Having had a few hours to arrange their excuses, our free and fearless press has looked at the Christchurch mass shootings, considered its lamentable record of sustained low-level racism over a period spanning decades, examined its collective consciousness, and decided that someone else is to blame - because it cannot possibly be them.
So, who to blame? As the alleged killer streamed his rampage live on social media, it was social media Wot Done It. The more restrained manifestation of this latest line to take came from the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph, which told readers that what had happened was “The first social media terror attack”.
At least the Tel managed to admit that the New Zealand killing spree was an act of terror, not the actions of someone with “mental health issues”, or those of a “lone wolf”. But this was mere pussyfooting around, compared with the thundering and judgmental tone deployed by the Daily Mail. They were going to name names. Well, one of them.
“As Home Secretary damns web giant for live streaming mosque terror attacks that killed 49 in New Zealand … MASSACRE SHAME OF FACEBOOK”. Zuck Done it! And the Murdoch Sun was in full agreement. “New Zealand’s ‘Darkest Day’ … Maniac kills 49 in Mosque massacre … Racist planned attack for 2 years … Backlash as live stream appals world … FACEBOOK TERRORIST”. As Jon Stewart might have said, two things here.
One, although SFGate conceded “The [furore] highlights once again the speed at which graphic and disturbing content from a tragedy can spread around the world and how Silicon Valley tech giants are still grappling with how to prevent that from happening”, they also noted “British tabloid newspapers such as The Daily Mail and The Sun posted screenshots and video snippets on their websites”. Well, well.
And Two, it takes some measure of brass neck to call out others for promoting bigotry, racism and their inevitable aftermath when the record of the press, and especially the Sun and Mail, has been so consistently atrocious for so long. Both papers have been deliberately and viciously targeting Muslims, the Sun being particularly active, the claim that the Utoya massacre was a Muslim convert an infamous low point.
The Mail’s attack on Muslims, conflating their entry into the UK with EU freedom of movement rules, is well known. The Sun claimed a Muslim train driver was involved in a derailment because it was Ramadan and he was fasting. The Mail pushed scares over Halal meat. The Sun claimed a man who beheaded an elderly women in her garden was a Muslim convert (he wasn’t either) and the Mail claims Christianity is under attack.
And that’s before the constant attempts to demonise Muslim women who wear the Hijab, along with bogus allegations that Muslims in the UK sympathise with ISIS, or whatever they’re called this week. Facebook may have been used to live stream that video, but not only did the Mail and Sun show parts of it too, they have been peddling anti-Muslim rhetoric for decades. They have no room to call out anyone else on the issue.
Except, of course, in the vain hope that those watching would forget about their peddling that bigotry. They haven’t. We see you, tabloid hate merchants.
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