Twitter’s new moral arbiter: Kelvin MacKenzie

Twitter uses are set to be monitored in 2012 after ex-Sun Editor Kelvin ‘The Truth’ MacKenzie appointed himself as Twitter’s moral arbiter:

Kevin Spacey, the talented and charming actor-manager, has stopped tweeting because of the avalanche of online abuse he was receiving.

The vileness of these internet thugs is beyond belief.

If the stuff written on Twitter was said on the streets, the police would arrest those responsible in their hundreds.

Of course, it would be difficult to trace these disgusting cowards because they hide behind anonymity.

But can I suggest the police start doing so? The language used is disgusting and the threats are ferocious.

From the New Year, I am going to start monitoring Twitter and will report back to you.

Yes, you read that correctly. Kelvin MacKenzie, who once edited the Sun and was responsible for the front page lies about Hillsborough – never apologising either – is now set to monitor ‘disgusting cowards’ on Twitter. Well, I guess it takes one to spot one.

I guess the correct response to this is to set up a hashtag and ensure that MacKenzie knows exactly what the general public thinks of him. Now is your chance, he will be watching.

Kelvin MacKenzie on Dale Farm

Last week Kelvin MacKenzie joked about reporting himself to the Press Complaints Commission for being ‘anti-gypsy‘ after he published his idea of a gypsy flag (a photo of some fly-tipping). This week he finds room for a joke about Dale Farm:

Forty travellers from Dale Farm arrive at the Pearly Gates in their caravans. St Peter goes to the gatehouse and phones up God, asking: ‘Can I let them in?’

God replies: ‘We are full, but tell them to choose among them which are the 12 most worthy and I will let them in.’ A minute later St Peter calls God again: ‘They’ve gone.’

‘What?’ says God, ‘all 40 of them?’

‘No, the Pearly Gates.’

He doesn’t joke about the PCC this week, but he does find room for a correction:

The number of days lost at Nottinghamshire County Council is 8.9 per person per year, not per quarter as I wrote last week. The correction was pointed out by the council’s media department, who were clearly busy at their desks.

What a wonderful place Rightminds is.

The PCC is a joke

This week Paul Dacre went on the attack at the Leveson inquiry by defending the PCC against what he called ‘myths’. One such myth he wanted to tackle was that the PCC was a toothless regulator because they could not issue sanctions against newspapers for wrongdoing. Dacre argued – as he has before – that editors feel a great sense of shame at having to publish an adjudication:

[the myth is that] Editors regard adjudications as a slap on the wrist: They certainly don’t. They are genuine sanctions. I, and other editors, regard being obliged to publish an adjudication as a real act of shame.

This does seem odd, given that Paul Dacre chairs the Editor’s code of practice whilst simultaneously editing the most complained about newspaper in the United Kingdom. Dacre wasn’t alone in attacking any idea of having real press regulation, he was joined by Kelvin MacKenzie – infamous for his front page lies about Hillsborough for which he has never faced any fitting punishment for – who in his Mail column today shows just how seriously he takes the PCC:

gypsy flag
Click to enlarge

Isn’t it about time we had a form of press regulation that wasn’t simply a cheap joke to morally bankrupt columnists?

‘The sick internet craze of “trolling””

The Daily Mail has today published a ‘Special investigation’ (I think this term might simply mean ‘not copied and pasted from news agency’) ‘into the distress of grieving families caused by the sick internet craze of “trolling”‘.

Elsewhere, the Daily Mail website has collected its own ‘trolls’ and publishing a column for them today is one Kelvin MacKenzie. You might remember him, he was the Sun editor who decided to go with the following headline after Hillsborough:

According to a very well referenced and tightly edited Wikipedia page:

The story accompanying these headlines claimed that “drunken Liverpool fans viciously attacked rescue workers as they tried to revive victims” and “police officers, firemen and ambulance crew were punched, kicked and urinated upon”. A quotation, attributed to an unnamed policeman, claimed a dead girl had been “abused”, and that Liverpool fans were “openly urinating on us and the bodies of the dead”.

It was complete rubbish, rather like The Sun in general, and although MacKenzie made an half-hearted apology in 1993 he since took this back stating in 2006:

I was not sorry then and I’m not sorry now.

He also refused to apologise on Question Time in 2007. The Sun issued an apology ‘without reservation’ in 2004.

Just to make matters even more hypocritical, MacKenzie ends his collection of assorted dross today with this:

Don’t know about you, but the regular stories about burglars being killed by home-owners are cheering me up no end. Do you think our Justice Minister might make it mandatory?

Rightminds, where the ‘sick’ Internet trolls get paid.

Journalistic Standards

Another day, another lazy Richard Littlejohn column. His main article is criticising an four-page leaflet produced by the Food Standards Agency, which mainly involves quoting large chunks of it verbatim (presumably, but you never know). Out of 922 words, 230 words (around 25%) are copied word-for-word, whilst another 50% seems to be paraphrased from the pamphlet. A member of the Mailwatch forum has an interesting theory as to why Littlejohn’s column is centred around an inane leaflet this week:

I think this latest column shows the fuck-ups of last week must have got back to him in some way – it’s a greatest hits of the usual simplistic bullshit to get the Mailites back on side. Bin collections, allegations of wasting money on ‘elf and safety, a dig at a comedy target (fat people), some climate change denialism, a dig at the BBC, a dig at labour and an accusation that Campbell is as bad as a Nazi. Short of a Dad’s army reference, it’s all there. And buried within, an apology that I’m sure he’ll hope his readers skim over, thinking it’s just a follow-up rather than an admission he does no research whatsoever.

While I’m depressingly sure it’ll work and he’ll have his fans wheeling out stale plaudits, it’s nice to know he obviously had a bit of a knock to the ego last week to feel the need to cram quite so many crowd-pleasers into one column. It’s like a faded rock star wheeling out all his best of hits everyone has heard a million times after his new material goes down like a lead balloon.

I appreciate the hypocrisy of calling Littlejohn lazy and then copying and pasting the above, before anyone points that out. If you haven’t seen Littlejohn’s apology, then you really should pop over to Tabloid Watch and take a look at it, it really does make clear that Littlejohn doesn’t even attempt to fact check the stories that are emailed to him.

But he isn’t alone, because surprise surprise the ‘boy thrown off bus for wearing England shirt’ story has now been unequivicolly debunked. This was a story in which a journalist just printed a story because it fitted the media narrative being created (England shirts are banned, as is patriotism and foreigners get offended with our way of life), not because it was true. The sad truth is that the journalist probably knew it was rubbish but printed it anyway.

Whenever a newspaper prints a story that was always unlikely to be true I’m always reminded of Kelvin MacKenzie’s ‘secret’ key to successful tabloid journalism. He imparted this wisdom after appointing only Oxford and Cambridge graduates during his early days at The Sun:

Satisfied that my bold move would take The Sun to a higher plain I waited for the results. They were not forthcoming. In fact, very little emerged from my new hirelings. Most disappointing.

I had to get to the bottom of this. It became clear that with their keen and analytical minds they had made a fatal mistake – they had continued investigating every story to the point where they had satisfied themselves that there was no story at all. This would not do.

I called in one of the super-brains and and explained a philosophy that had served me well over the years. The reporter leant forward with an earnest look as I told him the secret: if a story sounded true it probably was true and should therefore appear in the paper or there would be lots of white, unexplained spaces.

Such journalistic ‘standards’ result in stories like: ‘Child spotted apparently drinking beer at U.S. baseball game‘. In which we find out that:

The identity of the child, or the adults surrounding him, was not known and it has not been confirmed whether the bottle actually contained beer.

Still, we had better put it on the website, otherwise there would just be all this white space…