The decision by editors at Wikipedia to declare that the Daily Mail was no longer a reliable news source did not initially result in any reaction from the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre and his obedient hackery in the Northcliffe House bunker. But the iron code of the vindictive SOB meant that, sooner or later, there would be a Mail hatchet job on the site. And so it has come to pass, with the hit piece in today’s paper.
What the f***'s wrong with having a discreet slash while giving evidence, c***?!? Er, with the greatest of respect, Mr Jay
We know that “The making of a Wiki-Lie: Chilling story of one twisted oddball and a handful of anonymous activists who appointed themselves as censors to promote their own warped agenda on a website that's a byword for inaccuracy” is a hatchet job written on the direct order of the Vagina Monologue just by looking at the name on the by-line: Guy Adams is the trusted and accomplished executor of Dacre’s vengeance.
Adams has fixated on one Wikipedia editor whom he accuses of publishing “obscene images or racist sentiments”. Connoisseurs of he Mail’s “sidebar of shame”, including the use of clearly under-age girls as clickbait, and its history of both implied and overt racism (in Flat Earth News, Nick Davies noted the use of terms such as “the dusky hue”, and even the N-word by Mail hacks), might conclude that’s just a little bit rich.
But it is the idea that the Mail’s content is unreliable that has clearly stung Dacre into ordering a hit piece: the Wikipedia decision is denounced as “a cynical PR stunt which saw this newspaper publicly smeared by damning its journalism ‘unreliable’”. The Wikipedia editors who took part in the vote are described as “anti-Press zealots, almost all of whom remain anonymous”. Not being able to identify a target hurts, too.
Adams inadvertently advertises the butthurt by whining “No statistics were offered in support of this claim, which, incidentally, came days before the Mail won Sports Newspaper Of The Year for an unprecedented fourth straight time, and was shortlisted for 15 awards at the British Press Awards, the news industry’s Oscars. (Indeed, as we shall see, the Mail has an enviable record on accuracy.)”
We can see just how enviable that accuracy is when Adams talks of “Wikipedia’s decision to censor the Mail … it has now placed a ban on this paper”. Wikipedia has not banned the Mail. Oh dear! And it gets worse, as the Mail trademark of selective disclosure means readers see “the term ‘fake news’ is increasingly used as a desperate slur, with Donald Trump applying it to CNN, the BBC and any major outlet that tends to disgruntle him”. What they do not see is that Trump applied it to the Mail - AND BANNED IT.
Back at the smearing of Wikipedia, Adams places two of the Mail’s pet hates before the readers in order to tell them the site is A Very Bad Thing Indeed: “Founded in 2001 by Jimmy Wales, husband of Tony Blair’s former diary secretary Kate Garvey (Alastair Campbell played bagpipes at their wedding)”. Tone AND Big Al? Bang to rights!
That this is a desperate smear is confirmed as Adams veers into the realm of rank hypocrisy, attacking a Wikipedia editor opposed to treating the Mail as reliable with “He continued: ‘I envisage something just short of blacklisting.’ … Blacklisting is a term which in its modern context was popularised by the Nazis, who drew up a ‘Black Book’ of 2,820 Britons, including the philosopher Bertrand Russell and Winston Churchill”.
Two things here. One, that would be the same Nazis that the Mail’s then proprietor lauded in the pages of that newspaper. And two, the Mail knows all about blacklisting, as Nick Davies pointed out in Flat Earth News: Adam Macqueen, who went to work for the paper as work experience, was thrown out and told he would never work there again after it was discovered that his CV included some time spent at Private Eye magazine.
But enough. Guy Adams knows full well that the reasons behind Wikipedia dropping the Mail as a reliable news source stand. Hence his pleading “like every newspaper in the land, the Mail does of course sometimes make mistakes. In common with most titles, we correct all significant factual errors pointed out to us, via the Corrections and Clarifications column … According to IPSO’s own report, the regulator’s figures suggest the Mail’s record is better, not worse, than our peers”. Like heck.
The Mail gets a huge number of complaints; IPSO bats away most of them and wipes the Dacre doggies’ backsides. Deliberate falsehood is a way of life for the paper: Davies noted that the Mail had libelled Steve Bing, Nicole Kidman, Diana Rigg, Rowan Atkinson, Michael Caine, Sharon Stone, Elton John, Noel Edmonds, Hugh Grant, and Glenys Roberts (who she? Only one of the paper’s own journalists!).
The Mail flat-out lied in the run-up to last year’s EU referendum, running front page stories like “WE’RE FROM EUROPE - LET US IN”. The people featured had made no such declaration. Deliberate falsehood. Unreliable journalism. One hatchet job, on Ms Justice Alison Russell, was so vituperative and personal that it did not feature on Mail Online.
The Mail accused Bank of England Governor Mark Carney of saying migrants drove wage levels down (he didn’t). The Mail defamed Byline Media and smeared Jonathan Heawood of independent press regulator Impress. Its ludicrously overpaid pundits, like talentless churnalist Richard Littlejohn, routinely lie to order.
And as Eliot Higgins has pointed out, Mail Online still has “Harrowing footage released by Yazidi group shows terrified families scream as ISIS gunmen surround them and drag away their wives and daughters to become sex slaves” available uncorrected - despite the “footage” being part of a recreation for a documentary. But hey, it’s brown people who don’t go down the pub, and they talk foreign. Not the Daily Mail’s kind of people.
Moreover, Adams is not letting on how he cracked the identity of that Wikipedia editor whose personal details are all over his article. I do hope, for his and Paul Dacre’s sakes, that those details were obtained legitimately. Because if they weren’t … that’s just another nail in the coffin of the Mail’s much-trumpeted reputation.
The result of this hatchet job, which very deliberately tells readers what a terrible thing it is to call media outlets Fake News, before clumsily calling exactly that on Wikipedia (and won’t harm Wikipedia one jot), is not unlike Lyndon Johnson’s observation on giving a speech on economics: “Did y’ever think … that making a speech on economics is a lot like pissing down your leg? It seems hot to you, but it never does to anyone else”.
Paul Dacre, assisted by Guy Adams, wanted to damage Wikipedia, but instead ended up doing nothing more than pissing down his leg. Sad, really.