'How 175 BBC staff got it wrong' tells us about how Mail City Editor Alex Brummer didn't like the the BBC's US election night coverage because it wasn't as whizzy as US channels, which he helpfully points out are 'all available to anyone with Sky'. (Note to Alex Brummer - having 175 staff in a country to cover an election is never going to be as good as having your entire company based in the country). More desperate than that is 'Here is the nightie-time news: Sophie looks dressed for bed', which brings us the damning truth about how the Mail didn't like the blouse Sophie Raworth wore when she presented the news on Tuesday.
Such pitiful offerings follow the paper's aborted attempt to ignite a new outrage involving Jeremy Clarkson's joke about truck drivers murdering prostitutes. That push was a spectacular failure, and offers a rare opportunity to see a quick reverse-ferret from the Mail as it clearly misjudges its own audience.
When I blogged about the story in 'All aboard the hypocrisy express', the Clarkson story headline was ''Anger at Clarkson's joke that truck drivers 'murder prostitutes' launches BBC into fresh controversy''. You can still see an approximate version over in the Metro, which howls in typical form about the joke.
As the day wore on, the paper's coverage softened until we were left with 'Ofcom clears Clarkson over jibe that truck drivers 'murder prostitutes' after BBC receives more than 500 complaints', which suspiciously clear of outrage and denuded of quotes from 'a spokeswoman from English Collective of Prostitutes'. The new story emphasises the BBC's defence of Clarkson, strips out some of the criticism and leaves us with a distinctly different message from the original.
No version of the story even saw the light of day in dead tree version of the paper, beyond a rather forlorn two sentences tacked on the end of 'BBC juggernaut is out of control': Greedy broadcaster drives out rivals, MPs told'.
So, what gives? The paper clearly had the scent of fresh blood in its nostrils in the morning and you'd expect the doubling of complaints during the day to get the saliva flowing even more. Ofcom's clearing could easily been used to harp on about, "the self-appointed, self-obsessed, metropolitan narcissists who control so much of our public life." They won't even investigate complaints about jokes calling truck drivers murderers. Hell in a handcart. You couldn't make it up. They don't like it up 'em. And so on.
There are a couple of reasons why the outrage fizzled out. Firstly, the paper had lost its partner in outrage, The Sun. The Sun's coverage was headlined 'For truck's sake ... it's only a joke', and said:
But yesterday real-life lorry drivers said they found the joke HILARIOUS — and agreed it was in no way malicious.The BBC might be a commercial rival of Rupert Murdoch, but Clarkson is a columnist for the Sun and the Times. Of course it won't attack its own.
Mail readers would probably count Clarkson as one of their own, too. He's a 'dazzling hero of political incorrectness' after all. The story seems to have confused right wing blogger Donal Blaney, (via Eric the Fish) who commented:
Leftists and ecofascists have waited years to get Jeremy Clarkson. In the current hysteria following the justified sacking of Russell Brand and the suspension of Jonathan Ross (not to mention the criminal prosecution that ought to follow their antics too), the presenter of Top Gear is in trouble - for insulting truck drivers and prostitutes.Which he follows by linking to the leftists and ecofascists at the Daily Mail. (The original version of the story, not the most recent more apologetic one). It's easy to see how Mail readers would be similarly confused.
Lastly though, my observation in 'All aboard the hypocrisy express' wasn't a particularly original one. Others brought up Littlejohn's comments calling murdered prostitutes 'disgusting, drug-addled street whores' and saying that their death was no great loss. Although the paper is no stranger to hypocrisy, it probably didn't want attention being drawn to Littlejohn's comments about real murder victims, which were ten times as nasty as Clarkson's throwaway joke about nobody in particular.
Of course, the whole thing shows how little the paper cared about Clarkson's joke in the first place. All that mattered is that it was a handy stick to beat the BBC with, and the hack involved snatched it up. The problem is that they forgot that there's a flipside to the rule about it only being Political Correctness when someone else does it. When people we like get silenced, it's Political Correctness Gone Mad. It's only when people we don't like get silenced that it is 'a stunning victory for common decency over the self-appointed, self-obsessed, metropolitan narcissists who control so much of our public life.'