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Friday, 17 July 2015

Sun Admits Burnham NHS Smear

Last month I noted that the Sun’s piss-poor Sun Nation website had run a highly creative article about Labour leadership hopeful Andy Burnham which made a number of totally untrue claims about the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust and instances of unacceptably poor care that had taken place on two wards at Stafford Hospital, which had come to light in 2008. What was worst about the article was that none of the claims were new.
Readers were presented with totally false statements such as “Sir Ian Kennedy, chairman of the Healthcare Commission which regulated NHS care standards at the time, said the estimated 1,200 needless deaths in four years constituted the most shocking scandal he had investigated”, and “Patients got so thirsty they drank water from flower vases”. These were old claims, and several newspapers had already corrected their use of them.

That did not deter Sun Nation, and this slice of inventive copy was also used in the print edition of the Super Soaraway Currant Bun, which may have given the editorial team a nice warm feeling, but also garnered a complaint to press regulator IPSO, which found that the Sun’s behaviour was so bad that not even they were prepared to wipe the arses of Rupe’s downmarket troops. So now a “correction” has been issued.
Much humble pie was in evidence on Page 2 as readers were told “In a story ‘Coward’ (21 June), we stated there were ‘1,200 deaths’ associated with the Mid-Staffs hospital scandal. We have been asked to clarify that the number of deaths has never been officially confirmed, including by the Francis Inquiry into the hospital … The story also claimed paints drank from flower vases. We have also been asked to clarify that this has never been confirmed”. Note also that there is no such thing as a “Mid-Staffs hospital”.

The Sun article did not mention what Young Dave said in the Commons when the Francis report into the Stafford Hospital shortcomings was published: “Let us … be clear about what it does not say … Francis does not blame any specific policy … He does not blame the last Secretary of State for Health … And he says we should not seek scapegoats”. But they don’t include it in the “correction”. So I will do, right here.

The “correction” then goes on to claim “The Sun aims to have the highest editorial standards in the paper and on digital”. This is not such a difficult thing to do - unless the intention was to deceive readers from the start. After all, the paper has never hidden its agenda of attacking Burnham, because they’re frightened of what he represents.

And what Andy Burnham represents is a politician who will not bend to the will of Murdoch’s boot boys, and therefore would not be subject to their control if he became Labour leader. Their favoured candidate, Liz Kendall, would, if elected leader, be forever reminded what she owed to the Murdoch faithful, whether or not it was true. They won’t have that leverage over Burnham. So they just make it up.

Then there’s a half-arsed “correction” after the damage is done. Behold the high principles of our free and fearless press in action. Or maybe not


Anonymous said...

Over the last couple of weeks the Yorkshire Post has also posted a similar 'apology' ' also finally accepting Burnham wasn't Health Sec and there has never been a definitive number of deaths. They obviously lifted copy, without checking any facts, something they have to do to fill the failing broadsheet every day.

Anonymous said...

“The Sun aims to have the highest editorial standards in the paper and on digital”.

Yeah, right.

But it's impossible to polish a turd.