Nothing better highlights the desperation of the increasingly downmarket Telegraph than its ability to run Fake News stories - those which have little or no basis in reality, and which are published because they are likely to satisfy the belief system of the paper’s dwindling readership, as well as being inexpensive to cobble together. The Tel’s main lead on Monday this week was a superb example of the paper’s addiction to Fake News.
“May to appoint ‘no deal Brexit’ minister” proclaimed the headline on Christopher “No” Hope’s article, which told readers “A ‘Cabinet minister for no deal’ is to be appointed by Theresa May as part of the reshuffle of her top team which begins on Monday, the Telegraph can reveal”. And what more could the Tel “reveal” to us all?
“The new minister is likely to be based in the Department for Exiting the European Union alongside David Davis, the Brexit Secretary, to provide regular updates on preparations for leaving the EU without a trade deal. They would attend Cabinet and control a significant budget, but would not be a Secretary of State … The appointment will be seen as an attempt by the Prime Minister to demonstrate to her EU counterparts and to Brexiteers that Britain is serious about leaving the EU without a deal if talks fail”.
To no surprise at all, the Murdoch goons at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun agreed that this was A Real Story: “THERESA May plans to appoint a ‘no deal’ Brexit Cabinet minister to work alongside David Davis in preparation for unsuccessful EU negotiations, it has been claimed … The Secretary of State's second in command, Steve Baker, is most likely to land the new role, according to the Daily Telegraph”.
Even the Mirror was suckered into running the story, adding “In October, Mr Baker, a prominent Leave supporter, suggested the Government was making contingency plans for a 'no deal' even though over £250m had been pledged for Brexit”. And they were all running a fake story. There was no substance whatever in Hope’s claims.
What to do? Back came Hope with his excuse note: it was all Theresa May’s fault! “Theresa May is facing a backlash from leading Eurosceptic MPs after rowing back on plans to put a ‘no deal’ minister into the Cabinet at the 11th hour … The Prime Minister is understood to have promised Brexiteers several months ago that a minister in charge of preparing for leaving the European Union without a trade deal would be given the right to attend Cabinet”. Understood my arse. This was a Fake News story.
The Telegraph has seen its staff numbers decimated in a vain effort to maintain profit margins. It has cravenly surrendered its editorial freedom to advertisers in a further vain effort to maintain income. The result is that the paper which became known as the Maily Telegraph because it had adopted the Mail’s technique of writing headlines first, like the Mail, and blurring the distinction between news and comment, is no longer even fit to be compared thus. It is now little better than an upmarket version of the Express.
And yet the Tel has the gall to paywall this rubbish, calling it “premium content”. It’s not premium enough to line a bird cage. Call it what it is - more Fake News.