The Real 'Outrage'

It’s no secret that the press – particularly the tabloids – are a vindictive bunch. You cross them and chances are your bins will be trawled, your old partners / school friends etc contacted for dirt, your phone calls / Internet use / bank statements / credit card statements and so on tapped for juicy information to take you down. The press are the worst bullies of all, and worst of all, because they stick together anything that doesn’t fit their worldview is simply not reported.

The situation isn’t helped by the fact that the PCC is so utterly spineless and ultimately powerless to do anything about the situation. The press like to cause ‘outrage’ amongst its readers, yet I cannot help but feel a different sense of outrage. Take the Daily Express for example, two recent examples (from a shameful collection of hundreds of similar headlines) have been covered by the Enemies of Reason on his shiny new blog.

The first is this:

This VIP club turns out – you’ve guessed it – to be nothing of the sort. The whole story is a completely made up farce designed to get complete idiots riled up about how the hard-working taxpayer gets fleeced while Johnny foreigner is given everything on a plate. The whole thing is ludicrous, the French aren’t exactly known for their lenient attitudes towards immigrants, so why would they want to build them a VIP departure lounge? The only thing more surreal than the story is that it can be published on the front page of a national newspaper without any consequences whatsoever. The PCC does not even bat an eyelid when such blatant lies are told with the sole aim of stirring up hatred towards migrants.

The second is today’s Express and is no better:

Again, the PCC will take no action against the Express for another utterly deceptive front page designed solely to stir up hatred towards migrants. It makes a mockery of the idea that in society we are held accountable for our actions, when our press – who take such pleasure in judging society and those within it – are completely unaccountable.

The truth about immigration and asylum seekers is in the majority of cases the polar opposite to the common perception spread by lying tabloids, as Chicken Yoghurt points out, a Human Rights Watch report released yesterday:

…documents how women asylum seekers with complex claims are being routed into a system designed for much simpler claims. The women are held in detention largely for the UK’s administrative convenience, have very little time to prepare a legal case, and have only a few days to appeal if refused. But the claims often involve such sensitive and difficult issues as sexual violence, female genital mutilation, trafficking, and domestic abuse. There is little time for lawyers or other representatives to build the trust with their clients needed for them to explain their claims or to obtain medical or other evidence needed to verify them.

Still, when most of the comments on immigration stories – no matter what the asylum seeker had suffered before leaving their country – basically state: ‘Not our problem / who cares send them straight back’ this report won’t make any difference to the hardened minds of those that actually believe the newspapers report immigration factually.

This moves us to Tabloid Watch’s latest post, and it is essential reading, The Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee has published its long-awaited report on Press standards, privacy and libel today. Read Tabloid Watch’s posts for the criticisms levelled at several tabloids and their editors, I just want to draw your attention to the complete lack of coverage such a report has gained. As Tabloid Watch points out in his conclusion, Sky News could not contain their bias as they completely dismissed the report as a political ‘vendetta’ and other media outlets managed a fleeting mention or editorials that dismissed the report as worthless.

In an age when global media corporations are run by a few individuals the truth has become a twisted concept, moulded to suit the agendas of those that run the news corporations. As a result the truly outrageous lies of the tabloid press provoke not just from their intended audience, but also from those who value truth. The only difference is that the real outrage isn’t reported and therefore doesn’t exist, whilst the phony outrage – such as that over immigration – is repeated again and again completely without consequence.

As Tabloid Watch points out, the tabloid press really have no shame and hypocrisy just isn’t a word they seem to know the meaning of. Paul Dacre, for example, editor of the Daily Mail, a newspaper which is consistently and comfortably the most successfully complained newspaper in the UK, stated this in this new report:

“It is a matter of huge shame if an editor has an adjudication against him; it is a matter of shame for him and his paper. That is why self-regulation is the most potent form of regulation, and we buy into it. We do not want to be shamed.”

Did he write that with a straight face? Or was he laughing at the fact that an adjudication from the PCC is utterly meaningless and completely unreported, so who cares? Apart from a few websites pointing out the shameful lies in the Mail and the occasional lawsuit that they lose on account of them, who else knows or cares? The readership are all too busy blaming immigrants and threatening to move to France or Spain because ‘Britain is broken’. Other newspapers are so deep in the same stinking shit they dare not cast the first stone for fear of the rightful rocks that are waiting to be flung back.

I hang my head every time I see a person reading a tabloid newspaper and raging about something I know to be completely false. I know it isn’t entirely their fault that they believe these things, because surely, in a civilised world in which truth, honesty and justice are supposed to be prized values, the tabloids can’t possibly print huge lies on their front pages, can they? That they do is to the eternal shame of the governments that rather than reign in the excessive lying and bullying of the tabloid press have instead done so much to seek their approval – much as Brown has with his shameful treatment of those seeking safety in a country supposedly committed to basic human rights.

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