The media and trust

25 Feb

My least favourite newspaper, The Daily Mail, has reported that there is an historical link between Harriet Harmon, deputy leader of the Labour Party, and a paedophile group, which dates back to the nineteen seventies. There are accurate points about this. Harriet Harmon was the legal representative to the National Council for Civil Liberties and the Paedophile Information Exchange was affiliated for a time to this organisation. There were several hundred groups affiliated to NCCL and PIE seems to have slipped under the radar. There is no direct link whatsoever between Harriet Harmon and PIE. The Daily Mail has been at great pains to suggest one.

There are some questions to ask here: firstly, could there be political bias in the Mail’s efforts to promote this non-story? Secondly, does the Mail have a history of telling half truths and downright lies? The answer to the first question is that the Mail is the most biased and right-wing of the national newspapers. As to the second question, the Mail is officially the least accurate newspaper or magazine. I take this figure from the data of the now defunct Press Complaints Commission. Over the last five years of its existence the PCC published the numbers of complaints and those upheld. The Daily Mail was top of both lists. Together with The Mail on Sunday, the paper accounted for very nearly half the complaints generated. Despite being a toothless bulldog the PCC found against The Mail on more occasions than any other newspaper or magazine. It accounted for as many instructions to print apologies as all the others added together.

My reaction to this non-story is that I will disbelieve anything the Mail prints on principal. It has lied and lied and lied. It has a long and dishonourable history of lying and of promoting extreme right-wing groups. Look up its support of the British Fascists in the 1930’s and tacit, sometimes active support of Hitler. Look at the production of the Zinoviev Letter in the nineteen twenties. These days it lies about immigration, inventing negative stories. It lies about the European Union. It supports the aims of The United Kingdom Independence Party, a bunch of racist nutters. It is also the second most popular newspaper in the country. Do not buy this newspaper, and if anyone quotes a story from its pages, challenge them.

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