes that died in the 80s. I’m surprised they don’t advice you to serve with SMASH and throw in angel delight for pudding!

And this is the point isn’t it. DM online is happy to titillate and troll the internet. Putting up pictures of children in bikinis and models wearing even less alongside fame-stalking pap shots and vile editorials to cajole and tease and insult the left while racking up the site visits and creating a vast web auddience bigger than the population of the UK. But when it comes down to it the paper itself is the media equivalent of weak tea. The pisswater you get when you use one bag for two cups and then spill a slosh too much of milk to boot. It’s tepid, watery, insipid and sits on the roof of your mouth til you find some thing else to wash it out with. That’s precisely why it has taken me over a month to consume 50 pages of one issue. Not because it’s shocking but mainly because it’s boring… and a bit soul destroying.

It’s boring because it knows its audience better than any other paper. They’re boring too. They’re boring, banal, selfish, fearful and probably old. No paper in the world can mirror its print audience better than the Mail can, in this respect, it deserves some actual credit for pandering exactly to the opinions and needs of its print readership. Don’t believe me? Well on pages 54 and 55 we get a view into the minds of the readers through the letters pages… and they’re even more disturbing than the editorials. I’ve made a point of reading all the letters. Twice. They’re absolutely batshit. They range from the gentle but pointless humour of the elderly to the evil troll fuelled hate of a rampant nazi. Have this to ease in gently…

ahh bless. Hold it. Someone writes this on a piece of paper and the Daily Mail published it? MENTAL

There’s even a poem.

A poem
About being
a fucking
Chameleon.

And there’s a limerick

A limerick about horses.

And someone sent in a picture of a monster munch crisp. They really did. A crisp that’s supposed to look like a dog. BUT IT REALLY LOOKS LIKE A CRISP NOT A FUCKING DOG.

There’s a letter entitled “knife crime” that is a genuinely angry rant about how young people don’t hold their cutlery properly these days. Seriously. It’s really angry. It starts off like this

“Has no-one else noticed the increasing number of people who are choosing to eat holding their knife and fork in an incredibly clumsy and ugly manner?”

There’s a letter complaining about the AWFUL AWFUL people at Fortnum and Mason and their poor hamper delivery service.

Oh and then you read something like this and just want to switch all your internal organs off simultaneously and let a small part of your soul shrivel up and die

If we spent the £20,000 per illegal immigrant with the aids virus on our border security they wouldn’t be here in the first place

After the letters there’s 4 pages of telly. Not sure why. I bet most of the people who read the Daily Mail still rake the Radio Times every week – although It’s interesting that the first “recommended pick” is a channel 5 documentary called “The Nazis and the Titanic” – what did I say earlier? Playing to their audience.

After that it’s all ads for a bit. Lots of stairlift ads. Lots and lots of stairlift ads. Oh and an amazing advert allowing people who did national service to buy a special national service medal. Seriously. You can buy a medal to commemorate that time you spend marching up and down the square – only in the Daily Mail would we see such a celebration of faux militarism.

After the ads we’re into the business and sport and that’s all I can take. Ever.

The lesson I’ve learned here is big and pretty important though. The Daily Mail won newspaper of the year because of one campaign. The Stephen Lawrence campaign. That’s it. Fair enough. But there is nothing else there to redeem it. In fact there’s not really much else there at all to be honest.

The Mail Online is a walking talking trolling, celeb pap snapping, hotbed of titillation and opinion that draws in the web in a mixture of disgust and fascination with all the gravital pull of a supermassive black hole. But the paper itself is as dull as dishwater. When you scratch the surface of the sensationalist front pages, draw the poison out of the vitriolic  opinion pieces and stop laughing, crying or scratching your eyes out at the letters pages you’re left with nothing but fluff and adverts. If the Daily Mail were a drink it would be a mainstream brand of sherry like Harveys Bristol Cream. It’s sweet sticky and cloying and it has the middle class pretensions that branded sherry had 30 years ago. But at the end of the day it’s still a dangerous fortified wine and if you consume too much of it you’ll it will poison your soul.

Know your enemy Part 1

Ok so….. STOP THE PRESS.

No I mean it. Like bring an end to it all. Smash up those apparatus of media propaganda with massive fuck-off hammers and start again with etchings and hand scrawled pamphlets.

Johannes Gutenberg, Elijah Lovejoy and other printing pioneers must be spinning their graves into muddy sludge right now!

Why? Well the Daily Mail won newspaper of the year last night. That’s right – a rag filled with little more than fear, hate and celebrity gossip was the standout British paper last year!

Maybe the award was partly for Dacre's contemptuous performance for Leveson

But that’s just a symptom isn’t it?

What I’m really saying is that the printing press, originally an apparatus to free people from oppression has now been transformed into a tool of oppression in itself. Where once the printing press was used to smash injustice and spread the truth, it has become a means of social control shower us with cancer scares and shiny pictures of bikinis as a means of distracting the day-to-day drudgery that we’re burdened with.

But I digress. That would be too depressing to dig myself into on such a beautiful spring day… and look – there’s a picture of a bikini and some cancer scare to occupy my five second attention span.

The Daily Mail eh?!

Who would have thought it? In a year where we’ve seen the Guardian break the phone hacking story which brought down our largest Sunday tabloid and transformed the media landscape forever we see the spiritual and actual home of Richard Littlejohn running away with the plaudits. Let’s get this straight, I’m not venting sour grapes like some Guardian loving leftie (well, maybe I am). There are plenty of worthy stories that have been broken by different parts of the media, the Paul Foot awards are evidence of that (ahem although the phone hacking story did win it).

Isn't this a bit more like it?

But the DAILY MAIL? To me it seems incomprehensible.

Sometimes I see the Daily Mail lying around on the train.

 I always pick it up, for two reasons. First is to take it out of circulation. I mean. Every Mail I pick up and bin is surely a service to humanity if it prevents some other poor soul having their mind warped into a vortex of immigrant-blaming, health-scare-mithering, crime-fearing paranoia. Second. Oh go on. It’s a bit of a laugh isn’t it. Let’s delve into the brane of the enemy and see what makes Dacre et al tick. Anyone who opposes something should know what they oppose and we can all laugh at the stupids while we do it. The problem is that after a few pages I feel ill from all the bile I’m ingesting and I have to put the paper down. I’ve got one in my bag from weeks ago that I’ve not had the courage to read properly yet for precisely that reason.

But this is the newspaper of the YEAR. Now I suddenly feel honour bound now to see what has made it so great. So in the interest of amateur curiosity lets take a look into the Daily Mail I picked up on March 6th and see what it is that makes such a national treasure so great!

To be continued

Mrs Leveson’s Enquiry

OK SO! I finally buckled yesterday.

Well buckled isn’t the right word is it. I mean I was hardly under a stream of unrelenting pressure. I just … well … did what I wanted to I suppose.

What am I talking about?

The Leveson enquiry of course. The words on the tip of the tongue of every media blogger and commentator out there for as long as my junk smashed brane can remember.

By rights I should have been tuning into the live feed daily like a stupid salmon migrating home to spawn and die. It’s a chance to finally hold the press that I deride to account for all the godawful shit they make the public put up with. It’s covering everything: phone hacking, privacy invasion, celebrity stings, churnalism and all the other gutter spewing tactics the media resort to in order to bolster circulation and propogate their murky political agendas.

Yeah. I should be all over Leveson like bark on a tree. But it was only yesterday, after months of ‘meh’ that I actually took an interest.

“WHY???” I cry back to myself (punctuating each of the three question marks with a shrill little echo). Well two reasons. First I been buzzy. Like panicking myself into a fuzzy ball of vomit buzzy. EVERY DAY. When I started this blog weekly updates was the aim but fuck me that’s hard when ‘the man’ is out there slamming you into the coal face with a cricket bat every day. Jesus!

All work and no play makes me want to kill humanity one by one

But that’s not worth going into. Second is because the whole Leveson thang has left me feeling a bit ‘meh’. Perhaps it’s just that I got Leveson fatigue really quickly. Following @hackingenquiry on twitter (who bizarrely have an avatar resembling a highwayman’s mask) meant that my feeble feed of daily mush got flooded with bone dry platitudes.

So what is this? A mask? A tape? An old school instant camera film?

Platitudes that were compounded by tonnes of analysis and commentary from other twitter feeds. Add to that the ubiquitous live blogging and streaming feeds from the Guardian and it was like being smothered under a big Leveson shaped blanket. Even without paying any attention at all I felt I knew what was going on. Like when you don’t watch a soap opera for a year, then go back and the same characters are saying the same things in the same way.

Steve's looking a bit tired these days

The enquiry quickly lapsed into groundhog day with most of the people repeating the same sentiments. Only Leveson hasn’t learned to play piano and sculpt ice like Bill Murray. On top of that the man Leveson didn’t fill me with confidence. I’m prejudiced because whenever I hear the word Leveson it reminds me of the Mrs Levinson characters in a league of gentlemen, and it’s hard to respect someone when you have that in your head.

Would you let this man run a press enquiry?

Leveson also irked me when he said that he wouldn’t be drawn into a witch hunt.

These aren’t witches you idiot they’re journalists. A much more devious enemy. If you don’t hunt them down they’ll eat your SOUL

There have been highlights sure. The wronged celebs queuing up to vent their spleen. Cannon fodder car crash hacks like Paul McMullen checking in to patter out their hasty orisons. But til yesterday it didn’t grip me like a gristle.

Stay Classy Paul

WHY? (again with the shouting). Well. Dacre of course! The warm up acts were there to soften us up for the big bout. But in all honesty the Daily Mail Editor was a big draw. Finally a chance to see the nemesis of the left-wing media squirming in a chair under a rigorous cross-examination of righteous anger. What would happen? Would he melt under scrutiny? Would he reveal himself as a shape-shifting lizard intent on controlling humanity? Would he somehow evangellically convert all his critics into fans and secure some sort of Daily Mail led fourth Reich?

MY secret hope was for a Jonny Marbles style pie incident – but a pie secretly laced with Sodium Pentothal so that Dacre would be unable to help himself and the truth would come pouring out like a lumpy tearful haemorrhage leaving the mouths of the watching world agape as Dacre confesses to crimes we didn’t even know existed.

Yeah. Grant and McMullen were fun but Dacre was serious and far more likely to be entertaining than the bland and fully lawyered up Murdoch clan.

The weird thing about tuning into Leveson is that it’s actually a bit like listening to an audio book of a tabloid newspaper. But one that’s delivered in dry legalistic tones. Listening to Dacres warm up acts of Dan Wootton and Nick Owens was almost literally a list of celebrity gossip speculation being sombrely related from a transcript . Like… you know when they read out the  name of every person who died on 911 on the tenth anniversary? Well it was like that but without the emotional heartstring pulling sobs – instead a dry soulless narrative.  Oh. And also without people’s names being read out – but instead little titbits of celebrity tittle-tattle instead. So nothing like the 911 readings then. Bizarrely that’s more diverting than it sounds. Who could fail to stifle a giggle as cross examiners danced carefully around Kerry Katona’s Kocaine (sic) hell or as they drily read sweary transcripts speculating over the imaginary cosmetic surgery stories Chris Atkins made up for Starsuckers.

It was almost as though lesser journalists were just being called up to be laughed at for a bit at the ludicrousness of their profession then sent home chastened with the knowledge that what they engaged in was pretty stupid. When NOTW showbiz gossip Dan Wootton boasted that he kept a copy of the PCC code in his wallet at all times I had to laugh out loud.  

BIG BOX LITTLE BOX BIG BOX LITTLE BOX

Dacre himself was much more of a difficult beast to cage though. Unlike the others, he gave the impression that he actually believed in what he was doing. And that all this broo-ha-ha was little more than an irritating diversion from his day job of running the world. Any difficult question he could swat away like a bug by saying he didn’t have involvement or wasn’t in the office. Funny how editors are always out of the office when all the big stuff goes down. Funny how someone like Dacre takes personal and excessive credit for the Stephen Lawrence prosecutions – but had little or no involvement with legal actions from the likes of Neil Morrissey. Also funny how he can’t remember half the things he said about Hugh Grant but is happy to launch into a full apoplectic rage when picked up on his mendacious smear comments.

There were highlights – Dacre’s slip of the tongue when he implied that he sought to prevent legislation that would have made the UK the only country in the world that imprisoned journalists (erm – that would be “world” in Daily Mail terms of Dacre’s back yard then?) and the semantics of a conversation about whether turning on the bathroom light at night could cause cancer. However, Dacre’s appearance was ultimately disappointing. It was like having your grumpy old uncle over for Christmas Dinner – the one who is secretly an alcoholic and wants to be down the pub knocking back shorts instead of telling everyone what he got for Christmas and whether he believes Santa Claus exists.

Dacre highlights the problems of the Leveson enquiry to me. While the lower minions and hacks feel the full force of national ridicule in the face time Leveson grants them, the big guns are too busy, too savvy and too “mock” disinterested to give themselves away. Unless someone does start making up a Sodium Pentathol pie quickly Dacre, Murdoch et al will represent trawlers that the gulls can’t get Sardines from.

Grisly but gripping

Ok. So the news. Yeah? The thing I’m here to moan about?

Well I’m starting to think it doesn’t actually exist except as some sort of unobtainable ideal. A concept used to justify theoretical jousting. Like the way ‘perfect competition’ underpins the machinations of global capitalism and a ‘socialist utopia’ is the aim of well-intentioned left leaners like myself. These things don’t exist, except in the writing and theory of those who expound their system, but people still build stuff up around them anyway.

Here's a picture of Thomas More. The first Anarchist

The news is the same. It sits there on this high horse of dispassionate objective reporting which throws a thin veil over emotive string-pulling and dedicated editorial agendas.

Ok so I’m not saying anything new here am I? I mean this is largely the point of my blog? To rail against the inaccuracy and inability of the media to even attempt to stick to the values they uphold. But when you have an event like the M5 crash at the weekend you really only hope that the news can do its job unambiguously and actually report the facts.

So when I turn on the news to find out what’s going on why am I subjected to reportage that is so horrifically exploitative that I need to turn it off before I smash my telly into a heap of glass and metal?

You can see twisted metal all over the internet so instead I'll just put a picture of some kittens in cups

I didn’t dare switch sky on. The sky coptor would no doubt be out showing twisted wreckage with a sombre voice-over describing every injury with the morbid relish of a jackanory narrator in an abattoir (I’m thinking of Kenneth Brannagh’s running commentary to the Great War in colour). But the BBC was no better. In many ways it was worse. Reportage of this event. Which killed seven and injured fifty-one was akin to a dramatisation, or an episode of casualty. Hyberbole narrative interspersed with meaningless but emotionally charged vox pops and amateur footage shot on the mobile phones of passengers driving the other way is surely not the way to report am event as news. But that’s what they did.

You could taste the saliva of the reporter as he exclaimed the word ‘fireball’ over and over again. You could imagine tearful viewers all over the country aimlessly sympathising with eyewitness accounts of horror and heroism. Then there was the footage. Grainy images of flames and smoke and the audible ‘oh my gods’ of the person filming it. No doubt slowing down to gawp before pressing on to their destination with a story to tell their friends.

Whenever this happens there is a human angle. That human angle is the loss of life and injury. The sheer aggregate is surely enough. People should realise that seven deaths indicates a very bad crash. But the news only seems to want to press this home with individual accounts.

Vox pops are the dirtiest and laziest form of media journalism around. News reporters unable to garner intelligent insight from proper sources and insight will grab a few rentamouths and use them as buffer to fill the airwaves. As an exercise in journalism it’s probably diverting for political reporters to give a “street view” of events in parliament. It’s also acceptable to use in local news or human interest stories. Those people walking round town centres with a microphone asking what you think of the new one-way system? They don’t care what you think of the new one way system – they just want some “real” person to spout something listenable about it. That’s fine. That’s a vox pop! 

The problem is that vox pops have grown now to straddle all the news, not just the trivial. So when we have a disaster as upsetting as multiple deaths in a motorway crash we cannot get through the event without an intensely personal angle being crowbarred in. Seven dead and fifty-one injured is just not considered to have enough impact. Journalists using the book of revelations as their source material for narrative to the accident still doesn’t drive it home. Nor do the horrific images of twisted metal and burning cars. The press need to make it personal. We need to hear people talking about WHAT THEY SAW and HOW THEY FELT.

Now if I’d been in an accident and seen lots of people injured and dying the last thing I’d want to do is relive it. Let alone relive it in a pre-recorded interview in the comfort of my own living room. Whenever you see a vox-pop like this try to imagine how it’s arranged. The journalist will approach a survivor and ask them for an interview. The survivor will agree (why?). The journalist will set a time and a place and send a camera crew round to ask some questions. Very cold, very dispassionate, nothing like the stated aim of a vox-pop. Even the stuff they pick up at the scene of an accident is usually just gawpers looking to get on camera. The same people you probably see in the background pulling faces, while reporters sombrely report the number of deaths.

For the print media human interest can become even more cynically delivered. The Daily Mail today ran a front page focussing on one person, in a coma, orphaned by the crash. Forget the seven deaths. Lets focus on one person and what she’s lost. A young lady. Just so we can get a picture of a pretty young lady (in a coma) on our front page. How very sensitive. To seek to give a “face” to an accident that claimed seven lives and then decide exactly what face that should be in terms of your core readership.

Shame on you Daily Mail (again)

Of course the “whys” of the accident seem to take second stage to the human angle. In the fallout people are asking if smoke from a local firework display caused the accident. Well maybe it did. Or maybe people were driving too fast and recklessly? Occam’s razor would hint more towards the latter. Our roads regularly have accidents caused by people driving faster than they should. But since the press are largely supportive of proposed legislation to raise (not lower) speed limits this sort of thing gets brushed under the carpet a little.

Blaming the firework display is much more expedient for now. Although the Daily Mail should be careful here. I can imagine the headlines next year – when the deaths and injuries are long forgotten “Elf and Safety Madness Cancels Charity Firework Display – Local display cancelled because of proximity to roads” – Think I’m joking? The Daily Mail ran an article earlier this year blaming school closures for a pupil dying after being struck by a falling branch – despite previously running a campaign railing against “elf and safety nazis” for advocating the pruning back of dangerous trees.

Media circus

Ok so. The trial of the century came to an end last night. The.trial.of.the.century.

Don’t believe me? Well all the news channels were zoned in with live blanket coverage, national broadsheets such as the Guardian were running a live blog of courtroom events all day and the hacks all had their fingers poised over the ‘submit’ button in the hope that they would be the first to report the news as it unfolded.

What was the trial of the century then? Have they finally brought Union Carbide to account for the atrocity that was Bhopal? Blair and Bush being brought to account for instigating Iraqi war crimes in the Hague?

No such luck. It seems that the trial of the century pertains to a tragedy on a much smaller scale. The circus in question was in the town of Perugia and it had everything from clowns to acrobats to lots more fucking clowns. A clown for every citizen of the small town.

That Meredith Kercher’s murder in Perugia is tragic is indisputable. Whether it deserves the sheer avalanche of attention it has attracted is highly questionable. In fact the only reasons that the British press & media, in their typically sickening intensity, are latching, limpet like, to this tragic event are:

1. The victim was British
2. The victim was seen as attractive.
3. One of the suspects is seen as attractive.

Throw in a bit of salacious speculation and an alliterative soundbyte like Foxy Knoxy and suddenly the world is on tenterhooks.

Let’s face it. Every day people are murdered. If those three boxes hadn’t been ticked Meredith Kercher or, more importantly Amanda Knox, would have languished buried in 4-year-old chip paper and the fickle press with its even more fickle public would be none the wiser. Imagine how many tragic deaths we’ve scanned over on our morning commute and paid little or no attention to? Then imagine how many more deaths go barely reported in the press. Average looking victims with average looking people arrested for killing them. No sexual intrigue. No Foxy Knoxy. No reason to camp out in Perugia for 4 years covering every aspect from arrest to acquittal.

Even worse is the way the press have evolved their views with the story over time. Once upon a time Meredith Kercher was an innocent young girl exploited and murdered in some sex game-gone-wrong by “Foxy Knoxy” and some blokes who the press rarely mention (how often do we see the names of Rudy Guede and Raffaele Sollecito in relation to Amanda Knox’s).

For the press it was open and shut and there was a campaign of demonisation launched that was so single-minded that I was surprised that Amanda Knox didn’t turn out to be some satanic monster who drank human blood and dined on roast children. See that picture of Amanda laughing with a Vickers Gun? That was in the Mail that was. Among everyone else who had decided that “Foxy Knoxy” was an evil cold-blooded killer.

But 4 years later how the tide has turned. As Amanda Knox received her acquittal and wept, she did so with the backing of most of the british media. Many of whom in a display of collective amnesia had completely forgotten condemning her in the first place. Some even castigated the use of the “Foxy Knoxy” term as a slur on such a good girl

It's OK Amanda the British Press love you now

See this picture – it was published in the Mail in this article which is both jaw droppingly fawning and sickeningly hypocritical. Not just because the Mail were one of the papers that seemed to assume and pursue Knox as the guilty party 4 years ago, but, even last night, they were so taken with her guilt that they inadvertently published the stock story that they had prepared in case she was found guilty. A story that is even more profoundly wrong because it actually attributes SCENES and QUOTES to the speculated outcome that NEVER HAPPENED.

Epic Daily Fail

The mail weren’t the only offenders, although they were the worst. The Guardian, Sun among other were all so eager to press the button on “innocent or guilty” that they got in a fluster when the judge said she was guilty of the lesser charge of slander and made the wrong choice.The broadcasters were in a safer spot on that front… although the appalling translator for the BBC made a real meal out of delivering the verdict as hesitantly as anyone could. Maybe he didn’t want to get it wrong. Or maybe they just blew so much money on flying our reporters, producers, camera crews and”expert” analysts that they forgot to put something in the budget for the important bit that viewers might care about – the verdict, in English.

In the aftermath the tragedy has descended so far into farce that I’m surprised the news haven’t appointed some sort of jester to appear pulling faces and waving a stick every time the words “Foxy Knoxy” are mentioned. The Mail led with the uber cynical “Weeping Foxy is Freed To Make a Fortune” The Star Led with “Foxy Knoxy Walks Free” – in a day where there was actually some blessed fucking relief from X-Factor on the Red Top Front pages. Then Matthew Wright went and put his stupid mouth in his foot like he did years ago with the John Lesley thing by announcing that a topic for debate on his godawful show would be “Foxy Knoxy Would Ya” – a title so insensitively staged that I’m beginning to think that the man is a professional TV troll. (More on that here)

The problem with this is that the media’s sudden obsesson with Knox’s innocence is the same as their obsession with her guilt. Or their obsession generally with her. Kercher’s family rightfully noted that this case had long ago stopped being about Meredith Kercher. In fact the media focus on Knox has consumed everything else. The fact that the appeal rested on two pieces of contaminated evidence, which the defence used to undermine some 10,000 pages of other evidence and 11 eyewitness accounts is irrelevant. It was all about Amanda Knox looking innocent in court. Just as it was all about her when they found a picture of her pretending to shoot a machine gun 4 years ago. The press perceive Knox in binary terms. Evil-doer or wronged angel. The fact that the prosecutors want to appeal the appeal shows there to still be a weight of evidence against her.

After all, if Knox is truly innocent then surely the conviction of Randy Guede must come into question. Although the fact that he’s not a pretty english-speaking girl with a cheeky “sobriquet” may mean that he gets quite a lot less attention. Especially since he’s black as well.

Feel her pain

Ok so.

Liz Jones.

There I said it!

Feel that? Right inside in the pit of your stomach? The bile rising? The uncontrollable hate?

Don’t worry. It’s normal. It’ll pass. Unless you’re like me, in which case it just nestles there waiting until the name pops up again, then it grows and the voices come back and…

Sorry. Erm. Yes. Liz Jones. The open festering sore on the face of humanity. Like a Shell Oil platform sitting in an oasis of natural beauty. Ugly, spewing, polluting, but churning out a vast commodity that we all thrive on.

Even seeing her miserable makes me angry

In the case of shell it’s oil stupids! Liz Jones on the other hand, gives us unity. When people are arguing over Johnny Marbles, or the death penalty or Heather Mills whatever else there is always Liz Jones to fall back on. Like any festering sore she’s an itch that you just have to scratch. Her recent article on the NHS is a masterpiece on creating anger.

If you haven’t read it then you must (via istyosty). It speaks for itself.
It only took a few seconds for the rage to build up inside of me (fist in the air in the land of hypocrisy). By the time she gets to the bit comparing her disappointment at not being given priority treatment for a travel vaccine to people being abused in care homes I had to stop reading.This was partly cos I was in need of a new spleen and partly cos, well, she’s not an engaging writer is she?

But you see after all that I felt a bit cleansed. I looked on the twitter and teh interweb and everyone seemed just as aghast. Even the comments from DM readers thought her sense of perspective was ludicrous. A world was united in its hatred of Liz Jones. Now I’m not going to critique her article. Instead I think It better to link to some excellent and far better informed blogs on the subject from a range of people.

For example former Paramedic and Nurse Brian Kellett does a fantastic job of destroying her piece by piece. Brian is joined in a professional capacity by the jobbing doctor. Equally Disability rights campaigner Nicky Clarke responds in a more measured fashion via the Guardian. In fact the Guardian had a bit of a field day and rightly commented on how grotesque it was to even send a vacuous chunk of selfcentredness like Liz Jones to Somalia. For anyone looking for a more bog standard anti-Liz Jones rant like what I’d have done then check out sturdyblog.

Now some people think Liz Jones is a troll, prodding the left into outrage so that suddenly everyone is angrily checking out the Mail website. Hits+controversy=revenue+publicity and DMGT win on both counts. I don’t subscribe to that view. DMGT makes a lot less from its digital offerings than would justify deliberately making itself a laughing-stock. I actually think that as much of a caricature as she is, Liz Jones is REAL.

What she might look like as a troll (ripped off from somewhere)

You know when you’re waiting for the train and it’s massively delayed and overcrowded and everyone is really angry. Then it emerges its late cos someone got run over and killed by a train earlier. And for a second you’re still annoyed, then feel guilty as you realise there are bigger, more important things than trains. Like Human life!

Well imagine for a second that you never made that realisation. Someone died and all you can do is fume at them for making your fucking train late! That’s Liz Jones. The people who push pregnant women out of the way to get the first seat on the tube? They’re Liz Jones. The people who you see arguing with waiters in restaurants because their food took five minutes longer than they anticipated? The people you always hear on the phone saying “I don’t care, put me through to your manager please”? The people who want to speak to the CEO of fucking Tesco because one of their free range eggs was cracked in the box? Liz Jones, all of them. The people who only complain about homelessness because they clutter up their streets. The people who think the world owes them something but that they should have no obligation to give anything back in the form of taxes or even humility? Those are Liz Jones. I see Liz Jones every day. In my office, in the pub (pushing in front of me), on public transport, in the street. That’s why I don’t think she’s a troll.

Basically Liza Jones draws attention to everything that is wrong with the WHAT ABOUT ME? ME! ME! ME! mentality that  the middle class centre right exhibit (the same centre right who use the term “me me me” to attack the “welfare” culture of the left… idiots). Whilst I’d rather she didn’t exist, she is a unifying force for the people who hate what she represents. She has also inadvertently done more with one single column to raise awareness about Somalia than Unicef have managed in the last month – please check out the excellent @LizJonesSomalia which pitches her sentiment perfectly.

 

UPDATE:

@LizJonesSomalia is running a donation campaign on justgiving. For more information visit the @DMReporter blog here:  http://dmreporter.tumblr.com/post/8468244424/liz-jones-in-somalia 

Or donate directly here: http://www.justgiving.com/dmreporter/