The Sun has once again car-crashed into controversy with one of its recent front-page articles, claiming that Ed Miliband is a downright evil man who hates the British armed forces. Admittedly, it wasn’t as blunt as that – but it did certainly give off that feeling, and no doubt many of its regular readers will be convinced that Miliband must hate all servicemen because he refuses to wear a Help for Heroes wristband.
Now, this piece of ‘news’ has already been shown to be a fabrication, but it does reveal a disturbing trend among right-wing tabloids. They seem very keen to make ad hominem attacks upon Ed Miliband to deter voters. Indeed, we all remember when the Daily Mail, that other bastion of knee-jerk bigoted opinion, attacked Ed Miliband’s father as a man who “hated Britain” due to his Marxist beliefs.
The fact the Daily Mail even thought such a feature was appropriate to publish fundamentally angers me. They say he hated their nation purely because he was a Marxist. This strikes incredibly pronounced similarities with the era of McCarthyism in the 1960s – when certain politicians and press organisations would label anyone with remotely left-wing beliefs as treasonous ‘commies’ in order to stoke fear and angst. Unfortunately, this is a trend that still continues within much of the American hard-right today, and it appears as though the most toxic parts of America’s right-wing press are seeping into British tabloids.
The phone-hacking trial revealed British tabloids at their very worst - something I discussed in a previous article. But even despite these revelations, the likes of the Sun still have toxic practices. This was shown by their infuriatingly moronic ‘scandal’ about Miliband and Help for Heroes. They had the audacity to drag a charity into the political arena by falsely claiming that Miliband flat-out refused to support the troops – it baffles me. The Sun is one of the most distributed and read papers in the U.K., with its circulation being estimated at over two million people. This means that great swathes of the British public are digesting false information - it’s scary to think about.
It reminds me of Fox News in the United States – one of the strangest ‘news’ platforms on the planet. It’s so overwhelmingly partisan that I’m surprised anyone would think of it as a source of balanced, informative journalism. Yet, shockingly, a recent poll found it to be the most trusted news source in America. I fear that we in Britain are heading towards a similar situation – where papers like the Sun and Daily Mail still retain popularity in the eyes of the public, despite their exaggerated, sensationalised content.
I can only hold onto the slim hope that the journalists who work for these papers manage to find some integrity before our popular news services degrade to the standard seen across the Atlantic.
By Rory Claydon