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The news as told by the UK’s tabloid press – The Sun, Daily Express, Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, Daily Star and News of the World.

Daily Star sacks all its Page 3 topless models

The job market is looking bleak for topless stunnas. The Daily Star says it will no longer feature pictures of topless women on Page 3, following the Sun’s move to end its Page 3 feature 2015. Readers looking for tit-bits of news will be lost to the web.

page 3

“The Daily Star is always looking to try new things and improve,” says the paper’s editor, Jonathan Clark. “In that spirit, we’ve listened to reader feedback and are currently trialling a covered-up version of page 3.”

Do Daily Star readers do feedback in anything other than sales?

daily star sex
No Page 3 in the Star means readers will need to use their imaginations – and phones
You could see tit but not say ‘tits’ in the Sun

How different things were when the Sun sacked Dannii from Basildon. “The Daily Star is proud to continue the great British page 3 tradition,” announced the paper. “It brightens the day for our readers during tough times and has launched many successful careers. We will continue to listen to what our readers want and put a smile on their faces with our lovely, bright, talented and independent young ladies. Page 3 is as British as roast beef and Yorkshire pud, fish and chips and seaside postcards. The Daily Star is about fun and cheering people up. And that will definitely continue!”

What the Star is about now is unsaid. Maybe it’ll be about a different kind of hard news?

Posted: 12th, April 2019 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts, News, Tabloids | Comment


Upskirting still legal in the newsagents

Pippa naked Kate Middleton upskirt

It is illegal to take photos up a person’s skirt or other items of clothing without their consent. Upskirting is a crime if “the offender has a motive of either gaining sexual gratification or causing humiliation, distress or alarm to the victim”. What about if you’re an underwear researcher for M&S? What about if it’s newsworthy?

The Daily Star once alerted us to the “clea-vadge”, a happening so rich it was hailed as “The FILTHIEST celeb trend yet”. Female celebs had taken to wearing very small knickers and skirts with long slits. Men wielding very long lenses with endoscopy attachments were taking photos of the ‘trend zone’. You’ve seen 90% of the star’s naked flesh but the contest to reveal the remaining portions is keenly fought in panting PR agencies and on the kerb.

You say ‘flashed’ they say’ cheeky’

Following the arrival of the new anti-upskirting law the questions for editors are: when are knickers being “flashed” and when are you just gawping at a woman’s crotch?

In 2014, the Express brought us: “Top 10 knicker flashes including Kate Middleton, Susanna Reid and Emma Watson.” Flashing suggests an act of free will. But in its article the Express said these leading flashers were “blundering”. BBC TV presenter Alex Jones was a flasher because she “had unwittingly showed off her brown polkadot pants as she crossed her legs in front of the camera, giving viewers a little more than they bargained for.”

Upskirting

The paper went on:

Kate Middleton proved that not even royalty can escape the embarrassment of an accidental flash. The mother-of-one ended up victim to a bluster of wind during a nine-day Canadian tour with Prince William, and showed off bottom when the breeze lifted up her yellow summer dress…

Emma Watson revealed more than she intended when she made a quick dash to the shops in 2011.

“For the second time, the 42-year-old star gave viewers an eyeful thanks to a tight, short dress”

Is it now the case if a celebrity accidentally “flashes” her knickers that if no police action follows the gusset exposure was accidentally-on-purpose?

Just what is the message police and media are presenting us with? Now magazine once looks for meaning in Britney Spears’ gunties – and found some:

We now await the first paparazzo tried in court for upskirting who solicits the defence: “If I’d spotted early stage of cervical cancer, she’d be thanking me.”

Posted: 12th, April 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Tabloids | Comment


Brexit: tabloids hail detectives May and Corbyn

Brexit

Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn will join forces to solve Brexit, forming the kind of made-for-ITV drama partnership mouth breathers will love. In episode one of Chalk ‘n’ Cheese / Marx and Narks / Remain & Remain we see the intrepid duo meeting for “national unity” talks. The tabloids preview the show:

The Sun (front page): “PM TO CORBYN: HELLLLPP!!” May’s locked in a room with scented Liam Fox and Geoffrey Cox’s Voice of God. Can Corbyn get into Number 10? “After 7 hours of Cabinet lockdown, May’s gone soft over Brexit mess,” says the Sun. May’s “bright idea” is to think Corbyn can help. His face appears superimposed on a screw-in lightbulb, evoking the time the Sun did the same to then Labour leader Neil Kinnock, telling readers to turn the lights off if he got into power. Kinnock lost that time but soon trotted off to a massive salary in Brussels, from where he and his ilk will be soon controlling the UK post-Brexit. Votes, who needs ’em?

But in Brexit terms it’s earth hour, says the Metro. The lightbulbs are about to go out across the UK if a deal with the EU cannot be done. Cabinet secretary Sir Mark Sedwill says a no-deal Brexit will “make the country less safe, cause food prices to rise by ten per cent and lead to a recession”.

Daily Mail (front page): “May delays Brexit AGAIN and kills off No Deal — Boris leads Tory fury as Corbyn invited to ‘compromise’ talks”. The talks have been compromised! If you don’t know which side the Mail is on get a load of the billing: only Boris Johnson is on first-name terms with the paper’s readership. Johnson arrives on page 2 to accuse “Mrs May of betrayal”. But Michael Gove backs May. He backs lots of things and so long as you don’t back into him, all is good.

Johnson is all over page 6: “You’ve handed Brexit deal to Corbyn, bitter Boris tells May.” He’ll vote against any deal with the Labour leader. One page on and Henry Deedes gives his verdict, employing language familiar to anyone who spends afternoons chemically coshed in front of reruns of the BBC’s Antiques Road Trip and howls with laughter at Readers’ Digest ‘Life’s Like That’ anecdotes.

Daily Mirror (front page): “HELP ME JEREMY,” says a “despairing Theresa May”. Jeremy will rescue things. “Jezza says he’ll talk”. But wait a moment. Might it be a trap?

Page 5: Jason Beattie, who writes beneath the marvellous title “head of politics”, says Corbyn is “well aware he’s being lined up for a fall”. “To keep his party together his minimum request should be for a customs union and a second referendum,” he advises. Will May agree to Remain? Will her successor rip-up any agreement? Will Brexit detectives Fudgeit and Snubs get to the bottom of things?

Daily Express (front page): “It’s Time For National Unity…Over To You Mr Corbyn.” Mr.. Not just ‘Corbyn’. By page four the language is back to basics. The Express phone poll asks: “Should Corbyn be entrusted with final Brexit deal?” That’s the Brexit-supporting Express asking its readers to spend 50p on a referendum that may carry less weight than, well, the referendum in which 17.4 millions of voted to leave.

Vote now and vote often.

Posted: 3rd, April 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians, Tabloids | Comment


Danny Cipriani in a mum’s ‘hallway’ and trailing Caroline Flack’s Love Island

Danny Cirpriani sex Flack

And to think they said it wouldn’t last. Days after “rugby ace” Danny Cirpriani was linked with Stanislavsky-honed Love Island presenter Caroline Flack, the Sun, the paper that broke the news on its front page, says he’s “bedded” a mum of two.

Meet Amy D’Ambrogio, whose kids will be the toast of their school playground as she tells the paper of her alleged shagging. Amy’s fluent in the kind of language that requires no work from the Sun’s busy subeditor’s, revealing: “After sex he was saying, ‘I feel really bad now. I feel guilty’ and told me he had cheated on someone.” Who? No matter because we get to the maul, tackle and ruck, which according to the scummy mummy (come on, Sun subs) went like this:

  1. Amy follows Danny on instagram
  2. Amy asks Danny for a “birthday kiss”
  3. “To her surprise [he] later arrived at her home”
  4. They spend 90 minutes “exchanging intimacies” in her “hall”
  5. His breath was a bit garlicky,” says she
  6. “I really needed that release,” says he

Another alleged shag is explained: “He stopped outside my bedroom, took all his clothes off and folded them in a neat pile.”

No word from ‘Copping some’ Flack, but after Danny and she were “caught” together at Babington House, a members’ club in Somerset, where spotting a frotting celebrity and their PR is akin to spotting the sky, we look forward to another series of Love Island very soon.

Posted: 3rd, April 2019 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts, News, Tabloids | Comment


Danny Cipriani and Caroline Flack collide in the Celebrity Petri Dish

Danny Cipriani and Caroline Flack

Love Island presenter Caroline Flack and “rugby’s bad boy” Danny Cipriani “shared a romantic getaway” in… Somerset. The Sun peers into the Celebrity Petri Dish and spots the “smitten rugby ace” and Flack sharing a “passionate goodbye kiss” after a “raunchy” weekend. An anonymous source adds: “They did start tongues wagging quite quickly.” Wagging Tongue might be the celebrity sex aide we need, one up on Love Island’s‘ Under Duvet Hand Assister and rugby’s maul, ruck, scrum, praise of the “nice tackle”, lots of “playing with one another” and a “hooker” pressed on with cries of “heave” – to think they broadcast that stuff before the watershed.

The Sun sees romance but perhaps this was an audition for the much-awaited Celebrity Love Island, in which Cirpriani, a man whose entire rugby playing career appears to be an audition for the moment he shares a televised hot tub with drip-dry incarnations of Kate Price, and Flack, a woman whose genitals are often accused of being a PR stunt – Flack, presenter of an X-Factor spin-off show enjoyed a “romance” with a teenage Harry Styles (who he?) enacted before anonymous sources and passing paps. Celebrity Love Island is the show we need.

That Celebrity Love Island line-up in full:

Caroline Flack

Danny Cipriani

Nigel Farage

Edwina Currie

Sarah Ferguson

Katie Price

The Teletubbies

Terry Waite

Shamima Begum

Uri Geller

Posted: 1st, April 2019 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts, Tabloids | Comment


Biased media: Tabloids say British Pakistanis are a threat to national security

Madrassa Briitsh

On the Daily Star’s page 2 a story about “British kids” being taken to Pakistan “and enrolled in chilling extremist summer schools”. These schools offer a “glorified version of jihad”. We hear from a “source” – unnamed. They opine: “It is highly likely his education in Pakistan, even for a short period, increases the risk of extremism for British-Pakistani children.”

Always a pity than you don’t know the name of the person giving you their opinion, especially one outlining a potential threat to national security which implicates British citizens.

pakistan madrassa

As for the story, the Star says it’s in a “secret report by the Home Office”. An earlier and fuller version of this story appeared in the Mail two days previously. “Terrorism fears as 3,000 UK children a year go to ‘jihadi’ schools in Pakistan, secret government report reveals,” says the Mail. The inverted commas should alert circumspect readers to the fact that these schools are not jihadi schools.

Like the Star, the Mail says the news is “chilling” and “secret”. That voice is again heard telling us: “It is highly likely that this education in Pakistan, even for short periods of time, increases the risk of exposure to extremism for British-Pakistani children,’ the source told The Mail on Sunday.” The teaching takes place in “Pakistan’s estimated 20,000 madrasas”.

Are these madrases all a worry for the British government? Er, no. The Mail says the report “identifies three madrasas of concern – the Darul Uloom Haqqania (DUH) madrasa in the remote Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region bordering Afghanistan; the Jamia Binoria in Karachi and Jamiatul Uloom Ul Islamia in Azad Kashmir. Each has denied involvement in extremism.”

How many British children have even been to one of those three schools? Dunno. Having cast a pall of suspicion over all British-Pakistanis who choose to give their children more education, the Star and Mail don’t say.

But we are told: “Two of the 7/7 bombers, Mohammad Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer, enrolled on madrasa courses in Pakistan a year before they launched their deadly attack in 2005, which killed 52.” Khan was 30 when he committed an act of mass murder. Tanweer was 22. Neither was a child sent to a ‘jihadi’ school by the parents. Both were grown men when they went to school in Pakistan. The Sunday Times said Khan was assessed by MI5 in 2004, after his name appeared during an investigation into a plan to detonate a 600-lb truck bomb in London. Tanweer “looked up to Khan as a “father figure”. What role any madrasa played in their barbarity is moot.

So about those madrases… There’s no proof they’re any threat to this country at all.

Posted: 25th, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Tabloids | Comment


Lottery winner Ade Goodchild saves us from Brexit

Ade Goodchild

You can’t come out from under there yet. And go easy on those provisions you’ve stored and planned to live on until March 29 when you could re-emerge into society. And save some of the Buffalo mozzarella – that stuff could be worth more than gold in post-Brexit Islington. Brexit is being delayed, well, it will be if Theresa May can get permission from the EU – you know, the body the country rejected in favour of being sovereign. There, there. Hush. Banging your head into the wall won’t help in the long run. And by the time you come out, the Polish repair team will have left for China. Here, to keep you going is a copy of the Daily Star.

daily star lotto

There’s little talk of Brexit on planet Star. The paper focuses on breasts and factory worker Ade Goodchild, who has won £71m in the EuroMillions lottery. He was the only winner of the £71,057,439 prize on Friday. The BBC says he’ll travel the world and buy a home with a swimming pool.

ade goodchild

You cares what colour your passport is when you’ve loadsa money? Good for Ade. And his fortune might be better news for our MPs, too, because Ade is looking for staff. If he needs a boat, Chris Grayling Ferries can sort him out; John ‘ORDER!’ Bercow is handy in restaurants; and Jeremy Corbyn is a shoo-in as a travel agent, fixing trips to Iran, Russia and Venezuela.

And what millionaire doesn’t need a life-size weather house? Call me, Mrs May, I have ideas…

Posted: 21st, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, Money, News, Politicians, Tabloids | Comment


What racism? Raheem Sterling becomes the tabloids’ role model

Raheem Sterling the sun

In a tribute to Jadon Sancho, the England and Borussia Dortmund winger, the Sun’s Martin Blackburn says Raheem Sterling might be “something of a role model” to the tyro. Writing in the Times, Henry Winter calls Sterling “a role model in a divided land crying out for them”. Watford’s Troy Deeney has no truck with footballers being pitched as role models to strangers, arguing that he’s a role model only to his kids. But this isn’t about Sterling’s talents, which are considerable, but how the press portrays him. And the Sun has changed tact.

Winter has called out the media’s bias towards Sterling, an intelligent, driven young black athlete on the receiving end of some monocular reporting. And the Sun has been accused of treating Sterling unfairly.

raheem sterling drugs
Story about drugs: Nothing to do with Raheem Sterling
Young man from working-class background buys house!
raheem sterling tattoo gun
Sterling gets a tribute to his late father – it’s an anti-gun tattoo
raheem sterling the sun
And the Sun’s Star letter is… GET STERLING!
raheem sterling m16 tattoo
Raheem and his part in the Vietnam War

Today the BBC reports the words of Spurs and England full-back Danny Rose, who says players were “over the moon” to see Raheem Sterling criticise the media’s portrayal of black players and says the winger was “spot on”. Sterling opined that newspapers helped “fuel racism” by the way they portray young black footballers.

“Raheem was only saying what we all say in the dressing room,” said Rose, 28.”It’s sad really but he’s 100% spot on with what he said… The stick he used to get from the media was bang out of order. When he put the [Instagram] post up about the media we were all over the moon with that because we all agree. Fair play to Raheem… One of the few positive things about social media now is you have a voice and you can influence people. Now it’s not just boys in the dressing room talking about the media targeting Raheem, the general public have now seen it. We hope it changes but it doesn’t affect Raheem in any way, which we are all grateful for.”

I’ve no interest in a footballer being a role model. I just want them to be brilliant and give their all when playing for my team and rubbish in a rival club’s shirt. Does what Wayne Rooney or Raheem Sterling do in their downtime fill a gap in your parenting skills? Simon Barnes summed it up well in The Times: “Football itself is neither disgusting nor admirable. It’s just a game, it doesn’t have any pretensions to be a moral force, for good or evil. That’s not its job.” Stop holding footballers up as an example to the slack-jawed masses, and stop making examples of them.

Next week: why aren’t MPs role models?

Posted: 20th, March 2019 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Madeleine McCann: the international Belgian paedo mob

Madeleine Mccann
The News: What you missed (but didn’t) / what we already know / and a big maybe

Now that Madeleine McCann is back in the news thanks to a Netflix docu-drama, the tabloids can revisit the same old with some degree of surety that readers remain interested in the missing child.

Daily Star (page 19): “Maddie was kidnapped ‘to order’.

Who sent the order? The paper tells us it was a “peado gang”, precisely a “Belgian paedophile ring”. Seems hard to fathom that depraved perverts would go to so much trouble as to import a white child from a foreign country? But if it’s on the Netflix drama The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann is must have weight. And we read the theory that “someone linked to the mob” spotted Madeleine McCann on holiday in Portugal, took her photo and “secretly” sent it to Belgium. The “purchaser” is “said to have approved her”.

maddie mccann reward
A huge reward that went unclaimed

A source from detective agency Metodo 3, once hired to track down the child all those moons ago, opines: “To take her without leaving a trace? It was well-organised group.” Because as everyone knows, the more people involved in a crime, the less likely it is that something will go wrong and someone will claim the huge reward.

The Star says the Belgian tip-off was noted by a Scotland Yard officer 10 months after the child vanished. The report runs: “Intelligence suggests that a paedophile ring in Belgium made an order for a young girl three days before Madeleine was taken.” It’s a sickening theory. But at least it’s only speculation. We see no facts to support it.

Posted: 19th, March 2019 | In: Madeleine McCann, Tabloids | Comment


John Bercow v Brexit: you sweet beautiful man

John Bercow Brexit
Daily Mail

John Bercow is the “smug Speaker” (Sun) who yelled “Bollocks to Brexit” (see Mrs Bercow’s bumper sticker) who “ambushed” (Mail) the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal. Bercow, the House of Commons’ warden, told MPs that Theresa May cannot bring her deal back for a third vote without “substantial changes”. We cannot have “Groundhog May” (Mirror). Rules are rules. And the ruling Mr Bercow cited from 1604 justifies his decision to block a third vote.

That’s 1604 the year, not 16:04 the time – and given the volatile nature of Brexit negotiation you’re forgiven for confusing the two.

John Bercow Brexit
The Sun

Henry Deedes, writing in the Mail is upset. His paper, which supports May’s deal, says Bercow fired an “Exorcet rocket straight to the core” of May’s Brexit strategy. An Exorcet is the French-made missile used by the Argentines to sink the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Sheffield during the Falklands War. Twenty man were killed. From deadly missile to cheap shot. How language moves on. But at least laws stay rooted.

Daily Express

The Express calls Bercow “The Brexit Destroyer”. The Sun opts for similarly warlike imagery, saying Bercow “torpedoed Theresa May’s EU deal”. “GOTCHA!” as an alternative take on this might have put it. The paper’s editorial calls Bercow “obnoxious, discredited and shameless”. Well, he is also an MP.

Only the Mirror is non-plussed. The news features on its page 2 – that’s the page nobody reads. Well, that’s not exactly true. John Bercow reads it because he’s on it. The replicant incubating in his loins needs the sustenance of media coverage.

John Bercow Brexit
Daily Mirror

What next? Well, for Bercow and his Tourette’s-like scream ‘Divisionnnnnn” the opportunity to sort out camp rations in the I’m a Celebrity jungle surely beckons. For the rest of us, it’s apathy and Ray Mears boxsets.

Posted: 19th, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians, Tabloids | Comment


After Christchurch: Daily Mail discovers the killer’s angelic blonde roots

Daily Mail Christchurch blonde

Did you know that the man who murdered 49 people as they prayed in a Christchurch mosque was once a blonde? You can mull over that as the Mail thought it wise to broadcast footage of the murderer’s live-streamed killing spree. The same papers that attacked Facebook for giving mass murder a platform – The Mail, The Sun and The Mirror – all ran excerpts online. In the race for web traffic, anything goes.

daily mail new zealand facebook
They are shameless; we are reporting

The videos were on the same pages as adverts for London North Eastern Railway (LNER) and Coral on The Mail and The Sun websites. The videos have now been removed.

Was the ISIS maniac ever an ‘angelic boy’ – or blonde?
Daily Mail Christchurch
For edited highlights click here

The Mail thought it informative to allow readers to download of the attacker’s 84-page manifesto as a PDF. It’s been removed from the site.

Andy Dawson puts it well:

Oh, and it’s not about Facebook. To blame the massacre on social media is a cop out. Nazis didn’t need social media to turn an entire nation to murderous extremism. The fear is that individuals with a warped agenda based on hating a group will see themselves as part of something bigger.

Posted: 16th, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Tabloids | Comment


After New Zealand: Tom Watson calls Mark Zuckerberg ‘wicked’ and blames Facebook for massacre

Forty-nine people are known to have been murdered as they prayed in a New Zealand mosque. The killer live-streamed the massacre on Facebook. On LBC Radio, Labour Deputy Leader Tom Watson used his hosted show to call Mark Zuckerberg, the owner of Facebook, “wicked”. Watson said he “dreams of the day” when he no longer has to use social media.

The Sun New Zealand massacre

Watson sounds like the intro to 1970s TV show Why Don’t You?, which advised British children tuning in to turn the telly off and get a life – but only after they’d finished watching this show, which was more pure than all the other shows. So by all means use Twitter and Facebook, but only listen to people who advocate “decency”, like Tom Watson.

The Daily Telegraph calls the slaughter the first social media terror attack. The Sun calls the killer the ‘FACEBOOK TERRORIST”. The Mail says it’s the “MASSACRE SHAME ON FACEBOOK”. The mood is clear: more censorship is required to prevent a repeat of this. But is that how you stop a disease from spreading? And who gets to decide what we, the impressionable masses, get to see?

You can argue about what kind of person seeks out a video of people being murdered, and why anyone not involved in psychopathic studies would want to spend a muon of their time reading the killer’s long manifesto. But should things be banned?

daily mail new zealand facebook

Maybe context is key? In France, the odious Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far-right National Rally, is being investigated for her tweets. Her response to suggestions that the Far-Right has much in common with jihadism was to tweet the pointer “This is Daesh” and a series of gruesome photos. She thought it useful to show her followers images of a man being burned alive in a cage and decapitated US journalist James Foley. Le Pen has been charged with “circulating violent pictures liable to be seen by children”. “Sharing is caring,” says the blurb beneath social media icons. Not always it isn’t.

So, who else be blamed?

The Hill:

“New Zealand Police alerted us to a video on Facebook shortly after the livestream commenced and we quickly removed both the shooter’s Facebook and Instagram accounts and the video,” Mia Garlick, Facebook’s director of policy for Australia and New Zealand, said in a statement. Facebook is “removing any praise or support for the crime and the shooter or shooters as soon as we’re aware,” Garlick added.

A caller to Watson’s show said words heard in any video can be transcribed by machine learning. If the broadcast features a word on the banned list, then the video is flagged. So, for instance, a video of Tom Watson talking about “porn” and “white supremacy” would be flagged and blocked at the gate. The problem with that approach is clear. No platforming words and ideas diminishes us all.

What to do? Well, a word from Waleed Aly is worth listening to:

Posted: 16th, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians, Tabloids, Technology | Comment


Madeleine McCann: Netflix show says actors kidnapped child

madeleine mccann netflix

There’s a  “Maddie shocker” on the Daily Star’s cover. The paper doesn’t tell you what it is until you reach page 13. That location’s a clue, isn’t it. It tells us that the story isn’t shocking and certainly doesn’t reveal what happened to Madeleine McCann back in May 2007.  But let’s take the bait and flick through…

The story is about that new Netflix drama into the child’s vanishing. It will, says the marketing and the tabloid, “contain explosive new claims”. They’d best be good. We’ve heard some pretty edgy stuff in the decade and more since a 4-year-old girl on holiday became ‘Our Maddie’.

The Mail also trails the show. It tells us: “Haunting last footage of Madeleine McCann boarding a plane to Portugal with her family days before her disappearance is unearthed in new Netflix documentary.” Haunting because..? No reasons are given. She didn’t go missing on the plane to The Algarve. She didn’t board the plan and then – poof!  – vanish. It’s not haunting to see the child on the plane’s steps. It’s ghoulish.  

On page 29, the Mail conducts an interactive study. “Is this Maddie playing in Portugal just days before she vanished.” Before. Not after. So let’s say ‘yes’, it is her. Because a four-years-old on holiday will do a lot of playing. The Mail says the image of a child seen from the back who might or might be Madeleine McCann is “haunting”. The Mail sees ghosts where the rest of us see a flesh and blood child, and a mystery most likely rooted in the criminal rather than the supernatural.

Indeed, as part of Netflix’s armchair detective show, we see a “dramatic reconstruction of Maddie’s abductors…running through the resort’s streets with a child in their arms.” These kidnappers are played by “actors”. This is no CCTV footage of this as an actual event. And for reasons uncertain, the “couple” seen carrying a child in plain view constitute one man (brown skinned; 30-ish; jeans and trainers) and one woman (white; 30-ish, headscarf). Why they’re portrayed like this is unsaid. But, you know, telly. And it’s hard to get Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman to patch up their differences, even if it is to help with an open case. Also, very few actors resemble this early suspect:

One artist’s impression of the suspect

The “fleeing couple” also look not a lot like these “suspects”:

belgium-suspect1

Picture 1 of 6

If The Dandy comic did abductions

But there has been a breakthrough. Over in the Sun we get the answer to the Mail’s question. “Maddie,” says the paper, “New pic playing on hols.” Not now. Way back then.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 15th, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, Madeleine McCann, News, Tabloids | Comment


Brexit: cats bark in the House of Fools

All tabloids bar the Daily Star lead with Brexit. The Star begins its take on world affairs with news that a thug has glassed “EastEnders Girl” Katie Jarvis. The actress plays Hayley Slater in the soap opera without end. We wish her well. But it’s another soap opera elsewhere that occupies the rest.

The Daily Mirror says the country is facing “months of chaos” and “mayhem”. Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock or got poked in the Big Brother house at closing time – and lucky you if you have been – Theresa May’s Brexit deal was last night defeated for a second time in the Commons. MPs rejected her withdrawal agreement by a whopping 149 votes. More votes will now follow. MPs will vote on whether the UK should leave the EU without a deal and, if it should not, on whether Brexit should be delayed. Funny, no, how MPs get to have so many “meaningful” votes when we are just afforded just one – and it’s the one they’ve done their utmost to stymie.

Inside the Mirror, and over pages 4 and 5 we get odds on what will happen next. You can get 40-1 on May getting her deal through; 30-1 on a second referendum; 10-1 on a “softer Brexit – although what the means is moot; and 15-1 on a General Election. iI shot: no-one has a clue (dead cert). Odds on May having an affair with Jeremy Corbyn (80-1); Boris Johnson having an affair with Jeremy Corbyn (25-1); and Jeremy Corbyn f****** himself (11-10) are all available on request.

On page 6, we hear Corbyn urge MPs to ‘back Labour’s rival Brexit plan”. What that plan is remains less certain than a Corbynista queuing for the toilet at a conference of black, transgender Jewish lesbians. The paper notes: “After detailing Labour’s Brexit proposals, he [Corbyn] added: ‘We believe there will be a majority for the , but there will also be the potential of negotiating them.” The Mirror does not bother to outline the proposals. They just exist and are able to change. Why waste the ink?

What the papers do agree on is the need for a map. Political intrigue is great for graphic designers and illustrators.

brexit
The Sun
brexit
The Mail

And what of Mrs May, the architect of a useless plan? The Daily Mail blames not her for the mess, rather “contemptuous MPs” for plunging “our despairing nation into chaos”. It calls the House of Commons a “house of fools”. Is that bad? Umberto Eco identified fools as one of four kinds of people:

Fools are in great demand, especially on social occasions. They embarrass everyone but provide material for conversation…Fools don’t claim that cats bark, but they talk about cats when everyone else is talking about dogs. They offend all the rules of conversation, and when they really offend, they’re magnificent…

Fools they are, then.

Posted: 13th, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Tabloids | Comment


Chelsea balls: Sarri not sacked (day 236)

sarri sack mirror

If you get your news from the Daily Mirror, the shocking realisation is that Maurizio Sarri is still the Chelsea manager. He was not sacked when Chelsea lost the Carabao Cup final to Manchester City. (The Mirror has form with predictions – see here.)

Sarri Mirror chelsea

But clickbait is as clickbait does, and the Mirror today reports that Sarri has dropped the “biggest hint yet he WILL be Chelsea manager next season”. What tosh. He signed a a three-year deal to mange Chelsea in July 2018. But that’s more of a fact than a hint. If you want clicks, you need to conjure ‘hints’ and ‘five things we noticed’ and all manner of other drivel from football. So a few weeks after telling readers Sarri was getting sacked, the paper reports: “Two weeks after the Chelsea axe seemed set to fall on their new boss Sarri, he is now plotting their future.”

He never did stop plotting their future. It’s his job.

Posted: 7th, March 2019 | In: Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Knife Crime: stop and search wanted; austerity blamed; a Government licence to carry a knife

knife crime

The Times is alone in not leading with knife crime. For all other national newspapers the biggest story is of “warzones on our streets” (Express) and what the Government can and cannot do about teenagers being stabbed to death.

The Telegraph wants police to be given stop-and-search powers. Readers see a photo of school friends of stabbing victim Yousef Makki embracing. Yousef, a pupil at Manchester Grammar school, was stabbed to death in Gorse Bank Road, Hale Barns, near Altrincham, on Saturday. Two 17-year-old boys have been arrested on suspicion of murder.

Are more police the answer to the “knife crime epidemic’? The Guardian says it is. The paper says there is a link between stabbings and reduced police numbers brought about by austerity. “How many more, Mrs May?” asks the Mirror, blaming the Prime Minister for 27 murders.

But is that why 27 teenagers have been knifed to death this year, because there are not enough police to control them? Surely there’s something more at the root of the matter than control? May says there is “no direct correlation between certain crimes and police numbers”. So certain crimes police are powerless to stop? Focus less on knife crime, perhaps, and more on people not paying their TV licence, doing 34mph in a 30mph zone and saying nasty things online.

Maybe the State could issue licences for people to own a knife, making a nice little earner from the horror and hitting the perps where the Government likes to hit them hardest: in their pockets?

Nuts? One other proposal for knife control was floated:

A judge wants the points of kitchen knives to be rounded and blunted to reduce the number of young men dying from stab wounds in street attacks.

Judge Nic Madge said ordinary kitchen knives were causing a “soaring loss of life”, rather than more heavily regulated large-bladed weapons… Kitchens contain lethal knives which are potential murder weapons and only butchers and fishmongers need eight or 10 inch kitchen knives with points,” the judge said.

Knives for only those who need them? Look out for the looming fork crime epidemic.

Posted: 5th, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Tabloids | Comment


I’m not just masturbating in the mirror – I’m being autosexual with my selfie stick

A question for readers The Metro: “What’s it like being autosexual, when you’re attracted to yourself?” Is it a bit like being a wanker, only with more mirrors, a selfie stick and an Instagram account? It’s just Me, Myself & O:

Auosexual

The story, such as it is, is choice. It is, of course, written in the first person:

“My earliest memories of checking myself out in the mirror and feeling attraction happened at around age seven. I didn’t learn the term “autosexual” until after I graduated from college in 2013. My attraction to myself made me confused at times, but once I learned about autosexuality, I was glad there was a word for my experience. I’ve recognised myself as being in a relationship with myself since I was in college. I just didn’t have the vocabulary to express my experiences.”

Are there other words to define such grinding narcissism?

Posted: 4th, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Strange But True, Tabloids | Comment


Chelsea Balls: Sarri sacked by clickbait

Remember when the Daily Mirror told us Maurizio Sarri was to be sacked should Chelsea lose the Carabao Cup final to Manchester City. They lost. He’s sill in the job.

sarri sacked
Not SACKED

The Mirror has form with predictions – see here. Of course, the paper’s online version writes for SEO bots and Google. Unlike these knowing bots, mere human have short memories and won’t call the paper out for writing utter tosh.

And so it is that despite making a statement that turned out to be total balls, the paper ploughs on regardless. Since handing Sarri advance warning that his P45 was in the post on February 20, the Mirror has written much more on the Italian’s sacking.

“Alan Shearer on why Kepa Arrizabalaga could get Maurizio Sarri sacked by Chelsea” – Feb 25

“Who’s running this show? Who’s driving this bus? And who will get sacked when results don’t go as required?” – Feb 25

“Jamie Redknapp lists three Chelsea games that will get Maurizio Sarri sacked” – Feb 25

“Maurizio Sarri ‘to hold talks with Chelsea over his future’ after Kepa Arrizabalaga row” – Feb 26

Such are the facts.

Posted: 26th, February 2019 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Key Posts, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Meghan Markle to dress ‘genderless’ baby in a suit

Meghan Markle

Meghan Markle will “break with tradition” and raise the young Prince “genderless”. So says the Daily Star. Meghan will do away with traditional macho frilly lace, broaches and knickerbockers, preferring to dress the young sire in something more masculine and yet also more feminine, like a smart business suit with complementary document wallet and sensible shoes.

The paper also notes that the royal nursery will be designed in “gender-neutral colours” of beige and grey from the corporate pallet.

Says one Royal watcher to Anorak: “It’s what Chairman Mao and Bill Gates would have wanted.”

Posted: 25th, February 2019 | In: Fashion, News, Royal Family, Tabloids | Comment


Shamima Begum: meet Britain’s new celebrity role model

shaming

No longer on the front pages, nonetheless, Shamima Begum remains newsworthy. The Star catches up with the jihadi on page 7. “JIHADI BRIDE’S DAD: DON’T LET HER HOME,” comes the headline. The page is split between a photo of Begum looking like an extra from ‘Wallace and Gromit : The Wrong Gap Year’, a photo of her dad Ahmed Ali – he thinks the State’s decision to revoke his daughter’s citizenship sound because she “does not admit her wrong’ – and news that Begum’s mates in ISIS raped 10-year-olds and left the severed heads of 50 sex slaves in a hole.

Welcome home, Shamima!

Much the same news appears on the Mirror’s page 5. “I am on the side of the Government,” says Mr Ali, “if the law of the land says it’s correct to cancel her citizenships then I agree. I know they don’t want to take her back and in this I don’t have a problem.” Says Begum: “They are taking an example of me.” But Begum wants to make an example of herself.

Over pages 18 and 19, we meet the “famous” Begum and tour her home at the Al-Hawi refugee camp in northern Syria. Larisa Brown goes through the keyhole into Begum’s digs. Who lives in a tent like this? Is it an innocent teenager who suffered at the hands of ferociously influential adult ‘groomers’? Or is it the unapologetic member of a death cult?

The camera zooms in. Shamima Begum “sits crossed-legged in her socks”. No, not school socks. Although given one narrative of the underage teen sexually abused by web perverts, you’d half expect it. On her knee is Jerah. Why the name? The Mail says its in honour of a “7th Century Islamic warlord”. He’s very much today’s modern man in ISIS circles.

As ever with ISIS, talks turns to love. She vows to wait for her husband, the child’s father, a Dutch Islamic convert called Abu Zoraya, but formerly known as Yago Riedijk. When they met she asked him some questions, one of which was what he wanted in a wife. “He told me he was strict and he wanted a good housewife that stays inside,” says Begum. He didn’t want someone who “wants to go out and stuff”. ‘Phew!’ thought Begum. No more competing with better looking, more intelligent women for sexual attention. Pass the shroud. Yago was chuffed. Not only would he get to shag a virgin who’d never know another man and thus remain dead to his limitations, but she was giving him tacit permission to live as a brutal thug and hang out with guys into murder, genocide and rape. I do!

Shamima Begum

It’s hot in the tent. Begum says there’s no tea because she’s can’t heat water. Where’s a Yazidi slave when you need one? (Raped and decapitated – ed).

Begum – whom Brown calls “Shamima” throughout, affording her celebrity status – is “at pains to be conciliatory”. “I am hoping to be given a second chance,” she says. “…I want to help encourage other young British people to think before they make life-changing decisions like this and not make the same mistakes as me.” Hard to make those mistakes now that ISIS is being smashed to bits. And until a new Islamists terror group rise from the blood, teens are advised to lay off pills, sugar and too much ‘screen time’.

“I can’t do that if I’m sitting here in a camp,” she adds of her offer to save young lives. “I can’t do that for you.” Thanks for the offer to work for us, Shamima Begum. But the position of moral guide has been filled. We appreciate your interest.

“Inshalla (God willing) I’ll see you soon,” says Brown to Begum as she leaves the tent. Where they will meet again, who knows where, who knows when. If the UK won’t take Begum, maybe the I’m A Celebrity jungle or Big Brother will?

Posted: 25th, February 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Tabloids | Comment


Aaron Campbell: the face of ‘evil’

aaron Campbell

He’s called Aaron Campbell – the teenager convicted of abducting, raping and murdering six-year-old Alesha MacPhail on the Isle of Bute last July. The tabloids called him evil. This is, then, what evil looks like.

The Mirror calls Campbell the “Beast of Bute”. The Daily Mail brands him a “twisted narcissist”. You might all him a ****. The Mail also notes in a masterclass in opinion-triggering tabloidese:

The cat-torturing, adrenaline junkie teenager – who was obsessed with gaining YouTube followers, playing violent video games such as Fortnite and recording himself performing acrobatic moves on a trampoline – had received anonymity due to his age, but a judge unmasked him today.

For good measure, the Mail include football of the rapist jumping on a trampoline. They say Osama bin Laden cold do keepy-uppies for a full 30 seconds, and Jon Venables can whistle the Sesame Street theme song. But those videos for another time.

This is all about desperate-for-fame Aaron Campbell, who can now read about how his name came to be known by millions in the papers and online. Until yesterday his name could not be made public on pain of law. The law was unfit for purpose. Trial judge, Lord Matthews agreed with petitioners that naming Aaron Campbell was in the public interest.

aaron CAmpbell
Aaron Campbell

The Sun says there is now “no hiding place” for Alesha’s murderer. The Mirror says there is a price on his head. Fellow inmates at Polmont Young Offenders’ prison know who he is. His lawyer says Campbell is at “risk of attack from others” or “potentially self harm” if his name and picture were in the public domain. They are. Few will weep for Campbell.

EVIL IS…

As for evil and what it is, a few words. Fr. Robert Barron looked at Hannah Arendt, and her book Eichmann in Jerusalem, and St. Augustine:

The young Hannah Arendt had written her doctoral dissertation under the great German philosopher Karl Jaspers, and the topic of her work was the concept of love in the writings of Saint Augustine. One of the most significant intellectual breakthroughs of Augustine’s life was the insight that evil is not something substantial, but rather a type of non-being, a lack of some perfection that ought to be present. Thus, a cancer is evil in the measure that it compromises the proper functioning of a bodily organ, and a sin is evil in the measure that it represents a distortion or twisting of a rightly functioning will. Accordingly, evil does not stand over and against the good as a kind of co-equal metaphysical force, as the Manichees would have it. Rather, it is invariably parasitic upon the good, existing only as a sort of shadow.

J.R.R. Tolkien gave visual expression to this Augustinian notion in his portrayal of the Nazgul in The Lord of the Rings. Those terrible and terrifying threats, flying through the air on fearsome beasts, are revealed, once their capes and hoods are pulled away, to be precisely nothing, emptiness. And this is exactly why, to return to Arendt’s description, evil can never be radical. It can never sink down into the roots of being; it can never stand on its own; it has no integrity, no real depth or substance. To be sure, it can be extreme and it can, as Arendt’s image suggests, spread far and wide, doing enormous damage. But it can never truly be.

Aaron Campbell – the face of evil – might have joined ISIS.

Posted: 23rd, February 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Tabloids | Comment


Manchester United balls: Anthony Martial and the moving goalposts

Anthony Martial is making news on the front and back pages. The Sun tells us that Martial is due a call up to his national side: “Anthony Martial’s return to form will cost Man Utd £8.7m after France recall.”

Good for him. But why will hi success cost United so much money?

Martial’s deal from Monaco in 2015 included an add-on triggered by 25 caps for his national team. He needs to play 45 minutes in the game for an appearance to count and is so far on 11 before losing his place in Deschamps’ squad for the World Cup. The France boss is now considering a recall for next month’s European Championship qualifiers against Moldova and Iceland – and Martial could hit the 25-cap mark before the end of the 2020 campaign including finals.

Really? No. Here’s the Daily Telegraph:

The France forward’s 76th minute equaliser at Old Trafford on Saturday was his 25th Premier League goal for the club and triggered a clause in his contract entitling his former club Monaco to a €10 million (£8.73 million) windfall.

United paid Monaco an initial £36 million when they signed Martial in September 2015 but the cost of the transfer has now risen to what is expected to be a final fee of £44.73 million.

The French club had a longer wait than they might have expected for the additional sum, though, since Martial had been stuck on 24 league goals for more than eight months. His previous league goal was against Burnley on January 20.

Under the terms of the original deal, Monaco were due two further payments of £8.73 million each if Martial played 25 games for France and was nominated for the Ballon d’Or before the end of the current 2018/19 season. Yet with Martial not among the Ballon d’Or nominees announced this week and out of favour for France, for whom he has played 18 times, seven games short of the stipulated target, neither clause will be met.

And the Mirror in March 2018:

…back in 2015, Monaco president Vadim Vasilyev proudly announced: “The price for Martial is £57.6million but take into account this sum includes bonuses, which are very realistic.” Manchester United included three bonuses amounting to £7.2million each in the deal to sign Martial – all of which must be triggered by 2019…

United agreed to pay Monaco an additional £7.2million if the France international scores 25 Premier League goals for the Red Devils before 2019..

Prior to joining Manchester United, the talented 22-year-old forward had already made seven appearances for France. The Red Devils agreed that should Martial feature in an additional 25 games while representing the Old Trafford club, they would again fork out £7.2million.

The target is not 25 international matches but 32. Such are the facts…

Posted: 22nd, February 2019 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Alesha MacPhail: They know why the ‘boy’ killed and remembering Venables and Thompson

Alesha Macphail

In July 2017 Alesha MacPhail was abducted, raped and murdered. Her killer’s name will not be known. The Mail calls him a “boy”. The Scotsman calls him a “teenager”. He’s a “16-year-old” on The Scotsman’s front page. The Metro just says “the teen” in “PURE EVIL”. But we won’t get to know his name.

Alesha was murdered on the Isle of Bute, an island in the Firth of Clyde in Scotland. The country’s law rules that to publish the name, address, school or any other information which could identify anyone under the age of 18 who is the accused, victim or witness in a criminal case in any media is illegal. So don’t. You can, however, name the victim. Alesha MacPhail is the only name that matters.

alesha mcphail

Minds turn to the abduction and murder of James Bulger, 2, in 1993. The names of the guilty – two boys aged 10 – were soon known. Tony Blair stirred the mob, positioning the crime as one emblematic of the country’s dire straits and moral disintegration.

The killers’ families lived in fear of revenge attacks. In 2012, 38 year-old Scott Bradley committed suicide, unable to cope with people mistaking him for Jon Venables, one of the killers. “My son was tormented by the allegations,” said Mr Bradley;s mother. “He had a good heart and didn’t deserve this. It’s been heartbreaking.”

James Bulger newspaper front page
England: 1993 – James Bulger, 2, is abducted, abused and murdered by two boys. We knew their names.

Do we need to know the name of Alesha MacPhail’s murderer? The killer’s own mother helped bring him to justice. She alerted detectives after reviewing footage from two CCTV cameras outside the family home. She watched her son coming and going three times between 01:54 and 04:07 on the night Alesha was murdered. If we know the killer, we know her. Why should an innocent woman wear the stain in public? He will be in jail for a long, long time. Isn’t that enough?

Venables and Thompson were released on parole in 2001 under new identities. They must not ever reveal to anyone who they once were. To do so would land them back in prison. Venables was caught downloading child pornography. He has been jailed indefinitely as it is feared he is likely to reveal his true identity.

Thompson VEnables mugshots
Feb 1993: Jon Venables and Robert Thompson pose for their mugshots.

We don’t know the killer’s name. But do we know why he did it?

Revenge:

The BBC: “The jury heard the teenager previously bought cannabis from Alesha’s father, Robert MacPhail, but the pair fell out five months before her death over an unpaid £10 drug debt.”

A Meme:

The Star: “The unnamed boy, 16, searched for the Slender Man meme, and some of his sick acts mirrored those carried out by the character… Slender Man was invented by users on the Something Awful forum in 2009 for a paranormal Photoshop competition. Shown as a thin, tall, featureless figure in a black suit, in many stories written online about him feature stalking or abducting people, especially children.

Gaming:

The Sun: “The teenager got sick thrills from playing gory video games.”

Bute:

Daily Mail: “How the boy of 16 who murdered ‘angel’ Alesha MacPhail, six, had already ‘almost drowned a girl’ and was mired in a culture of drugs and cheap booze that has gripped the Isle of Bute”

One heinous and blessedly rare crime now defines a place?

His Looks:

Daily Mail: “He is handsome, in a modern, metrosexual way, with luxuriant, swept-over hair and a milky complexion. Dressed immaculately, in a tartan suit and collar and tie, he gave evidence with great self-assurance.”

So much for the CV.

No Idea:

BBC: ‘Judge Lord Matthews told the killer he had stolen Alesha’s life by “committing some of the most wicked and evil crimes this court has ever heard of in decades of dealing with depravity”. He said he had “no idea” why the teenager carried out the murder, and described the evidence in the case as “overwhelming”.’

Kicks:

Sky News: “Alesha MacPhail: Killed for the ‘life experience’?”

Posted: 22nd, February 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Tabloids | Comment


Chelsea balls: Sarri sacked for £5m; Lampard tops wish list; Manchester City told keys

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri will be sacked if they lose Sunday’s Carabao Cup final to Manchester City, says the BBC. Sarri will be Chelsea boss for the length of an internship should his side lose to the same City side that thrashed them 6-0 days ago. Get packing, then. This news is echoed in the Mirror, which on February 11 led its sports coverage with: “MAURIZIO SARRI is facing the sack after Chelsea’s heaviest Premier League defeat.” The Mirror added on February 18: “CHELSEA will stick to their new ‘Sarri-ball’ style, even if if (sic) costs the manager his job this week.”

The Mirror’s plan seems to be keep saying Sarri will be sacked and when he is – and, of course he will be one day – say ‘Told yer!’ But the Mirror has form in getting it wrong:

daily mirror wenger quits sack resigns arsenal
2017? Wrong.
mourinho sacked
Wrong.

As for Sarri’s eventual sacking, the Sun says it would cost Chelsea £5m – the cheapest pay-off for a manager since Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003. 

Minds turn to who will replace Sarri? Sky Sports says Derby manager Frank Lampard and Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane head the list. Layers are working on their early-exit clauses as we speak.

Unless Chelsea win the Carabao Cup – in which case the Mirror will report that Sarri will be sacked ‘soon’…

Posted: 20th, February 2019 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Key Posts, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Shamima Begone! ISIS member is up ‘Brit Creek’ as Home Office removes citizenship

Shamima Begum newspapers

Shamima Begum, the Londoner who joined the Islamic State group in Syria aged 15, will not be coming ‘home’ to the UK. The Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, has revoked her citizenship. He writes to her parents: “In light of the circumstances of your daughter, the notice of the Home Secretary’s decision has been served on file today (19th February), and the order moving her British citizenship has subsequently been made.”

Begum’s family say they will explore “all legal avenues to challenge this decision”. All roads lead to “Brit creek” says the Star. Or Asia. Shamima Begum holds Bangladeshi as well as British citizenship which allowed the Home Office to go ahead, says Sky News. She’s not stateless. The Home Office acted quickly. The UK’s gain is Bangladesh’s loss.

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Sir Ed Davey says the UK is “palming off” Ms Begum to another country – which ISIS isn’t, despite its violent attempts to become one.

On BBC TV’s Newsnight King’s College London’s Shiraz Maher opines: “I think it’s a very dangerous decision, it does create this perception that there is a two-tier system and a system that’s frankly racist.” Perception is not fact. It all depends on you angle of approach. Come closer, within stabbing distance, and look at Shamima Begum?

But really? If the government can revoke Shamima Begum’s citizenship, it can cancel your, too. At least it can if you associate with people it does not like.

Posted: 20th, February 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Tabloids | Comment