One of the things that's difficult about writing about the tabloids (which I occasionally do now) is keeping up with the pretence that they're actually acting in good faith, and the 'mistakes' that turn up in articles are the result of laziness, poor judgement or incompetence; they're never, ever deliberate.  I fail miserably at that from time to time, as you may have noticed.

There's a good example of an *ahem* 'mistake' in yesterday's Mail. 'Failed asylum seeker who has dodged deportation for a decade told he can stay... because he goes to the GYM', it says, shouting the last word inexplicably. I might start trying that in real life. 'Good morning EVERYONE! How was your WEEKEND? Did you get up to anything NICE?'

Anyway, I'm digressing.  This headline firstly makes the, uh, 'mistake' of saying in the headline that some failed asylum seeker dodged deportation for a decade when the story itself points out he didn't arrive until 2005. But secondly, and I might be nitpicking a bit here, he hasn't escaped deportation because he goes to the gym.  That's two statements of fact in the headline that are complete nonsense.

This is all reminiscent of catgate earlier this month, where Theresa May said someone avoided deportation because he had a cat, repeating a story that had been debunked two years ago, and got called out on it by everyone. Everyone except the Mail, which splashed a front page headline about how she was right despite three vital pieces of evidence to the contrary.  These were:

  1. She was wrong.
  2. No really, no-one escaped deportation because they had a cat. 
  3. The Press Complaints Commission had already apparently notified the Mail that this story was bunk last time they tried it and someone complained.
Christ knows how Dacre would defend this behaviour in front of the Leveson Inquiry, but I'm sure he'd find a way to polish the turd. Probably talking about a free press and trying hard and a corrections column on page 2.

I mean, there's no way those fine, if time-pressed, upstanding men and women of speaking truth to power at the Mail could ever have looked at that original PCC rebuke and thought, 'Great! The PCC will never do anything about this shite unless the guy himself or his lawyer complains! We can pick any old shit out of any decision and pretend away!'

That never happened, of course, and there's really a proper argument that can be made to say he was allowed to stay because he went to the gym. Except, you know, he wasn't.

Hey, if one of the people do ever complain, the paper might need to put something in the corrections column on page two in a few month's time. Oh, the horror, the horror!

Be prepared for stories about people being allowed to stay because they watch East Enders, fat people escaping deportation because they like Chipsticks and piano players being allowed to stay because they've got fingers. 

My hat is tipped to TabloidWatch and Angry Mob for this one, and @hmallettuk from off the twitter.


Jamie Kitson said...

I think you have a typo in your title.

And it's "catflap" not "catgate" :)

the_voice_of_reason said...

It is *quite* remarkable to observe that Sarah Bruce manages to write this entire article without even trying to explain the nature of the case (a petition for Judicial Review) or the reason Lord Glennie made his ruling, which was based once again on the UKBA failing to aply its own rules.

Now....might that by any chance be thaty by doing so her entire article would be shown to be utter bollocks

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