Headline lies from the Daily Mail

A few more dishonest or misleading headlines from the Daily Mail website today.

Firstly: ‘Now health and safety chiefs ban Red Arrows display… because ‘vibrations’ could damage nearby buildings‘. This story is one of the most pointless and stupid health and safety slurs I’ve heard for at least a few days:

The Red Arrows have been banned from putting on a flying display over a seaside town – over health and safety fears.

The world famous RAF team were scheduled to top the bill at the annual regatta in Dartmouth, Devon.

But organisers decided to cancel the display – which has taken place every year since 1980 – amid fears that vibrations from the low-flying jets might damage buildings.

So, given the word ‘ban’ appears in the headline and ‘banned’ in the first sentence, alongside the statement that organisers have ‘decided to cancel the dsiplay’ it seems to be pretty clear cut that the display has been banned / cancelled. Furthermore, given that the display ‘has taken place every year since 1980’the ban is surely another mad health and safety decision, given that no buildings have suffered from vibrations in the last 30 years.

Then you read on and get to the truth of the matter:

A number of properties dating back to Tudor times were recently affected by a massive fire that swept through the town centre.

Mayor Richard Rendle said there were fears over vibrations from the aircraft which would fly just a few hundred feet above the town.

He said: ‘There were expressions of concern because at the moment the buildings are still moving and have not yet been stabilised.

‘Those concerns were fairly well received by the regatta committee, which has promised to carry out a risk assessment.’

So, this year is different because of the unstable buildings left behind by a substantial fire – so the display having taken place every year for the last 30 years is completely irrelevant. It also seems to be apparent that this is another example of health and safety being made the evil bogeyman when in fact the concerns stem from the town’s mayor who wants to preserve a ‘historic part of Dartmouth’s town centre’, something that is probably a sensible thing to do given the importance of tourism in the area.

So, has the display actually been banned – as the headline and introduction clearly stated? No:

Officials have called for a full risk assessment after concerns were raised at a recent meeting.

These fears have been passed to the regatta committee who have said a risk assessment must be carried out or the Red Arrows cannot attend…

‘The RAF will carry out a risk assessment. They are the experts on noise and vibration.’

A decision has not been made. All that has been decided is that the RAF experts will be consulted to ensure that any display doesn’t cause an historic part of Dartmouth to collapse. This is being done to protect the town and residents, but the residents the Mail spoke to do not seem to appreciate this:

Barry Whittel, a 60-year-old retired gardener, said: ‘The Red Arrows have been coming here for 30 years and it has always been the highlight of the weekend.

‘They put on a marvellous display. I just can’t understand why they would ban it because of a few vibrations.

‘Of course we want to protect our historic buildings, but this is absolutely ridiculous. I’m sure we’ll see a poorer turn-out at the regatta this year.’

Deborah Green, 52, a grandmother, added: ‘The fire was terrible but it was months ago. There’s no way the Red Arrows could do any more damage.

‘It’s just health and safety nonsense. The buildings have been there since Tudor times and even a fire couldn’t bring them down, let alone a few vibrations.’

The saddest thing about local people making these inane statements is that if the RAF did no risk assessment and the buildings collapsed they would be in the same paper complaining about reckless people wrecking their town centre. They are the perfect encapsulation of the Daily Mail mentality: whatever the situation or outcome I will be outraged.

You simply cannot win.

Secondly: ‘Hero British soldier shot in face by Taliban SPITS out the bullet‘. Wow, quite a claim, that he actually spat out a bullet and presumably it must be true because it is in CAPITAL letters:

A brave British soldier who was shot in the face by the Taliban spat out the bullet – then walked nearly two miles for treatment before being rushed home for an emergency operation.

Except that of course in the real world of basic physics, no bullet was ‘spat out’:

the bullet bounced off Luke’s body armour, went up into his lower cheek just below his ear, and broke his jaw before bouncing back out through his mouth.

So, a bullet ricocheted out of a soldiers mouth. No spitting or conscious action was undertaken. The headline and introductory paragraph is once again, a complete lie.

Finally – sticking to the subject of war: ‘Gunned down as they slept: Rogue Afghan soldier shoots dead three British troops inside military compound‘. OK, an Afghan soldier shot dead three British troops as they slept, seems pretty clear what happened. Even more so after the introductory sentence reiterates the point:

A renegade Afghan soldier is on the run today after killing three British soldiers in southern Helmand while they slept.

But, just two paragraphs later we have the truth:

One of the three who died was killed in his bed as he slept at around 2am. The other two were apparently on guard duty at a tower overlooking the base when were hit when the attacker fired a rocket-propelled grenade.

So, once again the headline is a complete lie as is the introductory paragraph.

Once again the Daily Mail are relying on their bovine readership to read the headline and first paragraph and move straight to the comments section to be outraged. Something that always works, no matter how many exasperated comments are left asking other commenters to just read the article before commenting from a woefully ignorant position. However, this ignorance could be avoided if the Daily Mail stopped lying in the first place, something it will not do as long as the website is getting enough clicks from the witless, scared and outraged.

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