TEN SHAMEFUL MOMENTS FROM THE SUN’S PAST

In honour of the fact that The Sun seems to be so keen on digging through people’s social media histories to find any old tweets or Facebook posts that can be used against them, this blog thought it would be a good time to trawl through the paper’s own past to dredge up some misdemeanours that make silly offensive tweets from ten years ago look like child’s play.

Now, of course we are all aware of the shameful lies told about Liverpool football fans in the wake of the Hillsborough tragedy. Lies that mean that to this day, the paper is not sold in newsagents throughout the city.

hillsborough

But here are nine other episodes from The Sun’s history that the paper would probably prefer weren’t mentioned. It’s something you can share with others the next time you feel that The Sun needs a taste of its own medicine.

 

THE TIME WHEN IT REJOICED IN THE SINKING OF AN ARGENTINIAN SHIP

gotcha

The Sun‘s jingoistic coverage of the 1982 Falklands War reached a peak (or nadir) when the Argentinian General Belgrano ship was torpedoed and sunk while outside the 200 mile exclusion zone and reportedly sailing back to port. The paper’s front page headline read GOTCHA. It emerged that nearly 400 people were killed in the strike. Sun owner Rupert Murdoch was reportedly against changing the headline and toning down the reporting for later editions once the casualties were known.

 

THE TIME WHEN IT REFERRED TO AIDS AS THE GAY PLAGUE

sun gay plague

Throughout much of the 80s, The Sun and its sister paper the (now defunct) News of the World repeatedly referred to the AIDs virus as the ‘gay plague’ and were among the main culprits spreading misinformation and hearsay about the disease. In 1989, the paper published an article titled STRAIGHT SEX CANNOT GIVE YOU AIDS – OFFICIAL and claimed the idea that heterosexuals also caught HIV was ‘homosexual propaganda’. The press regulators criticised the paper for ‘gross distortion’ but the punishment was a measly apology printed on page 28 (sound familiar?).

 

THE TIME WHEN IT CLAIMED ASYLUM SEEKERS WERE EATING SWANS

swan bake

In 2003, the paper ran with a front page story headlined SWAN BAKE, claiming ‘callous asylum seekers are barbecuing the queen’s swans’. Although the story was supposedly based on an official Metropolitan Police report, it turned out that there was no record of any such offence. Again The Sun was sanctioned by the regulators but a mealy-mouthed clarification on page 41 was its only punishment.

 

THE TIME WHEN IT RAN A FEATURE CALLED ‘THE POOFS OF POP’

The Sun regularly ran homophobic pieces throughout the 1980s, speculating on which celebrities might be gay and looking to ‘out’ people with slurry headlines where it could. When EastEnders broadcast the first soap gay kiss, the paper published a front page story titled EASTBENDERS.

‘The Poofs of Pop’ was an 80s feature where Piers Morgan and Peter Willis speculated on whether various male pop stars were gay or not and spent their time hassling agents for a confession. According to Morgan, Sun editor at the time Kelvin Mackenzie was obsessed with people’s sexuality. ‘He generally thought that anyone who played a ‘dodgy sport’ – i.e. not football or boxing – spoke in a posh accent, sang pop music or just walked in a funny way was ‘as bent as a nine bob note’. And his staff were encouraged to share his suspicions rather than commit professional and medical suicide by challenging them.’

 

THE TIME WHEN IT HACKED THE PHONES OF RELATIVES OF MURDER VICTIMS

news of the world

Let’s not forget that employees of the News of the World, which was the sister Sunday paper of The Sun until its closure in 2011, hacked into the phones of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, relatives of dead British soldiers and victims of the 7 July London bombings. Worth remembering this little nugget next time you see a Sun scoop on someone’s old tweets where they’re found to have used an offensive word once.

 

THE TIME WHEN IT RIDICULED MENTAL ILLNESS

bonkers bruno

In 2003, the paper covered the story of Frank Bruno’s deteriorating mental health with the sensitive front page headline BONKERS BRUNO LOCKED UP. Following public criticism, the headline in the later edition of the paper was changed to SAD BRUNO IN MENTAL HOME.

 

THE TIME WHEN RUPERT MURDOCH WAS CAUGHT TAX DODGING

The Sun may revel in reporting that the likes of Gary Lineker or Lewis Hamilton have been caught up in tax avoidance schemes, but as far back as 2001 an investigation into News Corp found that it had avoided £350 million in corporation tax over an 11 year period.

 

THE TIME WHEN IT PAID £22K TO A POLICEMAN FOR INFORMATION

In 2015, Sun reporter Anthony France was found guilty of buying 43 stories from PC Timothy Edwards for £22,000 between 2008 and 2011. Thirty-eight of the stories were published in the paper. Edwards pleaded guilty to committing misconduct in a public office in 2014 and was jailed for two years.

 

THE TIME WHEN IT COMPARED MIGRANTS TO COCKROACHES

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In 2015, columnist Katie Hopkins called migrants crossing the Mediterranean ‘cockroaches’ who were ‘spreading like the norovirus’. She advocated using gunships rather than rescue boats to deal with them. Her comments led to the UN High Commission for Human Rights making a statement in which it compared Hopkins’ language to that used by Rwandan reporters to stoke up hatred in the run up to the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Don’t like what you’re seeing in the press? If you see an article you’re unhappy with, you can email the press regulators at inquiries@ipso.co.uk to voice your concerns. If enough complaints are received, they will have to look into it.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.

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NIGEL FARAGE PASSES TABLOID JOURNALISM ENTRANCE EXAM

farage

Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage is celebrating today after successfully passing his tabloid journalism entrance exam by being caught smearing an anti-fascist campaign group.

Mr Farage withdrew a claim made last December that anti-racist organisation Hope Not Hate were ‘violent and undemocratic’ after being sued for libel and threatened with a court case. He issued a statement today saying he is ‘perfectly happy to acknowledge that Hope Not Hate does not pursue violent or undemocratic behaviour’.

The Sun and the Daily Mail and now understood to be in a battle to sign the controversial politician as a political reporter.

‘He made up his own facts about a group he doesn’t like and only retracted them months later after being forced to by legal proceedings’, said Sun political writer Tim Newton-Dick. ‘This is exactly the sort of thing we look for in a journalist. With his profile, track record of shit-stirring and propensity for accusing the BBC of left-wing bias, we could probably start him on a salary of around £125k.’

But the paper is under stiff competition from rival the Daily Mail, who also hinted that they would be prepared to offer a six-figure sum.

‘I’ve always said that if the Daily Mail could somehow be turned into a politician, it would be Nigel Farage’, said political editor Izzy Oakfield. ‘His slippery conduct throughout this case has confirmed this, right down to him saying he’s perfectly happy to acknowledge he was wrong. We at the Mail always say we’re happy to make things clear in our retractions. It’s nice to smuggle a small piece of bullshit into a correction.’

‘If he could have got away with issuing his statement at the bottom of page 17 in our paper rather than announcing it publicly, it would have been perfect’, she added.

Don’t like what you’re seeing in the press? If you see an article you’re unhappy with, you can email the press regulators at inquiries@ipso.co.uk to voice your concerns. If enough complaints are received, they will have to look into it.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.

COMEDIANS ARE MAKING TOO MANY JOKES ABOUT THE GOVERNMENT, SAYS SUN NEWSPAPER

HIGNFY_set_empty

The Sun has once again accused the BBC of left-wing bias, saying that comedians on topical news quiz Have I Got News For You are making too many jokes about the government.

With Theresa May’s bumbling administration becoming more of an ‘omnishambles’ each day, many folk may feel that comics are simply doing their job by pointing out the ridiculousness of what’s going on and laughing about it.

Not The Sun, which has penned an article titled ‘LEFTY BIAS: BBC’S HAVE I GOT NEWS FOR YOU HAS A SKEWED VIEW AND MAKES FIVE TIMES MORE JOKES ABOUT THE TORIES THAN LABOUR’.

This revelation comes after the paper conducted ‘research’ into the first five episodes of the current series and found that – shock horror – 139 jokes have been made about the Tories compared to only 28 against Labour.

Some people might put this down to the fact that one of the main objectives of satirical comedy is to ridicule those in power, and that the government of the day is always likely to take more shots than the opposition. Look back at old HIGNFY episodes from the Labour government years and you will see that they were the butt of more jokes than the Tories back then.

Others might also point out that, during the five weeks since the current series started, the government has been beset by mishaps ripe for comedy – from Theresa May’s disastrous party conference to losing two cabinet ministers within a week – while Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour has been relatively quiet.

But not The Sun. The paper wheels out Tory MPs Andrew Bridgen and Jacob Rees-Mogg to claim this is evidence of ‘left-wing propaganda’ and that Ofcom should intervene.

They seem to be forgetting that this is comedians making jokes, not serious news or current affairs. If the Tory party doesn’t want to be ridiculed so much, it should stop behaving in a laughable and ridiculous manner.

But there is a more serious and worrying undercurrent to this article and such attacks on satirical output. The Sun seems to be advocating a restriction on the free speech of comedians who target the government. One of the great things about this country is the freedom to poke fun at those most powerful without fear of sanction. We shouldn’t allow a tabloid newspaper, whose own output is ironically so bad that it seems like satire more often than not, to threaten that.

Don’t like what you’re seeing in the press? If you see an article you’re unhappy with, you can email the press regulators at inquiries@ipso.co.uk to voice your concerns. If enough complaints are received, they will have to look into it.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.

NEARLY 18 MONTHS AFTER THE BREXIT VOTE, THE SUN STILL CAN’T TELL THE TRUTH ABOUT OUR EU BILL

brexit flags

The Sun has misused figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and put out more misinformation about Britain’s annual payments to the EU.

It’s not the first time that the paper has failed to report honestly and accurately on statistics, something which has led it to be voted bottom in a recent public survey on trust and accuracy in UK media outlets.

Reporting on figures released earlier this week by the ONS about the UK’s contribution to the EU budget in 2016, the paper wrote that the bill was £13.9 billion after the rebate.

In an article headlined ‘PUT THAT ON A BUS’, it reported that ‘Boris Johnson WAS wrong to say we face EU bill of £350 million a week… because it’s actually £363 million, official figures reveal’.

Except that neither of these figures is the final bill at all. The net contribution was calculated as being £9.4 billion a year (around £180 million a week) once public sector credits were accounted for. This was reduced further to £8.1 billion (around £156 million a week) if private sector credits (e.g. funding for university research) is taken into account.

The £363 million a week that The Sun is so keen to use in its headline is the gross contribution. But as the ONS makes clear in its report, ‘this amount of money was never actually transferred to the EU’. Read the report and download the full data here.

Don’t like what you’re seeing in the press? If you see an article you’re unhappy with, you can email the press regulators at inquiries@ipso.co.uk to voice your concerns. If enough complaints are received, they will have to look into it.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.

 

 

ACCORDING TO THE DAILY MAIL, NEWS REPORTERS CONCERNED WITH TRUTH AND ACCURACY ARE A ‘LEFT-WING MOUTHPIECE’

Lord_Nigel_Lawson_(cropped)

The Daily Mail has published a revealing article where it suggests that fact-based reporting is left-wing.

The article appeared this week and was another predictable attack on the BBC. It concerned an apology made by the BBC for allowing remarks made by Lord Lawson (pictured) on climate change to go unchallenged.

Lord Lawson, who is dismissive of the concept of global warming, appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Today show in August where he made the claim that global temperatures have not risen over the last decade. This is in contrast with data from climate change scientists that shows how average temperatures have been slowly increasing.

The show received complaints at the time from listeners concerned that nobody on the programme had taken issue with the statement. The BBC initially defended its position on impartiality grounds, claiming that the other side of the argument needed to be heard (even if not entirely fact-based) and that Lord Lawson’s stance ‘is reflected, for example, in the current US administration which has distanced itself from the Paris Agreement.’

However, after an executive complaints unit review, the corporation admitted that it had breached its own editorial guidelines on accuracy and that Lord Lawson’s comments ‘were, at the least, contestable and should have been challenged’.

Step forward the Daily Mail whose response the the Beeb U-turn was that it was yet more evidence of the BBC’s (yawn) lefty bias. In its article titled ‘BBC IS ACCUSED OF BEING A ‘LEFT-WING MOUTHPIECE’ AFTER GROVELLING APOLOGY FOR FAILING TO CHALLENGE LORD LAWSON OVER INTERVIEW CLAIM THAT TEMPERATURES HAVEN’T RISEN IN PAST DECADE’, the paper quoted a couple of disgruntled Tory MPs who were seemingly unconcerned with accuracy standards of our public broadcaster and more interested in moaning that the ‘typical BBC’ had caved in to pressure from ‘left-wing cheerleaders’.

But the odd thing is the Mail then went on to print the scientific evidence against Lord Lawson’s arguments at the end of the article. It displayed a graph from four major international science institutions demonstrating global warming…

nasa graph

along with evidence of scientific experts refuting Lord Lawson’s claims

lawson v experts

So the paper admits that Lord Lawson is talking out of his a**e. Yet it criticises the BBC for admitting it was wrong in failing to challenge him.

Most sensible people might think that scientific data and evidence-based research is beyond concerns of ‘left-wing’ and ‘right-wing’ and that it is more about producing accurate results and improving knowledge regardless of politics. As such, the BBC was surely right to issue an apology in these circumstances for allowing its standards to slip.

Not the Daily Mail. Despite acknowledging that Lord Lawson’s views contradict the bulk of peer-reviewed evidence, the paper seems to equate refuting them with left-wing bias. Along with its witch-hunt of university lecturers over Brexit this week, the paper is doing a good job of presenting itself as the enemy of academia. The paper of choice for the anti-intellectual.

Still, good news for the left. I’m sure they’ll be delighted with these efforts to associate them with high journalistic standards on truth and accuracy.

Don’t like what you’re seeing in the press? If you see an article you’re unhappy with, you can email the press regulators at inquiries@ipso.co.uk to voice your concerns. If enough complaints are received, they will have to look into it.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.

MEARS GROUP COMPLAINT AGAINST THE TIMES UPHELD BY IPSO

times paper

*The following text is reprinted from The Times and IPSO rulings.

Following an article published by The Times on 21 February 2017, headlined “Police to investigate Glasgow corruption” in the Scottish edition of the newspaper and online, Mears Group PLC complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that The Times breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice. IPSO upheld the complaint and has required The Times to publish this decision as a remedy to the breach.

The article reported that “police are being called in to investigate allegations of corruption and cronyism at Scotland’s largest local authority”, Glasgow City Council (GCC). The article reported that Mears’ ties to the council “are being examined – along with a number of other firms – by the authority’s chief internal auditor”. The article went on to report that “a council source confirmed that ties with Mears and a number of other firms were being looked at by the council’s internal auditor”. It reported that a spokesperson for the complainant had said that it did not have any current contracts with the council department concerned, and that “people are entitled to have whatever friendships they want outside of work, provided they do not impact on any professional business”.

The complainant said that it had been confirmed by both Police Scotland and GCC that there was no investigation taking place involving Mears. The complainant had also not been given the opportunity to deny the allegation that it was the subject of an internal investigation by GCC auditors.

The Times said that it understood from a senior source within GCC that Mears featured, or had featured, in its investigation. It said that while the council’s official position was that it could not share any information with the newspaper, the GCC provided its journalist with sufficient reassurance to be confident in the accuracy of the claim that the complainant’s dealings with the council were being examined by the internal auditor. It said that the journalist was told that the provision of this information was authorised by the then leadership of the council.

The newspaper said that it contacted the complainant prior to publication. It had not specifically asked whether Mears was the subject of an investigation. The statement it received in response was published in the article.

The newspaper had failed to put the specific claim to the complainant that its ties to the council were the subject of an investigation. As a result, the complainant was unaware that this would form part of the published allegations against it. It was therefore not in a position to include its denial of this point in its response.

In these circumstances, the failure to put to the complainant the allegation that it was under investigation was a failure to take care over the accuracy of the article and a breach of Clause 1 (i).

Reporting this as fact – and in combination with the statement from Mears which consequently did not deny this – was significantly misleading. The newspaper had not offered to publish any clarification in response to the complaint; this was a breach of Clause 1 (ii).

Don’t like what you’re seeing in the press? If you see an article you’re unhappy with, you can email the press regulators at inquiries@ipso.co.uk to voice your concerns. If enough complaints are received, they will have to look into it.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.

MORE LESSONS IN TABLOID SPIN: HOW THE PRESS MISREPORTED ON GOVERNMENT RACE DISPARITY REPORT

British_tabloids_-_July_5_2011

One of the most interesting things whenever a big government or academic report is released is seeing how the press reports on it. More often than not, many papers choose to cherry-pick facts and figures to suit their own narratives and thus the main findings often end up obscured by tabloid spin.

Recently, some papers have gone a step further and haven’t even bothered waiting for reports to be publicly released, preferring to pre-empt things and write about what they think the findings might be.

This was the case with the government’s Race Disparity Audit, released this week. Seemingly unable to wait until the official midweek release, a number of papers jumped the gun at the weekend and published articles based on a supposed leak from an unnamed government source.

According to all of these news reports, the research was set to reveal how ‘shockingly badly integrated‘ Pakistani women living in Britain are, and how they are living in an ‘entirely different society‘ than the rest of us.

The papers set out their stock quite clearly in their headlines. The Mail on Sunday went with ‘PAKISTANI WOMEN ARE LIVING IN ‘ENTIRELY DIFFERENT SOCIETY’ AND ARE ‘SHOCKINGLY BADLY INTEGRATED’ SAYS OFFICIAL AUDIT’. Similarly, The Sun ran with ‘WORLDS APART: RACE PROBE FINDS PAKISTANI WOMEN LIVING IN AN ‘ENTIRELY DIFFERENT SOCIETY’ TO BRITS AND ARE ‘SHOCKINGLY BADLY INTEGRATED”. The Sunday Express weighed in with ‘PAKISTANI WOMEN ‘SHOCKINGLY BADLY INTEGRATED’ INTO UK LIFE, GOVERNMENT REPORT SAYS’.

Stories filtered down to the more extreme right-wing news sources, with the likes of Breitbart and Jihad Watch linking the story to the failure of multiculturalism, mass immigration and the apparent Muslim take-over of Britain.

With no actual report to base articles on, these publications were citing a ‘source close to the Cabinet Office’ quoted in the Sunday Times as saying ‘Pakistani women who don’t speak English or go out to work are living in an entirely different society and are shockingly badly integrated‘.

The source in question appears to be unnamed, which might ring alarm bells to readers versed in spotting tell-tale signs of dodgy newspaper tactics. However, of far greater concern is the fact that the actual report makes no mention of Pakistani women being ‘shockingly badly integrated’ or living in an ‘entirely different society’ anywhere in its 54 pages.

What it did find with regard to Pakistani women in particular is:

  • Adults from a Pakistani or Bangladeshi background, primarily those in the older age groups, were the most likely group not to speak English well or at all. However, among Pakistani and Bangladeshi adults aged 16-24, almost all of them could speak English.

  • Pakistani and Bangladeshi households were more likely to live in deprived areas and receive income-related benefits and tax credits than those from other ethnic groups.

  • School pupils from Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds are achieving almost as well as, and progressing better than, White British pupils.

  • Although women from Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds were the least likely to be employed, the proportion in work has increased substantially since 2004.

  • Those from Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds are more likely to be in low-paid, low-skilled work than those from other groups.

  • Pakistani and Bangladeshi households tend to live in lower quality, overcrowded housing.

  • Around 1 in 5 Pakistani or Bangladeshi residents do not speak English well or at all. Women are more likely to have poor English proficiency than men but, although almost half of Bangladeshi women and a third of Pakistani women aged over 65 can’t speak English, only 1% of those aged 16-24 cannot speak English.

Other key findings from the report include:

  • The majority of people from each ethnic group feel a sense of belonging to their local neighbourhood.

  • Asian and Black households are most likely to experience persistent poverty.

  • Pupils from Chinese and Indian backgrounds showed the highest educational attainment while those from Gypsy, Roma or Irish Traveller backgrounds had the lowest attainment and progress.

  • London is the region where the most educational progress and best attainment is being made at state primary and secondary school level.

  • Home ownership, access to social housing and quality of housing varies widely between ethnic groups but there has been an increase in ethnic minority households recognised as statutory homeless over the past two decades.

  • White adults have the highest percentage of convictions among defendants but Black and Asian defendants found guilty receive longer custodial sentences on average, and Black defendants – particularly Black males – are more likely to be remanded in custody.

  • There are a range of differences between ethnic groups regarding both physical and mental health.

  • The public sector is a major employer of ethnic minority workers, but ethnic minority employees are more concentrated among the lower grades or ranks.

So a rather complex picture overall that points to some disparities between groups and some distinct disadvantages experienced by Pakistani and Bangladeshi households, including one or two where the focus is on women in particular, but not really much to suggest in this report that Pakistani women are ‘shockingly badly integrated’ or ‘living in an entirely different society’. It’s a pity that sections of the press in this country preferred to base their reporting on a rickety quote from an unidentifiable source rather than wait and report calmly and soberly on the facts. Probably too much risk of people becoming informed rather than outraged.

Don’t like what you’re seeing in the press? If you see an article you’re unhappy with, you can email the press regulators at inquiries@ipso.co.uk to voice your concerns. If enough complaints are received, they will have to look into it.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.