In his book on the press, Flat Earth News, Nick Davies identified “a certain kind of reporting ... a model which is particularly identified with the Daily Mail. This involves something like the work of a gardener, who digs out and throws away weeds and stones and anything else he does not want and then plants whatever he fancies. The story, in other words, is a model of the subtle art of distortion. Aggressive distortion”.
I'm not f***ing apologising to anyone, c*** - I've got someone to do that sort of thing for me
Selective reporting, designed to fit a pre-determined agenda, is the Mail’s stock in trade. So is its predictable list of targets, one of which is the NHS: those at the Mail who participate all too willingly in the constant attacks invariably go private (they send their children to private schools, so, to no surprise, state education is another favourite target). And they don’t care who gets hurt in the process.
One unfortunate individual who now knows just what that means is Dr Kate Granger, an NHS registrar from West Yorkshire who has been diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer. After undergoing treatment, much of it painful, she took the decision to go back to work, despite the diagnosis that the cancer was terminal. She addressed the 2014 NHS Confederation Conference yesterday.
Dr Granger’s speech, talking of what it was like to be “on the other side” – a patient – was careful to balance the occasions when the NHS doesn’t get things totally right with the times when the care she received was good. Indeed, she starts off by telling of New Year’s Eve 2011, which she and her husband spent in hospital, where the staff helped them enjoy a special evening meal together.
But that does not make it through the filter imposed by the agenda of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre: all that emerges is the impression that Dr Granger had only negative impressions of the service in which she works. The carefully crafted headline, “How NHS dehumanises patients, by doctor, 32, who is dying of rare form of cancer”, tells you all you need to know.
Kate Granger was clearly upset by the Mail’s behaviour, which extended to not even bothering to spell her surname correctly. “The Daily Mail are horrible. I don’t want to NHS bash – I balanced the bad with the good. I explained how I’m trying to make things better” she told, confirming “I’m going to complain [to] the Press Complaints Commission. Would anyone join me?”
Later this morning she Tweeted “Your support and love is wonderful Twitter. Thank you. I’m just having a little cry – so sad that someone could get my message so wrong”. The Mail did not, apparently, ask her before publishing. Just when you think that Dacre and his obedient hacks could not sink lower, or care even less about the damage they do, they demonstrate that, well, yes they can.
Paul Dacre should personally apologise to Kate Granger. But he’s not big enough.