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Wednesday, March 01, 2006 

Daily Star-watch: How to distort a story to your own prejudices.

I know I said the other day that the Daily Star should no longer be considered a newspaper, but today's front page needs challenging.

To judge by the headline, you would think that the BBC had been ordered to put more gay men into its chief soap opera, EastEnders. The actual story is based on a press release from the gay rights group Stonewall, which released research by the University of Leeds. The report also isn't an "exclusive", as the Guardian gave the story 91 words on its 8th page:

The BBC was accused yesterday of delivering "astonishingly poor value" for gay licence fee payers by failing to accurately reflect their lives and frequently indulging in "low level homophobia".

The gay rights group Stonewall published research by the University of Leeds claiming that in 168 hours of prime time programming, gay lifestyles were portrayed "realistically" for only six minutes.

Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall, called on the BBC to track the portrayal of sexuality in the same way as it measures the depiction of ethnic minorities and those with disabilities.

Nowhere did the gay rights group tell "the Beeb to get more gays on the box." What they were pointing out was that gay lifestyles hardly ever feature in prime time television. The group also says that the BBC frequently indulges in low level homophobia. Obviously trying to go one better, the Daily Star decides to indulge in high level homophobia, with its somewhat tasteless benders headline pun. Essentially what the Daily Star is doing is trying to say that "political correctness" is rearing its ugly head again. While doing so they take on the persona of someone who is clearly suspicious of homosexuality, or at least male homosexuality. After all, the Daily Star is owned by Richard "Dirty" Desmond, who owns numerous adult softcore TV channels, which often broadcast lesbian shows that obviously aren't meant for lesbian titillation. The hypocrisy, as ever, stinks.

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