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Silver-level articleDaily Mail

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...the most time-efficient way to read the [Daily Mail] is to read the headline, the first paragraph, the last paragraph and just interpolate the rest from experience.
—Armondikov, RationalWiki[1]

The Daily Mail (aka, Daily Fail, Daily Heil, and so on), is a reactionary tabloid rag masquerading as a "traditional values," middle-class newspaper that is, in many ways, the worst of the British gutter press (only Rupert Murdoch's Sun is worse). Its weighty Sunday counterpart is the Mail on Sunday.

The Daily Mail is to the U.K. what the New York Post is to the United States, and what the Drudge Report is to the Internet: to wit, gossipy tabloid "journalism" for those who cannot digest serious news, with a flippantly wingnut editorial stance. The Daily Mail is notable among British tabloids for rejecting the standard red-top banner order to try to appear more upmarket and respectable, although it does sometimes go in for the full front-page picture or headline characteristic of the working class rags. It is also notorious for its frequent harassment of individuals, campaigns of hate directed at various minorities, and willfully deceiving and lying to its readers.

Contents

History

The Daily Mail was founded in 1896 by Lord Northcliffe who amassed a newspaper empire which also included The Daily Mirror, The Times, the Sunday Times, The Observer, Sunday Dispatch and The Evening News. However, it was under the proprietorship of Lord Rothermere that in 1924 it achieved some notoriety by publishing the Zinoviev letter, a forged document which indicated that British Communists were planning violent revolution. This had a significant influence on the outcome of the general election four days later which resulted in defeat for the Labour Party.

During the 1930s the Daily Mail was sympathetic to German and Italian fascism as Rothermere was friendly with both Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. An article by Rothermere printed in the paper also praised the British Union of Fascists leader, Oswald Mosley, for "sound, commonsense, Conservative doctrine."[2]

Viewpoints

A real Daily Mail front page. Did you know that blacks have 18 more kids than middle-class white people?

The Mail is the furthest right of all UK newspapers, along with the Daily Express. Although some of the red-top tabloids might throw about more extreme rhetoric, their laddish attitude often means they're not taken too seriously - the Mail, however is entirely Serious Business. Their primary editorial stances are:

A traditionally conservative tabloid (by UK standards), The Mail is currently blaming the European Union and European immigration to Britain for the economic crisis in Britain. It likes to incite its readers against minorities with sensationalist headlines about the benefits immigrants receive and the threat they pose to British culture and security (almost always entirely founded on lies). It frequently reports that the country is "going to the dogs" and we're all going to die, while at the same time wondering why people are voting for the British National Party. Some British people find this amusing as the Mail's editorial stances are indistinguishable from BNP policies. It is exceptionally rare for the main headline to be unlinked to asylum seekers or "dangerous" foreigners in some way or another, regardless of the context of the story. Such as the case with Mahira Rustam Al-Azawi, who would otherwise just be another case of long-term fraud if it wasn't for the Mail slanting it toward her being an Iraqi asylum seeker.[3][4]

While the Mail does prefer to blame it all on Johnny Foreigner, other popular editorial villains include gypsies, the workshy, Young People Today, the public sector, the BBC[5] (which, in full Fox News style, it says has a strong liberal bias),[6] and anyone to the left of Norman Tebbit. For much of the late 2000s, the Mail had a major obsession with house prices and how they change, in either direction. Recent drops in UK house prices have sparked massive rage and panic across Mail headlines and front pages, despite these drops being a mere fraction the size of the insane increases that have occurred over the preceding decade. The Daily Mail headline generator pokes fun at these obsessions, with many randomly generated headlines asking whether immigrants are lowering house prices.[7] For the last few years, the Mail has also been the leading voice in demonising anyone who claims social benefits for any reason whatsoever.

Although these days the Daily Mail is rabidly eurosceptic, this was not always its editorial stance. In fact, during the 1930s, the paper was a big fan of a united European superstate. However, due to a deterioration in Britain's relationship with the Mail's favourite European statesman, the paper was obliged to reverse its stance on the issue rather suddenly in late 1939.

The Mail also occasionally expresses anti-American views. The aforementioned favourite European statesman once called America a "mongrel nation," and the Mail has rarely disagreed with this sentiment. One notable example occurred on 5 September 1956 in a commentary on the film The Blackboard Jungle, the first film with a rock-and-roll soundtrack. And what did the Mail's editorial writer think of the movie and of rock-and-roll?[8]

"It is deplorable. It is tribal. And it is from America. It follows ragtime, blues, jazz, hot cha-cha and the boogie-woogie, which surely originated in the jungle. We sometimes wonder whether this is the negro's revenge."

No doubt they would have preferred Pat Boone if he wasn't one of those nasty colonials, too.

Link bait

Racist in public, so you don't have to be.

—Russel Howard, Mock the Week

Some theories have emerged that the Daily Mail merely writes the trash that it does in order to provoke massive swarms of links and clicks to its website, thus milking its sponsors and advertisers for masses of cash. In response to this, the website ItsyOtsy was formed[9] with the intention of storing Daily Mail articles on a proxy server so that people could read them without contributing to the Mail's view count. Not massively impressed with such an Evil Scheme, the Mail threatened the site with around £150,000 worth of legal action and a cease and desist order in August 2011.[10]

Writing staff

The Daily Mail's writers are often known for being stubbornly vitriolic conservatives, all of whom can turn a fly taking a shit on a scrapheap into a national outrage that threatens the very fabric of society itself. Whenever a mass health scare happens, you can almost guarantee that these people write more words on the subject than any informed and qualified science correspondent.

Notable ideologues include:

  • Peter Hitchens[11] - Hitchens was certainly at the forefront of bringing Tony Blair's son Leo into the arguments about the safety of the MMR vaccine; indeed, he went on about the kid and harassed Downing Street about it on an almost daily basis during the hoax. In more recent years, he's made an increasing number of anti-secularism rants.
  • Melanie Phillips[12] - A blogger once coined the phrase "I wouldn't wish it on anyone... except Melanie Phillips." She made George Monbiot's list of "top 10 climate change deniers."[13] A regular panel guest on the BBC's long-running politcal debate show Question Time, where she gleefully trolls the audience with her witch-like views.
  • Samantha Brick - Is constantly[14] banging on about just how fucking beautiful she is. Gained notoriety for this in 2012 when one of her articles, about how hard it was to be such a stunning specimen of visual human perfection because other women hated her for it, swept through the blogosphere like a turd attached to a tumbleweed made of LOLcats.
  • Amanda Platell[15] - A professional preacher and generally rather horrible person.
  • Richard Littlejohn[16] - Returned to the Mail in 2005 after a £800,000 per year deal to write for the The Sun. Has the honour of being titled "The Stupid Person's Jeremy Clarkson" and author of a book once described as a "recruiting pamphlet for the BNP." Amusingly parodied in Viz comic as 'Richard Littlecock.'
  • Quentin Letts[17] - His crowning achievements so far are, firstly, the claim, repeated in his book 50 People Who Buggered Up Britain, that Iraqi-born advertising executive and art connoisseur Charles Saatchi has done more damage to Britain than his countryman, the genocidal dictator Saddam Hussein. His second is trying to have an entire theatre shut down because he didn't much like a play they put on. Arsehole.
  • David Rose - Originally known for hyping Iraqi WMD stories, he later issued a partial "oops" for penning the stories.[18] He then turned his skills to promoting global warming denial and got caught quote mining scientists and pushing denialist talking points numerous times.[19]

Femail

...it's not really a conventional news site at all, more a big online bin full of pictures of reality stars, with the occasional Stephen Glover column lobbed in to lighten the mood.

Charlie Brooker[20]

"Femail" (besides being an amusing pun) is The Daily Mail's specific "women's section," dedicated to celebrities, their designer shoes, and random gossip. This is either one of the more depressing sections, or the only bit worth reading (as TV Tropes would say "your mileage may vary"). Femail dominates the right hand margin of the Mail's website, meaning that even if you only care about the political or medical stances of the paper while reading online, you certainly won't be able to escape the latest mega-important headlines about Kim Kardashian's latest photo-shoot or Victoria Beckham's latest publicity stunt. Its ubiquity on the site is either due to the paper's dedication to the feminist cause, treating womens issues with equal importance or because their machismo-full male readers like to have one off the wrist to a drunk Lindsay Lohan in their lunch breaks. The Femail section is also the place to see the most sexually explicit images that Mail can find, from the racy outfits of pop starlets to nude photoshoots or wardrobe malfunctions of celebrities. The Mail has often received some criticism for this section and accusations of outright hypocrisy, as the paper frequently complains of sexualised images broadcast on British television before the watershed time, but seems to have no problem in broadcasting these images and more to the world on a website that has no watershed time at all.

Religion

While for, ooh, about 99.9% of the British population don't really give a fuck about religion, the Mail touts itself as the last bastion defence of 2000 years of UK Christian values. They stand defiant in the face of both the Muslim and the atheist threat, such as when the evil Beeb decided to remove the good and proper AD and BC in favour of CE and BCE... except nothing of the kind actually happened.[21] The BBC uses both, but the editor of the religion section of the website decided that BCE and CE were more appropriate religiously neutral terms, in line with the BBC's impartiality rather than its supposed atheistic bias. They even went so far as to needlessly imply that it was a Muslim man advancing his own agenda.[22] Essentially, like all religious fundamentalists and political fringe groups, the Mail is simply interpreting actual neutrality as a bias against them, rather than seeing their own biases and preferences for what they are.

Health

Cancer

The Mail is known for obsessing over dangers, from health scares (such as with MMR vaccine) to paedophiles. With cancer, the Mail have found possibly their greatest asset in attempting to scare their readers into doing a lot of crazy shit. Among the items claimed by the paper to cause cancer (based on "scientific" research) are mouth wash, oral sex, Pringles, and Facebook.[23][24] For the terminally confused (the Mail is sometimes inconsistent on the subject at best) a near-enough full record of everything is available.[25]

HPV

In April 2009, blogger The Lay Scientist noted an interesting discrepancy in the policy of the Daily Mail. On the British edition, known for its scare stories on health, there was a demand to stop the compulsory administration of the HPV cervical cancer vaccine. This is fair enough as these people will go against any medical treatment given away for free. However, on the Irish edition there was a campaign to "roll out the vaccine now!" demanding that the government issue it immediately - as in Ireland, it wasn't going to be issued as freely as in Britain. The Daily Mail and the Irish Daily Mail are owned by the same people and have the same (alleged) editorial stance - this wasn't a case of The Guardian saying one thing and The Express saying another. This has led to people declaring that the Mail's true position is "whatever the government is for, we're against."[26]

Cannabis and Schizophrenia

In October 2011, the Daily Mail printed an article that claimed "Just ONE cannabis joint can bring on schizophrenia as well as damaging memory."[27][28] This led to Dorothy Bishop, professor of neuroscience at Oxford University, awarding the Daily Mail the "Orwellian Prize for Journalistic Misrepresentation," for what he called "the worst misrepresentation of a scientific article in a national newspaper."[29] The Press Complaints Commission have refused to investigate it, though it's worth noting the article's author, Paul Dacre, is chairman of the PCC Editors’ Code of Practice Committee.[30] Shortly after winning the "award," the Daily Fail did nothing to correct the misrepresentation, though they changed "causes schizophrenia" to "causes episodes similar to schizophrenia."

Asbestos

One of the Daily Mail's star columnists, Christopher Booker, regularly takes up brave positions that run counter to science, fact and reality. These include 'scepticism' about climate change, a preference for 'intelligent design' over evolution and the belief that passive smoking is not bad for your health. He pushes even further with his own branch of reality by making repeated claims that white asbestos is "chemically identical to talcum powder" and the threat from it is so "vanishingly small" that a study by the UK's Health and Safety Executive had concluded that the danger was "insignificant" and with "arguably zero" risk of lung cancer.[31] As usual with the Mail, the UK's Health and Safety Executive does not agree with Booker and has described his claims regarding asbestos as "substantially misleading."[32] It's probably coincidental that Booker's claims are strikingly similar to those of the British Asbestos Industry.[33]

And now the weather

The Mail gets many of its weather stories from two companies, the ironically-named Exacta Weather and the management speak-tasic Positive Weather Solutions; their forecasters appear to have wide-ranging skills, from Ukrainian brides to stock photo models and sporters of emo hair. Thus far, they appear not have attained visibility in the field of meteorology. Thus the Mail appears to take its weather news from sources which are, shall we say, far from the action.[34]

Best of the Daily Fail

A spoof Daily Mail front page.

Here is a selection of some of the best - for the wrong reasons - articles put out by the Daily Mail:

  • Amanda Knox found guilty - the Mail decided to release the wrong pre-written story regarding the appeal of accused murderer Amanda Knox. Highlights include reactions from prosecutors who said they were delighted, a description of how she collapsed in a chair sobbing and would be placed on suicide watch. (Knox was actually declared "not-guilty" at the actual appeal, in case you missed the punchline.) The Mail wasn't the only paper to do this. The Sun also briefly had both versions of events on its website and both The Grauniad and Sky News also jumped the gun with the wrong verdict, but didn't start making stuff up to fill the word count. The thing is, the fact that a false story contained so much detail immediately calls into question the veracity of the details contained in the correct version, as both were blatantly written before the fact with plausible and widely applicable details in place.
  • "Hurrah for the Blackshirts!" was the Mail's front page headline on 8 July 1934. However, despite the Mail's efforts the British Union of Fascists never did achieve widespread popularity.
  • A strange, lonely and troubling death... - the controversial article by Jan Moir on the death of Stephen Gately, known for being quite shockingly homophobic and leaping to conclusions as if Moir had suddenly become an expert coroner. The article was originally titled "Why there was nothing 'natural' about Stephen Gately's death."[35]
  • Curiously absent from the Daily Mail's archives, in 1997 columnist Lynda Lee-Potter described Mo Mowlam, Labour MP and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, as an "only slightly effeminate Geordie trucker", due to her hair that looked like a wig and her recent weight gain. The paper was forced to apologise after it emerged that Mowlam had lost her hair due to cancer and that her weight gain was due to medication.
  • Hotel killers: Three female convicted murderers given jobs at same Travelodge, but neglects to mention that in at least one case the prisoner had already served 15-16 years of a sentence, and were eligible to apply for parole. Should we demand that they be locked-up forever, forced to live on unemployment benefits, or driven in to a life of crime? The Daily Mail isn't that specific, but on behalf of its angry befuddled readers the Mail demands that someone do something about this outrage!

See also

External links

Footnotes

  1. [1]
  2. http://www.voiceoftheturtle.org/dictionary/dict_h1.php#hurrah
  3. Metropolitan Police Press Release - Partnership working sees fraudster jailed
  4. Daily Mail - Iraqi asylum cheat who got £700,000 in benefits, three houses and private school for her son
  5. Mail Online - searching for "BBC"
  6. Mail Online- searching for "liberal bias" Articles are almost exclusively about the BBC
  7. Daily Mail-o-matic
  8. Steve Jones - Pop music and the press, p.114
  9. News Crud - ItsyOtsy
  10. Daily Mail Proxy Site IstyOsty Goes Down After Cease And Desist Order
  11. Daily Mail - Peter Hitchens
  12. Daily Mail - Melanie Phillips
  13. Monbiot's Top 10
  14. She was doing it long before the "women hate me because I'm beautiful" clusterfuck.
  15. Amanda Platell
  16. Richard Littlejohn
  17. Quentin Letts
  18. David Rose: Iraq leaders tricked us with WMD lies, but we must not get fooled again, I feel shame and regret for having supported the Iraq War...so why can't Tony Blair?
  19. See George Monbiot and Deep Climate on "Rosegate" and Tim Lambert's series for in-depth coverage.
  20. Guardian.co.uk - Charlie Brooker: When the Daily Mail calls rightwingers stupid, the result is dumbogeddon
  21. Reality check: has the BBC dropped the terms BC/AD?
  22. The Lay Scientist - How the BBC's dark forces of political correctness threaten the Christian era
  23. 20 Strange Things The Daily Mail Say Will Cause Cancer
  24. Russel Howard - The Daily Mail Cancer Song
  25. Kill or cure - Help to make sense of the Daily Mail’s ongoing effort to classify every inanimate object into those that cause cancer and those that prevent it.
  26. The Daily Mail: Campaigning both For AND Against the HPV Vaccine in Different Countries Simultaneously
  27. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/richard-shrubb/cannabis-does-not-cause-s_b_946149.html
  28. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2053486/cannabis-joint-cause-psychiatric-episodes-similar-schizophrenia-damaging-memory.html
  29. http://neurobonkers.com/2012/01/29/daily-mail-editor-paul-dacre-wins-the-orwellian-prize-for-journalistic-misrepresentation-just-one-cannabis-schizophrenia/
  30. http://www.pcc.org.uk/about/whoswho/committee.html
  31. http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/the-lay-scientist/2010/sep/27/asbestos-press-watchdog-pcc
  32. http://www.hse.gov.uk/press/record/2008/tel250508.htm
  33. http://britishasbestosnewsletter.org/ban48.htm#n1
  34. Do the weather forecasters used by the Daily Mail actually exist?
  35. Charlie Brooker - Why there was nothing 'human' about Jan Moir's column on the death of Stephen Gately
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