Monday, 30 November 2009
It never saw the light of day thanks to the production chapels mass-refusing to set it - something which Murdoch and MacKenzie ensured would never happen again when News International moved to Wapping two years later, smashing the print unions, something which continues to be contentious to this day.
Do have to disagree with John B's additional comments, therefore, that "printworkers shouldn't have a veto over editorial content, however vile." The old motto is "publish and be damned", but if say the printworkers could have blocked "THE TRUTH", as they perhaps could have done had the unions not been crushed, it would have certainly prevented additional pain being piled upon an already grieving city. They would have been the only ones capable of keeping MacKenzie in check - something which the hacks themselves either couldn't or were unwilling to do. More recently it has still taken union power rather than individual power to stop the Daily Star from running a "Daily Fatwa" page, which promised a page 3 lovely in a niqab, while the union reps on the same paper complained also to the Press Complaints Commission that they were under pressure to write "anti-gypsy" reports. Overruling the editorial staff when they go too far, by threatening strike action if necessary, is better than the alternative.
Wednesday, 25 November 2009
This fortnight, after a bit of a drought recently, Private Eye has served up a couple of juicey bits.
First of all shocking pictures...
This being the story in question.
The next is an example of the Sun showing contempt for the Contempt of Court Act 1981...
...with a nice little dig at the Met Commissioner, too.
PE couldn't let 40 years of the sun go by without it's own little corner, either...
That last headline is a cracker, isn't it? There was an apology, in the only place it should've been for headline as wrong in every way as 'Straight sex cannot give you AIDS - Official': page 28. /sarcasm
Adam Macqueen, in 2006, writes about a similarly scarey, and dangerous, headline "Killer Plagues", about AIDS & HIV riddled Bulgarians and Hungarians invading Britian.
And to finish with, something a little lighter...
Tuesday, 17 November 2009
If these birthday/anniversary celebrations are really about 40 years of Rupert Murdoch, then by all means, let's wheel the old bastard out so we can stick some candles in him.
A copy of the front page of The Sun from 14 November, 1969. Click to enlarge. (Note the Orwellian announcement in the sidebar, promising some impending doubleplusgood news of the uppermost importance.)
A remixed version of the '40 years' television commercial that's been running in recent days
UPDATE - Do check out this tasty bit of audio hosted over at Chicken Yoghurt.
Monday, 16 November 2009
In 1997 the average prison population was 61,470 (page 4). The population last Friday was 84,593 (DOC), a rise in just 12 years of more than 20,300. I can't seem to find any concrete figures on just what the total number of places available in 1997 was, but ministers themselves boast that they have created over 20,000 additional places, and the Prison Reform Trust agrees, noting in this year's Bromley report that the number of places has increased by 33% since the party came to power (page 5). By any yardstick, the creation of over 20,000 places is a massive increase. Labour's real success is that despite increasing the population so massively, there are still not enough places to go round, hence the early release scheme which the Sun and the Conservatives so decry without providing anything approaching an alternative solution. As statements of fact go, the Sun's claim that "Labour decided not to build more jails" could not be more wrong.
This coincided with ill-judged policies on late drinking, softening drug laws and over-reliance on cautions, all of which increased crime.
In actual fact, and predictably, levels of alcohol related crime have changed little. There is no evidence whatsoever that softening the drug laws, of which only the law on cannabis was briefly softened, increased crime, unless you count the massive rise in cautions given out for possession which may previously have resulted in someone going to court for having a tiny amount of resin in their position, wasting the time of everyone involved. Lastly, there is little evidence also that giving out more cautions increases the likelihood of re-offending. You can in fact probably narrow it down to two groups: those who would have re-offended regardless of the punishment they received and those for whom it was an aberration. The problem with cautions is the effect it has on the victims of the crime, and the implications for the justice in general, not that they increase crime.
The result? More criminals ought to be behind bars. But there is nowhere to send them.
Instead, jails and secure hospitals operate more as short-stay hotels.
Today The Sun reports on a murderer who hacked a mother and son to death but is on day release after just six years.
Not an exactly representative example: Gregory Davis pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, hence he is not a "murderer", as the leader claims. Psychiatrists now think that he has recovered to an extent to which he is not a danger to the public, on which I'm more inclined to trust them then I am the Sun.
Weekends out of jail for lags have trebled in the past two years.
Labour deny this has anything to do with easing prison pressure. But the facts speak for themselves.
Last year, 11,599 prisoners were let out for four-day breaks.In 2006 the figure was only 3,813.
Is the Sun on to something here? Not to judge by the figures themselves: the latest show that there is room for around 900 more prisoners currently; back in August 2006 (DOC), to pick one set of figures at random, there were only 700 spaces available. Indeed, in October 2006, Operation Safeguard was in effect, with prisoners being held in police cells. Surely if weekends out were meant to ease prison pressure there would have been more let out back in 2006 when it was much more desperately needed. Is it not more likely that these breaks, meant to help those shortly to be released to readjust to life outside as well as for general rehabilitation are being used more widely because of the relative success of doing so?
Labour's soft approach even makes life cosy inside:
Convicts at Chelmsford jail enjoyed a talent show.
And what a talent show it was! Costing a whole £1,500, it seems the kind of thing that might actually help prisoners once they are allowed back out into the real world, but the Sun seems to think that prisoners should spend their time either locked up in their "cushy" cells or sewing mail bags.
Convicted criminals should pay the price - not just as punishment but for the protection of the public. That is the contract on law and order between voters and Parliament.
Having broken that deal, Labour have no right to criticise the Conservatives when they vow to do better.
By the same token, the Sun has no right to criticise Labour when it can't even get the very basic facts about the party's record on crime right.
"I left school and went to college to study Physics, chemistry, Biology, Psychology. I was going to do BioChemistry at uni but realised I didn't want to end up doing a job in that field (im even yawning as Im writing this, ha). So I packed up my lab coat and moved to london to do an access course to do a degree in architecture."
She is at present a glamour model and DJ, but The Sun is shining, there's hay to be made, and as Sam points out;
"I can always go back to uni when my time in the modeling world is over"
But in the meantime, Sam not only has the opportunity to use Page 3 as a platform for money-making, she is also in a unique position to ask some serious questions about the editorial content on Page 3 and maybe even take a stand against the exploitation of women in that feature.
In short, we'd like to ensure that all Page 3 girls are permitted to speak their mind on Page 3 without undue interference from media owners and/or editorial staff, and we think that Sam is well-placed to help us as we work towards this goal.
Let's take for example Keeley Hazell and the witless lifting of Wikipedia text. Why is this kind of thing necessary when there is a Page 3 girl on hand who is educated in the field of physics (i.e. someone who might actually have had something original/thoughtful/witty to say on the activation of the Large Hadron Collider)?
There's also the potentially-delicate matter of how much independence Sam has enjoyed on Page 3 in comparison to other models, which leads us to these further examples:
It would be interesting to know about Sam's background knowledge and intent with regards to the first two items in the following sample of Page 3 editorials published in her name; especially as the first declares the Conservative origins of the editorial stance, while the second does not (more). Does Sam support the Conservatives as a party? Is she a member? Did she actually read the policy outlined in the first item or investigate the statistics referenced in the second?
Delightfully, all of these questions and more can be put to Sam Cooke quite easily (and most politely), as she's obviously keen on online interaction and can be found here on Twitter.
Of course, depending on how reasonable The Sun are willing to be (stop laughing at the back, please), if Sam did express an opinion and/or take a stand on this issue, she might be taking a position that puts her future modelling income at risk. Judging by how nasty her masters at The Sun can get with people they don't care for (or simply need to compromise for purely political reasons), she may even be putting her reputation at risk.
We will be keeping that in mind when asking about any of this, and we urge our readers to be equally sensitive and polite about it should they decide to pose a question or two themselves.
Saturday, 14 November 2009
The winner though in my eyes is a staggering hatchet job on Professor David Nutt in the Sun, which rather than attacking the man himself instead goes for his children via their social networking profiles. They reproduce a photo of his son Steve with a roll-up in his mouth, claiming it shows him "apparently smoking dope". I'm no expert, but it looks suspiciously to me like an ordinary roll-up rather than one containing a substance more exotic than tobacco. Not content with that, his daughter is the next target, her crime having uploaded a photograph with herself with friends carrying a bottle of spirits, possibly when she was underage! Lastly, eldest son Johnny is raked over the coals for having photographs on his profile of himself naked in the snow in Sweden. No hypocrisy there whatsoever, then.
Friday, 13 November 2009
(These attacks all relate to the Glen Jenvey story and subsequent fallout, with most of the trouble originating from a man by the name of Dominic Wightman. I have not yet published the letter from The Sun to the PCC in which Dudman made this false accusation, but only because of constraints on my time due to these ongoing attacks. Hang in there.)
The good news is that I've been quietly beavering away in the background and today I'm finally ready to share the fruits of my labours. Details and background can be found here, but this video is designed to speak for itself, so enjoy:
[MINI-UPDATE: Video now re-hosted at Vimeo. Google/YouTube refuse to remove false claims I'm a paedo from their servers but won't allow a glimpse of boob. Wankers.]
Once you're done with lifting your jaw from the floor, please consider printing out a copy of our special A4-sized insert and leaving it inside a copy of The Sun.
I for one think it's about time The Sun stopped shamelessly exploiting these women, and allowed them to speak their own mind for a change.
I hope you agree.
NOTE - Even if we reach a million people with this message, The Sun will reach more people on a single day (with a single pair of tits) so please share a link to the video with as many people as possible.
Wednesday, 11 November 2009
Mr Brown's apology ended 48 hours of uproar since The Sun first revealed the mistakes in his well-meaning but badly handwritten note.
Funny, the paper didn't think it was well-meaning yesterday or on Monday. Then it was "bloody shameful".
Mrs Janes incidentally has been persuaded, doubtless by the Sun itself, to make clear that her intentions were the very best:
Jacqui also set the record straight on her contact with The Sun and her recording of the PM's phone call, in which she berated him over troop and helicopter shortages.
Mum-of-six Jacqui, 47, said: "I released the tape because I wanted people to know what he really said to me, not what Downing Street put out.
"I also want to make clear that I didn't take a penny in payment for interviews with The Sun."
Jacqui said she contacted The Sun because the paper backs Britain's Forces, adding: "It had nothing to do with politics."
Except the paper turned it into politics, whether Janes wanted them to or not. On any grounds, that's exploitation of a grieving person.
As for an editorial comment, the only thing which it offers today is a typically lachrymose, jingoistic and unfeeling demand that everyone remembers. Gordon Brown will presumably unfairly cop it again once this whole incident slips down the memory hole.
Tuesday, 10 November 2009
To be fair when the Sun clearly doesn't deserve it, Mrs Janes' claim that she recorded it on the spur of the moment with a friend's BlackBerry could be true. In any case, whether they were personally involved in the recording of the conversation between Gordon Brown and Mrs Janes or not, they must have realised that this was taking the story to a whole other level. It's one thing after all to complain about what you consider to be an insensitive and insulting letter, or indeed to do the equivalent of a Sharron Storer, confronting a politician on the spur of the moment in front of watching television cameras; it's quite another to effectively ambush someone who is quite clearly mortified at the damage he thinks he has done and then to use it against him as part of a campaign.
The transcript of the conversation between Brown and Janes does not make for easy reading. Janes is convinced that her son's life could have been saved if there were more helicopters available, a view she is fully entitled to, but not one that she can actually prove, or be proved without a full coroner's report, which will probably take years considering the current backlog (indeed, we now know that a helicopter was sent after the explosion which ultimately killed Janes). Brown goes out of his way to not argue with her without agreeing with her, and as before, is clearly desperately wishing he wasn't having the conversation. This isn't because he can't face up to the consequences of what he is asking the army to do for him, which clearly affects him hugely, but almost certainly because he knows there is almost nothing he can say that will placate a grieving mother, nor can he think of it while actually in conversation with her. Time, while a healer, also allows for far greater consideration and with it, eloquence, which the prime minister displayed at today's press conference. If he had said during the phone call what he did today to the media, it might just have satisfied Mrs Janes that little bit more. As it was, Brown was right to disagree when she claimed there were 25 spelling mistakes (there were 4 or 5 at most) and that he had spelt both her name and her son's name wrong (unclear on the family name, while he did get his name right, if scruffily). Probably the most instructive lines of all though come towards the end:
GB: Whatever information you've been given, that is not correct. But I don't want to interact in a political debate about this...
JJ: No that's fine. Nor do I.
Whether Mrs Janes did or not at the time, or still does, as a result of handing the Sun the conversation this has become a political debate. As the Heresiarch correctly points out, this isn't about the letter. This is about the fact she has lost her son, with the letter simply being used as a vehicle for her anguish. It just so happens that her belief that the military are being underfunded and betrayed by the politicians is exactly the same one which the Sun holds, or at least pretends to hold. Grief is the motivator, and while money might well have changed hands between the paper and the Mrs Janes, the real issue here is both the exploitation of Mrs Janes for political and personal gain and the low and dirty methods used. Did the prime minister after all imagine that what he must have thought was a confidential and private phone call would be recorded and reproduced in a newspaper, to be used, as yesterday's Sun editorial put it, as evidence of his "underlying disregard for the military"?
If that was the Sun's intention, then it seems to have backfired spectacularly. Yesterday the consensus, across the political spectrum, seemed to be that this was an unpleasant non-story, with some feeling sympathy for Brown. Today that appears to have turned to overwhelming distaste at the reproduction of the conversation, and with even more defending the prime minister even while disliking the man and his policies. Most dangerously for the Sun itself, its own readers at least on the website also seem to be in the majority taking Brown's side, with some even taking pot shots at Mrs Janes herself. This is especially intriguing, as this is hardly the first time the Sun has used grieving parents to demand political change, without them being attacked in the fashion to which Mrs Janes has been by some. Partially this is because of the view of some that those who choose to join the army know the risks of the "job", but it's also because while Sun readers often favour the draconian policies on crime which the paper espouses, they are far more sceptical on Afghanistan, despite the paper's complete support for the war.
Furthermore, the paper's own journalists seem unsure of the attack on Brown which they've launched. The Graun claims that Tom Newton Dunn, the new political editor, having previously been the paper's defence correspondent, wanted the story to put more emphasis on Brown's eyesight with its impact on his handwriting, despite him supposedly being the man who wrote the original report. Even more significant is that Murdoch himself, while obviously supporting the change of support from Labour to the Conservatives, apparently "regrets" it. If he objects to the highly personal turn the criticism has taken, new editor Dominic Mohan will swiftly know about it. It's also curious that despite the high profile the story has taken, that there was no editorial comment today on the interview.
The biggest indictment of the Sun's story though is not just that it has undermined the claim that Brown has "underlying disregard" for the military, that it has so misread the mood of its own readers that they have came out in sympathy with him, but that it has actually deflected the debate away from government strategy on Afghanistan onto the personal and, ultimately, the newspaper itself. This is, as Labour themselves have argued, been a campaign to damage the prime minister, and an unfair one at that. David Cameron might well be concerned with just what kind of partner he has jumped into bed with.
Monday, 9 November 2009
Two days later, and the paper attacks Gordon Brown for err, dedicating his "every waking moment" to the fate of our forces out in Afghanistan. Not only did Brown "fail to bow" at the Cenotaph, quite clearly a concious snub to Our Boys, but he also sent a "bloody shameful" letter to Jacqui Janes, mother of Jamie Janes, killed on October the 5th in Afghanistan. Brown's crime was to write it in his almost illegible handwriting, as well as possibly mistaking their surname for James instead of Janes (it isn't clear whether Brown has written James instead of Janes; his n and m look very similar) and to make a number of spelling mistakes. According to Mrs Janes, who has naturally given the Sun an exclusive video interview, she was so angered by the letter she threw it across the room and burst into tears:
"I re-read it later. He said, 'I know words can offer little comfort'. When the words are written in such a hurry the letter is littered with more than 20 mistakes, they offer NO comfort.
"It was an insult to Jamie and all the good men and women who have died out there. How low a priority was my son that he could send me that disgraceful, hastily-scrawled insult of a letter?
"He finished by asking if there was any way he could help.
"One thing he can do is never, ever, send a letter out like that to another dead soldier's family. Type it or get someone to check it. And get the name right."
Of course, once she had finished chucking it across the room, she got on the phone to the Sun. In fact, there's nothing to suggest that the letter was hastily-scrawled: Brown's handwriting is simply that bad. As someone whose handwriting is also close to being illegible unless I write out every letter individually, which makes you look even more like a child, and who also has a surname which is very easily misspelled, which while annoying is hardly the end of the world, it's difficult not to have some sympathy for Brown. Clearly he wants the letter to have the personal touch, something that a word processed expression of condolences wouldn't have, and just what do you say to the parent of someone who's just lost their son in a war you sent him to fight without slipping into the obvious, the clichéd and the torturous? Yes, he should have perhaps been more careful with the spelling and especially with the names, but has it really come to the point where we think that personal letters written with the very best of intentions are acceptable material to attack the prime minister with?
The Sun it seems, having up until very recently having supported the prime minister, even if it didn't blow smoke up his backside like it did his predecessor, has decided to attack Brown over the very trivial things it was alarmed he was involving himself in. Not being able to disagree with him over policy on Afghanistan, on which he only fails to be as gung-ho as they are, they've decided that such perceived slights are "more evidence of Mr Brown's underlying disregard for the military". After all, nothing quite says you disregard the military like not acting like a hunchback in front of the Cenotaph, or err, writing a personal letter to the bereaved. This also ties in with, according to the Sun, his "half-hearted attitude to the war in Afghanistan". This half-hearted attitude involves his increasing the number of troops by 500, and yet another speech last Friday on just why we're in the country. His speech did have a contradiction at its heart, but the reason for this is that Brown is trying to please everyone: he has no intention of getting us out, but knows as public opinion turns against the war and against the corrupt Karzai government, he has to put down some "conditions" for their continued presence, even if they're false ones. If Brown is being half-hearted, then so too is President Obama, still undecided on whether to increase the US troop numbers by 40,000, as requested by the army. Seeing as we rely on the Americans, we're waiting on them as much as everyone else is.
Even by the Sun's complete lack of any standards, this must rank as one of the lowest attacks to be launched on a politician in recent times. Not only is it without any foundation whatsoever, but the newspaper seems to think it's perfectly acceptable to use an individual, in this instance a grieving mother, to attack someone for their own ends, someone as pointed above which up until a month ago they were giving their nominal support to. As Mr Eugenides also suggests, it says more about that person that her first instinct on getting the letter was to phone the Sun to complain about the handwriting than it does about the person who took the time to write it. Clearly, we've now gone beyond the point where Brown will be attacked by the Sun on the virtue of his actual policies, it's now "bucket of shit" time, where anything and everything that he does which they decide is wrong will be pointed out and complained about. Going by the Sun's past record when it comes to smearing Labour politicians, the election campaign coming up could be quite something.
Friday, 6 November 2009
But even when The Sun is being nice and sensitive it still can't help but have a little dig.
One of the soldiers, Warrant Officer Darren Chant, was expecting to become a father again with his wife Nausheen.
As you could guess, Nausheen is not a typical British name. Nausheen, according the article, is a non-practising Muslim. I do not know her and non-practising means different things to different people, but looking at the pictures published in the paper of her marriage, a white Christian wedding, it looks like she is not a Muslim at all. Nausheen's parents may be, but that doesn't mean she is.
And here's the bit that's got me. In the article there is only one reference to Nausheen being a Muslim. It is referred to in a casual way. In a way that newspapers refer to people's jobs, "John, a carpenter from Wilsdon...". That isn't a problem, especially in this type of story. It adds a bit of background, helps you to know the people in it, to empathise with them (although it doesn't mention anyone else's religion, practising or otherwise).
The point is Nausheen's religion is such a small part of the story, it's inconsequential.
So why the headline on the front page of the print edition and the trail on the website of...
Why add the word 'Muslim'? The fact that Nausheen is a Muslim, however dedicated, is not central to the article, it is irrelevant. The Sun doesn't add other peoples religion to headlines or stories when it has no bearing on it, so why in this case? Isn't this type of thing normally reserved for derogatory use?
I am not saying the Sun can't mention peoples ethnicity or religion, as I said earlier, it's bit of background, a bit of colour in the picture. To stick it in the headline when it has no relevance at all, especially with the Suns' previous with Muslims, it's well, maybe they just stuck it in with out thinking, eh?
Wednesday, 4 November 2009
“Why are girls having sex so young?” Jane Moore demands in today’s print edition of the Sun. Her article is inspired by the number of 14-year-old girls having abortions – which has increased from 135 to 166 over two years. (On a side note, that’s an increase of 31 girls and may have something to do with rising population.)
However the statistics are interpreted, no one would argue that 14-year-olds having abortions isn’t worrying. But the way Moore discusses the issue shows a disregard for the context in which she writes:“A spokesman for the Department of Health said extra funds had been invested in contraceptive services… It’s not the bloody point.
The issue here is self esteem… the early sexualisation of young girls.”
This of course is the paper where 18-year-old Rosie from Middlesex can happily strip off on Page 3. I’m not familiar with Rosie’s work, but one might guess this high-profile shoot isn’t her first. But she’s 18 now. So that’s OK.
Tuesday, 3 November 2009
Facebook has, predictably, fallen over and played dead. It's signed up with the IWF, probably because it knows full well that the organisation doesn't "drive out perverts" as the Sun seems to imagine it does.
The Sun's editorial team have arrived rather late to the nonsense surrounding Andrew Neather and the claim that somehow the immigration of the last few years was all a plot to create a multiracial hell-hole, but that doesn't make up for just how wrong it is:
That's because Downing Street whistleblower Andrew Neather has revealed that uncontrolled, mass immigration was a deliberate, covert policy cooked up by Mr Brown and Tony Blair to transform Britain into a multicultural melting-pot.
Err, except as Neather himself said:
"There was no plot," said Neather. He pinpointed a shift in immigration policy in 2001, when he wrote a speech for Roche outlining changes to make it easier for skilled workers to come to the UK. The speech followed a sensitive report on migration from the Downing Street performance and innovation unit.
"Multiculturalism was not the primary point of the report or the speech. The main goal was to allow in more migrant workers at a point when – hard as it is to imagine now – the booming economy was running up against skills shortages," Neather wrote in the Standard.
He admitted he had a sense from several discussions at the time that there was a subsidiary purpose of boosting diversity and undermining the right's opposition to multiculturalism, but Neather insisted it was not the main point at issue.
"Somehow this has become distorted by excitable rightwing newspaper columnists into being a 'plot' to make Britain multicultural. There was no plot. I've worked closely with Ms Roche and Jack Straw and they are both decent, honourable people who I respect … What's more both were robust on immigration when they needed to be. Straw had driven through a tough Immigration and Asylum Act in 1999 and Roche had braved particularly cruel flak from the left over asylum seekers."
The Sun has even further distorted Neather's original point into it somehow being Brown and Blair as the scheming geniuses behind this sinister plot. Obviously they can't imagine the average Sun reader will be able to recall Jack Straw, let alone Barbara Roche, which says a lot more about them that it does about their actual customers.
So when Mr Johnson admits it has caused a "strain" on jobs and public services, remember this:
We used to have rely on Margaret Hodge to help the BNP. Now it seems the Sun is willing to take up the reins. And of course:
We have repeatedly voiced those views. But, like all opponents of Labour's lunatic open-door policy, we were branded "racist" and ignored.
The Sun, ignored? Chance would be a fine thing!
Sunday, 1 November 2009
Anyone will instantly recognise it as trails left by aeroplanes.
By the way, is it a good sign that no-one was actually willing to be credited with this article and instead it was allegedly written by "Staff Reporter"? Is this the Sun's version of the Daily Mail's infamous "Daily Mail Reporter"?