Flat Earth News

Well, thanks to some trouble with my old webhosts I have been offline for a while but as you can see, all has been restored and here we are again, trawling the Daily Mail and other newspapers to see what is happening in their worlds today. My better half very kindly bought me a copy of Flat Earth News by Nick Davies for Christmas and it is a fascinating read. One of the central arguments of the book is that newspapers are money-making machines that have cut staffing to a minimum and churn out news based on Associated Press stories, who in turn get their stories largely through PR sources. Because newspapers are poorly staffed and each reporter gets little time to fact check, reporters merely rewrite press releases (or copy them word for word under the byline Daily Mail Reporter for example) and we have what has been labelled ‘churnalism’.

The book makes a detailed and valid argument and I cannot help but be even more suspicious of newspaper stories now, and lo and behold first day that Angry Mob is back I see this story in the Mail (as well as every other local and national newspaper – churnalism is very powerful): ‘Breast milk is NOT better than baby formula, scientists claim‘. Obviously, the baby product industry is massive and parents are faced with a stupendous amount of artificial products that are supposed to enhance the health of their baby – so much so that you really wonder just how anyone managed to raise a child before the industrial revolution. I immediately Googled Professor Sven Carlsen to see what came up and found another blog doing the same:

I quickly goggled Professor Sven Carlsen’s name and found out that he had participated in a research funded by a pharmaceutical company called Glaxo Wellcome AS.

However, this may not be a direct link, but it made me to be suspicious of the veracity of the research.

OK, not exactly dynamite proof that the research is bogus, but interesting nonetheless and one can imagine the sort of impact such massive coverage of how good baby formula is will drive up sales of it. Another blog has looked at the way that the Mail article is written and concludes:

you find that Prof. Carlsen does not disagree with the evidence regarding the benefits of breastfeeding.

Even the Daily Mail admits:
“Prof Carlsen’s team reviewed data from more than 50 international studies looking at the relationship between breastfeeding and health. Most concluded that the more children were breastfed, the healthier they were. On the surface this was correct, said Prof Carlsen, from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim.”

The hypothesis that Prof. Carlsen is proposing is that mothers reach for formula because they have excess male hormone…

Surely a more relevant headline would be: “Excess male hormone leads mother to bottle feed and harms babies claims scientist”…

Rather than rushing to comment, however, I believe this whole story needs to be approached with a great deal more caution than that demonstrated by the Daily Mail and some other journalists.

Of course, the whole point of Flat Earth News is that it isn’t considered, it is a rushed rehash of an Associated Press story based on a press release. The Daily Mail covers this story because it knows every other media outlet is – it is on safe ground and following the media consensus. Obviously the Daily Mail is perhaps changing the slant of its article to create more panic or controversy, but look at local media (who may be rehashing the Mail article) and they seem to be using the same angle (do a Google search for Professor Sven Carlsen to get almost identical coverage through hundreds of media outlets).

What is important to remember is that the media have not read this report in full, and are not going to. Neither have I, but I am not rushing to the conclusion that breast-feeding is not best and I am certainly not giving that conclusion to millions of readers.

What I am pointing out is that the journalist who rehashed this story is unlikely to have even the vaguest idea of the validity of this research (and is almost certainly not an expert in the science of breastfeeding vs formula), or whether the slant that has appeared on their desk to be rewritten bears any relation to the original research in the first place. The journalist does not have enough time to fact check or verify the story and they certainly do not have enough time to read the research to really see what it is arguing or proving. Churnalism just rewrites it for the target audience of the paper and puts the information out as quickly as possible – whether the information has any validity is irrelevant.

Of course, if this story does spark a follow up comment from relevant scientists who may see fit to point out the inaccuracies of the media coverage then it would never receive even a fraction of the coverage that the original churnalism did. This leads Google to be clogged up with the consensus media view of ‘truth’ rather than ‘truth’ itself.

Government Killing Us With Drugs!

The Daily Mail enjoys a good bit of scaremongering and the Swine Flu outbreak has been the perfect opportunity for them to keep trying to scare us with ‘X died from Swine Flu’ headlines that the article then has to admit that serious underlying medical conditions where present in each case. Today is no different, except that the virus isn’t the killer but the vaccine: ‘Patient dies after being given swine flu vaccine‘. The article admits in just the third paragraph that:

But experts investigating the death say it was likely to have been caused by the patient’s ‘significant underlying health conditions’ rather than the vaccine itself.

Which raises the obvious question: then why write such a misleading headline? This is what Dizzy Thinks would like to describe as a technically brilliant tabloid article: misleading but scary and snappy headline – check; short article with some scary numbers- check; article is total bollocks – check.

It is also interesting to see how the Daily Mail has blamed the government directly for the death:

One person has died after being given the Government’s new swine flu vaccination.

I have emphasised ‘the Government’s’ because the Mail seems to be implying that the government were personally responsible for creating the vaccine, as if they cooked up one day whilst in parliament. Not that they purchased them through drugs companies.

The article is a short misleading attack poorly aimed at the government – though checking some of the comments it appears to have had the desired impact – that has become typical of the tabloid press. I’m no fan of Labour but at least attack them for the right reasons (it’s not as if they are not enough) rather than making pathetic attempts like this.

Speaking of pathetic attacks on the government if you’d like a giggle have a look at this rushed attack from Dizzy Thinks that makes him look pretty foolish: ‘Ball and his Education team fail GCSE Maths?

Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

I really shouldn’t be surprised anymore should I? However yesterday’s headline piece in the Daily Wail: ‘Random attack by thugs every 30 seconds as ‘stranger assaults’ soar in binge Britain‘; was an impressive piece of extreme dishonesty. The old saying about lies, damn lies and statistics really belongs in the Daily Mail because everybody knows that statistics can prove anything. Now I’m no expert… well, actually, I am an expert… statistics are really powerful and are a vitally important way of ascertaining the truth of complex problems such as crime rates. It is obviously true that statistics can and often are twisted to make whichever point the user of statistics wants to make (as this article brilliantly demonstrates). The fault lies with the argument and not the statistics. The great irony is that the Mail often abuses statistics and uses them to make any point they wish, whilst at the same time fuelling the belief that statistics cannot be trusted and thus appealing to the preconceived ideas of the reader. Crime rates are probably the best example of this.

This article is based on the British Crime Survey data released last week. The report can be found here on the Home Office website [PDF file]. The BCS is a very interesting, powerful and important piece of research. For obvious reasons, the public have very legitimate concerns about crime, and hence the government needs to know what is happening with crime – both in order to shape policy and to demonstrate to the electorate the effectiveness or otherwise of various policies. One set of data that is used is the recorded crime rates – crimes reported to police. There is no doubt that these figures, whilst important are flawed. Not all crime is reported – for a lot of reasons; and thus the reported crime rate may not reflect what is actually happening. Is a rise in the reported crime rate a good or a bad thing? Well, a rise in crime is clearly a bad thing – but if crime rates are steady and the rise is a reflection of increased confidence in the police then clearly it is a good thing. Hence the British Crime Survey which seeks to ascertain by means of extensive research people’s actual experience of crime and thus what the actual crime rates are.

You get a very good idea of the intent of the article from this one line:

“The true picture of street violence could be even worse. Some experts believe that fewer than a half of such crimes are reported to police.”

To be fair, this statement is not necessarily false. There probably are some ‘experts’ who believe rates are much higher, though it would be nice to know who they are – no wait, I know who it is, it’s the Daily Mail editorial board… Of course it could be true but it’s the second part of the sentence that’s worrying to me. We know the statistics come from the British Crime Survey and are hence related to actual crime rates and having nothing to do with reported crime rates so it is totally irrelevant that fewer than half might be reported – that does not affect these figures at all. Not so much Lies and statistics as statistics, reporters and lies (rearrange these words to make a sentence). There’s even a complaint that we’re convicting too many women:

“Last month, the Daily Mail revealed that the Government’s own figures show the number of women being convicted for murders, vicious assaults and other attacks has rocketed by 81 per cent since 1998.”

So our failed justice system is now convicting too many criminals? I’m confused.

The main thrust of the article is aimed at showing how out of control violent crime is and quotes this stat that violent attacks by strangers has risen from 32% of all violent crime to 50% of all violent crime.

The most important fact that I want to communicate here is the one they don’t tell you: Violent crime is down. Way down. It’s less that half its peak level which, for the record was in 1995. We are now back down to 1981 levels (oh, sorry, didn’t you know that crime (and violent crime) rose steadily though out the 80’s until the mid-nineties and has been falling since?)

Please do not misunderstand me, one crime – especially one violent crime – is one too many and there is a lot of violence out there. However because that is true, we should celebrate the massive reduction in violent crime that has taken place. Furthermore the use of crime as a political weapon by stoking up the fear of crime is particularly sick.

So, finally what about this claim that stranger attacks have soared from 32% to 50%. There were approximately 4 million violent crimes in 1996. 32% of 4 million is 1.3 million and 50% of 2 million is 1 million. How’s this for a headline? Violent attacks by strangers SOAR from 1.3 million to 1 million.

Lies, Damn lies and Daily Mail Reporting.

P.S. I notice that the byline is given to one James Slack – maybe that’s a description of the journalist rather than his name?

Mail Readers Think Britain is worst place to live in

Tabloid Watch points out that today’s Mail article claiming Britain is the worst country in Europe only actually considers life in 10 European countries and has a strange obsession with fuel prices and keeping our homes warm. Tabloid Watch points out that this might just be because the ‘survey’ was conducted by uSwitch, a website just happening to offer the service of finding you a cheaper energy supplier. Naturally the Mail – and many others who claim to hate the very country they long to save – pick up this article and churn it out even though it serves as little more than free advertising for uSwitch and a chance for the newspaper to show off more ‘evidence’ that Britain really is the worst country, ever.

Surely though, Mail readers – those people that complain about anyone moving into their precious Britain – would not support the claim that Britain is the worst country in Europe:

Worst, Country, Ever.

Oh. They do. Well, why don’t they all just do us a favour and fuck off then?

Mail and Express jabbing readers with scare stories

The enemies of reason has already labelled this as one of the most disgraceful front pages of all time and I am inclined to agree with him. As he goes on to point out, the headline is not backed up by the content of the article and the sceptical doctor make no assertion that the jab is as dangerous as the cancer is supposed to be. Still, since when have facts ever got in the way of a good headline? In response to this front page the Daily Mail are still dragging out any scare stories it can find about the jab, and give passing reference to the Express front page as if somehow their ridiculous lies are somehow evidence. This is pretty much standard fare for newspapers, instead of linking to peer-reviewed science they just simply link to their fellow tabloids as if the lie can become fact if other newspapers are running similar stories.

Today’s Mail scare story revolves around a teenage girl who started having epileptic seizures days after being given the injection. There is no evidence to link the jab to the seizures, and the only people making the connections are the parents of the girl. Whilst I have every sympathy for them and can understand their need to seek a reason for their daughter’s problems, it doesn’t mean that they are qualified to give an opinion on the matter, and any reasonable person should know that such an emotional response is hardly going to add anything to the debate.

Mail  scare storyWhat we need to understand is that shit happens. We live in a world populated by billions of people. A few people amongst us will die suddenly and without explanation, a few of us might suddenly develop seizures and so on. It is natural for the families around the victims to look for reasons, for an explanation or understanding of what happened. If perhaps the victim had eaten a new food for the first time, this might be blamed, if the victim had fallen over and banged their head, this might be pinpointed – it matters not what it is, anything can be blamed and whether medical experts tell you it wasn’t responsible for what happened subsequently is irrelevant, you tend to cling onto blaming it. It seems to be case here, their daughter had a cervical cancer jab, a few days later she starts to develop seizures and ends up with brain damage. The jab is being blamed only by the family, there seems to be no evidence to suggest a link otherwise the Daily Mail would clearly give it here.

So the whole story is pointless scare-mongering, where the headline has little relation to the actual story and the whole thing is anecdotal.

Facebook, Jones, Littlejohn

Facebook saves the day!

The Daily Mail has been telling us for months how just how dangerous facebook is; they say that it can nearly destroy marriages, make users ‘indifferent to human suffering‘ , can lead to your murder and of course: it can cause cancer. So, you can imagine my surprise when I log onto the Daily Mail website and see a positive story about Facebook, or at least a story that isn’t overtly telling you that Facebook will do evil things to you and your family: Gun-toting gang members jailed after being ‘named and shamed’ on Facebook.

Perhaps we are really getting back into the realms of prioritising enemies, here clearly a gang of feral youths brandishing weapons are higher on the scale of evil than Facebook. Therefore Facebook can be brought into the article as a positive thing because the use of it in identifying the youths has lead to their convictions – some of them for murder.

Sadly, though, I don’t think the Daily Mail or its readers are going to learn the real lesson that is screaming out from this story: the Internet, like anything else can be used in different ways. It is therefore not inherently evil or good, it is merely a tool to be shaped by the person using it. A gang of youths decided to use the Internet to post pictures of themselves posing with weapons: bad. A woman who would is protecting her identity through fear of reprisals finds these public documents and creates a Facebook page to name and shame them which leads directly to the swift and successful police action.

Two very different uses of the same medium that should make it perfectly clear to them that the Internet is only as evil as the person using it and doesn’t actually want to force your teenage daughter into shooting porn flicks as soon as she turns 18. On this note it should also be considered just how the Daily Mail uses the Internet: it fills its homepage with semi-nude pictures of female celebrities on right side, whilst it incites racial hatred on the left side. Again, proving the point that the Internet can be put to very evil purposes in the hands of an inherently evil user.

Liz Jones asks a question I’m just dying to answer

Of course, Liz, the answer is it doesn’t help Exmoor at all because they shot your mailbox, not you. Not that I wish to condone any form of violence but I think when you start calling the locals ‘toothless’, uncultured idiots with learning difficulties you can start to change your attitude towards violence. Read Liz Jones defending her actions over at The Daily Quail: LIZ JONES: These ugly one eyed yokels aren’t doing themselves any favours.

Richard Littlejohn explains how he embraced extremism

Richard Littlejohn’s clever tribute to Keith Waterhouse is purposely written to make Waterhouse’s prose seem even better than Mail readers remember by being so utterly drab, cliched and sleep-inducing. After nailing a ‘person has died’ cliche on the first line he quickly moves onto a mixed metaphor: ‘When Keith Waterhouse hung up his typewriter in May, his friends feared it would kill him.’ They were right to be concerned, typewriters are heavy and not designed to be hung anywhere; Keith was frail and who knows how high the hook was.

Richard Littlejohn also talks of his personal struggle as he ‘stumbled uncertainly in his slipstream… in awe of his genius.’ Littlejohn also cites him as an ‘inspiration’, insulting Keith Waterhouses’ memory with the implication that he has somehow inspired Richard Littlejohn to churn out the same repetitive drivel twice a week for what already feels like longer than Waterhouses’ lengthy career as a columnist.

However, perhaps the biggest chunk of sweetcorn contained within the piece is Littlejohn’s candid recognition of how he became radicalised into a shitty columnist for a racist scream-sheet: ‘Before I wrote for the Daily Mail, I was a Daily Mail reader.’ That explains everything. Needless to say Richard is still an avid reader of the Daily Mail, but he know refers to this as ‘research’.

For more on Richard Littlejohn’s tribute to Keith Waterhouse see Sarah Ditum over at Paperhouse.

Victims and oppressors

A lot of sites have been posting on the issue of immigration recently, some with the attempt of having a proper discussion, others to merely point out the shameful way that the subject is reported in the press. Left Outside has tried to condense just what arguments newspapers consistently rely on to incite hatred of immigrants and he concludes that the arguments are very old and still very untrue. Nonetheless, they still induce anger in those that read and believe the basic myths about immigration – that immigrants take our jobs/money/culture/freedoms/women/homes/land/identity. The enemies of reason tries to rationalise why newspapers would desire to do this – what part of the brain are they trying to feed, what market are these myths being sold to – and he concludes that they are designed to: ‘prompt outrage… [and] make you demand justice against a lack of fairness’. in other words, they give readers a chance to rise up (in whatever way) against something that is fundamentally unfair and that they get some kind of catharsis from doing so.

I would develop this a little further and say that newspapers are very aware of their position as a communication tool for the incredibly rich and powerful and that their primary function is to ensure that the rich stay rich and the rest of us remain profitable for them. If we really wanted to get outraged over something perhaps we could choose bigger issues like – for example – the fact that almost half the world – over 3 billion people – live in poverty with over 80% of humanity living on less than $10 a day. Or the fact that ‘the poorest 40 percent of the world’s population accounts for 5 percent of global income… [whilst] the richest 20 percent accounts for three-quarters of world income’. Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their name; water problems (including lack of clean drinking water and basic sanitation) affect over half of humanity; every second child lives in poverty (1 billion), 121 million are out of education; in 2005 the richest 25% were responsible for over 76% of private consumption, whilst the world’s poorest 20% consumed just 1.5%.

We live in a world that has been inherited by a few – the world’s billionaires, just 497 people (approximately 0.000008% of the world’s population) — were worth $3.5 trillion (over 7% of world GDP) – who have mastery over the media messages we consume. Of course when you take a step back and look around you you may realise that the world is a beautiful place, but conversely the human society that has evolved is pretty fucking shitty. Sometimes we can indulge in personal complaints – why am I working 5 days a week, doing a job I hate, for a wage that just barely enables me to live in a house and feed myself? etc – but we’re always told to be grateful, because there is always someone worse off. This, of course, is true. I might complain that I am not rich, but in many ways I am: I have a loving family, a fiancee, I own a house, a car, the PC I am typing this on, a mobile phone, a games console, a TV; I have running water, gas, electricity and so on. However, why are we forced into accepting our position in life by looking at those less fortunate, why do we not look the other way and question why the system has collected the world’s wealth into the hands of the few? Rather than feel grateful for the fact we’re not starving to death or dying through disease, shouldn’t be looking up the chain and questioning just why there is this economic underclass of billions and just what the fuck are a few people doing with a staggering percentage of the world’s wealth?

Newspapers are a fundamental part of this system of wealth, they are owned by the wealthy who cosy up to the even wealthier – no-one should doubt the power of the Murdoch media empire to shape debate in order to maintain the riches of the elite – so they must quench our first for some kind of battle against unfairness. Therefore each country’s press gives us the ultimate bogeyman: the immigrant. It is never the billionaire on top of the pile that is stealing our money, making us redundant or stealing our women (though, inevitably they do control our employment and profit from our endeavour), it is – we are told to believe – the homeless, disenfranchised and dis-empowered immigrant who is fact doing all of these things. Instead of taking up arms against a small number of obscenely rich people we instead raise our newspapers in anger against a sea of immigrants, and by opposing them we deflect our power from justifiable opposition to the real injustice that is all around us – we waste our anger on a red herring.

The trouble with the system is that we only seem to have two choices: play along and hope for an increasing slice of the wealth as we get older, or fuck the system and live a life in abject poverty or if not at least disdained by most of society (the recent press attacks on Travellers and Gypsies being the perfect example of how outsiders to the game are treated). The higher we climb the ladder of monetary reward the more power and chance we have of making any real change to the overall system, but precisely because of increased power / wealth we are more reluctant to do so. Politicians are perfect examples of human ideals being corrupted by society’s rewards: politicians may start with a dream, a change they may want to affect, but when they actually get into power they realise that to follow their dreams would risk sacrificing the power they have achieved, because they cannot make any changes without power, they drop the changes and follow policies that will get them re-elected (even though their logic is self-defeating because they know they’ll never use this power to affect real change). Thus we have the political circle that we have today, one party promises change and reform, is elected, realises changes may be unpopular in the short term, drops them to follow short term policies to ensure re-election, eventually the country becomes disillusioned with the lack of change and votes in another party that does exactly the same (the process has been repeating for hundreds of years and nothing looks set to change).

Two World Wars were fought by troops confident that social change would follow such momentous events, yet the soldiers who gave so much for their country were always to be disappointed. Change can only ever happen if the general population is mobilised towards a cause thought just by the overwhelming majority. Because the press is largely responsible for shaping public opinion or awareness about any issue, such issues are never likely to be the overwhelming unfairness of an society in which so much is owned and controlled by so few. Instead we are fed bogeymen, of which the immigrant seems to be the most persistent and popular. Of course, the truth about immigration and immigrants is out there, the counter-arguments are laid forth on many websites and even within the mainstream media, but the only result is that the informed and educated are forced to mobilise to fight myths put forward by the press, rather than mobilising against bigger issues. We fight each other and are weak, rather than joining together to battle the real problems.

We therefore live in a society where it seems the best we can fight for is a correction of the myths that surround target groups; whilst the perpetrators of the real crimes against humanity are never threatened because we are too busy squabbling over the lies that they feed us to engage in the bigger questions surrounding their power and responsibilities. Perhaps the biggest irony is that the displacement of people in recent years has largely been caused by the super-rich elite whose corporations have demanded free markets throughout the world – which includes access to the cheapest and most valuable asset of all: people. We accept our cheap clothes made in a sweatshop in some foreign country by a Western corporation, whilst simultaneously demanding ‘British jobs for British workers’. Do we not realise that it is the corporations that decide who is employed and where, not some mythical homogeneous group of immigrants who are themselves victims of corporate power and greed?

It always surprises me that people feel threatened by those with nothing, when logic dictates it is the rich and powerful that can inflict harm upon us should they so wish. Likewise, we attack the most vulnerable, dis-empowered and disenfranchised with a logical realisation that they are the least able to change any of this. For example, The Daily Mail constantly attacks the poorest people in society and the benefits that they receive (gaining much support and vitriol from ‘hard-working, tax-paying’ readers) whilst simulatenoulsy being owned by Lord Rothermere who pays no taxes on the income from the Daily Mail (which the readers presumably don’t know about). It makes no sense, yet somehow the mainstream media have made this incongruity a stable fact of life. In the words of Malcolm X:

If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.

Back to the Tabloid world of fear

Well I’m back after a few drunken days away in a tent. At no point during these few days was I made angry by the rubbish published by the Tabloid newspapers and somehow, life seemed all the better for this. The sun shone, people smiled, I wasn’t raped, mugged, stabbed, shot or abused for being a ‘poor indigenous white’. I didn’t catch swine flu and far as I can tell my trip didn’t cause or cure cancer either. Life really is a wonderful thing, if only we all take a step back and enjoy it once in a while the world might be a better place. Nonetheless, I cannot escape from the clutches of the tabloid papers for too long and regrettably tabloid lies and hypocrisy are getting harder and harder to ignore. For example, Twitter provided me with a link to this gem on the Mail website today: ‘Scared to death? The REAL worry is today’s culture of fear‘. Essentially the author of the piece opens with: ‘Do you ever feel as if The Authorities are doing their damnedest to scare us all to death?’. This is said without any irony; no acknowledgement that Tabloid newspapers exist to whip up baseless fear. As commentators point out:

Ahem, it`s not “the Authorities”, it`s the MEDIA….- Sherry, Kent, 27/7/2009 9:08 Click to rate Rating 60 Agreed with Sherry in Kent – the media makes more of these ”panics” than anyone I know – I haven’t met anyone who’s panicking about swine flu, for example, but the media manage to make it sound like we’re all in a terrified frenzy and losing sleep over it. There is no culture of fear outside the media, which keeps trying to whip it up. – Ruth, Glasgow, Scotland, 27/7/2009 12:09 Click to rate Rating 24

The reason why The Daily Mail can spread fear and panic one minute, then accuse ‘The Authorities’ of doing the same the next is that they have no accountability and therefore no need to even pretend to be consistant. It isn’t just a matter of hypocrisy though, the Daily Mail has no accountability when it comes to facts either, as the Enemies of reason points out


The Mail gets it wrong again, and again, and again, and again. They’re not the only newspaper to do so, but they do pop up in the PCC adjudications time and time again. Sometimes it’s not too serious, merely entirely misrepresenting a scientific study for example; sometimes it’s really serious and unpleasant, for example making peaceful Muslims out to be rowdy protesters, or smearing the good name of someone who has recently been through a terrible tragedy. The PCC says this is all perfectly fine so long as they make tiny amends afterwards, and then everything’s tickety-boo, isn’t it? And there you have it. This is the redress available to those who can’t hire the top legal lawyers. A tiny correction shoved away in the middle of nowhere, and no apology at all.

Tabloid newspapers are consistently lying, hypocritical and utterly inconsistent yet somehow people still exchange their ‘hard-earned’ money for this. People look to newspapers to confirm their worst fears, and the newspapers are only happy to oblige. If, for example, you have a fear of foreigners and you stupidly believe in spite of facts that immigrants get free houses, free cars and a massive wad of cash as soon as they set foot on British soil, you can find a journalist that will agree with you completely. I can understand why an individual might believe that immigrants receive such things, they might not be that bright, they might not be terrible literate and therefore they do not have the ability to assimilate information or differentiate fact from fiction. Such a person might turn to a newspaper, where a journalist is paid to present them with a piece of opinion that should be factual – after all they are paid and have time to assimilate information and establish what the facts are. But they don’t. The poor misinformed person struggling to find out the truth might unfortunately pick up a newspaper like The News of the World (once edited by shit-stain Andy Coulson) and read a column by an utter piece of shit like Carole Malone. Thankfully Tabloid Watch has taken this apart – so I don’t have to try to engage my brain with such an ignorant tabloid turd:

In today’s News of the World, she has written a column so bereft of intellect or evidence or sound argument, it’s hard to imagine anyone getting paid for such crap. And not just crap – full of wild exaggerations and lies – but noxious and inflammatory crap.

Go read the rest here. A while ago I argued that Andy Coulson didn’t deserve a place in politics because he had edited a tabloid newspaper. My reasoning was that how can anyone be responsible for fuck-n-tell stories, lies, racism and the general cultural abyss that is a tabloid newspaper and then be responsible for running the PR campaign of a political party? How the hell is he supposed to help redress the apathy of voters, given his own shameful treatment of the general public when he edited a tabloid paper. I argued that anyone who had edited (or is editing) a tabloid newspaper should be ostracised from society, for they are the lowest form of human being. I’d now like to extend this to the majority of the shit-for-brains tabloid columnists who profiteer from increasing ignorance and hatred when they have the perfect platform to dispel it.

To paraphrase Bill Hicks, I bet they sleep like fucking babies to.

Shit yourself, Daily Mail reader, Shit yourself

Mass hysteria, odds given as facts, headlines that don’t match the content. At the Daily Mail they do anything to sell more copies.

Swine flu: one in eight forced to take time off sick as pandemic spreads squeals the Hypochondria Tribune a.k.a. Daily Mail today.

As Armageddon creeps in, the paper informs you, “the vast number of people off work could leave many businesses struggling to run as normal and cripple public services and transport over the summer”.

But hold on a minute. If this pandemic is so bad, why is the same paper plastered with “boob-job bikini”, “Michael Jackson’s leg” and “Pamela Anderson’s Playboy catalogue”? And also, I don’t know anyone affected by swine flu. You probably don’t either and nor does your neighbour. So where does this “one in eight” thing come from?

That’s where the puzzled reader decides to delve into the article in order to learn more. Yet the picture that emerges depicts a totally different story and, above all, different verbal constructions.

Because if the headline makes it sound like it’s already happening, the piece by Daniel Martin states that “Almost one in eight workers will have to take time off sick with swine flu in the next few weeks”, and that “chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson is expected to announce that 30 per cent of the population is likely to be infected during this first wave of the pandemic”. Will. Expected. Likely.

This morning the BBC reports that the number of people contacting their GP over swine flu-related fears “has jumped almost 50% in the last week” – basically, mass hysteria in its pure form.

As the Daily Mail enjoys a circulation of roughly 2.4 million and a readership of up to 6 million, could it just be that their recent headline “A SORE THROAT- 48 HOURS LATER CHLOE WAS DEAD” may have something to do with the ensuing panic?

Article kindly cross-posted by Claude from Hagley Road to Ladywood. You can read the original article here.