Wednesday, November 25, 2009 

More 40 years of the Sun.

My colleague Sim-O has some more tit-bits from the latest Private Eye dealing with the Sun over on the Lies, but this from the satire pages probably captures 40 years of the Scum better than any of the various tributes paid to it:

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Friday, May 29, 2009 

Beyond parody.

At first sight, I imagined that the subs at the Graun had had a bit of fun with Pollyanna T's latest column. After starring in the latest Private Eye's Hackwatch with the emphasis being on just how many "last chances" she had given both Labour and Gordon Brown, it would have been a laugh to headline it with just that description. Then I actually bothered to read the text:

Anything that makes enough splash to stop the one story that really matters: will the cabinet and leading MPs seize this last chance to sack their failed leader?


What will it take? They don't need to wait for Thursday's poll results. I have no idea if a coup will happen, but if they let this moment slip, history will record this as the spineless cabinet that threw away Labour's last chance.

Either Pol doesn't take Private Eye, she's sticking two fingers up at them, or she really can only find just the one way to express herself. Perhaps Pol herself should be in the last chance saloon.

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008 

Biting Newsnight in Private Eye.

Private Eye is generally one of the few remaining shining beacons of investigative and fearless journalism in this country. It can also however be pompous, smug and on occasion, downright wrong.

In this case, it isn't quite the latter, but it's almost as close to it as it could possibly be. Despite nearly a month of no new dispatches from either Newsnight or Policy Exchange, who've had a considerable amount of time to conduct their own investigations, which they said they were going to, or to launch a legal action, as they implied they might do, "Ratbiter" is today given nearly half a page in the Eye (1203, page 8) on the fracas between the two over Policy Exchange's "Hijacking of British Islam report".

Ratbiter brings only one new thing to the table, and more on that at the end. Apart from that, it's as if he'd been hired by Policy Exchange themselves to defend their report. According to his piece, which implies that because Newsnight sat on the report and that rather than reporting its findings it doesn't believe there's any problems with Islam in this country, something hardly borne out by Richard Watson's repeated investigations over the past year into Hizb-ut-Tahrir, other Islamist organisations and similar allegations to PE's in Tower Hamlets' libraries, "the evidence that Policy Exchange was basically right about the extremist literature available is overwhelming". Indeed it is, as long as you as selectively decide which "evidence" to include in your piece as Ratbiter has.

The only two mosques which Ratbiter mentions are the Muslim Education Centre in High Wycombe, where Newsnight openly broadcast that it had one of the books bought from it on the shelves, but that the shop had a completely different invoice to the one which backed up PE's research, one that Newsnight alleged was a forgery, and the Al-Muntada mosque in west London, where again the invoice was considered dodgy, but also never convincingly claimed that the books didn't come from there. As Ratbiter points out, one of the books apparently bought from there is still available on its website. Well, according to when the Eye went to press it was, but looking at their website now the shop link only provides a phone number and a couple of paragraphs on what's available there.

If Newsnight's evidence had relied on just those two mosques, then it would indeed have been ridiculous for it to have broadcast its lengthy report on the PE publication. Instead, as Ratbiter doesn't acknowledge at any point, the programme featured another four mosques, as my post giving a comprehensive run-down of all the accusations makes clear, one of which looks like a prima facie case of forgery that libels the mosque accused of selling the literature. Since then, allegations about material found at the Edinburgh mosque featured in the report and at a least a couple of others has been called into question.

As with the other PE operatives who defended the report at the time, rather than being angry about the allegations made by Newsnight, Ratbiter appears to be most miffed that Newsnight bothered to double-check the information in the report, and also the invoices which PE supplied to back it up. I'm currently reading Nick Davies' Flat Earth News (expect a review once I'm done), serialised in the Eye in the last issue, and one of the main points he makes in it when defining "churnalism" is that most journalists now, whether working for the Press Association, local newspapers, the big national players or indeed the BBC, simply don't have adequate time to check the sources of their material to ensure that what they're writing and providing as fact is actually true, which ought after all to be the number one service that a journalist should provide. As Ratbiter himself acknowledges, most of the rest of the media ran with it, without even bothering one would assume to so much as check that what the PE report said was accurate. That, after all, was their job, and would have prevented the journos involved from bashing out the other stories they're expected to. In other words, Newsnight provided the very base service that journalists ought to, which is to check for bullshit, and because it did, it's been hammered for it. What a sad state of affairs British journalism really is in for this to be more important than accuracy itself.

Ratbiter's main rhetorical flourish is that the researchers themselves fear for their lives as a result of threats from the extremists that Newsnight pretended didn't exist. Ratbiter's main backing for this is that the Muslim Public Affairs Committee, whose site comes off as almost a Muslim Daily Mail, but who can be hardly described as extremists, allegations about anti-semitism and funding of David Irving by one of its founders aside, put on its website while describing the researchers as "zio-con frauds", that "if you know who they are - please write in and we will expose these men and women for all the Muslim community to see." Thing is, those extremists within the community have now been enormously helped by, err, Ratbiter. Before his piece, we neither knew where the researchers currently were, or how many of them there were, with Newsnight told they were on a jaunt in Mauritania. He/she informs us that there are 8 of them, and that they are currently "somewhere in London". Doubtless those self-same researchers that have been put in danger by Newsnight's refusal to cooperate with the slide to "churnalism" will greatly thank their latest defender for narrowing the search down that little bit more.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007 

Trial by Fleet Street.

Private Eye on the media's witch-hunt of Robert Murat. Click to enlarge. In case you can't read the last bit on the bottom right, it says:

"-- The Telegraph, which nevertheless printed the pictures in question in a double-page spread, 18 May.

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Thursday, March 01, 2007 

Zoe Williams-watch: Those Wikipedia edits in full.

The latest issue of Private Eye (1179) mentions the sterling work that Zoe Williams gets up to when she isn't writing articles for the Grauniad that make you want to hunt her down and force-feed the printed prose back to her. While the Eye only mentions the edits Williams made to her own entry, she's also been a busy little beaver over the last month, making a number of edits to other entries, ones which might suggest just what's going through her head.

First off, she was defending the honour of that particularly hard done by young man Ashley Cole, adding the following lines to his entry:

Sued the [[News of the World]] over alledgedly false claims that he was [[gay]][[]]. Both the News of the World and its sister paper [[The Sun]] later retracted the allegations. Lawyers for Ashley Cole have been criticsed for their over the top response to the allegations which included attempting to sue the search engine [[Google]] [] for linking the word gay to Ashley Cole in searches. This turned out to be a effect of the algorithms Google use and was not the result of malicious intent by a individual.

After scratching her ass for twenty minutes, a couple more additions were made:

Both Ashley and [[Cheryl Cole]] have been falsely slurred in the mainstream press. Cheryl was charged with racially aggravated assault, see [[Cheryl Cole]], but found not guilty of that particular charge. Ashley was insinuated to be a [[homosexual]] by the [[News of the World]].

As Ashley is of ethnic origin and Cheryl is female accusations of homosexuality and racisms are misplaced.

Quite right. It's been comprehensively proved that men who get married can't possibly be gay, and that women also never marry men that they secretly hate but can't escape from.

Next on the to do list for Zoe is some shit eating, or rather, editing the Coprophilia entry, by adding Gillian McKeith to the list of famous coprophiliacs. To prove her thesis, she sets about editing McKeith's own entry:

McKeith believes examining and smelling faeces can give clues to bodily misfunction. She frequently engages in this [[coprophilia]] like activity during her television shows. Specific contentions include:

She also on the same day puts Mark Oaten back on the list of famous coprophiliacs, and adds a photograph to his own entry.

After a break of 6 days, Williams is back to her old tricks, this time editing Fiona Jones's entry, adding in the rumours which re-emerged after her recent untimely death:

Alledged a cabinet minister propositioned her for sex at a party conference. The cabinet minister is alledged to have been [[Jack Straw]] []

There is of course no way to prove this, but then Williams doesn't generally let details like that get in the way of her own comment pieces.

Two days later, and Zoe's editing Cole's entry again:

}} even though Cole was not specifically named in any of the stories; however, a pixellated photograph of Cole with his likeness removed was printed. Both the ''News of the World'' and ''The Sun'' later retracted the allegations after legal pressure and paid an undisclosed amount of damages to Cole.{{cite news |

And also bizarrely adds back in the useless fact that Cole was in the beard of the year competition:

Ashley Cole was also nominated in the 2006 Beard of the Year competition [].

A NME journalist named Tim Jonze was the next to suffer Zoe's wrath. Despite flairing up her own entry with flowery, glowing praise, she doesn't much approve of Jonze apparently using his entry as a CV. With a terse "Wikipedia is not a CV hosting facility." as her justification for the edit, she chops the 228 words down to a single line:

'''Tim Jonze''', born 4th Feb 1980, is a writer for the weekly British music magazine ''[[NME]]''.


Zoe's obsession with shit then re-emerges, adding Oaten once again to the coprophilia entry, ironically using Private Eye as a source for his fetish:

[[Mark Oaten]]"Street of Shame", Private Eye, No. 1151, 3rd February - 16 February 2006

Finally, Zoe's rampage has for now come to an end with the following edit to Germaine Greer's entry, over her comments on the Big Brother racism row:

In January 2007 Greer offended many Guardian readers {{Fact|date=February 2007}} by defending the description of Indian people as "Pakis", a highly perjorative term identified strongly with racism in the UK, claiming it was not different to calling Australians "Aussies".[,,1992029,00.html] She also was awarded Honorary Membership of [[The Coterie]] in the [[2007]] membership list.

Will someone please stop this dangerous woman before she edits again?

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Wednesday, January 31, 2007 

Scum-watch: Private Eye on the "Windsor Muslim yobs", heartless Screws journalists, and more.

The Eye provides us with the information of where the correction actually appeared in the paper:

Issue No. 1177 also provides this valuable insight into the ethics (or lack of) of News of the Screws hacks:

Then there's the curious incident of the Sun's overwhelming support for the Dome to house the supercasino which instead went to Manchester:

MANCHESTER was as stunned as anyone after the dubious decision to make it Britain’s gambling capital.

The big question is how it beat London and Blackpool for the money-spinning super-casino.

For all its attractions, Manchester was hardly hot favourite. Most bets were riding on the Dome.

Err, no it wasn't. Most assumed and hoped it was going to Blackpool, which seemed the best bet.

To most people, the Dome was the most sensible and logical location.

After which follows a rant about why giving the casino to Manchester is meant to buy off the locals' votes. That most natural Labour supporters would probably be at best curious or incredulous about this government's addiction to gambling doesn't seem to be worth mentioning. Not that suspecting there was something of a stitch-up is necessarily conspiratorial; BlairWatch lists some good reasons for questioning the line up decided upon.

All becomes clear to why the Sun so favoured the Greenwich bid however. As today's Guardian reports:

Yesterday some in Greenwich said the furore which followed the deputy prime minister's admission may have damaged London's case. The result will also have provoked gloom elsewhere. The Guardian has learned that Rupert Murdoch's News Corp holds a 10% interest in AEG's dome development subsidiary.

Who woulda thunk it?

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