Category Archives: Richard Littlejohn

You can’t hate anyone anymore, can you?

Since the death of Lucy Meadows Richard Littlejohn – chief amongst the guilty parties who monstered her so publicly – has written not one word in defence of his actions or in apology for his attack. Instead, he has continued to attack people just as before. For example, WPC Kelly Jones is suing a suspected burglary victim for damages after she after allegedly tripped over a kerb, hurting her left leg and right wrist during the investigation. Littlejohn wades in claiming that ‘WPC Kelly Jones is not fit to wear the same uniform as a proper copper’ and that:

WPC Jones is an especially appalling example of a breed of so-called public ‘servant’ who, to invert John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s famous phrase, asks not what she can do for her country but what her country can do for her.

And he isn’t finished there, either:

Off-duty, she’s not much of a poster girl for the police. Visibly overweight with unkempt hair, she looks less like a policewoman and more like one of those ferocious female members of the ‘travelling community’ engaged in pitched battles with Plod at illegal camps such as Dale Farm.

It’s just typical Littlejohn, attacking those who do not have any hope of responding – not exactly the brave warrior holding those in power to account that his website makes him out to be.

In between the normal personal attacks he has also found time to speculate that half of Romania already lives in the UK and that they’re a one-nation crimewave, as well his classic confusion between ‘weather’ and ‘climate’ – in which the recent cold spell is used as the final proof that global warming is ‘lunacy’ and the product of ‘bovine stupidity’. The irony.

Speaking of irony, he also spends a column ruminating on April Fool’s stories in newspapers, wondering why ‘Every year newspapers go to elaborate lengths to spoof their readers on April Fools’ Day’ when ‘Looking at the papers, it’s increasingly difficult to distinguish fact from fantasy’. One of the few slithers of truth in a Richard Littlejohn column is, of course, entirely unintentional – and rather amusing considering he’s been responsible for some fine work of fiction down the years being passed on as fact. Remember, for example, when he claimed that ‘Haringey [council] hired someone to give hopscotch lessons to Asian women’. Turns out, no-one could ever find any evidence for this, but Fullfact discovered that ‘it later transpired that the public money had been given to the Hopscotch Asian Women’s Centre, a well-respected voluntary organisation that deals with domestic violence, language and integration issues in Camden, which neighbours Haringey’.

Littlejohn’s latest column decides to bemoan the fact that ‘now it’s a crime to hate the Sex Pistols’, which is actually Littlejohn commenting on the fact that:

[The Greater Manchester Police are] becoming the first force to extend ‘hate crime’ status to those with ‘alternative sub-culture identity’. In future, these groups will be granted the same special treatment as racial, religious, gender identity, disabled and sexual minorities.

Which seems fair enough, presumably because such attacks rely on how someone looks or what they are perceived to be – like racist or homophobic attacks. As usual, whenever Richard Littlejohn talks about someone who looks a bit different he invokes his ‘friend’ ‘Black Mike’ who ‘always jokes when he spots a Sid Vicious lookalike gobbing his way down the High Street: ‘Gi’ us a stick and I’ll kill it.’’

Which, presumably, is the sort of response that has made the GMP think that such hate crimes need to be formally dealt with as such. So, Littlejohn unintentially undermines his own argument. However, worse is to come because, of course, Littlejohn’s never really sure about what he has written in the past – and God knows his readership isn’t intelligent enough to call him up on it. You see, he decides to talk about the ‘tragic death of 20-year-old Sophie Lancaster, who was attacked along with her boyfriend in a park in Bacup, Lancs, by a mob who took exception to her goth clothing and stark make-up’.

The Daily Mail reported on the trial of the attackers in 2008, noting that:

A gap year student was kicked and stamped to death and her boyfriend left fighting for his life by a gang of drunken teenagers just because they were dressed as Goths, a court heard yesterday.

Just two months before this trial Richard Littlejohn had written about another couple who dress and act differently:

Much hilarity at the tale of the woman who describes herself as a “human pet” and her keeper, thrown off a bus in Yorkshire for being weird.

Tasha Maltby – runaway winner of this week’s Here We Go Looby Lou award – goes round the streets of Dewsbury on a dog lead.

Naturally, ever the serial recycler, Littlejohn invokes his friend:

My Geordie mate, Black Mike, would take one look at her in her absurd “Goth” outfit and remark: “Gi’ us a stick and I’ll kill it.”

Which, given this is pretty much what happened to Sophie Lancaster, Richard Littlejohn looks even nastier than he normally does. He really doesn’t understand what a hate crime is, even when he writes down an example:

When her owner – er, fiancé – Addams Family lookalike Dani Graves tried to take her on to a bus, the driver stopped them, saying: “We don’t let freaks and dogs like you on.”

And what did this couple have the gall to do? Well:

The couple complained that it was a “hate crime”.

Presumably, judging someone for what they wear / how they behave is just as bad as judging someone based on their skin colour or nationality. Tutting inside your own head about what someone is wearing is one thing, calling them ‘freaks and dogs’ and chucking them off of a bus is another. You could say that’s crossing the line between merely thinking something is a little odd to committing a hate crime. It’s a barrier most of the population don’t seem to have an issue with, so what Littlejohn’s issue with hate crimes is, I don’t know.

Anyway, back in 2008 he continued:

Where it really ceases to be funny is when we learn that the couple live in a council house, on benefits, spend all day in the pub and plan to start a family – maybe that should be a litter – which we will be expected to pay for.

Why should the taxpayer support their soppy, self-indulgent “lifestyle” – let alone pay them to bring puppies into the world?

His pithy conclusion?

They should be neutered

It therefore bus me somewhat that years later Littlejohn dares to talk in respectful tones about the death of Sophie Lancaster – especially when she is used solely as his normal ‘isn’t is tragic… BUT’ device.

Hate crime exists, it needs to be recognised and treated as such. Ironically, hacks like Littlejohn who regularly flirt (being overly generous to him) with the language of hate crime and invoke ‘friends’ like ‘Black Mike’ actually make it more likely that other police forces follow suit.

And, of course, Littlejohn’s premise that it is now illegal to ‘hate’ things / people is completely stupid. He is evidence enough that hating people is very much legal – and indeed can be very rewarding when you hate professionally for a newspaper. I think what the police are trying to stop is when hate crime is directed at individuals in a threatening way or when people are physically assaulted, which I think most people agree is fair enough (indeed, arguing the opposite seems very anti-social – supporting my whole ‘buying the Daily Mail is an anti-social act’ idea).

Of course, Littlejohn could be offering up a genuine complaint, best summarised by paraphrasing Stewart Lee: ‘You can’t even write racist smears on people’s houses in feces anymore, it’s political correctness gone mad!’.


PS. If you like this blog post, spending a couple of seconds clicking the videos on the right ensures I get paid around 1/100,000,000 of what Richard Littlejohn earns for shitting out two columns a week. Thanking you kindly.

The Talented Mr Littlejohn

We didn’t need a 2,000 page report by Leveson to demonstrate that something is rotten in the state of journalism, we just need to remind ourselves of the glittering career of Richard Littlejohn.

Here is a man who has worked in journalism since 1971 and in his most recent form – twice-weekly ‘satirical’ columns – has been handsomely paid by both the Sun and the Daily Mail (rumour from a few years back put his annual salary at £800,000). Along the way he has been named Fleet Street’s Columnist of the Year and he was also given a place in the inaugural Newspaper Hall of Fame as one of the most influential journalists of the past 40 years. Even this year Richard Littlejohn was runner-up (‘highly commended’) for the columnist of the year award in the 2012 UK Press Awards.

Only an industry which has no standards, no concern for facts and no qualms about regularly printing hateful spite aimed at the weakest in society would enable Richard Littlejohn to become one of its leading lights.

Littlejohn is infamous for writing unpleasant things and his column on Lucy Meadows was nothing out of the ordinary. Indeed, it was exactly the kind of column that Paul Dacre pays him so handsomely to write (and we must ultimately blame the editor, not the writer for what is deemed fit to publish). Lucy Meadows was the perfect victim for a Richard Littlejohn attack job. She wasn’t rich, powerful or influential; she was vulnerable, had no voice and was most importantly different. Whilst Richard Littlejohn’s surreal personal website insists that he is some kind of crusader taking on the rich and powerful, the evidence of column after column attacking the disenfranchised suggests that this is the one thing he doesn’t actually do.

He famously decided to attack the five female victims of a serial killer, labelling them as ‘disgusting, drug-addled street whores’ who were ‘in the scheme of things… no great loss’ because it wasn’t as if they were  ‘going to discover a cure for cancer or embark on missionary work in Darfur’.  He commented on the Rwandan genocide in which 800,000 people died:

Does anyone really give a monkey’s about what happens in Rwanda? If the Mbongo tribe wants to wipe out the Mbingo tribe then as far as I am concerned that is entirely a matter for them.

When Japan suffered a Tsunami in which over 19,000 people died Richard Littlejohn wrote that:

the Japanese people have a distinct culture of their own, which is entirely alien to our own values. They are militantly racist and in the past have been capable of great cruelty.

And went on to explain that whilst you shouldn’t blame current generations for the sins of the past, he does exactly that by explaining why some WWII veterans wouldn’t be joining in the minute’s silence for Japan because of Japenese cruelty during the war (77.4% of Japan’s population were not even born until after the end of WWII). Indeed, Richard Littlejohn – never a model of consistency, even had the gall to write: ‘But why Japan and not, say, those massacred in Rwanda or starved to death by Mugabe in Zimbabwe?’. Obviously, we’ve all read his real thoughts on the 800,000 killed in Rwanda, it’s just that Littlejohn hates so many nameless foreigners that he can’t keep up with which genocides he has in the past written derogatory comments about.

Richard Littlejohn is well known for his need to dehumanise his victims – indeed, most newspapers use this technique to make the targets of their hate easier to insult; if you take away a person’s humanity, you can write what you like about them with impunity. He’s also well known for his staggering laziness, rehashing the same few columns over and over again and failing to engage in even the most cursory research to avoid making simple mistakes or repeating the same tired old media myths (a lack of research is the kind way of viewing this, it could be he knows the truth, but just does not care).

He is, in short, terrible at being a journalist.

And this is what Leveson failed to really address, the fundamental problem that what falls under the general label of journalism because it appears in a newspaper is often the antithesis of the common understanding of what journalism should be. What Littlejohn et al clearly demonstrate is that the issue is best dealt with by Trading Standards – they need to determine what it is acceptable to label as a ‘newspaper’. If a newspaper should primarily be concerned with a factual reporting of general interest news items, then the label should not apply to the Daily Mail and it’s tabloid brethren. Perhaps we need to start from scratch and have a formal system that regulates news and separates it from comment – we need to recognise that most of our newspapers are little more than propaganda sheets published solely in the interest of wealthy owners.

Above all, we need to recognise that papers like the Daily Mail exist because their brand of hatred is popular and people buy it. The same goes for Littlejohn, he has – and continues to have – a glittering career because editors see value in writing populist myths as fact and in attacking the disenfranchised. All I ever wanted from Leveson was for him to come up with a regulatory system that leveled the playing field by ensuring that newspapers have to stick to the facts. I don’t mind newspapers having an opinion, but I do object when the evidence put forward to support their opinion is a vast tissue of lies.

It seems to me that the best way to detoxify newspapers is to create a system in which they are punished, substantially, for lying to their readers. Would the tabloid press really be as popular as they are if they couldn’t rely on wheeling out the same old populist myths to feed the flames of anger in their readership? Would Littlejohn have carved out any kind of career as a columnist if he couldn’t rely on telling lies to whip up anger and hatred?

The case of Lucy Meadows is very sad and anger should be rightfully directed at the Daily Mail and its editor, Paul Dacre, along with Richard Littlejohn for writing the piece. It should also be directed at the other newspapers who sent photograpers and journalists to harass Lucy Meadows and the people around her. However, it should also be directed at the people buying these newspapers – buying the Daily Mail et al is an anti-social act and should be looked upon as such by any decent citizen.

The only way we can change the press we get, is to change the press we buy.

Richard Littlejohn repeats lies about Motability scheme

Richard Littlejohn bases his main drivel today on the Daily Mail article that claimed 3,200 parents of ADHD children are receiving taxpayer-funded cars via the Motability scheme. Littlejohn adds in his own embellishment – he claims to have had a conversation with a local BMW dealer who claimed that they would be out of business without it and that most of the BMW 1 Series they sold went to Motability customers. Hmm… nothing like the age-old technique of relying on a conversation that you may or may not have had to form the thrust of your argument, is there?

Anyway, Full Fact had already taken issue with the original Mail article and concluded:

The Daily Mail’s claim that 3,200 people with ADHD have used the Motability Car Scheme is inaccurate.

The number eligible for higher rate DLA – and therefore Motability vehicles – is recoded as 100 by the DWP, some way short of the figure given by the Mail.

However even if we conflate behavioural disorders with ADHD, as the Mail appears to have done, it is likely that the number using the scheme would fail to top the 3,200 claimed, as only 30 per cent of those eligible end up using the scheme.

To cap it all off, the article also downplays the severity of the disability that is needed to qualify for the Motability Scheme.

Richard Littlejohn, for his part, also downplays this aspect by claiming that:

Even naughty schoolboys diagnosed with the make-believe disease ‘Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder’ (ADHD) are classified as disabled.

And, as for Littlejohn’s claim that:

The Motability scheme started with the best of intentions…

But Motability was never designed to supply free BMWs to the perfectly-fit families of little boys who can’t sit still in class.

Which seems to contradict his earlier claim that such a car could only be leased with a ‘modest top-up payment’ – which means: ‘not free’. As for the ‘modest top-up payment’ and ‘free BMWs’ claims made by Littlejohn, Full Fact dealt with this rubbish back in June when the ‘free BMWs to Motability users!’ stories first started doing the rounds:

The use of a BMW as an example of a ‘free’ car is particularly misleading, as DLA claimants wishing to have use of one through the scheme must actually put forward several thousands of pounds of their own money to qualify.

Just another wonderful day of fact-free journalism.

‘Infantile’

Richard Littlejohn has dedicated most of today’s column to the Human Rights Act and why it should be scrapped by David Cameron. Of course, being a Richard Littlejohn he constantly refers to the Human Rights Act as ‘yuman rites act’ and David Cameron as ‘Call Me Dave’. Before then having the cheek to declare that Nick Clegg defended the Human Rights Act in front of ‘infantile conference delegates’.

Richard further demonstrates his superior maturity by following up his hilarious phonetic spellings and invented names by publishing the contact details of a council worker who he encourages people to contact about something in his column last week. No doubt the Daily Mail will want to cover the obvious waste of taxpayers’ money that will result in this individual being swamped by untold amounts of emails, phone calls and letters because Richard thinks this kind of thing is amusing and appropriate.

Richard Littlejohn, champion of the little man against the big powerful institutions throws his considerable weight around by publishing the details of one individual working for Cornwall Council.

Slow clap time.

RightMinds

I imagine a lot of people over the years have often thought about what should be done with the Daily Mail’s collection of columnists – most of the suggestions are probably not fit to print, not least because you might end up having the lawyers set on you. The Daily Mail has seemingly had the same thought and has decided that their hard-working team of opinionated, fact-free trolls deserve their own special section on the Mail website – presumably so you can completely skip past any danger of encountering any reals news and instead head straight to the blustering bullshit contained within ‘RightMinds’.

‘RightMinds’. Does this mean that they are right about everything, or that they are all right-wing, or both? How long did it take to come up with this name, and what other names were discarded along the way I wonder?

Anyway, perhaps it was launched on a Tuesday because that is the first day of the week in which Richard Littlejohn shits out a column – which is definitely right-wing, but very rarely actually ‘right’ about anything – and his effort is given pride of place in the new section. It’s almost as if the Mail website is secretly wanting to inform you that although this is indeed a brand new section, it is full of the same tired old crap you used to get dotted around the main website.

Littlejohn celebrates his new online home by writing about someone recently deceased – who, of course, can’t sue him. The headline – it seems to me – starts off on dodgy ground: ‘Mark Duggan’s funeral evoked memories of old-school gangsters, but where’s the romance in stealing charity bags from doorsteps?’. This kind of sounds like Mark Duggan was guilty of stealing charity bags, when in fact what Littlejohn does in his column is basically mourn for the loss of ‘proper’ gangsters like the Kray twins, the great train robbers and people who pulled off bank jobs with sawn-off shotguns because they had skill and guts whereas the modern criminal nicks clothes being left on doorsteps for charities to collect. There is no suggestion at any point that Mark Duggan used to steal charity bags, but this doesn’t stop the Mail Online sub of using this troubling headline anyway.

Headline aside, yes Richard really is glorifying the Great train robbers and other armed criminals – even though he claims he isn’t (the classic ‘I’m not… but’):

You can tell a great deal about a nation from the quality of its crime. Britain used to boast some of the finest armed robbers in the world.

It took a lot more bottle to go across the cobbles with a sawn-off Purdey than it does to sell crack cocaine outside the school gates.

Hijacking Securicor vans demands more courage and meticulous planning than kicking in the front of Currys and legging it with a flat‑screen TV.

This isn’t in any way to attempt to justify the activities of the old‑school crooks. But there was undeniably more romance about blagging and bank raids.

The Great Train Robbery was like a military operation, carried out with immense precision and chutzpah. The robbers may have been violent criminals but they captured the imagination.

It says an awful lot about the Daily Mail’s constant need to romanticise the past that although they constantly bemoan crime, gangs and lenient judges one of their star columnists can happily glorify armed, violent criminal gangs just because they existed in this magical age before too many immigrants arrived in the UK and political correctness had been invented. Anyway, not content with wistfully harking back to the Kray twins (who do seem to have had an awful lot of mentions in Littlejohn’s columns down the years) Richard also finds time to mock modern London and the diversity-gone-mad organisers of the Olympic Games:

What do you do if you are approached by a man in a dress, asking the way to the toilets? Apart from burst out laughing, that is.

If you are a volunteer at next year’s Olympics, you are told: ‘Do not make an assumption about their gender unless directed by their name.

‘If you are asked, provide instructions to the male/female and accessible toilets.’

Try to ignore the bit where he suggests anyone seeing a man in a dress just has to ‘burst out laughing’ and focus on the answer that the leaflet suggests the volunteer provides. OK, got that? It’s not difficult: ‘Do not make an assumption about their gender unless directed by their name. If you are asked, provide instructions to the male/female and accessible toilets’. Littlejohn continues:

The obsession with ‘diversity’ even extends to the mascots, Wenlock and Mandeville, which have been designed to be ‘gender-neutral’.

So what do you do if one of them asks the way to the toilet?

Jesus, Richard! You just read the leaflet. You just ‘provide instructions to the male/female and accessible toilets’ and let them decide which is appropriate. I think the new section should be rebranded to ‘ShiteMinds’ – at least that covers the content and the writers.

Richard Littlejohn and Baha Mousa

14th July 2009, the day after an inquiry was launched into alleged abuse meted out to Iraqis held captive by the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment in Basra in September 2003, Richard Littlejohn wrote this two paragraph aside on the matter:

Richard Littlejohn finds torture hilarious

Richard Littlejohn was reacting to allegations that prisoners had been:

verbally abused, burned, stamped and urinated on and forced to lie face down over full latrines… [and were subject to] conditioning techniques such as hooding and the use of stress techniques, outlawed in 1972 as a result of abuse in Northern Ireland…

As was pointed out at the time, the inquiry was not about the British Army ‘making people dance in an amusing way’, but it was actually centred around the death of Baha Mousa, a 26 year old man who died from 93 separate injuries inflicted on him over a 36-hour period. It was an inquiry into this death – and many others who also suffered extensive injuries during the same period – that Littlejohn felt the need to mock.

At the time he blamed the ‘Not In My Name crowd’ for ‘clutching at straws’ in order to try and pin some kind of blame on UK soldiers, as well as finding it hilarious that prisoners might have been made to dance like Michael Jackson.

Given that today the result of that inquiry has been announced, can we expect a grovelling apology from Richard Littlejohn? Here is a summary of what the inquiry found from the BBC:

An Iraqi man died after suffering an “appalling episode of serious gratuitous violence” in a “very serious breach of discipline” by UK soldiers, a year-long inquiry has found…

Mr Mousa, a father-of-two, died two days after his arrest.

The inquiry concluded that the death was caused by a combination of his weakened physical state and a final bout of abuse.

Cpl Donald Payne had violently assaulted Mr Mousa in the minutes before he died, punching and possibly kicking him, and using a dangerous restraint method, the inquiry found.

While this was a “contributory cause” in the death, Mr Mousa had already been weakened by factors including lack of food and water, heat, exhaustion, fear, previous injuries and the hooding and stress positions used by British troops.

Sir William said Payne was a “violent bully” who inflicted a “dreadful catalogue of unjustified and brutal violence” on the detainees, also encouraging more junior soldiers to do the same.

The report ends with a paragraph that Richard Littlejohn might want to read over and over:

Mr Mousa’s 22-year-old wife had died of cancer shortly before his detention, meaning his death left his two young sons, Hussein and Hassan, orphaned.

Go on, Richard, make a joke out of that.

Littlejohn’s Research (part 1,079)

It’s been a while since New Labour were in power but Richard Littlejohn is still repeating the same tired old columns about them – indeed, his two columns this week feature the same details about Peter Mandelson buying a house – the second one another variation of his favourite ‘made-up-radio-show-phone-in’ sketch. I’ve now become just as boring and repetitive as Littlejohn simply because I have to keep pointing out the same old crap every time I read one of his columns.

I know he is a terrible writer, I know he is exceptionally lazy, I know he is staggeringly biased, I know he doesn’t care about his readers or his job, but even in spite of knowing all of these things I’m still flabbergasted that he is still getting paid such a huge sum when he is essentially sticking two fingers up to both his readers and his editor by repeating the same old tripe.

Anyway, ignoring the usual drivel – it is always amusing when a sub-editor has to introduce a Littlejohn column with ‘This week Littlejohn imagines…’ – he moves on to Gareth Durrant:

I read about electrician Gareth Durrant, who almost died from internal injuries sustained in a freak accident at the caravan factory where he works.

According to Mr Durrant’s version of events — and who am I to doubt him? — a high-pressure air hose apparently detached itself from its ceiling mounting, snaked its way up the leg of his shorts and ‘accidentally lodged itself’ in his bottom, pumping a 300lb-per-square-inch blast up his back passage.

Don’t you just hate it when that happens?

If he had read about the event in his own newspaper (or even just the headline) he would have realised that this does not appear to be an accident at all: ‘Electrician who had compressed air hose blasted up his backside ‘was victim of dangerous and foolish prank”. The article clearly states that:

An electrician who suffered serious internal injuries after a compressed air hose went up his backside was the victim of a ‘dangerous and foolish’ prank, Hull County Court heard today.

Gareth Durrant, 26, was working in a factory making static caravans when the air hose, carrying 300lbs per square inch, was allegedly blasted up his shorts and into his back passage by a colleague.

This article was posted on the Mail website yesterday. You know Littlejohn is really hitting rock bottom (excuse the pun) when he can’t even source his nonsense from his own newspaper correctly.

Littlejohn’s ‘Silly Season’

The standards expected of a Daily Mail columnist are so low that Richard Littlejohn can freely admit that he is an utterly lazy and repetitive writer – in fact he spends a substantial number of words just pointing this out. I can’t help but find it odd that Littlejohn’s readers don’t get just a little bit offended by his admission that he is basically pretty pleased to just feed them any old crap as long as he is paid. Perhaps this kind of attitude is inevitable when the editor of the Daily Mail is prepared to print anything that ensures the reading figures are high – irrespective of such journalistic trivialities as truth. Indeed, Paul Dacre said as much recently when he gave evidence to a joint parliamentary committee on the Draft Defamation Bill on 18 July:

thinking about some of the things that Mr Littlejohn writes in my paper, I do not know whether they are honest but they certainly get people talking.

So, Paul Dacre doesn’t care about truth as long as what is written sells newspapers (for which getting ‘people talking’ is a beautifully simple and insidious euphemism) and Richard Littlejohn only cares to write stuff that involves as little effort as possible.

Which brings us to his column today: ‘This time next year, Reinaldo, we’ll be billionaires’ [no istyosty.com, no link].

Yes, Littlejohn has wheeled out a favourite target of his: Peter Mandelson. His justification for doing so in any other industry would be an elaborate resignation letter, a confession that he was clearly not capable of performing the role for which he is so handsomely paid:

What was I saying recently about missing Peter Mandelson? His assorted scrapes, scambolis and scandals have provided a rich seam of material over the years.

Many have been the mornings I’ve sat here scratching my head and staring at a blank wordface, only for Mandelson to ride to the rescue.

When Labour was turfed out of office, my jubilation was tinged with just a little sadness over the fact that I wouldn’t have Mandy to kick around any more.

I needn’t have worried. As I tried desperately to avoid having to write about Libya, along came exciting news of Mandelson’s ambitious property portfolio.

Fairly standard stuff, he’s used this before loads of times -‘ where would my column be without repeating made-up stuff about ‘elf n safety” etc – but his next claim just about sums up his interest in anything other than taking the easiest route to his upper 6 – possibly 7 – figure salary:

he’s dug me out of a deep silly season hole today. And for small mercies, we must all be grateful. I should send him a house-warming card.

‘Silly season’? Nothing at all going on in the world apart from Peter Mandelson buying a house? So, he would do anything to avoid talking about Libya and he couldn’t find anything else worth writing about apart from Peter Mandelson buying a house? Even if we accept that the story picked by Littlejohn is the only thing going on in the world apart from Libya, all he does is speculate that Mandelson couldn’t possibly afford the mortgage on the house he has bought and therefore something dodgy must be going on. He could be right, but this is something that requires proper investigative journalism, not a quick 5 minute ramble from someone famously too lazy to use Google to perform even the most basic of fact-checking.

Littlejohn’s column today could have been cut down to: ‘I’m too lazy to write about Libya, but that Peter Mandelson, heh, he’s bought a house and I don’t reckon he can afford it’. And that’s it. That is what nearly 1 million pounds a year can buy you.

What about the real news?

Today’s Daily Mail editorial condenses all of the basic arguments that have been trotted out by their ever-so-compliant columnists in the past week as to why we should all forget about hacking and move onto something else: ‘Never mind phone hacking, what about the real issues facing Britain?‘ [istyosty.com link].

In the real world, bleak economic storm clouds are gathering.

The euro crisis, which has already cost the beleaguered British taxpayer £12.5billion in bailout loans – an average of £600 for every family – deepens by the day.

Italy is the latest debt-ridden Eurozone country causing panic in the markets and even the credit-rating of the USA may be cut, which would spark a major crisis on both sides of the Atlantic.

In Britain, rampant fuel and food inflation cripple household budgets, unemployment remains around 2.5million and there’s fear on the High Street as big names like Habitat and HMV go under.

Despite empty promises from Business Secretary Vince Cable, the banks – whose criminal recklessness and greed created this crisis – cynically starve small businesses of vital funds they need to help kick-start the economy.

Even when loans are given, interest rates are usurious.

Mortgages are almost impossible to get for first-time buyers, leading to sclerosis in the housing market. Growth has stalled and we may even be back in recession by the end of the year.

In a sane world, politicians would be working round the clock to help rectify these dire problems. But sadly, they are far too busy enjoying a frenzy of vengeful score-settling against the Murdoch press.

It’s an insidious argument and the editorial reads as if it was written by Richard Littlejohn. One of the key narratives that the Daily Mail has tried to sell for the last week is that the phone-hacking story is only of interest to politicians or those in the media. Richard Littlejohn referred to the ‘politico/media village’ exploding into a frenzy as if the story had no impact outside of this sphere. In today’s editorial the writer falls back on one of Littlejohn’s favourite turn of phrases: ‘In the real world’. Basically this argument is used simply to dismiss one topic by implying that there are far more pressing problems to deal with – it is also used to again distance a topic from being in the public interest. In this case the editorial is clearly suggesting that only money problems impact upon its readership, whilst hacking is something that only politicians or the BBC care about (because it does not take place in the real world).

Clearly, the phone-hacking story is no longer about the actual hacking itself, but rather it is beginning to look at the utterly unchecked power held by a morally reprehensible press. This impacts all of us because we all realise that we are just one incident away from becoming a victim – whether we are a landlord of a murdered girl or the relation of a missing girl or dead soldier; we are all just one piece of bad luck or personal tragedy away from being hacked, smeared or otherwise invaded by a rampant press. This story is real, it is important, it dramatically affects the real world in which we live. The media for far too long have been completely free to lie, distort and attack anything that suits them, vastly impacting on political process and societal harmony. If phone-hacking is the foot in the door that allows us to tackle the wider unaccountability and ethical bankruptcy of the press then it is quite simply one of the most significant stories of our lifetime.

All of this is obviously ignoring the staggering hypocrisy of the Mail editorial telling us what is ‘real world’, important news and what ‘in a sane world’ would be ignored. This is, after all, the newspaper that regularly leads with stories about wheelie bins – followed up by ‘special investigations’ about them:


Tabloid Watch has also covered this as well, go read it.

Littlejohn on trusting ‘sources’

Richard Littlejohn – fresh from rescuing the rape debate last week – has now decided to discuss the perils of trusting unreliable sources of information. The problems with sites like Twitter, Richard argues, is that:

everything which appears on so-called social networking sites is either wrong or motivated by malice.

So I take any information I read on the internet with a malt shovel full of salt, unless it comes from a trusted source.

The man whose entire process of ‘research’ involves reading the Mail and browsing the Mail website is now supposedly concerned about the quality of his ‘sources’. It is worth remembering that this is the guy who trusts any dubious stories his readers email to him and once reported on a large set of babies with odd names that turned out to be Labrador puppies. Richard Littlejohn’s entire output is both wrong and motivated by malice.

He really doesn’t understand irony or hypocrisy. Still, the point of his column is that it isn’t fair that people on the Internet can say stuff when newspapers cannot:

Why should traditional newspapers be subject to gagging orders which can’t be enforced against global online sites?

During the height of the whingeing from the Mail over the gagging orders they published this article (by the Mail on Sunday Reporter no less) on Anthea Turner: ‘Crikey, Anthea! This Perfect Housewife lark looks hard work: Miss Turner sweats as she keeps £5m home – and herself – in good shape’ [istyosty.com link]. This was an article based entirely around three long-lens photos taken over the fence of Anthea Turner’s property that reveal her putting some bins out and generally doing some stuff in her garden. The Mail has invaded someone’s privacy just to reveal that they perform the sort of mundane tasks that the rest of us have to.

The whole tabloid business model is built around this invasive drivel, yet the same newspapers argue that freedom of speech and publication is vital to a healthy press. An article on Anthea Turner doing stuff in her garden.

A whole article on Anthea Turner doing stuff in her garden.

And this isn’t the exception, it’s the norm. This is what our mainstream media has come to: a never-ending torrent of absolutely mindless drivel.