'EXTREMELY ACCURATE AND FAIR': why we've all been so wrong about The Daily Mail

Daily Mail journalist Peter Oborne appeared on the recent episode of BBC Question Time, and imparted wisdom to the British public on simply superlative scale. In fact, rarely has the BBC‘s political debate show hosted such thoughtful and objective argument.

When an audience member raised a rather small and insignificant matter, eg: that millions of people in this country have been brainwashed with lies and venom spewed from The Daily Mail every day for years, the veteran journalist came back swinging with an absolute haymaker:

The Mail is an extremely accurate and fair paper.

The reaction really said it all.

The Question Time audience momentarily thought they were attending an evening of stand-up. And the poor journalist’s befuddled face was quite a sight to behold:

Bless. Oborne seemed genuinely confused to hear so many people laughing and jeering. He just couldn’t understand it. And like a moth to a flame, he soared straight into more unwitting satire:

You may not like it, but it’s read by an awful lot of people, honourable decent people, clearly I imagine a lot of you in this audience. It’s a great newspaper. It doesn’t tell lies.

Yep. Because “honourable and decent people” thrive and feed upon stuff like this:

“Extremely accurate”

It’s worth noting that Wikipedia recently ruled The Daily Mail can no longer be cited as a reliable newspaper source, offering numerous examples why. This article by George Bowden for The Huffington Post goes into greater detail.

The tabloid has been forced to retract countless headlines and stories over the years, and numerous writers and journalists have documented its lies and misconstrued “accuracy”.  

Here are but three:

10 Egregiously False Stories In The ‘Daily Mail’

Populist theory

As ever with the right-wing, Oborne seems to think that ‘popularity’ automatically equates as ‘righteous’. That ‘democracy’ can and should be used to justify any and all manner of odious, bigoted, and oppressive policies.

If six people in a room vote they should batter the living sh*t out of the remaining four, simply because their ringleader says it’s a good idea, that doesn’t make the policy noble or somehow ethically/morally correct.

One might also point out to Oborne, that sexually transmitted diseases are actually fairly popular in Britain too. That detail doesn’t somehow mean they’re a good thing. Or that they care about their intended ‘host’.

This right-wing pretence that democracy should be ‘respected’ above all is simply a convenient populist sham. Those who oppose Tory rule do respect it – it’s exactly why they fight so hard. The idea behind democracy is that all voices are represented. If only one of the competing teams has a 10,000 watt sound-system, and they’re simply able to drown out all the other voices, technically it ceases to be a ‘real’ democracy. Instead, that’s more what we generally refer to as a ‘propaganda state’. (Something likely to get inordinately worse under Theresa May’s continued desperate, scrambled premiership.)

Rotten from the top down

It should be acknowledged that some respected left-wing commentators came to Oborne’s defence for his laughable comments:

This may well be true. Only a quite short-sighted and absolutist person would assume that every writer and journalist working for The Daily Mail is somehow corrupt; intrinsically evil. They doubtlessly have some very talented people on the team; probably even a few with good intentions. But does it matter, when the person pulling the strings at the top has a very discernible and insidious  agenda?

Some have rightly questioned whether the editor of The Daily Mail, Paul Dacre, is in fact the most dangerous man in Britain:

The Guardian report into Dacre’s character and dealings, referencing the book ‘Mail Men’ by Adrian Addison (ISBN-10: 1782399704) explains why his leadership has led the tabloid down such a coarse and unpleasant route.

There is a pecking order in all things. The people at the top always call the shots: their will is the ultimate goal, and everyone below them fears for their livelihood. Feudalism becomes the natural order, unless legislation prevents it. “Fairness and accuracy” don’t come from those lower down the food-chain following directives blindly. Those ethics only arise when lowlier people dare to question the autonomy and agendas of their superiors, even if it’s to their detriment.

That takes extreme courage. Especially in times of economic difficulty and uncertainty. And it’s that extra measure of bravery that many working for The Daily Mail lack – not necessarily journalistic ability.

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