If you were to check out the website of the Super Soaraway Currant Bun, one thing would be obvious from the start: news about world affairs, politics and business is not the priority. The really important thing for Rupe’s downmarket troops is celebrity. It’s all about slebs. And if there isn’t enough sleb goss going round, then the assembled hacks can always make it up and apologise afterwards (or, if the victim isn’t so well off, not).
And, thanks to a helpful member of the public who left a copy of the August 12 print edition on a tube train yesterday, I have a text-book demonstration of the way in which the Sun is prepared to publish totally untrue stories just to catch the eye of its all too easily satisfied readers. Let’s move right along to the right hand side of Page 2, where there is a paragraph entitled “Wayne Rooney”.
Here’s the apology: “We reported on Saturday that Wayne Rooney was spending £10,000 on under floor heating for luxury dog kennels at his Cheshire home. In fact, there are no dog kennels at his home and thus no under floor heating has been installed. We apologise for the mistake”.
Mistake my arse. No mistake was made here. This is speculative invention – the speculation being that Rooney wouldn’t bother taking them to the cleaners for an act of flagrant dishonesty, they might sell a few more papers, and some mud might stick. That Wayne Rooney! He’s minted!! So much dosh he can pamper his pets with heated kennels!!! Couldn’t make it up (unless you’re a Sun hack, of course).
Even though Rooney got an apology out of Rupe’s downmarket troops just five days after the original “story” was run, that’s five days during which the Sun’s fairytale had time to become received wisdom (well, maybe not wisdom, but you get the idea). Even after they said sorry, some readers will be thinking that, well, there’s no smoke without fire, he’s rich enough to have done it, and there must be a real spoiled pets story out there.
Thus the corrosive effect of bad – and more than likely deliberately bad – journalism.
[UPDATE: My thanks to Tabloid Watch for posting on this story and linking back]