A year in bullshit

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Another year of bad news, by which I mean news that was bad, and news that was conveyed badly, or with bad intentions, aimed at our lowest common denominators (fear, prejudice, envy). It’s sweet that the Daily Mail began the year calling the New Year’s Honours “TAINTED” because the Chief Executive of Ann Summers and Knickerbox, Jacqueline Gold, was given a CBE, and ended it with a bannered opinion by attack-columnist Sarah Vine in which the Honours were once again “tainted” by a successful woman being given an OBE, this time Victoria Beckham. It’s good to know that some things never change.

I won’t annotate all of these covers – I prefer to present them as a kind of “mood board” of the year, as viewed through the rheumy eyes of hate and business interests. When the Mail calls Tony Blair, after his chilling Chilcott testimony, “A MONSTER OF DELUSION,” the paper’s views coincide with my own; but on points, I generally feel nothing but revulsion for what the CAPITAL LETTERS spell out in the right-wing national press. Warning: even scrolling down this blog entry at speed and only glancing at the words might make you feel a bit sick in your mouth.

I tend to “collect” my favourite covers during the year, and it seems apt to hang them out to dry, not necessarily in any chronological order, just as they fall. Refrains will emerge, especially at the Express and Mail, which, on paper (which newspapers still are, for now), had a good year, with their preferred result on the EU and a rightwing president elected in the US. But still they wring their hands and clutch their pearls, oh, and hate women (especially the women).

Let’s begin with my nomination for the worst front page of 2016. It has it all: ideological self-interest, overstatement, a slogan that’s also an egregious pun (“BeLEAVE in Britain”), and a built-in full-page advert for itself, as the film Independence Day: Resurgence was released that very day and happens to be a 20th Century Fox Film Corporation production (whose parent company is 21st Century Fox, founded by Rupert Murdoch, who is it Executive Co-Chairman, as well as Executive Chairman of News Corp, which publishes the Sun). Talk about taking back control.

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The rest is wallpaper. They used to call it chip paper, but I suspect health and safety have put paid to that tradition. Maybe when we actually leave the EU sometime this century, we can repeal it and take back control of whether or not we can eat our chips out of newsprint.

Let’s start with a few damning indictments of Blair, one subject that seems to unite our entire printed media, and see where the capital letters take us.

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To finish, two delectable examples of the Sun failing to grasp the gravity of death, knocking out a truly pathetic and insulting vandalism of his own verse to mark the sad passing of Muhammad Ali, and hoping its “ordinary” readers would despise the hereditarily blameless son of the Duke of Westminster enough to treat him as a source of class-war entertainment while at the same time advertising his eligibility (“Good news, girls, he’s single!”), at a time when he will have still been grieving the death of his father.

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And finally … a rare instance of a national newspaper adjusting its prejudices in the full glare of publicity: when the Times was “advised” before its second print run that to completely ignore the victory of the Hillsborough inquest on its cover in favour of the paper of record’s “ultimate guide” to “status handbags” might be misconstrued as forgetful at  best, and at worst, a subliminal editorial line on the verdict.

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I fancy some chips.

Julie Myerson: the broadsheets’ Jade Goody

Posh author Julie Myerson has talked in graphic detail of her anguish about the decision to help publicise her own book. In an interview about her previous interview, Myerson says she had no regrets about giving interviews about her son’s five-year battle with cannabis which can soon be read about in her novel, The Lost Child, a book which ordinarily nobody would be writing about before its publication. She adds, in another interview: “I don’t regret helping to publicise the book …” Myerson, 48, has been accused of being “available for interview”, while others have said that she is using the forthcoming publication of her book for commercial gain.

In response to the controversy, her son Jake last week did his own interview and claimed his mother was “an author”. In an interview in The Sunday Times, Myerson admits her decision to do broadsheet interviews to help advertise the book before its publication is controversial. “If you allow your book to come out without publicising it, you will get flak,” she says. “But I don’t care what people say about me in the press, as long as they’re saying something about me in the press.”

Myerson reveals she spoke to her publicist several times last week after months of silence. “He called me to say, ‘Have you seen what you’ve done?’,” she says. “He was delighted.” Myerson adds: “Obviously I love my son. He had this plan to talk to the tabloids and get as much money as possible. I said, ‘Darling, this will backfire. The tabloids have literally no idea who I am. They don’t even watch Newsnight Review.'”

The Lost Child is being rushed out two months early by its publisher in order to cash in on the fact that Julie Myerson’s nice face has been all over the grown-up newspapers. The novel, which her publisher, Bloomsbury, had originally intended to bring out in May without anybody even noticing, is now coming out “in a few days” before the storm in a teacup dies down. “Given this week’s extensive speculation about Julie Myerson’s The Lost Child, we felt that it was right to bring forward publication to allow everyone the opportunity to buy her brilliant book and consider the complicated questions it raises,” it said in a statement. “The least complicated of these is: should the publicity department get the rest of the week off?”