2.3 The INTOLERANCE of it all; why bashing Daily Mail readers is a sign you’re intolerant

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If I was of a paranoid background, I’d pin the DM-bashing renaissance on a ploy by Left-wing media to stigmatise the Daily Mail to such a degree, that people feel as uncomfortable purchasing it as I do buying breakfast cereal after 2pm. The DM is one of the few profitable success stories in an industry that is struggling to turn a profit, and so their rivals must be green with envy. To stigmatize the paper too would also deter potential advertisers. Though with the growth of the internet (and MailOnline’s success in overtaking the New York Times as the most visited newsite), this is unlikely going to pose much issue.

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Next I’d look at the Labour supporting mob who are fed up of being reminded by the DM of their shambolic government. By tarring anybody who bemoans their widely-perceived failures (i.e. the erosion of British sovereignty, immigration, inflated school grades) as being a scaremonger or a racist, they can go someway of devaluing the opinion of those who share the DM’s critique and to some extent temporarily re-write history.

In a similar vein, I’d even push the idea that the barrage from the celebrity elite is an attempt to undermine the paper that is forever exposing their lies and cheating (Ricky Gervais actually used a negative review from the DM in his favour, placing the verbatim as a strapline on one his promotional posters for his Science Tour).

I’m not entirely sure about the above, but they all still hold more water than any 9/11 conspiracy theory I’ve been privy to. I’ve often wondered why Channel 4, often promoting Seven Dwarves and The Undatebales as riveting exploration, isn’t as much of a target for their suspected exploitation of the “comical minority”. Though makes sense when they’re one of the biggest investors of today’s comedy. To be fair, for all his over-indulgence in DM-bashing, Stewart Lee doesn’t toe the line here.

In the past chapters, I’ve tried to illustrate my disgust at much of the paper’s editorial. And believe me, I’m genuine in doing so. However, this house is of the opinion that we need this paper just as much as we do the noble Guardian or Telegraph. For governments to remain moderate you need equal pressure on both sides of the political spectrum.

Amidst their attacks on public services and border control, the DM does in fact do an excellent job of holding our Government to account. And, although slightly more subjective, they make a case for diminished values that most would agree on preserving, and not just those who lived through rationing. Before his crowd rousing attack on the Daily Mail on Question Time, Mehdi Hassan called these out in a letter to Daily Mail Editor Paul Dacre some years earlier – a letter which effectively cut short his time as poster boy for the DM-bashing movement.

I really didn't want to have to rely on Daily Mail content, but as this is verbatim I don't think this serves as an endorsement
I really didn’t want to have to rely on Daily Mail content, but as this is verbatim I don’t think this serves as an endorsement

Incidentally when the letter was presented he bemoaned the fact that the Daily Mail had dragged up a 3-year old letter. Despite relying on history that spanned a much further reach than 3 years in his QT attack. To beggars belief, the guy can still be found on Twitter boasting about the views the video on Youtube is getting.

Most genuine vocal skeptics of the Daily Mail have the right heart in the right place, and I like to think the snobbish ignorant elite reside in the minority. However, this does not always make the majority anymore enlightened than the DM-readers they ambush.

Not too long ago, a very good friend of mine shared a graph on Facebook that indicated that benefit cheats sucked up a much smaller percentage of welfare spend than what is commonly perceived. He wasn’t the only one, as over 13,000 people had also shared the image that contained instructions on disbelieving what the Daily Mail spouted. I enjoyed the sentiment, but couldn’t help notice that this was about people knowing the facts, and here were a significant number of people sharing an unsourced pie chart presumably put together on somebody’s lunch break. Despite the kind sentiment of the post, it was saddening to see not one person questioned its validity. Yet they were far more concerned about quoting George Carlin’s “Don’t just teach your children to read, teach them to question everything”, which ironically accompanied further info-graphics of unsourced and unfounded data and links to various other national newspapers.

People think they’re attacking the paper for its hate-mongering but really they’re attacking it for its point of view. Or even worse, they’re speaking on behalf of their favourite comedian, political commentator or other institution. I suppose the latter is more likely, as if they’re not avid readers of the paper, they must be getting an update of its editorial from somewhere.

Take Twitter user Lee’s World, who according to his bio “likes country walks, cares about the vulnerable, hates bullies and right-wing media propaganda. I present fact”. He seems like my kind of guy. But his below tweet is all too popular a view held by those who see their choice of paper as a sign of universal enlightenment.

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In the last year he’s secured 6th place in the league table of the most common DM-reader bashing tweeters. But even influential speakers Owen Jones and Tom Watson MP (and co-author of Dial M For Murdoch) are happy to source smutty tabloids as long as they obey their standpoint.

Endorsing  other tabloids, but tabloids nonetheless
Endorsing other tabloids, but tabloids nonetheless

Could you honestly imagine a respected right-winger trying to make people take them seriously by addressing the crowds with “yeah, but according to The Sun…”

There’s an over reliance on newspaper content from both of the political spectrum and hysteria comes in equal measure. Like my current home feed, I’m sure yours is littered with links to certain news websites. Stephen Fry will tell you he doesn’t “read British newspapers of any kind”, but his Twitter feed is never too far away from a Guardian link.

Whatever side of the print media spectrum you are, you’d do a lot worse than ignore the words of a quick-witted Father and his tech-savvy Son

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However, just so we’re clear, I do confess to having personal reasons to be thankful for the Daily Mail that stems from an episode that almost financially ruined my family in the summer of 1993. Blur had just released the catalyst for Britpop in Modern Life is Rubbish, cinema audiences were being wowed by Schindler’s List and our household was facing bankruptcy to satisfy the demands of one of Britain’s most unscrupulous legal loop holes.

To cut a very long and bureaucratic story down, my parents used to run a shop selling childrens clothes and toys. Today it’d be nothing more than a pound-shop. After years of loss, they sold the lease onto a man who turned it into an Irish shop selling all things green, white and gold. Some months into the contract he disappeared off the face of the earth. Small print indicated that the last leaseholder was now obliged to fulfill the payments of the current MIA leaseholder. After a grueling court process, with things not looking good for our house and home, the Daily Mail got wind of it and ran our story complete with a sullen family portrait. The case was thrown out along with our family’s budding entrepreneurial spirit, and a new precedent was set. This may not have been possible without the Daily Mail spotlight.

As much of a great newspaper it is, The Guardian will busy themselves with life’s grander problems such as the Human Rights Act and Israel-Palestine, but I’ll always remember the helping hand the Daily Mail was prepared to lend to an ordinary, stuffy and unfashionable case such as an unscrupulous tenancy law. On this case study alone, I’d have to disagree to some extent that the paper “shows contempt for the weak” (Steve Coogan going further back to Newsnight, 13/10/2011).

We’re not the only ones to acknowledge the formidable role the paper can have in changing hearts and minds. For one, local newsagent Mr. Shah (b. 1957 Kolkata, India) believes that Steve Coogans argument that the “DM creates a vision of Little England…where corner shops are run by white people” is absurd; the Daily Mail sponsor his shop front. And although I too once joked that it was to stop skinheads from bricking his windows (another one there for Stuart Lee/Russell Howard), I will look to him over boorish intellectuals for insight. His daughters addiction to the daily activities of the Kardashians is perhaps the reason MailOnline has overtaken the New York Times as the world’s most popular new site. She too doesn’t get the hysteria.

Perhaps the most tangible case for the paper’s right to exist was its edition printed on 14th February 1997, when they accused the suspects in the Stephen Lawrence case of guilt, thus challenging them to sue the paper if they were wrong. Following the recent conviction of Gary Dobson and David Norris, Mr. Lawrence spoke of the paper being the “biggest supporter for us over this story”. It was later named Campaign of the Year 2012 at the British Press Awards, following praise from journalists and Ed Milliband.

Again, really didn't want to use content direct from the DM...
Again, really didn’t want to use content direct from the DM…

Of course this is not to say this was an act of pure humanity and that selling newspapers was nothing to do with it, it does however serves as an example of how the paper can be a force for good. Stephen Fry accused them of jumping on the bandwagon “once the seeds of their decades of anti-immigration racism (read a 1960s or 1970s Daily Mail) have been sown”. Despite his Qi credentials, he evidently fails to understand there’s no mutual exclusivity between immigration concern and disgust at the racist murder of an innocent teenager.

Apart from the odd waiting room flick-through, lunchtime perv and research for this piece, I’ve never been much of a content advocate. But to some degree an advocate for its right to exist. Despite how some headlines are plain irresponsible, I still struggle to reiterate Alastair Campbell’s rhetoric that it’s the “most putrid product on our streets day after day”.

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2 thoughts on “2.3 The INTOLERANCE of it all; why bashing Daily Mail readers is a sign you’re intolerant

  1. The wife & I have these past couple of weeks given up on all daily papers and feel (strange but true) better for it! They all make my blood boil painting pictures in words to emphasize the political stance they chose to adopt. None cope with irony; none laugh at themselves. Whereas politicians right, left and centre talk bollocks; newpapers write bollocks. I gather news now from online sources devoid of political opinion. In some small way your posts have assisted in taking us this route and I thank you! Good stuff Sir!

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  2. Thanks Mike, appreciate it, has been fun to write. I think you’re pretty spot on about reading online material devoid of political force and rich in variety. In this modern day, nobody should rely on one source of news – and right there I suppose that is one case against print. I think a lot more people will follow suit.

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