Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Arguing with the Daily Mail

One of the problems with people's perspective on the Daily Mail is that just because they disagree with them, they think the Daily Mail are liars. It's my experience that when reading a Mail article that they never lie. They might put more emphasis on certain things than others, they may base their reporting on sources that suit them and not the ones that they don't, but you'll rarely find a bare faced lie in the Daily Mail.

So, in many ways, the reporting of Harriet Harman at the NCCL is going to get pretty interesting because people on the left are defending her against the Mail's accusations, because their own biases are that the Mail are wrong 'uns and Harriet Harman is a good person. Harman is calling it a "smear campaign" despite the fact that a smear campaign describes spreading lies to distort someone's reputation, when in reality, there isn't as far as I can see, a single lie in the Mail's coverage.

I've read the Mail's accusations, and they've got evidence to back it all up. Damian Thompson in the Daily Telegraph wrote a less dramatic and more analytical article about Harriet Harman and the NCCL back in 2012 that certainly suggests that she had a rather different view on certain things back in the 1970s than she now suggests.


L fairfax said...

I agree 100%. I don't know why she doesn't apologize and try to draw a line under it. I guess it is lack of morals or intelligence.
Or possibly she has fooled herself into believing that she has nothing to apologize for. I am surprised that Ed Milliband acts like this.

A K Haart said...

I agree - spot on. Back in the seventies some young middle class radicals just didn't see the lines in the sand.

H said...

Hmmm. I remember doing an analysis of a Daily Mail article for academic reasons; they repeatedly described someone as 'having no right to be in this country' despite every court that had been asked the question saying that they did. Not honest in my opinion.

Lola said...

Agreed. Newspapers as a rule do not 'lie' 'cos if they do they get sued. Politicians - especially of the ilk of the Harman - lie all the time. End of.

Lola said...

H@10:53. But that is not actually a lie. Such a technique seems to me to confirm TS's point about emphhsis.

The Stigler said...


Politicians rarely lie, either. They cherry pick the facts for their own ends.

Which is why it's hilarious to see Harman crying about a "smear" when it's precisely what people like that do.

paulc156 said...

Not a big fan of Harman and admittedly even less a fan of the Mail but what's a lie and what isn't is obviously a nebulous concept in a discussion like this.Cherry picking aka being economic with the truth are a good proxy for lies if the intention is to give a false impression, even without telling a lie. Can one give a false impression without telling an outright lie? I believe so.
She said the Mail's article is inferring that she somehow supported or sympathised with a paedophile agenda when it appears she has done nothing of the sort. The Mail obviously know that it's readership and more especially those elsewhere just vaguely following the news coverage will simply take the asked for 'apology' as some sort of admission of guilt on Harman's part for her former involvement with and/or sympathy for a paedophile group, when it appears to me neither were the case.
I personally don't see why an apology is called for though her expression of regret that the NCCL did ever engage with that group is trivial but sufficient in the circumstances.

The Stigler said...


I'm going to skip over the lies vs economical truth or creating impressions. Politicians and journalists do this all the time, trying to connect various facts together to create impressions, so if Harman wants to cry that the Mail is treating her unfairly then she won't get any sympathy from me.

With regard to her behaviour at the NCCL, this isn't all some vague inference. She joined an organisation that allowed the PIE to join as members, that published letters from PIE members in its magazine, and she openly expressed views with regards to their activities that would get any politician a rapid firing today.

This "regret" thing is the worst sort of fob off. Wasn't me, guv. I only joined the organisation that affiliated with such foul people and watched as they wrote letters that we published and defended their viewpoints.

Let me ask you: you're considering joining a political party, and that party affiliates with say, the BNP. And it prints letters from those BNP members calling for repatriation. Would you have joined that party, or after those letters, would you have stayed?

It's the lack of backbone I really object to. If she's changed her mind about some issues, fine, but at least admit that you were wrong about it, or explain what caused you to change your views, and take some responsibility.

DBC Reed said...

I don't see the Mail regetting their big lie campaign: Wage Inflation Bad /House Price Inflation Good. This campaign as caused more long-term misery than their relatively short-loved backing of the Blackshirts before the War.
Obviously Harman should have fessed up to making a serious mistake and apologised profusely.
Lets see when the Mail and Express apologise for propagating the lie that inflated house prices and low wages are good for you .

paulc156 said...

@The Stigler.
She joined an organisation that advocated for civil liberties and human rights. This logically might be expected to include a few people or groups that had extreme or unpopular views on various matters, yet if the fundamental aim of the organisation is one you can identify with you might be expected to overlook the fact that you don't identify with or agree or even find repugnant, the views expressed by some of the thousand odd 'other' affiliated groups. It appears that by the time Harman joined the NCCL the PIE group had already been marginalised within the org. That they were subsequently excluded as a natural progression of this marginalisation.

The BNP analogy doesn't seem appropriate here. More like, would I concur with the UK taking it's seat at the UN even though it has to thereby confer a measure of respectability and authenticity on representatives of other states which it might regard as repugnant. The answer is clearly yes. It can be justified on the basis of the overall merit and benefits of the organisation outweighing the inconvenience of sharing a forum with some whose views and actions you might find abhorent.
I also find it a bit strange that you seem to infer that Harman was somehow sympathetic to the PIE cause by your reference to other newspaper 'stories' in the Telegraph that suggest her views on paedophilia were substantively different from what they are now and 'presumably' more accommodating to paedophiles.
Hmm, interesting and rather suggestive. Was she an apologist for paedophiles back then?

The Stigler said...

"The BNP analogy doesn't seem appropriate here. More like, would I concur with the UK taking it's seat at the UN even though it has to thereby confer a measure of respectability and authenticity on representatives of other states which it might regard as repugnant."

The UN is basically a monopoly of nations. However much one likes or dislikes them, it's really the only forum of all nations.

How many organisations were there out there that call for better civil liberties, and how many of them hadn't called for the age of consent to be lowered to 10 a few years earlier that Harman could have joined?

Mark Wadsworth said...

"you'll rarely find a bare faced lie in the Daily Mail."

Agreed, yes, that is the beauty of The Mail.

They have their editorial line which they make perfectly clear in the headline and opening paragraphs, and then they often undermine their own case by reporting all relevant facts towards the end of the article.

Whether this is their devilish sense of surreal humour or whether they are just too thick to do selective quotation, I do not know.

paulc156 said...

Obviously not that many organisations or else she would be expected to have joined one which had views and policies that accorded with her own in their entirety, even amongst all their affiliates.

James Higham said...

Can't disagree with this, Mark.