For the now beleaguered inmates of the Baby Shard bunker, the decision has been made after all the condemnation of yesterday’s flagrantly dishonest Sun front page splash that attack is the best form of defence. So it is that the paper has come out with a mixture of defiance, blaming “the left”, and lying, clearly believing that this will allay all doubts about the journalistic integrity of the paper - or lack of it.
“It is depressing … that many others would rather not face up to that, preferring to rubbish the Sun’s poll rather than deal with what it uncovered” blusters today’s editorial, before resuming its role as recruiting sergeant for the EDL and Britain First: “We would all love to see Muslims back peace and condemn IS with one voice. That is simply not the reality and it does our nation no good pretending it is”.
But on they plough: “polls show an undeniable truth. Among British Muslims, a minority - but a substantial one - appear sympathetic to a death cult which is among the most evil in history”. They show no such thing. The question was about sympathy for those who go out to Syria, not to any particular group. And it gets worse: we now know that YouGov, the Sun’s usual pollsters, declined to take part in the exercise.
[UPDATE 1430 hours: pollsters Survation have defended their analysis, but then, in a letter signed by CEO Damian Lyons Lowe, waste no time in putting the boot in on the Sun, before throwing the Murdoch doggies under the nearest bus.
"Survation do not support or endorse the way in which this poll’s findings have been interpreted. Neither the headline nor the body text of articles published were discussed with or approved by Survation prior to publication ... Survation categorically objects to the use of any of our findings by any group, as has happened elsewhere on social networks, to incite racial or religious tensions".
So that suggests divergence from the Sun's line that they are only "telling it like it is". There is more.
"Our view remains that the most meaningful way to interpret the results of this polling is in the proper context alongside a comparable sample of non-muslims, as we did in March of this year using identical methodology and the same question wording ... This comparison shows that 'sympathy with' (distinct from 'support for') those travelling to fight in Syria (among any group) exists as a limited, minority view among both muslims and non-muslims, particularly among young people of both groups".
Then comes the pay-off: "Such comparative polling was reported in March in a balanced way by Sky News".
The Sun may not be willing to commission more work from Survation after that, but then, Survation may not want them to. This whole episode is not down to any kind of disputational point, but the blindingly obvious fact: the Sun has presented its readers with a mixture of falsehood and misinformation, which has the potential to incite significant racial and religious hatred.
They wouldn't do that to Christians or Jews, so why single out Muslims? Hello Tony Gallagher, Tom Newton Dunn, Stig Abell, Dylan Sharpe and the rest - it's time we had at least an explanation, and preferably an admission you fouled up.
Followed by an apology. You know, Murdoch poodles, one of those things that ends up with you saying sorry]