A sad fact nowadays is that the Fourth Estate is trying to sell just as many papers as before, but with less people producing them. And editorial budgets are under constant pressure. So the desperation of some titles manifests itself in more and more shock horror front pages that are supported by, well, very little substance, to the effect that they become parodies of themselves.
And today’s most desperate paper, by some distance, is the Murdoch Sun, whose increasingly cheap and nasty trawling for something – anything – to prompt folks to buy a copy has recently brought us “Satan symbol on chest ... BOY, 4 HAS MARK OF DEVIL”, cadged from Facebook, and the barrel-scraping “As number of Brits at Magaluf carnage parties rockets, it’s ... SEX ON THE BEACH”.
So what have Rupe’s dwindling downmarket troops cooked up for unfortunate readers this morning? Well, adding the frightener du jour – Ebola – to their constant desire to undermine the hated BBC, while splashing its female presenters on the front page, has come “FIONA: BBC IN EBOLA PANIC”. Woah! Front page Bingo!! Sadly, though, this alleged “exclusive” does not support the headline.
Which is real - this one ...
We know this because, although the Sun is behind a paywall, the Telegraph has already lifted the story (see how that works, Rupe?). And the Tel’s headline is rather less ranty: “Fiona Bruce: BBC make-up artists worried about Ebola risk”. Readers are also told “The BBC broadcaster said that the African health crisis has caused concerns among staff within the newsroom”.
Concerns? That’s nothing compared to the screaming panic at Murdoch towers. So what did Ms Bruce say? “At the BBC we are having conversations. We have got make up artists who are saying, ‘Hang on these people are just turning up in our chair’. They said, ‘They have just come in from Guinea? Do I want to be touching them?’ Which is not unreasonable”.
... or maybe this one?
Not unreasonable at all, considering the hooha surrounding Ebola, and most likely no different from all other broadcasters. Note also that the Sun refers to “Make-up girls” when no age or gender has been pitched. And, talking of “girls”, one has to assume the Sun newsroom didn’t see the latest issue of Private Eye before they composed today’s shock horror splash.
Under the heading “Ebola – A Nation Reacts”, there is the mock Sun headline “Drop Dead Gorgeous – Page Three-Bola Stunners Inside!” And on the real front page? The Ebola headline is set alongside “Sun classical music special ... I twerk my boobs to Mozart”. That’s probably more gross even than the Eye parody.
Yes folks, the Sun is so desperate that it’s manufactured another story where one does not exist. And don’t forget those twerking boobs.