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Saturday 28 March 2015

Piers Morgan - Ever The Tabloid Man

With some figures from the recent history of the tabloid press, what you see is what you get, and Piers Morgan, ejected from the Daily Mirror after a mildly turbulent spell as editor and more recently a regular host for CNN, is typical of the breed. There is no lack of self-confidence: he is right about everything on which he passes an opinion, including the crash of a Germanwings flight the other day.
And here he shows us the tabloid mindset: likely to get ahead of what information is available, throw in the odd assumption for which he does not have anything to back it up, and trowel on the fact that he is considerably more wealthy than yow. Morgan travels a lot, and mainly by air. So, yes, he has an interest in it continuing to be a safe way to get around. But he tries too hard on the crash in southern France.

The headline, “Depressed pilots on medication for mental illness should not be flying passenger planes. That's not insensitive - it's protecting lives” sets the scene. If true, this would be a good starting point for discussion. But we do not know what Andreas Lubitz’ medication was for. Morgan goes on “The facts that we already know about this horrific incident are extraordinary, and terrifying”.

Sadly, the facts, as I noted yesterday, are not yet all established, as the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) has not been recovered. All that the press has had to go on so far has been the recording from the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR), which the provincial Avocat, perhaps unwisely, pronounced upon, thus sparking all the shock horror outrage from yesterday morning’s papers. But back to Piers and his fears.

A co-pilot with a lengthy history of depression, on medication for his illness, and ignoring a specific doctor’s sick note for the very day he was flying, was allowed to command a plane full of 149 people”. Medication assumption re-stated, and let’s get our language straight: Lubitz was the First Officer, or Co-Pilot if you prefer. The bloke in the left-hand seat was the Commander. The casual use of “murder”, though, is worse.

Frankly, I don’t care if the co-pilot, 28-year-old Andreas Lubitz, was mad, bad or sad. He lost any sympathy I may have had for him the moment he decided to murder 149 people by deliberately crashing his plane into a mountain”. You can’t argue mental incapacity and then chuck words like “murder” into the mix. Compare with the BBC.

The co-pilot suspected of deliberately crashing a Germanwings airliner into the French Alps … A German hospital confirmed he had been a patient recently but denied reports he had been treated for depression … Data from the voice recorder suggests Mr Lubitz purposely started an eight-minute descent into the mountains after locking the pilot out of the flight deck” [my emphases]. Spot the difference.

Note also that the Beeb tells “Germany's Rheinischer Post newspaper, which spoke to the hospital, quoted its own unnamed sources as saying Mr Lubitz had been suffering from a physical, rather than a mental, illness”. Add to that the continued absence of the FDR - which should reveal details of all the control inputs made by Lubitz - and, as I keep saying, we do not have the whole story. So it would be best not to jump to conclusions just yet.

But Piers Morgan is ever the tabloid man. So jump to conclusions he has.

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