Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Sun: 40 years of goo (PART TWO)

Our second instalment celebrating 40 years of tabloid 'laffs' turning Britain into a nation of mob-lynching paranoid hysterics.

November 1998: "Are we being run by a GAY MAFIA?" is the Sun's headline, the pinnacle of a vicious campaign aimed at 'outing' Cabinet ministers one after the other.

In February 2003, the red top decides to lash out at French President Jacques Chirac. "CHIRAC EST UN VER" (Chirac is a worm) is the rag's headline, along words such as "wriggly wobbler" and "ridiculous". His fault? Opposing the Iraq war, of course, which the Sun and Ruper Murdoch backed like drugged-up attack dogs.

But tact has never been one of the Sun's best qualities. As we saw yesterday, when the bullies decide it's time to go on the offensive, whoever incurs their wrath becomes fair game. And of course it's nothing poisonous, just a bit of 'fun' and a bit of 'teasing', right?

In 1996, Formula One driver Pedro Diniz's car burst into flames after a pit-stop. The Sun's take on the accident? The headline "DINIZ IN THE OVEN".

In 2003, after former boxer Frank Bruno was taken to a psychiatric hospital, the "cheeky" tabloid opted for a bit of geezery fun splashing its front page with the headline "BONKERS BRUNO LOCKED UP" alongside a story that labelled him "a nut".

Only the other day the Sun's bullies decided to pick on the family of government drugs adviser Professor David Nutt. His fault? Having a different opinion from that of the Sun. The punishment? A devastating hatchet job: an article carrying the headline "Off his nut", aiming at destroying Professor Nutt's son Steve with photos and quotes nicked from his Facebook page.

And if you think that's nasty, try the way they covered the killing of innocent Jean Charles de Menezes in 2005, "saluted" with the headline "ONE DOWN...THREE TO GO" on July 23. The Sun reported that de Menezes was wearing "a coat like you would wear in winter, a sort of padded jacket". Uber bollocks, as it later turned out.

Then, of course, there's the Wicker Man-style mob lynching rituals. Not many would remember the News of the World and Sun-led campaigns to name and shame paedophiles in 2000. Ignoring official warnings that this could backfire, the foaming-at-the-mouth tabloids decided to press ahead.

The result was that a totally innocent paediatrician was targeted in Wales. Returning home from work one evening, she found the word "paedo" spray-painted on her front door.

Local police explained that the mobs mixed up her job title with the word "paedophile", still though the outcome was that Sun-reading vigilantes ended up driving an innocent person out of home.

Similar incidents were later to be repeated, resulting in libel cases and public apologies, like in 2003, when the Sun "named and shamed" the wrong man as a sex offender.

Indeed the Sun seems to have quite a creepy obsession with "paedophilia". If you type in the word "paedophiles" into the Sun's own search engine, it returns 896 results plus 18 from the Scottish edition and 36 from the News of the World. That's 950 articles since December 2001: if a foreigner grabbed hold of a copy of the Sun you wouldn't blame them for thinking Britain's the capital of pederasts.

The Sun's hysterical ways were the reason for Karen Matthews' fake kidnapping of her daughter Sharon. With the tabloid offering a £50,000 reward, Karen and her accomplice's plan was to release Shannon, drive around the corner to 'discover her', then take her to a police station and claim the £50,000 reward.

And, of course, there's last year's Sun-sponsored witch-hunt in the aftermath of Baby P's death, where the tragic killing of an innocent child was used for an unprecedented campaign against a muddled target comprising social workers, single mothers and the welfare state. "BLOOD ON THEIR HANDS" was the notoriously berserk headline.

Happy birthday, Sun.

[Click here for "40 years of crap" PART ONE]


Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

It's a stomach turning second post you have here Claude, it really is, a nasty collection of terrible miss-steps by that horrid little rag.

Stan Moss said...

That stuff about Professor Nutt's own son really pissed me off. I just so wish we all had access to the Sun's reporters' own Facebook page. Now that would be a laugh. Bullying fuckers.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Well Stan, don't know if you remember Julie Moult but Tim Ireland of Bloggerheads did just that and found her facebook and images on it that contradicted her stance on a sory.

She didn't like that and cried stalker, so double standards it seems from these journalists.

HarpyMarx said...

I saw a copy of the super soar-away Sun at a local cafe trumpeting 40 years of right-wing populist tabloid dross. Still see it objectifies women on page 3!

The one thing The Sun and myself have in common is that we are both the same age ..... Fantastic!

Seán said...

Excellent stuff. We burned the paper back in 89. And the boycott after Hillsborough is effective to this day.

Collective action can make a difference.

douglas clark said...

Bloody hell,

40 years of tits!

In a journalistic sense, obviously.