The empire of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre is known for its brand of why-oh-why journalism, practiced by a variety of overpaid hacks for whom facts and research are entities that appear out of the fog of hyperbole in events of occasional and fortunate coincidence.
So it is with the deeply unsavoury being that is Fat Dick Littlejohn, whose scribblings feature a frequently recycled cast of “elf’n’safety”, Muslim bashing, Government demonising, paranoia over immigration, and suggesting to the Daily Mail’s more suggestible readers that they are losing out to, well, “them”. This latter category is by definition less hardworking and deserving than Fat Dick’s readers.
So it was that Fat Dick churned out his column for the September 28 edition of the Mail, which included the assertion “any Afghan climbing off the back of a lorry in Dover goes automatically to the top of the housing list”. This ticks many of the Littlejohn boxes I mentioned earlier, but there is a significant drawback: the assertion is blatantly and utterly untrue.
This mildly inconvenient fact led blogger Primly Stable to find adversely upon Littlejohn’s lack of honesty, and to make a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC). However, the PCC has demonstrated over time that it is toothless and ineffective in tackling the routine excesses of the Fourth Estate, and this time was no different.
The PCC ruling – given in full in this post by Unity at Ministry Of Truth – effectively says that, as Littlejohn was writing an opinion piece, the usual standards of accuracy do not apply. Not only does this excuse Fat Dick’s lame and bigoted churnalism, but it also imports a standard already familiar to cable news channel watchers across the USA.
Because this concept, of classifying only part of a media outlet’s content as “news”, is central to the running of Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse). Not only does Fox excuse the comments and behaviour of its better known hosts by simply calling their shows “opinion”, it then uses the news versus opinion divide to inflate non-stories into undeserved prominence, skewing the real news agenda.
This news manipulation technique was illustrated in some style by Jon Stewart on the October 29 2009 Daily Show. Anyone who monitors the lower end of the Fourth Estate in the UK might usefully bear in mind that the PCC ruling on Fat Dick Littlejohn’s blatant porkie effectively gives the green light for the Fox technique to be practised in the UK press.