Category Archives: the Sun

The Sun sinks to a new low.

The Sun – Wednesday, June 1st 2011

Ignore the puns, ‘Despot the difference’, ‘Sepptic Blatter’, they are not the most shocking, incomprehensible issue on this latest front page from The Sun ; no, once again it’s the sentiment which is questionable.

Whatever Brian Flynn, the writer of the piece, may think of the alleged shortcomings of the FIFA President, Sepp Blatter, – and The Sun may hold a grudge against the man :

– to compare his actions with those of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, leader of Libya and a man with a warrant from the ICC for his arrest for war crimes, whose actions led directly to the deaths of so many of his own people, is plainly ridiculous. 

Whichever way you look at it, to equate the alleged ‘crimes’ of Sepp Blatter with those of a man of the calibre of Gaddafi is to exaggerate one and understate the other.


The Sun has always sought to shock and discomfit it’s readers. This front page does that incredibly well. Unfortunately, more for the crassness of its treatment of two issues on wholly different levels of importance. Despicable journalism – yet again.

Media influence in the ‘Baby P’ case: positive or negative?

Sharon Shoesmith and team following Appeal Court ruling.

Yesterday, the Court of Appeal handed down the ruling that Sharon Shoesmith, former Director of Children’s Services of Haringey Council, had been unlawfully dismissed following the death of ‘Baby P’ (Peter Connolly) at the hands of his Mother and her partner. 


A timeline of the events surrounding and subsequent to Peter Connolly’s death can be found here

Sharon Shoesmith, since the verdict was announced yesterday, has given an interview on BBC Radio 4, during which she clearly feels that she was not given sufficient opportunity to answer accusations against her. A recording of that interview can be found here.

How much did the media affect the way Parliament and the public dealt with a difficult, emotional issue?

This little boy’s murder affected many people and became the focus of displays of anger and frustration throughout the country. 

The public were quite naturally appalled by the murder of Peter Connolly and wanted answers as to how it had happened under the watchful eyes of social workers and medical practitioners.

 The media took up the cry for justice and retribution. There were increasingly shrill calls in print and from television screens for the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, and his Children’s Minister, Ed Balls, to deliver ‘someone’ to blame and to punish.. 



The Government was subjected to enormous pressure to bring about a speedy end to what was by then considered by the public and politicians in Opposition, the Tories and Libdems, inordinate delay in investigating the obvious problems within the relevant department at Haringey Council.

At Prime Minister’s Questions in the Commons Chamber on November 12th 2008, matters soon reached a vitriolic pitch: Video of exchanges between Gordon Brown and David Cameron.

The press began to call for heads to roll and, although both Brown and Balls insisted they would take more time to make a judgement after two recently completed official reports on the conduct of Haringey Social Services officials, in a press conference on Monday December 1st 2008, Balls removed Sharon Shoesmith from her post.

Some examples of newspaper articles from that time:
 
Daily Mail

Telegraph 

The Sun, in particular campaigned for sackings at Haringey Social Services and a petition signed by 1.2m people was delivered by the sack load to Downing Street.

Excerpt from article in the Sun on 26th November 2008, (the words in bold print are as they appeared in the original article):
 

 “And as the biggest ever newspaper petition was delivered Children’s Secretary Ed Balls gave The Sun a clear hint that heads MAY roll following an emergency probe into the scandal in Haringey, North London.

Baby P died of horrific injuries last year following months of abuse after social services allowed him to stay with his twisted mother and stepdad.

The Sun petition demands the SACKING of social workers Sharon Shoesmith, Maria Ward, Sylvia Henry and Gillie Christou. And it calls for the doctor in the case, Sabah Al Zayyat, to be DISCIPLINED for failing to spot the 17-month-old’s broken spine. 

Mr Balls made it clear he will wait until he receives the report into the failings on Monday before acting. He refused to single out individuals. And he insisted he would not act out of anger – but after a full study of the report.”

Today, May 28th 2011, the media are running with the Court of Appeal’s decision and in several newspapers are articles with a definite bias against Ms. Shoesmith. Those same papers who whipped up all of the fury and hatred in 2008. Ms Shoesmith, should she win the next round of appeals on behalf of the Government, stands to be awarded a large amount of compensation.

Judging by the tone of some of the most resent press, she should perhaps prepare for some very negative publicity:

Mirror 

Daily Mail  1

Daily Mail  2
Telegraph 
Mail on Sunday Comment 

Is the battle to sell newspapers and raise ratings making it impossible for legislators and politicians to come to rational decisions in a calm and thoughtful way? How much does the media in this country dictate the agenda and tempo of our lives?

Why allow the truth to get in the way of vicious calumny?

This is the front page of today’s Mail on Sunday. Just above the main headline, in itself quite a clever if hyperbolic pun, is a lie. 

Next to an image of Gordon Brown is a headline suggesting that yet another piece of evidence, trumpeted as ‘EXCLUSIVE’, has been been uncovered by the paper and will merely add to a long list of reasons to hate this man.

Anyone catching sight of the cover would immediately be given the impression that this selfish, heartless and despicable ex-Prime Minister had turfed a heavily pregnant woman out of her seat on a plane so that he could enjoy sumptuous luxury!

Were you to read the accompanying article (Istyosty link)  inside the paper, however, you would find a completely different, and more truthful, account of what actually happened.

The story in the Mail on Sunday journalist Glen Owen’s words unfolds thus:

Gordon Brown sparked a mutiny on a British Airways flight after he was blamed for an attempt to downgrade a heavily pregnant woman and Red Cross doctor into more cramped seats.
The extraordinary scenes – dubbed Mutiny On The Brown-ty – unfolded on a flight from Abu Dhabi to London, when passengers lost their seats before the former Prime Minister’s six-strong entourage got on board.
It prompted an angry war of words with an ‘aggressive’ Brown aide, and led to a formal complaint to BA and an offer of compensation described as ‘derisory’ by those involved.

During the first, hour-long leg from Oman to Abu Dhabi, the displaced passengers stared resentfully at the six empty seats in business class, known as Club World by BA.
At Abu Dhabi they were livid to see Mr Brown board the plane with his team and take up the £3,000-a-head places.
The passengers immediately concluded that they had been ‘bumped’ to make way for Mr Brown, a suggestion the airline strongly denies.

According to the Mail on Sunday, an argument ensued. We’re left in no doubt as to who were the more aggressive passengers and who were the innocent.

Then comes perhaps the humorous aspect of the piece. Apparently, Gordon Brown’s people and BA have conspired to try to limit the embarassment:

A spokeswoman for the airline said Mr Brown’s arrival on the flight was a coincidence, and he had been unfairly blamed by the mutinous passengers.

‘The situation had absolutely nothing to do with Gordon Brown,’ she said. ‘We have apologised to [the complainant] and we have offered to pay compensation.

‘It is very rare for a customer not to be able to travel in the cabin that they have booked and we are extremely sorry that this happened on this flight. Gordon Brown and his party were booked in advance and were not involved in any way.’

 And from Gordon Brown’s office:
  

Mr Brown’s office was contacted on Friday. Yesterday afternoon, his spokeswoman sent a text message saying ‘I assume you have read the BA statement and are now not ¬≠running the story’, making it clear that BA and the former PM’s office had been in discussions.

She released a statement that said: ‘As BA has made clear, the arrangements were nothing to do with Mr Brown, who had booked his flight and seats well in advance and made no requests for – nor received – any special treatment.
‘As BA will confirm, all questions about bookings, overbookings and allocations of seats are not – and could not be – a matter for Mr Brown but for British Airways.’

  
They try so hard to pin the rap on their victim, that although the whole episode turns out to have been a malicious piece of fiction from a discontented traveller, they place the hook to a potentially harmful piece on the front page so that an impression is given even if not warranted.

The Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday have ‘previous’ where this particular victim is concerned:

Note use of words: ‘SQUALID’, ‘cynically’, ‘bids’.

This was one of many front pages which graced the newsstands just after the General Election in May 2010. The Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats were negotiating a deal which would pave the way for a coalition of the two parties. 

The deposed Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, was obliged to remain temporarily at No 10 Downing Street until the Queen had formally invited David Cameron to take over as Prime Minister. Despite many explanations as to why he had not left after five days, all of the Right – leaning press and Sky News simply ‘neglected’ to publicise the reason for his remaining in place.

 ‘SQUATTER’, HOLED UP’,

The Sun was relentless in its assertion that Gordon Brown was behaving in an unreasonable manner.

The examples here are just a snapshot of the lengths to which certain papers will go in order to blacken and discredit a subject. 

Perhaps Gordon Brown is fair game? Perhaps any celebrity written about in sneering or untruthful articles, or pictured in unflattering poses is fair game? Shouldn’t they perhaps expect such treatment as part of being in the public eye?

That aside, what about the reader? Do we not deserve truth and balance? How many of us read an article in one of the papers renowned for its propensity for fiction and bias and think twice before swallowing the bait hook line and sinker?

There are times when it is crucial that the public have the truth laid before them, when the media have an absolute duty to be honest and balanced.

How many of us vote at an election after having been fed by the British media a pack of lies or manipulated facts and statistics deliberately concocted to sway our opinion? I fear the number would be far greater than we think….


Rosie Robertson