After the death of Muhammad Ali was announced early yesterday morning, the Sunday papers had a whole day to raid the photo archives, get hacks up to speed, and put together headlines for today’s front pages. Some titles have used monochrome photos and brief headlines. Not the Murdoch Sun. There had to be a clever headline, and in the event, it was so clever that is was not just bad, but utterly dire.
“Float like a butterfly, sting like RIP” read the Sunday Sun’s best effort. What were the headline writers thinking? Were they thinking at all? Where were the editorial staff to send it back and perhaps just substitute a plain back and white photo and maybe just say something like “The Greatest”? What would the public reaction be? After the BBC’s Nick Sutton Tweeted out the front page, we found out exactly what that reaction would be.
Who would like to kick things off? Julian Shea was not impressed: “How many people saw this & left it to someone else to point out how utterly rubbish it was? No dignity, rhyme, pun or point”. Nor was Stuart Robertson: “I can't believe at least one or two subs there haven't piped up and said what a pile of shite that is”.
They were not alone in their analysis, and there was more of the S-word from Stephen Grant, who concluded “that's dreadful both from a perspective of decency and even the quality of wordplay. Utterly shit in every sense”. Andrew Dolan pointed out that the Sun had missed the chance to make a worthwhile contribution: “an appalling front page. What a wasted opportunity to pay tribute to a genuine legend”.
The attempt to latch on to one of Ali’s best-known quotes did not impress Garrett McGovern, who told “it makes no sense. A vague similarity to his famous quote. Pointless”. Bryan Fish did not hold back in criticising the paper generally: “Said it before and I'll say it again, The Sun is the nation's shame”. It wasn’t it’s finest hour, that’s for sure.
Darren Cranny mused on the way that no-one in the Sun’s editorial chain of command thought to pull the whole thing, and that plenty there had the chance to do it: “what's sad is an Educated person wrote this and others let it go to print”. John Hodgkinson lamented the way in which Ali’s quote had been misused: “Stark contrast here between a brilliant user of language and someone who writes headlines for The Sun”.
Byron Melton, on the other hand, had a figure from the world of fiction to call on: “In the words of Malcolm Tucker, THAT is an omnishambles”. It certainly won’t be winning any awards any time soon. What should we conclude from the exercise? Daniel Jenks was in no doubt: “Whoever came up with that should get their P45”.
So that’s another great achievement for Rebekah Brooks’s return as CEO to the Baby Shard bunker to notch up. How much more of this success can the Sun stand?