It was seven years ago to the day that the inmates of the Baby Shard bunker were faced with having to report the death of South African model Reeva Steenkamp. She had been the victim of her partner Oscar Pistorius’ paranoia: he believed there was an intruder in the bathroom, had shot the intruder, and it turned out to be her. As he was a well-known Olympic and Paralympic athlete, it was not any old story. It was a Sleb story.
So Ms Steenkamp was splashed all over the front page of the Sun. How would the story be handled? Would it be just a tasteful head-and-shoulders shot, a respectful nod to all those grieving relatives, friends and fans? Ah, but this was another occasion when the prurient interest trumped all other interests. “3 shots. Screams. Silence … 3 more shots … Blade Runner Pistorius ‘Murders Lover’”. And Ms Steenkamp in a bikini.
Look, readers, she’s hot - and she’s dead! Condemnation rained down on the Murdoch goons. But those passing adverse comment probably knew it would make no difference. Four years later, it was more or less the same: Tara Palmer Tomkinson died at the age of just 45. “Royals’ Celeb Pal Dies Aged 45 … Loud bang … Then Tara found dead five days later” screamed the Sun. Inside: lots of gratuitous flesh. She was hot, and also dead.
So we come to the tragedy of Caroline Flack, another mid February death, another Sleb source of endless Sun attention. And the temptation to score as many copies and clicks as possible once again trumped any thought that a little restraint may be in order.
The article bringing news of her death was, predictably, the first to tell readers that Ms Flack had taken her own life. The Murdoch droids seem to think that putting an explainer halfway down the article adding “You’re Not Alone … EVERY 90 minutes in the UK a life is lost to suicide” makes that OK. It doesn’t. It really doesn’t.
Then come the gratuitous snaps. Top of the article? Phwoar! Strapless top! Bare midriff! Matching shorts! Lots of leg! Further down the copy, a serious note is struck about Love Island - “Caroline Flack was forced to step down from the show” - but don’t worry, look, well off the shoulder! Lots of flesh! Boobs! Phwoar! And so it goes on.
How much the Sun really cares can be seen from more gratuitous flesh accompanying “Caroline Flack's death is third suicide to rock Love Island in just 20 months”. And do the hangers-on really care about the coverage and their part in it? Piers Morgan exclaimed “Oh my God. This is horrendous” at the news of Ms Flack’s death, but one suspects he never thought of the consequences when monstering the Duchess of Sussex.
In any case, he’ll keep going after the likes of Jameela Jamil, and the whole rotten red-top lot will continue to ignore campaigning group Hacked Off telling them “Trial by media can have dangerous and unforeseen consequences. The media must be careful to scrutinise justice, not administer it”. Or as LBC host James O’Brien has put it, “Make money maligning them. Make more money mourning them. Move to Canada if you can”.
The Murdoch press has a problem with its pile-ons of female Slebs. It has what looks like an equally serious problem trying to monetise their deaths. Don’t buy the Sun.APPEAL The Legalballs Fund: I made a mistake. Now I need to raise £16,500 to cover a legal bill. You can chip in to help me HERE - all help is gratefully received. Thanks for reading this far!