Life is a continual story of shattered dreams. (…) Now not only is that struggle structured out somewhere in the external forces of the universe, it’s structured in our own lives. Psychologists have tried to grapple with it in their way, and so they say various things. (…) There’s a civil war going on. There is a schizophrenia, as the psychologists or the psychiatrists would call it, going on within all of us. And there are times that all of us know somehow that there is a Mr. Hyde and a Dr. Jekyll in us. (…) sometimes we even have to end up crying out with Saint Augustine as he said in his Confessions, « Lord, make me pure, but not yet. » We end up crying out with the Apostle Paul, « The good that I would I do not: And the evil that I would not, that I do. » Or we end up having to say with Goethe that « there’s enough stuff in me to make both a gentleman and a rogue. » There’s a tension at the heart of human nature. And whenever we set out to dream our dreams and to build our temples, we must be honest enough to recognize it. And this brings me to the basic point of the text. In the final analysis, God does not judge us by the separate incidents or the separate mistakes that we make, but by the total bent of our lives. In the final analysis, God knows that his children are weak and they are frail. In the final analysis, what God requires is that your heart is right. Salvation isn’t reaching the destination of absolute morality, but it’s being in the process and on the right road. Martin Luther King (Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, Georgia, March 3, 1968)
L’image correspondait à la réalité de la situation, non seulement à Gaza, mais en Cisjordanie. Charles Enderlin (Le Figaro, 27/01/05)
Look, you read it, right? You liked it? You had fun? Well, what’s the problem? Armisen-as-Wolff
The Israelis say they’re actually trying to restrict our access to these areas and they say it’s too dangerous for you to be there and my response to that is that it wouldn’t be nearly as dangerous if you didn’t shoot at us when we’re clearly labelled as CNN crews and journalists. And so this must stop, this targeting of the news media both literally and figuratively must come to an end immediately. Eason Jordan
Over the last dozen years I made 13 trips to Baghdad to lobby the government to keep CNN’s Baghdad bureau open and to arrange interviews with Iraqi leaders. Each time I visited, I became more distressed by what I saw and heard — awful things that could not be reported because doing so would have jeopardized the lives of Iraqis, particularly those on our Baghdad staff. For example, in the mid-1990’s one of our Iraqi cameramen was abducted. For weeks he was beaten and subjected to electroshock torture in the basement of a secret police headquarters because he refused to confirm the government’s ludicrous suspicion that I was the Central Intelligence Agency’s Iraq station chief. CNN had been in Baghdad long enough to know that telling the world about the torture of one of its employees would almost certainly have gotten him killed and put his family and co-workers at grave risk. Working for a foreign news organization provided Iraqi citizens no protection. The secret police terrorized Iraqis working for international press services who were courageous enough to try to provide accurate reporting. Some vanished, never to be heard from again. Others disappeared and then surfaced later with whispered tales of being hauled off and tortured in unimaginable ways. Obviously, other news organizations were in the same bind we were when it came to reporting on their own workers. We also had to worry that our reporting might endanger Iraqis not on our payroll. I knew that CNN could not report that Saddam Hussein’s eldest son, Uday, told me in 1995 that he intended to assassinate two of his brothers-in-law who had defected and also the man giving them asylum, King Hussein of Jordan. If we had gone with the story, I was sure he would have responded by killing the Iraqi translator who was the only other participant in the meeting. After all, secret police thugs brutalized even senior officials of the Information Ministry, just to keep them in line (one such official has long been missing all his fingernails). Still, I felt I had a moral obligation to warn Jordan’s monarch, and I did so the next day. King Hussein dismissed the threat as a madman’s rant. A few months later Uday lured the brothers-in-law back to Baghdad; they were soon killed. I came to know several Iraqi officials well enough that they confided in me that Saddam Hussein was a maniac who had to be removed. One Foreign Ministry officer told me of a colleague who, finding out his brother had been executed by the regime, was forced, as a test of loyalty, to write a letter of congratulations on the act to Saddam Hussein. An aide to Uday once told me why he had no front teeth: henchmen had ripped them out with pliers and told him never to wear dentures, so he would always remember the price to be paid for upsetting his boss. Again, we could not broadcast anything these men said to us. (…) Then there were the events that were not unreported but that nonetheless still haunt me. A 31-year-old Kuwaiti woman, Asrar Qabandi, was captured by Iraqi secret police occupying her country in 1990 for »crimes, » one of which included speaking with CNN on the phone. They beat her daily for two months, forcing her father to watch. In January 1991, on the eve of the American-led offensive, they smashed her skull and tore her body apart limb by limb. A plastic bag containing her body parts was left on the doorstep of her family’s home. I felt awful having these stories bottled up inside me. Now that Saddam Hussein’s regime is gone, I suspect we will hear many, many more gut-wrenching tales from Iraqis about the decades of torment. At last, these stories can be told freely. Eason Jordan (2003)
The only CNN journalist wounded in that region was Ben Wedeman, who got shot when he wandered into a crossfire. [Jordan’s] own producer, Bruce Conover, told CNN that no one could tell who shot him, as the bullets and mortars were flying in from all directions. Ed Morrisey
[Eason Jordan] made a mistake. I did not think he deserved to lose his job over it. A little context is important. He had just come back from Baghdad, 16th trip. We were on the eve of the elections there. He was extremely tense, because he thought a CNN journalist as well as other journalists were in great danger there, and he was — he praised U.S. troops for protecting CNN journalists and others, but he said, look, this is a place where we lost 63 journalists on all sides, and journalists on all sides are being — are getting killed often carelessly — and he used the word targeting. And certainly left the impression that U.S. troops were targeting journalists on the other side — Al Jazeera, for example — just as insurgents were clearly targeting American journalists. And it was a startling charge, and I think everybody in the room sort of, you know, their head swerved. But as soon as he said it, it was clear he knew he had made a mistake. He had gone too far. Used — he’d been — his emotions I think just got the better of him. And he tried to walk it back. And he tried to be — clarify it. But soon it was on the blog, and frankly, the — it just — the story just built up. David Gergen
As prejudices go, anti-Semitism can sometimes be hard to pin down, but on Thursday the opinion pages of The New York Times international edition provided a textbook illustration of it. Except that The Times wasn’t explaining anti-Semitism. It was purveying it. It did so in the form of a cartoon, provided to the newspaper by a wire service and published directly above an unrelated column by Tom Friedman, in which a guide dog with a prideful countenance and the face of Benjamin Netanyahu leads a blind, fat Donald Trump wearing dark glasses and a black yarmulke. Lest there be any doubt as to the identity of the dog-man, it wears a collar from which hangs a Star of David. Here was an image that, in another age, might have been published in the pages of Der Stürmer. The Jew in the form of a dog. The small but wily Jew leading the dumb and trusting American. The hated Trump being Judaized with a skullcap. The nominal servant acting as the true master. The cartoon checked so many anti-Semitic boxes that the only thing missing was a dollar sign. (…) The Times has a longstanding Jewish problem, dating back to World War II, when it mostly buried news about the Holocaust, and continuing into the present day in the form of intensely adversarial coverage of Israel. The criticism goes double when it comes to the editorial pages, whose overall approach toward the Jewish state tends to range, with some notable exceptions, from tut-tutting disappointment to thunderous condemnation. (…) The problem with the cartoon isn’t that its publication was a willful act of anti-Semitism. It wasn’t. The problem is that its publication was an astonishing act of ignorance of anti-Semitism — and that, at a publication that is otherwise hyper-alert to nearly every conceivable expression of prejudice, from mansplaining to racial microaggressions to transphobia. Imagine, for instance, if the dog on a leash in the image hadn’t been the Israeli prime minister but instead a prominent woman such as Nancy Pelosi, a person of color such as John Lewis, or a Muslim such as Ilhan Omar. Would that have gone unnoticed by either the wire service that provides the Times with images or the editor who, even if he were working in haste, selected it? The question answers itself. And it raises a follow-on: How have even the most blatant expressions of anti-Semitism become almost undetectable to editors who think it’s part of their job to stand up to bigotry? The reason is the almost torrential criticism of Israel and the mainstreaming of anti-Zionism, including by this paper, which has become so common that people have been desensitized to its inherent bigotry. So long as anti-Semitic arguments or images are framed, however speciously, as commentary about Israel, there will be a tendency to view them as a form of political opinion, not ethnic prejudice. But as I noted in a Sunday Review essay in February, anti-Zionism is all but indistinguishable from anti-Semitism in practice and often in intent, however much progressives try to deny this. Add to the mix the media’s routine demonization of Netanyahu, and it is easy to see how the cartoon came to be drawn and published: Already depicted as a malevolent Jewish leader, it’s just a short step to depict him as a malevolent Jew. The paper (…) owes itself some serious reflection as to how its publication came, to many longtime readers, as a shock but not a surprise. Bret L. Stephens
The past several days have left many Jews in the United States feeling shell-shocked. Attacks against them seem to be coming from all quarters. First, on Thursday, the New York Times’ International Edition published a stunningly antisemitic cartoon on its op-ed page. It portrayed a blind President Donald Trump wearing the garb of an ultra-Orthodox Jew, replete with a black suit and a black yarmulke, with the blackened sunglasses of a blind man being led by a seeing-eye dog with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s face. If the message – that Jewish dogs are leading the blind American by the nose — wasn’t clear enough, the Netanyahu dog was wearing a collar with a Star of David medallion, just to make the point unmistakable. Under a torrent of criticism, after first refusing to apologize for the cartoon, which it removed from its online edition, the Times issued an acknowledment on Sunday, but has taken no action against the editors responsible. Two days after the Times published its hateful cartoon, Jews at the Chabad House synagogue in Poway, outside San Diego, were attacked by a rifle-bearing white supremacist as they prayed. (…) On the face of things, there is no meaningful connection between the Times’ cartoon and the Poway attack. In his online manifesto, Earnest presented himself as a Nazi in the mold of Robert Bowers, the white supremacist who massacred 11 Jews at the Tree of Life Synagogue last October. The New York Times, on the other hand, is outspoken in its hatred of white supremacists whom it associates with President Donald Trump, the paper’s archenemy. On the surface, the two schools of Jew hatred share no common ground. But a serious consideration of the Times’ anti-Jewish propaganda leads to the opposite conclusion. The New York Times — as an institution that propagates anti-Jewish messages, narratives, and demonizations — is deeply tied to the rise in white supremacist violence against Jews. This is the case for several reasons. First, as Seth Franzman of the Jerusalem Post pointed out, Bowers and Earnest share two hatreds – for Jews and for Trump. Both men hate Trump, whom they view as a friend of the Jews. Earnest referred to Trump as “That Zionist, Jew-loving, anti-White, traitorous c**ks****er.” Bowers wrote that he opposed Trump because he is supposedly surrounded by Jews, whom Bowers called an “infestation” in the White House. The New York Times also hates Trump. And like Bowers and Earnest, it promotes the notion in both news stories and editorials that Trump’s support for Israel harms U.S. interests to benefit avaricious Jews. In 2017, just as the Russia collusion narrative was taking hold, Politico spun an antisemitic conspiracy theory that placed Chabad at the center of the nefarious scheme in which Russian President Vladimir Putin connived with Trump to steal the election from Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. (…) The story, titled “The Happy-Go-Lucky Jewish Group that Connects Trump and Putin,” claimed that Russia’s Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar, who is Chabad’s senior representative there, served as an intermediary between Putin and Trum-p. He did this, Politico alleged, through his close ties to Chabad rabbis in the United States who have longstanding ties to Trump. (…) In other words, the antisemitic Chabad conspiracy theory laid out by Politico, which slanderously placed Chabad at the center of a nefarious plot to steal the U.S. presidency for Trump, was first proposed by the New York Times. The Times is well known for its hostility towards Israel. But that hostility is never limited to Israel itself. It also encompasses Jewish Americans who support Israel. For instance, in a 11,000 word “analysis” of the antisemitic “boycott, divestment, sanctions” (BDS) movement published in late March, the Times effectively delegitimized all Jewish support for Israel. (…) Last week the Times erroneously claimed that Jesus was a Palestinian. The falsehood was picked up by antisemitic Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN). The Times waited a week to issue a correction. (…) In an op-ed following the cartoon’s publication, the Times’ in-house NeverTrump pro-Israel columnist Bret Stephens at once condemned the cartoon and the paper’s easy-breezy relationship with antisemitism, and minimized the role that antisemitism plays at the New York Times. Stephens attributed the decision to publish the cartoon in the New York Times international edition to the small staff in the paper’s Paris office and insisted that “the charge that the institution [i.e., the Times] is in any way antisemitic is a calumny.” (…) Stephens tried to minimize the Times’ power to influence the public discourse in the U.S. by placing its antisemitic reporting in the context of a larger phenomenon. But the fact is that while the New York Times has long since ceased serving as the “paper of record” for anyone not on the political left in America, it is still the most powerful news organization in the United States, and arguably in the world. The Times has the power to set the terms of the discourse on every subject it touches. Politico felt it was reasonable to allege a Jewish world conspiracy run by Chabad that linked Putin with Trump because, as Haberman suggested, the Times had invented the preposterous, bigoted theory three weeks earlier. New York University felt comfortable giving a prestigious award to the Hamas-linked antisemitic group Students for Justice in Palestine last week because the Times promotes its harassment campaign against Jewish students. (…) It has co-opted of the discourse on antisemitism in a manner that sanitizes the paper and its followers from allegations of being part of the problem. It has led the charge in reducing the acceptable discourse on antisemitism to a discussion of right wing antisemitism. Led by reporter Jonathan Weisman, with able assists from Weiss and Stephens, the Times has pushed the view that the most dangerous antisemites in America are Trump supporters. The basis of this slander is the false claim that Trump referred to the neo-Nazis who protested in Charlottesville in August 2017 as “very fine people.” As Breitbart’s Joel Pollak noted, Trump specifically singled out the neo-Nazis for condemnation and said merely that the protesters at the scene who simply wanted the statue of Robert E. Lee preserved (and those who peacefully opposed them) were decent people. The Times has used this falsehood as a means to project the view that hatred of Jews begins with Trump – arguably the most pro-Jewish president in U.S. history, goes through the Republican Party, which has actively defended Jews in the face of Democratic bigotry, and ends with his supporters. By attributing an imaginary hostility against Jews to Trump, Republicans, and Trump supporters, the Times has effectively given carte blanche to itself, the Democrats, and its fellow Trump-hating antisemites to promote Jew-hatred. John Earnest and Robert Bowers were not ordered to enter synagogues and massacre Jews by the editors of the New York Times. But their decisions to do so was made in an environment of hatred for Jews that the Times promotes every day. Following the Bowers massacre of Jewish worshippers at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, the New York Times and its Trump-hating columnists blamed Trump for Bowers’s action. Not only was this a slander. It was also pure projection. Caroline Glick
Avec la multiplication de ces auditions à la DGSI, on a l’impression que c’est une logique antiterroriste qui est appliquée aux journalistes. (…) On parle de l’affaire Benalla, une affaire d’État. On parle des armes françaises au Yémen, un mensonge d’État. Et là, on n’est pas dans le cadre traditionnel du droit de la presse, devant les tribunaux devant lesquels on peut se défendre. (…) le journaliste a une fonction sociale, il n’est pas là uniquement pour publier passivement des communiqués officiels du gouvernement. Dans le cas des ventes d’armes de la France utilisées au Yémen, on parle quand même de la pire catastrophe humanitaire depuis la Deuxième Guerre Mondiale : on entend que les journalistes ne sont pas au-dessus des lois, mais l’État non plus ! La France ne respecte pas les traités sur le commerce des armes qu’elle a signés. Benoît Collombat (Radio France)
Des entraîneurs et des stratégistes du Hezbollah ainsi que des Iraniens ont travaillé avec les houthis et les ont supervisés, ce qui les a aidés à prendre Sanaa. L’Iran a également aidé les houthis à développer la technologie de fabrication d’armes, y compris des missiles. Nadwa Dawsari (Center for Civilians in Conflict in Yemen)
Nous sommes d’accord avec la conclusion du Groupe d’experts, selon laquelle les missiles tirés par les houthistes – d’origine iranienne et fournis après l’imposition de l’embargo sur les armes – signifient que l’Iran a agi en violation du paragraphe 14 de la résolution 2216 (2015). Nous demandons à l’Iran de cesser toutes les activités qui alimentent le conflit au Yémen. Stephen Hickey (représentant britannique à l’ONU)
L’offensive des houthistes, avec le soutien de l’Iran, menace la stabilité de la région, et les groupes terroristes comme Daech et Al-Qaida profitent de cette situation pour promouvoir leurs visées malsaines. (…) Ainsi que le rapport du Groupe d’experts (S/2018/68) l’indique clairement, l’Iran viole l’embargo ciblé sur les armes mis en place par la résolution 2216 (2015). Plus précisément, le Groupe a conclu que les missiles tirés par les rebelles houthistes contre l’Arabie saoudite l’année dernière étaient d’origine iranienne et avaient été introduits au Yémen après l’imposition de l’embargo ciblé sur les armes. Hier, nous avons vu la délégation russe user de son droit de veto afin d’éviter que la résolution assortie de sanctions sur le Yémen ne mentionne les activités de l’Iran dans ce pays. Cependant, les preuves montrent clairement que les missiles balistiques étaient d’origine iranienne. Le mois dernier à Washington, les membres du Conseil ont vu de leurs propres yeux certaines des preuves impliquant l’Iran. Onze membres du Conseil ont convenu avec nous que ces préoccupations méritaient d’être mentionnées dans la résolution assorties de sanctions, et seuls deux membres du Conseil ont voté contre.Nous continuerons de parler haut et fort pour rap-peler au Conseil que nous avons l’obligation de dénoncer tous les comportements dangereux et déstabilisateurs chaque fois que nous les constaterons. L’Iran ne peut pas violer les sanctions du Conseil de sécurité en toute impunité. Le Conseil doit faire en sorte que ceux qui, comme l’Iran, enfreignent le régime de sanctions répondent de leurs actes. Il doit également veiller à ce que les tech-nologies militaires, les missiles balistiques, les engins explosifs aquatiques improvisés, les mines marines, les drones militaires et autres armes iraniennes ne parviennent aux personnes et entités désignées au Yémen. Kelley Eckels-Currie (représentante américaine à l’ONU)
Nous avons dit notre préoccupation face aux conclusions du rapport du Groupe d’experts sur le Yémen publié le 15 février, et condamné à plusieurs reprises les tirs de missiles balistiques effectués par les houthistes, en particulier contre l’Arabie saoudite. Comme nous l’avons dit hier, la France continuera d’être mobilisée sur la question des transferts de technologies et biens balistiques dans la région dans les mois à venir. C’est un sujet que le Ministre de l’Europe et des affaires étrangères, M. Jean-Yves Le Drian, abordera à Téhéran à l’occasion de son déplacement, le 5 mars. François Delattre (représentant français à l’ONU)
NewsGuard has made changes to the dailymail.co.uk Nutrition Label shown above, which reflect the discussions we have had with a senior Daily Mail news executive who insisted that we not use his name… The senior Daily Mail news executive wrote NewsGuard a long, point by point letter summarising the complaints and the views that he expressed in the discussions we had with him. However, he declined to allow us to publish the letter, which is what we would have preferred. Thus, what follows is a review of the points he made in our discussions and in the letter, followed by our reaction to them… The senior Daily Mail news executive complained that we had overstated and relied too heavily on the number of complaints against the Daily Mail, MailOnline, and Mail on Sunday that had been verified by the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), and, in fact, that the newsrooms’ voluntary participation in IPSO’s process was evidence of its dedication to high standards. After reflecting on his comments — and following discussions with some of the U.K.-based journalists whom we are consulting as we prepare to launch in the United Kingdom — we agree. We have changed this rating to green… …the senior Daily Mail news executive also stated that dailymail.co.uk published 144,000 articles over the last year. While we do not believe measuring a set percentage of “false” articles is appropriate, some consideration of volume is appropriate when considering whether a website repeatedly publishes content that is clearly and significantly false. Because the content on a website is also cumulative — it does not disappear daily — consideration should also be given to whether the website corrects and/or takes down content discovered to be false. In other words, because NewsGuard is attempting to inform online users of the overall reliability of a website, the best measure of “repeatedly” should include how likely is it that on any given day a reader will see false content. Therefore, NewsGuard has now determined that dailymail.co.uk does not repeatedly publish content that is clearly and significantly false… The senior Daily Mail news executive maintained that the website’s headlines are not deceptive — and that they accurately reflect what is in the ensuing story. After undertaking a new review of the website and considering also the argument that a few arguably deceptive headlines (or at least headlines that overstate the importance of the story) need to be considered against the volume of stories published on dailymail.co.uk, we agree. We made a mistake and have changed the rating. Newsguard
My tweet yesterday about Trump preferring Kim Jong Un to Biden as President was meant in jest. The President correctly quoted me as saying it was a “completely ludicrous” statement. I should have been clearer. My apologies. Ian Bremmer
Bon nombre de récits de ce qui s’est passé à la Maison-Blanche sous Trump se contredisent ; beaucoup, à l’image de ceux de Trump, sont tout bonnement faux. Ces conflits, et ce flou avec la vérité, sinon avec la réalité elle-même, sont un fil conducteur élémentaire du livre. Parfois, j’ai laissé les acteurs offrir leurs versions, à tour de rôle, permettant au lecteur de les juger. Dans d’autres cas, grâce à la cohérence des récits et aux sources auxquelles j’ai fait confiance, je suis parvenu à une version des faits que je crois vraie. Michael Wolff
Even if some things are inaccurate/flat-out false, there’s enough notionally accurate that people have difficulty knocking it down. Maggie Haberman (NYT)
There are two issues here. One is Michael Wolff himself. In my view, I don’t know what to believe in the book because I don’t think he practices the kind of journalism that we practice. He doesn’t practice the kind that could allow you to work in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, PBS. Many of the things he reports are true, and many of the things he reports are fictionalized. And a lot of things all throughout his career — this is not a new thing with him. Some of the things in the book are factually completely inaccurate. Some of the things ring false to me. Maybe somebody told him, so he put it in the book without checking it out. When I started my career in journalism at the City News Bureau of Chicago, we had a phrase- If your mom tells you she loves you, check it out. And I’m not sure he does a lot of that. So, that’s one fact. So, I’m very dubious about accepting everything. (…) Nonetheless, the general picture confirms what we already knew. And I think there is a general sense the president is unfit. They treat — they do treat him like a child. It’s too simplistic, though, to say it’s like the madness of King George. I certainly have talked to many people over the last several months who said, yes, I went into a meeting, he was surprisingly well-informed, surprisingly ran a good meeting. I have certainly had that experience. And he’s running a White House that, whether you approve of the policies or not, has done this Pakistan deal, or the change in Pakistan policy, which is defensible — they did pass a tax bill. They are doing this regulatory stuff, this judicial stuff. It’s not completely dysfunctional. They are getting stuff done. And so I think that he has severe mental flaws. But the picture that’s coming out that he’s completely off his rocker, I think that’s overly simplistic and underestimates this… David Brooks
I don’t think there’s any question that the explosive in this book, as far as Donald Trump is concerned, were the charges about the meeting that Donald Trump Jr. hosted with Paul Manafort and others at the Trump Tower with the Russians, and that he called it traitorous. (…) Steve Bannon, whatever his shortcomings are — and I think they are manifest — is somebody who has worn the uniform of his country, did serve at the Pentagon, and has a gravitas on these matters that nobody in that meeting had or understood. Mark Shields (PBS)
Trump was vulnerable because for 40 years he had run what increasingly seemed to resemble a semi-criminal enterprise. I think we can drop the ‘semi’ part. (…) This is where it isn’t a witch hunt – even for the hard core, this is where he turns into just a crooked business guy, and one worth $50m instead of $10bn. Not the billionaire he said he was, just another scumbag. Steve Bannon (cité par Michael Wolff)
It’s a distinction between journalists who are institutionally wedded and those who are not. I’m not. You make those pro forma calls to protect yourself, to protect the institution. It’s what the institution demands. I’m talking about those calls where you absolutely know what the response is going to be. They put you in the position in which you’re potentially having to negotiate what you know. In some curious way, that’s what much journalism is about. It’s about a negotiated truth. For someone else, a book writer, I don’t have to do that. When I know something is true, I don’t have to go back and establish some kind of middle ground with whoever I’m writing about, which will allow me at some point to go back to them… As a journalist — or as a writer — my obligation is to come as close to the truth as I possibly can. And that’s not as close to someone else’s truth, but the truth as I see it. Remember, it’s a difference between a book and something else — you don’t have to read my book, you don’t have to agree with my book. But at the end of the day, what you are going to know is that it is my book. It is my vision. It is my report on my experience. It’s not put together by a committee. What you do is a committee project at some point. What I do is not. And I’m not saying one is better than the other, they’re just different functions. Michael Wolff
“Fire and Fury,” which portrayed a president with a strained relationship to the truth, raised questions about Mr. Wolff’s own adherence to the facts. Minor errors cropped up; anecdotes were denied. (…) The new book’s claims range from the intriguing — Mr. Wolff writes that Alan Dershowitz asked for a million-dollar retainer to defend Mr. Trump, a claim Mr. Dershowitz said on Wednesday was “completely, categorically false”— to the lurid, including a description based on a secondhand source of a supposed encounter between Mr. Trump and an unnamed woman aboard his private jet before his presidency. In an interview at his Manhattan townhouse on Tuesday — his first public comments about “Siege” — Mr. Wolff, 65, praised his reporting, defended his reliance on Mr. Bannon as a source and explained why he had little use for the usual fact-checking procedures valued by reporters at mainstream news outlets. He was trending on Twitter at the time of the interview. A spokesman for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, had issued a rare statement denying a central claim of “Siege,” which had just leaked out: that Mr. Mueller’s team had drafted an indictment of Mr. Trump on obstruction charges that was never used. NYT
I would only say my source is impeccable, and I have no doubt about the authenticity and the significance of the documents. (…) When “Fire and Fury” came out, I thought Steve Bannon would certainly never speak to me again, and the truth is, he never stopped speaking. But the other element of this is — I think a key one — is I’m a New York guy. Donald Trump is a New York guy. In the end, we know a lot of the same people. There is this conversation among these people about Donald Trump. And I am fortunate to be in that loop. (…) I have not been in the White House for this book, no. But a very large percentage of the people who spoke to me for the first book have continued to speak to me for the second book. Partly because they can’t stop talking about Donald Trump, and I’m a good listener. But also because I think the portrait in the first book worked for them. (…) I think that would be a fool’s errand, to invite the president of the United States to come down on you. (…) If the president of the United States comes after you, you feel concerned. (…) I’ve said many times: I’m not a Washington reporter. And Washington reporters, they do a great job. They do their job. I approached this as, that the more significant factor here, beyond policy, was buffoonery, psychopathology, random and ad hominem cruelties. In a way, my thesis is that this administration, this character, needed a different kind of writer. (…) I’ve been sorting this now for actually close to three years, so I think I have a fairly good sense of the reality quotient at any given point. But then I think you have to look to Bannon’s insights. When he says something, in my experience, he can often get right to the kernel, into the hub of the situation, where you say, ‘Damn, of course that’s it.’ Among the hundreds of people I have spoken to, he is the most insightful person about Donald Trump, about what makes him tick. (…) As I say, I didn’t contact Donald Trump at all. But why would you? Literally, this is not a man who is going to suddenly at this point of his life ’fess up to being a sexual harasser. (…) it’s a difference between an institutional reporter and a non-institutional reporter. I don’t have to ask the silly questions. (…) because can you imagine a circumstance under the sun in which Fox would come clean on that? (…) I actually don’t believe, if you know the answer, it is necessary to go through the motions of getting an answer that you are absolutely certain of. (…) It’s a distinction between journalists who are institutionally wedded and those who are not. I’m not. You make those pro forma calls to protect yourself, to protect the institution. It’s what the institution demands. I’m talking about those calls where you absolutely know what the response is going to be. They put you in the position in which you’re potentially having to negotiate what you know. In some curious way, that’s what much journalism is about. It’s about a negotiated truth. For someone else, a book writer, I don’t have to do that. When I know something is true, I don’t have to go back and establish some kind of middle ground with whoever I’m writing about, which will allow me at some point to go back to them. (…) As a journalist — or as a writer — my obligation is to come as close to the truth as I possibly can. And that’s not as close to someone else’s truth, but the truth as I see it. Remember, it’s a difference between a book and something else — you don’t have to read my book, you don’t have to agree with my book. But at the end of the day, what you are going to know is that it is my book. It is my vision. It is my report on my experience. It’s not put together by a committee. What you do is a committee project at some point. What I do is not. And I’m not saying one is better than the other, they’re just different functions. Michael Wolff
Bannon has been driven out of the White House by Trump and dumped by his financial patrons, the Mercers, and has set up shop in a shabby Capitol Hill townhouse, theatrically known as the Embassy, which, it slowly becomes clear, might as well be Hoth. It takes 193 pages, but we eventually learn that Bannon hasn’t talked to Trump since he was fired. That doesn’t prevent Wolff from centering the entire narrative on the president’s former aide. So the new Wolff book is much like the last one: a sail through the Trump diaspora and inside the president’s head with Bannon as the cruise director. But also like the last book, “Siege” is ultimately crippled by three flaws: Wolff’s overreliance on a single character, and one who is now more distant from the action; factual errors that mar the author’s credibility; and sourcing that is so opaque it renders the scoops highly suspicious and unreliable. For long stretches of “Siege,” Trump and the White House staff disappear and the reader is subjected to a tedious ticktock of Bannon’s travels and his plotting from the Embassy, where he pontificates throughout 2018 about how the Republicans will win the midterms (they didn’t), how his nationalist project is still ascendant in the GOP (it isn’t), how Robert Mueller will destroy the Trump presidency (he didn’t), and how Bannon himself may have to replace Trump and run for president in 2020, with Sean Hannity as his running mate (we’ll have to wait for Episode III). In the acknowledgments, Bannon is the only named source whom Wolff thanks, praising him effusively and, in an allusion to Dante’s “Divine Comedy,” calling him “the Virgil anyone might be lucky enough to have as a guide for a descent into Trumpworld.” In reality Bannon is more like Wolff’s Farinata, the former Florentine political leader whom Dante portrays as banished to the circle of hell for heretics, where, alone in his tomb, he still obsesses about his own era in politics but has no access to current events unless one of the dead brings him a snippet of news from the center of power. In “Siege,” the dead arrive at Bannon’s doorstep in the form of former Trump aides such as Corey Lewandowski, David Bossie, Sam Nunberg and Jason Miller, and Wolff, like many other Washington reporters, absorbs a mix of gossip, misinformation and occasional insight that the outer rings of Trump advisers are famous for circulating. This rogues’ gallery of Trump hangers-on that Wolff seems to depend on is sometimes presented as a group of devoted ideological rebels trying to keep the flame of true MAGA alive. According to Wolff, several of them, usually working through Hannity, who has better access to the president, press Trump on issues like building the border wall or declaring a national emergency over immigration. Bossie and Lewandowski “weren’t operatives, they were believers,” Wolff credulously reports, a statement that will generate guffaws among Republicans. But mostly, Bannon’s knitting circle is involved in low-level score-settling — often against then-White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner — and making money off their association with Trump. Lewandowski and Bossie hawk a conspiracy book about the “deep state” even though, according to Wolff, Bannon tells their ghostwriter that “none of this is true.” (…) Wolff’s broad conceptual error — that the real heart of Trumpism is heroically being kept alive by Bannon’s band of true-believing outsiders — would be forgivable if the book wasn’t marred by two more strikes: some cringeworthy errors, and sourcing that is so opaque it renders the extremely fun and juicy quotes sprinkled across every chapter as — sadly — difficult to trust. Wolff reports that he had two fact-checkers assigned to the book, but they apparently weren’t enough. He writes that after Ty Cobb left the White House, Trump’s only lawyers were Jay Sekulow and Rudy Giuliani (whom he describes as “drunk on a bid for further attention, or just drunk”). Wolff seems not to know that Trump hired Jane and Martin Raskin, whose names do not appear in the book, to deal with the Mueller probe. He writes that Russians hacked the email account of John Podesta and servers at the Democratic National Committee after July 27, 2016, the day Trump famously called on Russia to find Hillary Clinton’s missing emails. That’s wrong. The Podesta hack happened in March, the DNC hack happened in April, and the fruits of those hacks had already been released, which is why Trump made the comment. (…) Dramatic scoops are plopped down on the page with no sourcing whatsoever. Would-be newsmaking quotes are often attributed to Trump and senior officials without any context about when or to whom they were made. Wolff clearly relies on the work of dozens of other reporters on the Trump beat, but because he rarely uses any attributions, the reader never knows whether a fact he’s relaying comes from him or elsewhere. For example, he writes that Kushner was briefed by intelligence officials that his friend Wendi Deng might be a Chinese spy. The reader would be forgiven for thinking this was another Wolff scoop, rather than a major exclusive reported by the Wall Street Journal in early 2018. The cutting comments Wolff attributes to Trump certainly sound like the president: “the stupidest man in Congress” and a “religious nut” (Mike Pence); “gives me the creeps” (Karen Pence); “feeble” (John Kelly); “a girl” (Kushner); “looks like a mental patient” (Giuliani); “a pretty stupid boy” who “has too many f—ing kids” (Donald Trump Jr.); “men’s shop salesmen” (Republican House candidates); “ignoramuses” (Trump’s communications team); “the only stupid Jew” (Michael Cohen); “a dirty rat” (former White House counsel Donald McGahn); a “virgin crybaby” who was “probably molested by a priest” (Brett Kavanaugh); “the poor man’s Ann Coulter” (Kellyanne Conway); “sweaty” (Stephen Miller). But the lack of sourcing transparency and footnotes does not inspire confidence. By far the biggest scoop in the book is a document that Wolff alleges is a draft indictment, eventually ignored, of the president from inside the special counsel’s office. In addition to the alleged indictment, Wolff reports on several interesting and newsworthy memos outlining Mueller’s legal strategy for what to do if Trump pardoned Michael Flynn or tried to shut down the investigation. These documents, if verified, would rescue the book, because they offer the first real glimpse inside the nearly airtight Mueller operation. On Tuesday, the special counsel’s office issued a rare on-the-record statement insisting that the “documents described do not exist.” Ryan Lizza (senior political analyst for CNN)
Several news outlets published excerpts of Michael Wolff’s new book about the Trump campaign and the White House. And almost every word of it is unbelievable. Some of it, literally so. In one passage from “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” Wolff recounts how Roger Ailes recommended former House speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) to serve as Trump’s chief of staff. Trump’s response, according to Wolff: “Who’s that?” Never mind that Trump had golfed with Boehner in 2013 and mentioned him several times on the 2016 campaign trail. Using the Donald Trump Factbase, I found Trump mentioning Boehner on the campaign trail at least four times: April 10, 2016; Nov. 30, 2015; Oct. 14, 2015; and Sept. 25, 2015. He also tweeted about him on Oct. 8, 2015, and Sept. 25, 2015 — that last date being when Boehner resigned as speaker during the 2016 campaign. Is it possible Trump misheard the name or momentarily forgot who Boehner was? Sure. He may have even meant the “Who’s that?” as a slight to Boehner. But the impression Wolff seeks to leave is that Trump is a novice completely out of his element in the Oval Office. This was an anecdote meant to serve that narrative. (…) Then there is the apparent re-created conversation between Stephen K. Bannon and Ailes, the New York Times’s Nick Confessore points out, which raises questions about accuracy. As for the other claims, many are of the kind that has been whispered about but never reported on with any authority or certainty. Wolff has taken some of the most gossiped-about aspects of the Trump White House and put them forward as fact — often plainly stated fact without even anonymous sources cited. In his introduction, Wolff acknowledges this is an imperfect exercise and often a daunting challenge. Here’s a key excerpt pulled by Benjy Sarlin: Many of the accounts of what has happened in the Trump White House are in conflict with one another; many, in Trumpian fashion, are baldly untrue. Those conflicts, and that looseness with the truth, if not with reality itself, are an elemental thread of the book. Sometimes I have let the players offer their versions, in turn allowing the reader to judge them. In other instances I have, through a consistency in accounts and through sources I have come to trust, settled on a version of events I believe to be true. In some ways, this is the tell-all that Trump’s post-truth presidency deserves. Trump’s own version of the truth is often subject to his own fantastic impulses and changes at a moment’s notice. The leaks from his administration have followed that pattern, often painting credulity-straining images of an American president. As the New York Times’s Maggie Haberman notes, that makes claims in Wolff’s book that would ordinarily seem implausible suddenly plausible. But just because the administration doesn’t seem to have much regard for the truth and because there are all kinds of insane things happening behind closed doors doesn’t mean the truth isn’t a goal worth attaining. And in an environment in which the press is widely distrusted by a large swath of the American people — and overwhelmingly by Trump’s base — the onus is even more on accounts of his presidency to try to filter out the tabloid stuff. Part of Trump’s mission statement is fomenting distrust of the press. Oftentimes the wild leaks that come from the White House seem to further that goal by giving the media juicy stories that will ring false to people who doubt reporters’ anonymous sources. Wolff even writes that it’s often Trump himself doing the gossiping about White House staff — which seems about right. For whatever reason, Wolff seems to have arrived at a stunning amount of incredible conclusions that hundreds of dogged reporters from major newspapers haven’t. Whether that’s because he had unprecedented access — Wolff says he had “something like a semi-permanent seat on a couch in the West Wing” — or because his filter was just more relaxed than others, it’s worth evaluating each claim individually and not just taking every scandalous thing said about the White House as gospel. Aaron Blake (NYT)
Le Feu et la Fureur : Trump à la Maison-Blanche (Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House) est un livre de Michael Wolff qui décrit en détail le quotidien du président américain Donald Trump, ainsi que celui de son équipe de campagne en 2016 et de ses collaborateurs à la Maison-Blanche. L’ouvrage dresse un portrait peu flatteur de Trump, décrit comme un homme au comportement chaotique, et de ses relations avec son équipe. Il fait notamment une large place à l’ancien conseiller stratégique Steve Bannon, qui livre entre autres des commentaires désobligeants sur la famille Trump. Donald Trump apparaît dans ce livre comme un chef d’État tenu en piètre estime par son entourage à la Maison-Blanche, ce qui conduit Wolff à postuler que « 100 % des gens autour de lui » pensent que le président des États-Unis n’est pas capable de remplir sa fonction. (…) L’ouvrage fait l’objet d’un accueil très contrasté, la validité de son contenu étant totalement niée par Donald Trump et Sarah Huckabee Sanders, la porte-parole de la Maison-Blanche. Des critiques mettent en doute les sources d’une partie du livre, mais estiment néanmoins qu’il constitue un travail majeur sur la présidence de Trump, et que le tableau qu’il en dresse est globalement exact. (…) La plupart des citations le plus controversées du livre proviennent de Steve Bannon, directeur de la campagne de Trump dans ses derniers mois et chef stratège de la Maison Blanche de janvier à août 2017. (…) Un biographe de Trump, Michael D’Antonio, déclare à CNN que le portrait de Trump dressé par Wolff est globalement conforme à sa propre compréhension, comme à celle d’autres biographes de celui-ci, notamment en ce qu’il attire l’attention sur des aspects qui ont fait polémique, tels sa misogynie et son suprémacisme blanc allégués, ainsi que son opinion sur la « surestimation de l’expertise ». Il ajoute que les descriptions par Wolff de l’entourage de Trump forment aussi « un tableau crédible ». Bien qu’il critique la « prose [de] tabloïd » de Wolff et recommande au lecteur de lire le livre avec un certain scepticisme, D’Antonio conclut qu’il s’agit d’une « lecture essentielle » qui fournit un cadre sur lequel les futurs écrivains pourront s’appuyer. David Brooks, s’exprimant sur la chaîne PBS NewsHour, déclare que, parce que dans le passé Wolff s’est fait connaitre pour ne pas vérifier les faits, il est « très dubitatif sur l’acceptation de tout ce qui est » dans le livre. « Néanmoins, de manière générale, cela confirme ce que nous savions déjà. Et je pense qu’il y a un sens général, le président est inapte. Ils le traitent — ils le font traiter comme un enfant ». Wikipedia
Un biographe de Trump, Michael D’Antonio, déclare à CNN que le portrait de Trump dressé par Wolff est globalement conforme à sa propre compréhension, comme à celle d’autres biographes de celui-ci, notamment en ce qu’il attire l’attention sur des aspects qui ont fait polémique, tels sa misogynie et son suprémacisme blanc allégués, ainsi que son opinion sur la « surestimation de l’expertise ». Il ajoute que les descriptions par Wolff de l’entourage de Trump forment aussi « un tableau crédible ». Bien qu’il critique la « prose [de] tabloïd » de Wolff et recommande au lecteur de lire le livre avec un certain scepticisme, D’Antonio conclut qu’il s’agit d’une « lecture essentielle » qui fournit un cadre sur lequel les futurs écrivains pourront s’appuyer. David Brooks, s’exprimant sur la chaîne PBS NewsHour, déclare que, parce que dans le passé Wolff s’est fait connaitre pour ne pas vérifier les faits, il est « très dubitatif sur l’acceptation de tout ce qui est » dans le livre. « Néanmoins, de manière générale, cela confirme ce que nous savions déjà. Et je pense qu’il y a un sens général, le président est inapte. Ils le traitent — ils le font traiter comme un enfant Les journalistes d’Axios, Jim VandeHei et Mike Allen, estiment qu’il y a des parties de l’ouvrage qui ont été « mal [enregistrées], bâclées, ou qui trahissent la confidentialité de l’enregistrement, mais [que] deux choses sont tout à fait vraies » : la description de Trump comme un « président émotionnellement erratique » et celle de la « mauvaise opinion » qu’ont de lui certains membres de la Maison-Blanche. Andrew Prokop écrit dans Vox que « nous devons interpréter le livre comme un recueil de ragots que Wolff a entendu. Une bonne quantité de ceux-ci ne semblent manifestement pas précis ». Aaron Blake écrit pour The Washington Post que « Wolff semble être arrivé à une quantité superbe et incroyable de conclusions que des centaines de journalistes tenaces de grands quotidiens n’ont pas trouvées… il faut évaluer chaque déclaration individuellement et non pas seulement prendre chaque chose scandaleuse dite au sujet de la Maison-Blanche comme vérité d’évangile ». Mick Brown dans The Daily Telegraph décrit un livre à sensation, à la fois emphatique et tout à fait fidèle à son sujet. Pour David Sexton, de l’Evening Standard, le livre est un reportage politique qui vaut la peine d’être lu et qui est « destiné à devenir le principal compte-rendu des neuf premiers mois de présidence de Trump ». Lloyd Green, dans The Guardian parle d’un livre « à lire absolument », qui dévoile tout sur la Maison-Blanche de Trump en donnant la parole à ceux qui connaissent le mieux le président des États-Unis. Dans The Independent, Andrew Griffin écrit que « pour un livre qui a pour but de raconter l’histoire de l’homme le plus important dans la construction du monde, le nouveau travail explosif de Michael Wolff consiste à se battre, pas à penser ; c’est un livre qui a en son centre un vide géant – celui qui est à l’intérieur de la tête de Trump. Ce n’est pas vraiment un livre sur Trump, mais sur les gens qui essaient de combler ce trou noir ». Il note également que le livre est surtout concentré sur Bannon. Dans l’Irish Independent, Darragh McManus note que Fire and Fury « semble être le livre révélateur d’autres livres parlant du “Commandant Suprême”, avant d’énumérer « une douzaine de déclarations parmi les plus explosives ». Wikipedia
Michael Wolff, né le 27 août 1953, est un écrivain et journaliste américain. Il écrit régulièrement pour USA Today, The Hollywood Reporter, et l’édition britannique de GQ. Il a reçu deux National Magazine Award, un Mirror Award, et il a publié sept livres dont Burn Rate (1998) qui parle de sa propre entreprise internet, et The Man Who Owns the News (2008), une biographie de Rupert Murdoch. Pour ce dernier livre, il réussit à initialement gagner la confiance du magnat de la presse en critiquant le travail de ses confrères journalistes à son égard et en prenant la défense de son interlocuteur ; il réussit ainsi à obtenir des confidences faisant regretter par la suite à Rupert Murdoch d’avoir accepté de le rencontrer, l’ouvrage le présentant sous un jour négatif. (…) En janvier 2018, après avoir réutilisé qu’avec Rupert Murdoch la même tactique pour approcher le président, il publie le livre Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, consacré à la première année de présidence de Donald Trump. L’ouvrage contient des descriptions peu flatteuses du comportement de Trump et du fonctionnement chaotique de son équipe, ainsi des commentaires désobligeants sur la famille Trump émis par l’ancien stratège en chef de la Maison Blanche, Steve Bannon. Wikipedia
The Daily Mail’s front page had helped to open the story up. In fact the press had always been interested, but that report was said to have “touched Middle England”, the feelings of white people who don’t normally care much what happens to black youths in inner cities. Baroness Lawrence
Quite simply, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that if it hadn’t been for the Mail’s headline in 1997 – “Murderers: The Mail accuses these men of killing” – and our years of campaigning, none of this would have happened: Britain’s police might not have undergone the huge internal reform that was so necessary; race relations might not have taken the significant step forward that they have; and an 18-year-old A-Level student who dreamed of being an architect would have been denied justice. Paul Dacre
When David Cameron gave evidence to the Leveson Inquiry he wanted to give an example of newspaper campaigning that had benefited society. With the entire modern output of the national press to pick from, he chose the Daily Mail’s work on the Stephen Lawrence murder. This, he informed the judge, had been ‘extremely important’. No doubt many others would have made the same choice. Even the Mail’s rivals sometimes hold up its coverage of the infamous 1993 race murder as a high point for British journalism and as proof of the essential role of the press. As for the Mail’s critics, they find the case a stumbling block. If the Mail really played a heroic part in achieving justice for a black family that had been failed by the white establishment, it becomes harder for them to classify the paper as simply intolerant or racist. (…) Most famously, in February 1997, at a moment when the police and the justice system appeared to have failed the Lawrence family, it published a front page accusing five young men of the murder and defying them to sue for libel. A stroke of editorial brilliance, this caused a sensation, raising the profile of this troubling case and stirring debate about trial by media. Over the years that followed, the Mail would return many times to the Lawrence case in front pages, inside spreads and editorials, and the paper has made some bold claims about the difference it made. (…) The Mail has also claimed that its reporting brought about the 1998-99 Macpherson Inquiry into the murder and that its campaigning led to the reform of the double jeopardy rule that made possible one of the 2012 convictions. Dacre has also asserted that he risked jail by publishing the 1997 front page. These claims have rarely been examined closely, but in an article just published in the journal Political Quarterly I have tested them against the historical record. I found that, while the paper’s actions involved editorial brilliance and probably had positive consequences, its principal claims are at best exaggerated and at worst unsupported by evidence. Even where it can be argued that the paper did help bring about changes for the better, they were not the changes it actually sought. One example is the assertion that the Mail’s reporting ‘prompted Home Secretary Jack Straw to initiate a major inquiry’, as the paper put it in February 1999. That claim has been made on a number of occasions but it is problematic and at the very least needs careful qualification – chiefly because in the relevant months of 1997 the Mail never once called for a public inquiry. Even when the Lawrence family demanded one, the Mail conspicuously did not give its support. And once it became clear, in the early summer of 1997, that there would be an inquiry, the Mail publicly opposed the kind of inquiry – into police failures – that Doreen (now Baroness) Lawrence was arguing for and that the government of the time ultimately set up. In short, the paper has been claiming credit for the establishment of an inquiry which the record shows it didn’t seek and which took a form it actually opposed. Of course this is not a simple matter. While Jack Straw, in his autobiography, gave credit for the establishment of the inquiry ‘above all’ to Baroness Lawrence, he also wrote that the Mail helped give him political ‘space’ to make his decision. No doubt this is correct: that a conservative paper was conspicuously involved will have made a difference, but again the context must be considered. Straw made his decision in July 1997. It is conceivable that, had he not had the ‘space’ created by the Mail, he might have said no. But the events of 1997 show that six months later, no matter what the position of the Daily Mail, he would have had no choice but to order an inquiry anyway. When, that December, a report by the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) revealed wholesale incompetence and worse in the original police investigation of Stephen Lawrence’s murder, all arguments against a public inquiry would have fallen away. In other words, insofar as the Mail’s involvement might have made a difference by giving Straw more room to act, the difference was between the announcement of an inquiry in July 1997 and the same announcement five months later. The Mail’s claim – repeated as recently as June this year during an angry spat with the Guardian – that its campaign to bring the Stephen Lawrence murderers to justice “did more to improve race relations in this country than anything the Guardian has achieved” is a claim which, at best, requires considerable qualification, not least because throughout the whole history of the Lawrence case the Mail’s understanding of the role of race has been a very particular one. In its reporting just after the murder in 1993 its principal interest was in challenging mostly black ‘race militants’ whom it accused of ‘hijacking a tragedy’. The paper was happy to quote the Lawrences when they expressed concern about ‘militants’, but it conspicuously failed to quote them on the subject of racism in British law enforcement and justice and its role in their plight. Even in 1997 the Mail still refused to accept that the Lawrences’ colour might have made a difference. An editorial published on the same day as the famous ‘Murderers’ front page declared bluntly: ‘But suggestions made by his grief-stricken mother that that police were less than assiduous because of Stephen’s colour are misplaced.’ In the eyes of the Mail, in other words, Doreen Lawrence was simply wrong to see racism in the British establishment as a factor in her family’s tragedy. Why did the Mail get involved at all, if it took that view? Look at the record and the answer is clear. Dacre was outraged by what he called the swaggering conduct of the five suspects at the inquest (which had just ended when the front page was published). He was appalled that they appeared to be getting away with murder, as his own crime reporters and senior police officers told him they were. His focus and that of his paper was on five white ‘thugs’ from southeast London, and accusations about racism in the police or the justice system or in wider British society were wrong, and worse, were damaging distractions. It was for that reason that the Mail did not want a public inquiry into police failure and instead looked to the Macpherson inquiry (in vain) to hold the five suspects to account. When the inquiry report declared that the police service suffered from ‘institutional racism’, and when the Tony Blair government asserted that the whole country had lessons to learn from this, the Mail was openly disgusted. This was, it said, ‘a kind of politically correct McCarthyism’, and it asked: ‘Should the majority in this fundamentally decent and tolerant nation be tainted by collective guilt?’ The only racism the Mail would ever acknowledge in the case was the racism of the attackers (who were heard to use the word ‘n****r’) and conceivably of a few ‘bad apple’ police officers who, it said, should be driven out of the police service. Against this background, assertions by the Mail that it was instrumental in improvements in race relations and also in reforms of the police that flowed from the Macpherson inquiry must ring hollow. Not only did it not want the inquiry in the first place, but it was also broadly dismissive of the inquiry’s eventual findings. There is, however, one significant way in which the Mail probably helped bring positive change. The Stephen Lawrence affair was the first occasion when the white majority in this country came to understand and identify with the grief and anger of a black British family. They saw past angry black faces and recognised human suffering and a case of injustice. Those chiefly responsible for that change are the Lawrences themselves, but the Mail also deserves some credit. Baroness Lawrence wrote in her autobiography, And Still I Rise: ‘The Daily Mail’s front page had helped to open the story up. In fact the press had always been interested, but that report was said to have “touched Middle England”, the feelings of white people who don’t normally care much what happens to black youths in inner cities.’ It may well be that the public inquiry would have done this anyway, with its months of shocking testimony vindicating the family’s position, but it is clear that the Mail’s sensational intervention in February 1997 accelerated the process and it seems likely that many who would not otherwise have given consideration to the Lawrences’ grievances were induced to do so as a result. My article in Political Quarterly looks at all of this in some detail, and also at the other claims made by the Mail. For example, I found no evidence in the historical record to support the suggestion that the Mail campaigned in any sustained way for reform of the double jeopardy rule, nor for the suggestion that the editor of the Mail risked jail when he accused the five suspects of murder. Dacre’s assertion that if it had not been for the Mail Stephen Lawrence would have been denied justice is particularly hard to credit since there is nothing to support it in the known narrative of the police investigation that led to the two convictions. Even a general proposition that the Mail helped bring about convictions by continuing to highlight the issue does not withstand scrutiny. Brian Cathart
«Meurtriers», titrait hier le Daily Mail, ajoutant en une, photos et identités à l’appui: «le Mail accuse ces cinq hommes d’un meurtre raciste. Si nous avons tort, qu’ils nous fassent un procès.» Il n’est pas dans les habitudes du tabloïd conservateur de prendre ainsi parti dans un crime raciste. Mais son rédacteur en chef expliquait hier soir que l’assassinat jusqu’ici impuni d’un adolescent noir, il y a quatre ans, était devenu le symbole d’une justice à deux vitesses, efficace pour les Blancs, déficiente pour les sujets de couleur de Sa Majesté. Avant d’ajouter que le Daily Mail entendait faire pression sur le gouvernement. Jeudi soir, les parents de Stephen Lawrence, qui mènent combat depuis quatre ans pour que justice soit faite, ont finalement obtenu qu’un tribunal reconnaisse que leur fils a été tué «au cours d’une attaque raciste, non provoquée, par cinq jeunes Blancs». Une victoire certes, mais limitée: les cinq jeunes dénoncés par le Daily Mail et meurtriers présumés de l’adolescent restent libres, après une enquête de police bâclée et une instruction maladroite. Stephen Lawrence a été poignardé à mort en avril 1993 par un groupe de cinq jeunes Blancs alors qu’il attendait le bus à Eltham, dans le sud-est de Londres. Stephen avait dix-huit ans et a été tué parce qu’il était noir. «Prends-ça, sale Nègre», avait crié l’un des meurtriers, le perçant de coups de couteau. Sa famille était arrivée de Jamaïque, sa mère est institutrice, son père maçon, et Stephen, étudiant brillant, voulait devenir architecte. Les soupçons de la police se portent immédiatement sur un groupe de cinq jeunes, membres d’un club, «The Firm», ouvertement raciste et supporters du National Front (un minuscule parti raciste britannique ), qui vivent dans une cité voisine. Ils ont déjà injurié et agressé les quelques Noirs vivant dans le quartier. Entre mai et juin 1993, ils sont tous arrêtés mais nient avoir tué Stephen; faute de preuves suffisantes présentées par la police, le procureur les libère. La famille persévère et, à ses frais, monte en avril 1996 une private prosecution, un «procès privé», comme l’autorise une procédure rarement usitée du droit anglais, devant des magistrats publics de l’Old Bailey de Londres (l’équivalent de la Cour de cassation). Personne ne veut se présenter à l’audience pour témoigner contre les cinq assassins présumés. Par peur, selon la police; parce que l’enquête a été mal faite, selon la famille. Les enquêteurs peuvent seulement présenter des enregistrements effectués par la police de conversations ouvertement racistes des cinq jeunes. On entend l’un d’entre eux dire: «Il faut couper les bras et les jambes des Noirs pour qu’ils n’aient plus que des putains de moignons.» On voit un autre, sur un film vidéo, donner des coups de couteau dans l’air en criant: «Sale Nègre, sale Nègre.» Des éléments à charge certes, mais pas de preuves, témoignages ou aveux suffisants pour assurer une condamnation. Ce nouveau procès s’effondre. Entre-temps, Stephen est devenu une cause célèbre: Nelson Mandela, lors de sa visite en Grande-Bretagne, rencontrera même les parents de l’adolescent assassiné. Jeudi soir, le ministre de l’Intérieur a finalement décidé d’ouvrir une enquête sur le travail de la police. Sinon, reconnaissait l’avocat de la famille, Imran Khan, «les Britanniques de couleur finiront pas croire qu’ils doivent eux-mêmes se faire justice». Libération
L’affaire Stephen Lawrence fait suite au meurtre d’un adolescent noir britannique, tué le 22 avril 1993 à l’âge de 18 ans lors d’une agression pendant qu’il attendait un autobus. Cet homicide devint une cause célèbre et l’un des meurtres raciaux les plus en vue dans l’histoire du Royaume-Uni. Il a amené de profonds changements culturels dans l’attitude vis-à-vis du racisme, notamment dans les forces de police, et des modifications importantes de la législation et des pratiques policières ; ainsi de la révocation partielle des lois appelées double jeopardy (dérivées du Non bis in idem et par lesquelles une personne ne peut être jugée deux fois pour la même chose). Deux des meurtriers furent finalement condamnés presque vingt ans plus tard en 2012. Après sa journée du jeudi 22 avril 1993 à son école la Blackheath Bluecoat School, Stephen Lawrence visite quelques magasins à Lewisham puis passe la soirée chez l’un de ses oncles à jouer à des jeux vidéo en compagnie de son ami Duwayne Brooksnote. Quittant la maison vers 22h00, les deux amis décident de revenir chez eux par l’un ou l’autre des bus 161 ou 122 sur Well Hall Road (faisant partie de la South Circular road), au lieu du bus 286 qui passe dans une rue proche mais les ramènerait chez eux plus tard. Ils arrivent à l’arrêt de bus sur Well Hall Road à 22h25. Lawrence marche jusqu’à la jonction de Dickson Road pour voir si un bus est sur le point d’arriver ; puis il revient vers l’arrêt de bus. (…) À ce stade, Brooks voit un groupe de 5 ou 6 jeunes blancs en train de traverser Rochester Way de l’autre côté de la route (par rapport à l’arrêt de bus), vers le passage pour piétons, et venant dans leur direction. À 22h38 ou juste après, il appelle Lawrence pour lui demander s’il voit un bus venir. Brooks affirme que l’un du groupe dit alors : « What, what, nigger? » (« Quoi, quoi, nègre ? »), pendant que le groupe traverse la rue et submerge Lawrence. Lawrence est poussé à terre et est poignardé deux fois : à la clavicule droite et à l’épaule gauche, à une profondeur d’environ 13 cm, sur l’avant du corps. Chacune des deux blessures coupe en deux endroits les artères axillaires pour chaque bras, et un poumon est également percé. Son bras droit perd toute sensation, et sa respiration est perturbée. Brooks, qui a commencé à courir pour fuir les assaillants, crie à Lawrence de courir aussi. Pendant que les assaillants s’enfuient par Dickson Road, Brooks et Lawrence courent vers Shooters Hill ; mais Lawrence tombe après avoir couru 120 mètres, et perd son sang jusqu’à en mourir. (…) Lawrence a été tué seulement 9 mois après que Rohit Duggal, un garçon d’origine asiatique, a été poignardé à mort à Eltham dans une autre attaque raciste non provoquée. Une première enquête a lieu. Les trois témoins à l’arrêt de bus font état d’une attaque rapide et courte ; aucun ne peut identifier les suspects3. Dès le lendemain du meurtre cinq suspects sont identifiés : les frères Neil et Jamie Acourt, David Norris, Gary Dobson et Luke Knight, dont les quatre premiers nommés dans une lettre anonyme. Cependant, très rapidement l’enquête est publiquement taxée de biais ; vue par beaucoup comme un crime haineux, la mort de Lawrence est généralement perçue comme étant due à son origine ethnique et les policiers chargés de l’enquête comme racistes ainsi que les employés du Crown Prosecution Service concernés. Les parents de Stephen tiennent une conférence de presse le 04 mai, soutenant que la police ne traite pas le cas assez activement, et rencontrent Nelson Mandela le 06 mai. Entre le 7 mai et le 23 juin 1993, les cinq sont arrêtés et Neil Acourt et Luke Knight sont mis en accusation ; mais le Crown Prosecution Service tient pour non fiable la déposition de Duwayne Brooks en regard de l’identification de Neil Acourt et Luke Knight. Les charges envers Acourt et Knight sont annulées le 29 juillet, et les trois autres sont acquittés. Quelques mois plus tard l’avocat de la famille Lawrence annonce de nouvelles données, mais le coroner fait cesser l’enquête le 22 décembre 1993, et en avril 1994 le Crown Prosecution Service refuse de poursuivre l’accusation malgré de nouvelles preuves de l’identification des suspects. Le ministère public ayant refusé d’instruire l’affaire, les parents de Stephen lancent des poursuites judiciaires à titre privé contre Gary Dobson, Luke Knight et Neil Acourt en septembre 1994. En décembre – trois mois plus tard – des caméras cachées installées par la police montrent les trois, ainsi que Norris, usant de langage violent et raciste. Les poursuites sont présentées en tribunal du 18 au 25 avril 1996, mais les plaignants sont déboutés sur la même base que précédemment : les preuves d’identification fournies par Brooks sont refusées comme peu fiables. Les trois accusés sont de nouveau acquittés. Le 13 février 1997 l’enquête recommence. Les cinq accusés refusent de répondre aux questions. Verdict : meurtre au cours d’une attaque entièrement non provoquée perpétrée par cinq jeunes. Le lendemain 14 février, le Daily Mail consacre sa première page aux photos des cinq accusés surmontées d’un titre-choc : « Meurtriers – Le Mail accuse ces hommes de tuerie. Si c’est faux, qu’ils nous mènent en justice. » — Daily Mail, 14 février Cette intervention vigoureuse du Daily Mail modifie profondément la perception du public concernant l’affaire Lawrence. Cinq semaines plus tard, le 20 mars 1997 la Commission indépendante des plaintes contre la police pour le Kent lance une investigation sur le comportement de la police dans l’affaire Lawrence. Neuf mois plus tard cette enquête conclut à des « faiblesses significatives, oublis et opportunités manquées», mais sans reconnaître de conduite raciste. En juillet 1997 Jack Straw, Home Secretary (ministre de l’Intérieur) à l’époque, ordonne une enquête publique sur le meurtre et sur son investigation réalisée par le Metropolitan Police Service (MPS, couramment abrégé en « Met »). L’enquête est présidée par Sir William Macpherson, juge retraité de la Haute Cour de justice d’Angleterre et du pays de Galles, avec l’aide notamment de trois conseillers : Tom Cook (président du Runnymede Trust), John Sentamu (évêque de Stepne et Richard Stone (officier de police). L’enquête publique est ouverte le 20 mars 19982,15,16. En juillet 1998 la famille Lawrence demande la démission du chef de la Met Sir Paul Condon, qui en octobre 1998 présente des excuses publiques et admet que des erreurs ont été commises. Le rapport de l’enquête publique, couramment appelé rapport Macpherson (Macpherson report), est publié en février 1999. Il conclut que la force policière est « institutionnellement raciste » et contient 70 recommandations destinées à améliorer l’attitude de la police concernant le racisme, ainsi que des propositions de changements dans la loi pour renforcer le Race Relations Act qui vise à promouvoir l’égalité entre les races ; il propose notoirement que la règle non bis in idem soit abrogée dans le cas de meurtres, ceci en vue de permettre la tenue d’un nouveau procès sur présentation de nouvelles preuves convaincantes. C’est ce que permet le Criminal Justice Act (2003) britannique entré en vigueur en 2005. La publication en 1999 du Macpherson Report est qualifiée « d’un des plus importants moments de l’histoire moderne de la justice criminelle en Grande Bretagne». Dès 2004 son remarquable impact sur le débat des relations raciales s’est étendu non seulement sur l’appareil de justice criminelle, avec entre autres de nombreux changements à Scotland Yard pour éliminer le racisme, mais sur toutes les institutions publiques qui sont dès lors elles aussi tenues par la loi de promouvoir l’égalité et d’éliminer la discrimination en regard des diverses minorités. (…) Le 5 mai 2004 un nouveau passage au tribunal est bloqué : le Crown Prosecution Service annonce que suite à une revue du cas les preuves sont insuffisantes pour accuser quiconque dans l’affaire Lawrence. Mais en avril 2005 le principe légal de double jeopardy est amendé, rendant possible une deuxième mise en accusation après un acquittement préalable pour le même cas. 26 July 2006 – un documentaire de la BBC examine l’affaire Lawrence et émet de nouvelles questions quant aux principaux suspects. Subséquemment, la Met doit revoir ses preuves ; en octobre 2007 la Commission indépendante des plaintes contre la police affirme que contrairement à ce qu’affirme le documentaire elle n’a pas trouvé de preuve d’exactions par un officier. Mais le 8 novembre 2007 la police confirme qu’après cette revue du cas par une équipe de 32 officiers l’été précédent, la médecine légale examine de nouvelles preuves. La revue s’est penchée sur les données réunies à l’époque du meurtre, utilisant de nouvelles techniques d’examen pour les objets. Trois mois plus tard, le 07 février 2008 Doreen Lawrence, mère de Stephen, inaugure le centre éducatif Stephen Lawrence à Deptford2 ; ce dernier est attaqué plusieurs fois peu après18. En février 2009, 10 ans après le rapport Macpherson, Richard Stone – conseiller pour l’investigation et la rédaction de ce rapport – affirme que la police a fait des progrès notables dans le sens de sa propre réforme mais que le racisme y persiste. Jack Straw, alors ministre de la Justice, dit que la police n’est plus institutionnellement raciste ; mais la mère de Stephen Lawrence dit pour sa part que la police manque encore à son devoir vis-à-vis des Britanniques de couleur. En 2010, le meurtre est cité comme « l’un des plus évidents meurtres raciaux n’ayant pas été résolus». Toutefois, suite à la revue des preuves commencée en été 2006 Dobson (qui a été emprisonné pour 5 ans le 9 juillet 2010 pour fourniture de drogue de classe B) et Norris sont de nouveau accusés du meurtre en septembre 2010 ; et la cour d’appel décide en mai 2011 que les nouvelles données recueillies sont suffisantes pour les ramener au tribunal. L’acquittement de Dobson en juillet 1993 est donc supprimé, ce qui n’était pas possible avant l’amendement du double jeopardy act de 2005. Les deux accusés font face au tribunal le 14 novembre 20112. De l’ADN provenant de Stephen Lawrence a été trouvé dans les vêtements des accusés. Une minuscule tache de sang sur la veste de Dobson ne pouvait provenir que de Lawrence, ainsi qu’un cheveu sur les jeans de Norris, et des fibres des vêtements de Stephen ont été retrouvées sur les vêtements des accusés20. Les deux accusés sont déclarés coupables le 03 janvier 2012 et condamnés à vie, avec Dobson emprisonné pour un minimum de 15 ans et 2 mois, et Norris pour un minimum de 14 ans et 3 mois. Le 24 juin 2013 The Guardian présente les révélations de Peter Francis alias Pete Black, ancien officier de police ayant appartenu à la Special Demonstration Squad spécialiste de l’infiltration de groupes de protestations. Peter Francis aurait avec trois autres officiers participé à une opération en vue d’espionner et de tenter de vilipender la famille Lawrence, son ami Duwaine Brooks témoin du crime et les groupes de campagne et de soutien à la famille en colère de l’absence de condamnation des coupables. Il aurait infiltré ces groupes dès 1993, à la recherche de « désinformation » à utiliser contre ceux qui critiquaient la police. Il aurait également avec un autre officier cherché parmi les films pris de la manifestation de mai 1993 du matériel afin d’incriminer Duwaine Brooks, qui fut subséquemment arrêté et accusé de dégâts criminels ; mais cette affaire fut rejetée par le juge responsable qui considéra qu’il y avait là un abus de la procédure légale. Peter Francis affirme que cette démarche faisait partie d’un plan plus général visant à endommager le mouvement de campagne grandissant autour de la mort de Lawrence et tenter de stopper la campagne. La mère de Stephen signale qu’en 1993 la famille avait été très surprise de ce que la police prit les noms de toutes les personnes entrant et sortant de la maison, et qu’ils en arrivèrent rapidement à soupçonner la police de chercher des preuves pour discréditer la famille ; cette dernière n’avait à l’époque aucun rapport avec les groupes de soutien naissants, et n’était pas politisée. Francis confirme que malgré toutes leurs recherches pour du matériel de désinformation, aucun des quatre officiers n’a trouvé quoi que ce soit de concret. En 1997, lors de l’enquête publique dans le cadre du rapport Macpherson, Peter Francis souhaite que la Special Demonstration Squad fasse connaître l’opération sous couverture auquel il avait participé concernant l’affaire Lawrence. Mais ses supérieurs, fixés sur la mémoire du passage à tabac deux ans auparavant du citoyen noir Rodney King par la police de Los Angeles et des subséquentes émeutes sans précédent à Los Angeles, disent craindre des émeutes si cette opération devient publique, et la taisent. La Special Demonstration Squad, très controversée, a été démantelée en 2008 et partiellement remplacée par la National Domestic Extremism Unit. Wikipedia
Before the usual suspects start bouncing up and down, squealing ‘homophobia’, don’t bother. I supported civil partnerships long before it was fashionable and I’d rather children were fostered by loving gay couples than condemned to rot in state-run institutions, where they face a better-than-average chance of being abused. That said, and despite the fact that countless single parents do a fantastic job, I still cling to the belief that children benefit most from being brought up by a man and a woman. Which is precisely what worries me most about the Daley publicity stunt. Here we have two men drawing attention to the fact that ‘they’ are having a baby. But where’s the mum, the possessor of the womb which features in this photograph? She appears to have been written out of the script entirely. We are not told her identity, where she lives, or even when the baby is due. She is merely the anonymous incubator. My best guess is that she lives in America, since it is still illegal in Britain to pay surrogate mothers other than modest expenses. That’s why wealthy gay couples, such as Elton John and David Furnish, turn to the States when they want to start a family. Good luck to them. No one is suggesting that homosexual couples can’t make excellent parents. But nor is everyone comfortable with the trend towards treating women as mere breeding machines and babies as commodities. I’ve written before about the modern tendency in some quarters to regard children as fashion accessories, like those preposterous designer handbag dogs. (…) What I also find slightly disconcerting is that this story was reported virtually everywhere without so much as a raised eyebrow, as if it would be impolite even to ask any questions about the parentage. The Daily Mail
En novembre 2016, le groupe Lego décide de ne plus promouvoir ses jouets dans le Daily Mail à la suite des campagnes menées par celui-ci concernant le Brexit et la crise des migrants, campagnes jugées « haineuses » par le fabricant de jouets. En février 2018, Center Parcs cesse toute annonce publicitaire dans le Daily Mail à la suite d’un éditorial jugé homophobe. Ce journal est parfois critiqué pour son manque de vérification, et accusé de sensationnalisme. Son utilisation comme source a d’ailleurs été rejetée par la communauté de Wikipédia en anglais en février 2017. Ainsi, le navigateur Internet de Microsoft avertit les utilisateurs de ne pas faire confiance au journalisme du Daily Mail dans le cadre d’une fonctionnalité conçue pour lutter contre les fausses informations. Le message, qui est produit par une startup tierce appelée NewsGuard, invite le lecteur à agir avec prudence, sachant que « le site publie régulièrement des contenus qui ont porté atteinte à la réputation, provoqué une alarme répandue ou qui constituent du harcèlement ou une atteinte à la vie privée ». Le Daily Mail est également accusé par The Guardian de tenir des propos racistes, homophobes et islamophobes. Wikipedia
The Daily Telegraph has had the highest number of complaints upheld against it by the Independent Press Standards Organisation since the regulator was set up two years ago. According to adjudications posted to the IPSO website, the IPSO Complaints’ Committee found the national daily to have breached the Editor’s Code of Conduct nine times. The Times and Daily Express have each committed seven breaches, with the regulator having upheld five complaints against The Sun (including The Scottish Sun). The Sunday Times, Daily Mail and Mail Online have each had four complaints upheld over the two years of regulation under IPSO, which replaced the Press Complaints Commission in September 2014. Press Gazette
Much has been written in recent years about my friend’s weakness for women. Had others not dealt with the matter in such detail, I might have avoided any commentary. Unfortunately, some of these commentators have told only the bare facts without suggesting the reasons why Martin might have indulged in such behavior. They have also left a false impression about the range of his activities. Martin and I were away more often than we were at home; and while this was no excuse for extramarital relations, it was a reason. Some men are better able to bear such deprivations than others, though all of us in SCLC headquarters had our weak moments. We all understood and believed in the biblical prohibition against sex outside of marriage. It was just that he had a particularly difficult time with that temptation. In addition to his personal vulnerability, he was also a man who attracted women, even when he didn’t intend to, and attracted them in droves. Part of his appeal was his predominant role in the black community and part of it was personal. During the last ten years of his life, Martin Luther King was the most important black man in America. That fact alone endowed him with an aura of power and greatness that women found very appealing. He was a hero — the greatest hero of his age — and women are always attracted to a hero. But he also had a personal charm that ingratiated him with members of the opposite sex. He was always gracious and courteous to women, whether they were attractive to him or not. He had perfect manners. He was well educated. He was warm and friendly. He could make them laugh. He was good company, something that cannot always be said of heroes. These qualities made him even more attractive in close proximity than he was at a distance. Then, too, Martin’s own love of women was apparent in ways that could not be easily pinpointed — but which women clearly sensed, even from afar. I remember on more than one occasion sitting on a stage and having Martin turn to me to say, “Do you see that woman giving me the eye, the one in the red dress?” I wouldn’t be able to pick her out at such a distance, but already she had somehow conveyed to him her attraction and he in turn had responded to it. Later I would see them talking together, as if they had known one another forever. I was always a little bewildered at how strongly and unerringly this mutual attraction operated. Ralph David Abernathy (1989)
As a historian who wrote the first major biography of King and a separate book The FBI and Martin Luther King,Jr., Garrow’s new revelations must be taken seriously. His article appears in a distinguished British newspaper, not a Murdoch British rag or a tabloid such as our country’s National Enquirer. Undoubtedly, people like Roy Moore, Richard Spencer, David Duke, and various alt-right hangers-on will revel in this news and argue that it demolishes Martin Luther King Jr.’s standing as an American hero. That would be the wrong conclusion to take. King was a man who risked his own life by practicing non-violence and who publicly rejected the two primary alternatives to the civil rights movement: black nationalism and racial separatism. He rejected the use of guns in the fight against the oppressors, especially the police. Because of this, the more radical groups were not fond of King and called him the Uncle Tom of the movement. Let me not mince words. King’s behavior toward women should not be buried or excused. They should be condemned. But does acknowledging these truths mean that we can no longer recognize King’s accomplishments as a civil rights leader? Does it mean we have to ignore what he said in his powerful sermons and writings? Does it diminish his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”? It was there that King wrote that citizens had “not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws,” and at the same time “to disobey unjust laws.” Remember, King led an entire community to risk everything on behalf of freedom, fighting off Bull Connor’s police dogs and fire hoses as they were unleashed on unarmed citizens protesting for their rights as American citizens. Our leaders are human. King was deeply flawed in his view of women and his sexual proclivities. It is obvious, reading Garrow’s quotation from King’s sermon on March 3, 1968, that he was alluding to himself when he said “There is a schizophrenia . . . going on in all of us. There are times that all of us know somehow that there is a Mr. Hyde and a Dr. Jekyll in us.” God, King said, “does not judge us by the separate incidents or the separate mistakes that we make, but by the total bent of our lives.” The word “mistake” does not begin to cover King’s behavior toward women. But King is yet another reminder that good men can do bad things, and even bad men can sometimes accomplish great goods. How do we balance those ledgers in a final accounting? It’s hard. It’s messy. And there are no neat or obvious answers. Some thought Garrow should keep his discoveries under wraps, but it is the job of the historian to tell the truth. This is especially true for a historian who has already devoted a good chunk of his career to chronicling the man’s life. It would not be too much to say that Garrow had almost a unique duty to write this piece. It is unfortunate that the racists among us will cheer this news. But that is not an excuse to keep the truth hidden. If Garrow is right that a “profoundly painful historical reckoning and reconsideration” is upon us, then so be it. We are better off confronting the truth than living with a comfortable lie. Ronald Radosh
Should we prohibit the use of The Daily Mail as a source? I envisage something just short of blacklisting, whereby its introduction to an article could be accepted only upon there being a demonstrable need to use it instead of other sources. —Hillbillyholidaytalk 13:44, 7 January 2017 (UTC)
Consensus has determined that the Daily Mail (including its online version, dailymail.co.uk) is generally unreliable, and its use as a reference is to be generally prohibited, especially when other more reliable sources exist. As a result, the Daily Mail should not be used for determining notability, nor should it be used as a source in articles. An edit filter should be put in place going forward to warn editors attempting to use the Daily Mail as a reference. The general themes of the support votes centred on the Daily Mail’s reputation for poor fact checking, sensationalism, and flat-out fabrication. Examples were provided to back up these claims. Wikipedia
There is no justification for the blanket banning of a mass-circulation newspaper as a source. There will be cases where it is a suitable rs source. The problem with the « Mail-related arguments » mentioned, if the latest example here  is typical, is just with editors not knowing what appropriate sources to use. Should the Daily Mail be used to support a claim related to astronomy? Well duh, obviously not! The proposer seems to have a longterm pov agenda here, in an earlier comment he actually compared the Daily Mail to Völkischer Beobachter and has been busy compiling . Tiptoethrutheminefield (talk) 14:16, 7 January 2017 (UTC)
It is hard to know whether to laugh or cry at this move by Wikipedia – a website that is notorious for its own inaccuracy and false truths, and which was co-founded by a man who doctored his own biographical entry. For the record the Daily Mail, in common with most reputable academic institutions, banned all its journalists from using Wikipedia as a sole source in 2014 because of its unreliability. Last year, the Daily Mail and Mail Online together published more than half a million stories and yet received just two upheld adjudications each for inaccuracy from the UK Industry’s regulator IPSO. This so-called ban by Wikipedia came at the end of a month-long ‘debate’ – triggered by a clearly obsessive newspaper-hater who hides behind the pseudonym ‘Hillbillyholiday’ – which attracted just 75 votes from Wikipedia’s 30 million anonymous registered editors. The debate makes it abundantly plain that the majority of those calling for the Mail to be banned were driven primarily by political motives. The so-called ‘vote’ was then endorsed by five anonymous administrators after a secret email exchange and then deliberately leaked to the media. All those people who believe in freedom of expression should be profoundly concerned at this cynical politically motivated attempt to stifle the free press. Spokesperson for Mail Newspapers
Cockram is a regular editor of the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, where (according to multiple posts on his Facebook feed) he operates under the alias ‘Hillbillyholiday’. Last month, ‘Hillbillyholiday’ was the architect of a cynical PR stunt which saw this newspaper publicly smeared by damning its journalism ‘unreliable’. He and 52 like-minded anti-Press zealots, almost all of whom remain anonymous, collaborated in a vote which persuaded Wikipedia, the sixth most popular website in the world, that it ought to ban the Daily Mail. The move by the online encyclopedia — which was founded in 2001 and has in a few short years become a hugely influential source of information — was revealed in the pages of the Left-wing Guardian newspaper. It reported that Wikipedia’s editors had decided, in a democratic ballot, that the Mail’s journalism cannot be trusted. No statistics were offered in support of this claim, which, incidentally, came days before the Mail won Sports Newspaper Of The Year for an unprecedented fourth straight time, and was shortlisted for 15 awards at the British Press Awards, the news industry’s Oscars. (Indeed, as we shall see, the Mail has an enviable record on accuracy.) Neither did Wikipedia, nor The Guardian, bother to shed much light on how this decision was reached. If they had, then it would have become apparent to readers that this supposed exercise in democracy took place in virtual secrecy, and that Wikipedia’s decision to censor the Mail — the only major news outlet on the face of the Earth to be so censored — was supported by a mere 53 of its editors, or 0.00018 per cent of the site’s 30 million total, plus five ‘administrators’. Curiously, though it has now placed a ban on this paper, the website remains happy to use the state propaganda outlets of many of the world’s most repressive and autocratic Left-wing dictatorships as a source for information. Wikipedia has not, for example, banned the Chinese government’s Xinhua news agency, Iran’s Press TV or the Kremlin mouthpiece Russia Today. Neither does it place a black mark against Kim Jong-un’s in-house propaganda outlet, the Korean Central News Agency, which in 2012 published a report claiming that archaeologists in the country’s capital, Pyongyang, had discovered the remains of a 1,000-year-old unicorn lair. Wikipedia even heralds Exaro, the now-defunct British website notorious for making false claims about an establishment paedophile ring which saw a number of innocent people arrested, as a valid ‘investigative news source’. And yet, it has declared that the Daily Mail — one of the most popular mainstream newspapers published in any Western democracy — is somehow too ‘unreliable’ to be included on its site. In an era where the term ‘fake news’ is increasingly used as a desperate slur, with Donald Trump applying it to CNN, the BBC and any major outlet that tends to disgruntle him, it’s tempting to suggest that both Wikipedia and The Guardian are guilty, in this deeply disturbing saga, of creating what might be regarded as false news. More worrying, this ban has set a dangerous precedent, raising profoundly troubling questions about free speech and censorship in the online era. And ultimately it provides an object lesson in the way well-organised campaigners from extremes of the political spectrum are now seeking to impose their prejudices on society by seizing control of the most valuable resource of the internet age: information. (…) Tasked for evidence to support this claim, ‘Hillbillyholiday’ simply claimed that this newspaper had more of press regulator IPSO’s sanctions against it than his favourite title, The Guardian. He failed to state that The Guardian is not regulated by IPSO, so can’t possibly have been sanctioned by it. In other words, this opponent of the popular Press was using a deeply misleading claim to accuse someone else of inaccuracy. As it happens, like every newspaper in the land, the Mail does of course sometimes make mistakes. In common with most titles, we correct all significant factual errors pointed out to us, via the Corrections and Clarifications column. According to IPSO’s own report, the regulator’s figures suggest the Mail’s record is better, not worse, than our peers. In 2015, with our sister website MailOnline, the Mail published more than half a million stories; IPSO upheld complaints against two of them. By way of comparison, five articles in The Times had complaints of one kind or another upheld against them, along with four in the Daily Express, and ten published by the Telegraph group. This would tend to suggest that Wikipedia’s decision to ‘ban’ the Mail was based on naked prejudice rather than any empirical evidence. It should be noted here that, ironically enough, the Mail wrote to all its writers and reporters three years ago instructing them never to rely on Wikipedia as a single source, such were the concerns about its accuracy. Of course, the Wikipedia ban would never have made headlines if news of the website’s debate result had not promptly been leaked to The Guardian which — surprise surprise — has Jimmy Wales on its board. (…) It’s a perverse state of affairs, and one which must, surely, rile Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales. Only last month, he wrote in The Guardian on the subject of fake news, arguing: ‘None of us is comfortable with the social media giants deciding what’s valid or not.’ Yet here is Wikipedia, a social media giant whose pages are riddled with inaccuracies, unilaterally deciding, at the request of a handful of people, that a major newspaper is somehow not valid. (…) financial papers filed by the Foundation show that, for an organisation that calls itself a ‘small non-profit’ business and begs users for donations (‘the price of a cup of coffee’) to keep it afloat, it enjoys bulging cash reserves. The Foundation’s accounts show it has assets of more than $90 million (£73 million), and spent $31 million (£25 million) in salaries last year, up from $26 million (£21 million) the year before. Since the same documents state that it employs 280 members of staff and contractors, their average salary appears to be more than $110,000 (£90,000). Meanwhile, the Foundation’s last tax return showed that its former executive director, Lila Tretikov, earned $308,149 (£251,000), plus another $18,213 (£15,000) in ‘other’ compensation, while former boss Sue Gardner was on roughly the same. The Daily Mail
Editors are supposed to always use judgment when choosing sources. Usually the broadsheets are better than the tabloids but there are circumstances when tabloids provide better coverage such as sports and crime. And if we exclude the Mail, there are a lot of other publications of lower quality that would still be considered reliable. TFD (talk) 12:18, 8 January 2017 (UTC)
there are some things for which it’s useful, despite all that’s been said above. Occasionally it accurately rakes muck that nobody else has turned over. If the proposer could be a little clearer about how we might demonstrate need to use it in those rare cases where the DM can be considered reliable, I might well change my mind. Richard Keatinge (talk) 17:10, 10 January 2017 (UTC)
Noting that this has been discussed a few dozen times now. Neither the DM nor any other news source is absolutely reliable on articles concerning celebrities. IMO, Wikipedia would be best off declining to republish « celebrity gossip » in the first place. More to the point, the DM has not been shown to be unreliable in other matters, although its headlines may misstate the content of articles, this is also true of every single newspaper known to man. I suggest, in fact, that « headlines » not be allowed as a source for what an article states, and only be allowed to illustrate what the headline stated and cited as such. Collect (talk) 14:27, 11 January 2017 (UTC)
The reliability of a Daily Mail should be judged on a case-by-case basis. Most material is uncontroversial and mistakes occur no more often than in other publications. A user should not have to hunt around for the same fact to be found in a different source because the Daily Mail is disliked by certain editors. ¡Bozzio! 05:37, 15 January 2017 (UTC)<h5 style= »text-align: justify; »><em>
Daily Mail gives coverage to many international news outside Europe and America. Daily Mail is not a good source in content dispute. But Daily Mail is good to prove notability of a subject. Daily Mail covers news stories which are not getting coverage in other English Media. We can use Daily Mail to establish notability of a politician, celebrity from Eastern Europe, Asia. Sometimes Daily Mail gives coverage to very ordinary things, but due to this they give coverage to many important Asian news, North African news and East-European news (where English is not official language). Marvellous Spider-Man 03:03, 16 January 2017 (UTC)
The Daily Mail, as hated as it is, is a very mixed bag. It can contain wonderful information such as accurate and informative interviews of highly respected people like Lord Puttnam (yes, I’ve seen that; can find the link if you need it), informative and detailed film and television articles, detailed information on various openings, galas, and so on. Many of these items are exclusives, so we can’t blacklist the publication. It also has an excellent (theatre, film, etc.) review team. We just have to keep in mind that it often stoops to tabloid scandal-mongering (and ridiculous political opinions). I think any intelligent editor can tell the difference. So with this publication it has to always be on a case-by-case basis. It’s a middle-market newspaper, so we cannot avoid it or blacklist it. I’d say it’s not to be used as a source for politics, science, medicine. But as a source for entertainment updates it is often helpful and often contains accurate information that is not available anywhere else. If it is contradicted by a more reliable source, it should not be used. Nothing negative, contentious, or potentially libelous or in any way scandalous should be sourced to the DM (unless it is a direct quote from an interview). Softlavender (talk) 06:26, 16 January 2017 (UTC)
The DM falls on a spectrum of news quality and it is far from the worst; singling it out for prohibition is not the solution here. It is hard not to suspect that it is being singled out because it combines a strong right-wing bias with a very large circulation. I see several editors above citing statistics regarding complaints and corrections as though this was a reason for prohibiting its use; but WP:NEWSORG gives the very fact that a complaints process exists and corrections are published as a reason to consider the source reliable. It should certainly be considered WP:BIASED, but then so should every news organisation that takes an editorial stance. This is already policy. Outright banning established, regulated, large-circulation newspapers from use on enwiki would be a terrible precedent to set, especially for having « ridiculous political opinions, » as one editor has put it a few lines above. GoldenRing (talk) 10:56, 16 January 2017 (UTC)
Awful and biased as the Mail often is, there is also much that may be uncontentious. For example, take e.g. an article that I did some editing on a long time ago, on Mary Marquis, a Scottish newsreader of the ’70s and ’80s, who is still a much cherished and remembered figure in Scotland. The article contains multiple citations to an 1998 interview / profile piece from the Mail — all of which, I would submit, are entirely uncontroversial; and (I submit) contribute valuably to giving a rounded-out account of her. Of course there are reasons why one should very often be cautious of the Mail, but IMO a blanket ban is not the way. I would add that, although people like to throw around the word « Tabloid », there can be a distinction between the connotations of that word on different sides of the Atlantic, and I wouldn’t throw the Record or the Mirror or the Standard or Metro into the same class as eg the National Enquirer. Jheald (talk) 20:03, 16 January 2017 (UTC)
The paper has been around since 1896. Its bad reputation in the first few years of the 21st century speak nothing about the reliability of more than a hundred years of volumes. Clearly a blanket ban is unjustified (per Thincat). – Finnusertop (talk ⋅ contribs) 03:17, 17 January 2017 (UTC)
Existing policy is enough. If it is worth adding to a Wikipedia article, it will have appeared in better sources than the Mail and other red top British tabloids. I am not an anti-tabloid snob like some of the people here, and the broadsheets are not perfect either. However, the Mail should be off limits for anything BLP related. This discussion is reminiscent of this tweet by Gavin Each case has to be judged on its merits because all sources are prone to error. The Daily Mail seems fairly average as journalism goes and should not be singled out when there are many worse sources. The following specific points demonstrate this. Andrew D. (talk) 13:50, 18 January 2017 (UTC)
The Daily Mail is somewhat unusual for a UK paper as it was the first newspaper specifically aimed at women and is read by more women than men. For example, the word suffragette was first coined in the pages of the Daily Mail and so is naturally cited by the Oxford English Dictionary. When the singer Lynsey de Paul died, there was some confusion about her exact age. The Daily Mail was one of the few news sources which got this right. I started our article about churnalism and this can be found in most news media now. One interesting case was a project which deliberately planted fake stories to see whether they would be circulated. The Daily Mail didn’t fall for this when many other news media did. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Andrew Davidson (talk • contribs)
This is ridiculous that you even consider to ban such a large newspaper. It reminds me of a witch hunt or collective responsibility (good articles banned by default, because someone else did something wrong earlier). Someone reverted DM as a source, even though DM was the only source, which actually bothered to interview the authors of the paper, therefore it was a better source than all other sources. There was nothing wrong with that DM article the only reason for removal was actually this discussion here. That can’t be right. Musashi miyamoto (talk) 17:18, 24 January 2017 (UTC)
Quel deux poids deux mesures ?
A l’heure où …
Où un journaliste qui présente explicitement son travail sur la présidence Trump comme …
Pour « beaucoup » « à l’image de ceux de Trump tout bonnement faux » …
Le « flou avec la vérité, sinon avec la réalité elle-même » comme « fil conducteur élémentaire » de ses livres …
La vérité comme « une version des faits que je crois vraie » …
Son non-rappel des personnes incriminées pour vérification comme non nécessaire puisque l’on « sait à l’avance ce que la réponse sera » …
Son obligation d’arriver à « la vérité telle que je la vois » comme plus importante que la vérification des faits …
Et sa principale source comme les dires d’un ancien conseiller du président américain …
Non seulement ouvertement déterminé à régler ses comptes avec celui qui l’a éconduit …
Mais considéré justement par tous comme l’âme damnée et le principal inspirateur du rapport controversé de l’hôte de la Maison Blanche à la vérité …
Ne va pas manquer, comme avec son premier livre, de remplir les colonnes de nos valeureux journalistes avec son irresistible flot d’ « anecdotes croustillantes, risibles et parfois invraisemblables sur Donald Trump » …
Et où, de ce côté-ci de l’Atlantique, les mêmes journalistes qui n’hésitent pas à balancer en une des notes classées secret défense pour dénoncer les ventes d’armes à l’Arabie saoudite ou à compromettre l’identité d’un membre des forces spéciales pour alimenter leur feuilleton Benalla …
Multiplient les précautions oratoires quand ils ne mettent pas systématiquent en doute les informations des services secrets américains ou israéliens, voire de l’ONU même sur les activités explicitement terroristes, livraisons d’armes aux Houtis du Yemen comprises, des mollahs et de leurs affidés au Moyen-Orient …
Comment voir …
Non seulement la qualification de « haineux » pour avoir osé soulever …
Ou d’ « homophobe » pour, dans les cas de parenté homosexuelle, avoir osé rappeler l’intérêt des enfants ou des mères porteuses …
Par un Wikipédia qui a pourtant ses propres problèmes …
Alors que, prenant notamment en compte l’important volume d’articles du premier site de presse britannique (144 000 articles par jour), l’extension pour navigateur Newsguard vient de lui redonner son label vert …
Pour autre chose que ce qu’il n’est vraiment …
A savoir, comme le dit bien le Daily Mail lui-même, une « tentative cynique et politiquement motivée d’étouffer la presse libre » ?
Wikipedia ban condemned by Daily Mail as ‘cynical politically motivated attempt to stifle the free press’
The Daily Mail has said a decision by Wikipedia editors to ban references to its articles for sourcing entries is a “politically motivated attempt to stifle the free press”.
February 10, 2017
The Daily Mail and Mail Online publications were the subject of a debate this week among a section of the self-regulating community of voluntary Wikipedia editors, most of whom post under pseudonyms.
It began when one editor, called Hillbillyholiday, proposed a “request for comment” from the editorial community on whether it should “prohibit the use of the Daily Mail as a source”.
They said: “I envisage something just short of blacklisting, whereby its introduction to an article could be accepted only upon there being a demonstrable need to use it instead of other sources.”
The motion passed within 24 hours, supported by 58 out of 84 editors.
It stated: “Consensus has determined that the Daily Mail (including its online version, dailymail.co.uk) is generally unreliable, and its use as a reference is to be generally prohibited, especially when other more reliable sources exist.
“As a result, the Daily Mail should not be used for determining notability, nor should it be used as a source in articles. An edit filter should be put in place going forward to warn editors attempting to use the Daily Mail as a reference.”
Editors said support for the ban “centred on the Daily Mail’s reputation for poor fact checking, sensationalism, and flat-out fabrication” and encouraged volunteers to “review” and “remove/replace” the many thousands of existing citations on Wikipedia referencing Mail stories.
The ban was opposed by some members, with one stating: “There is no justification for the blanket banning of a mass-circulation newspaper as a source. There will be cases where it is a suitable [as a] source.
“The problem with the ‘Mail-related arguments’ mentioned… is just with editors not knowing what appropriate sources to use.”
Mail Online publishes around half a million stories a year. According to Press Gazette analysis the Daily Mail and Mail Online had four adjudications upheld against them each under the first two years of press regulator IPSO (to September 2016).
Anyone can edit a Wikipedia page by simply clicking on the “edit” button along the top of an article and signing up for free. There is no vetting process and only deliberate “vandalism” will invoke arbitration.
A spokesperson for Mail Newspapers said: “It is hard to know whether to laugh or cry at this move by Wikipedia – a website that is notorious for its own inaccuracy and false truths, and which was co-founded by a man who doctored his own biographical entry.
“For the record the Daily Mail, in common with most reputable academic institutions, banned all its journalists from using Wikipedia as a sole source in 2014 because of its unreliability.
“Last year, the Daily Mail and Mail Online together published more than half a million stories and yet received just two upheld adjudications each for inaccuracy from the UK Industry’s regulator IPSO.
“This so-called ban by Wikipedia came at the end of a month-long ‘debate’ – triggered by a clearly obsessive newspaper-hater who hides behind the pseudonym ‘Hillbillyholiday’ – which attracted just 75 votes from Wikipedia’s 30 million anonymous registered editors.
“The debate makes it abundantly plain that the majority of those calling for the Mail to be banned were driven primarily by political motives.
“The so-called ‘vote’ was then endorsed by five anonymous administrators after a secret email exchange and then deliberately leaked to the media.
“All those people who believe in freedom of expression should be profoundly concerned at this cynical politically motivated attempt to stifle the free press.”
The editor behind the motion to ban the Daily Mail as a Wikipedia source, Hillbillyholiday, has since left Wikipedia. A sign on their page, which reveals next to no detail about the individual, states: “Hillbillyholiday is taking a short wikibreak and will be back on Wikipedia soon.”
In one public message from an editor called Bounder, Hillbillyholiday is awarded a merit badge for their “excellent work in opening the RfC on the Daily Mail”. Bounder added of the Mail: “Its presence on what is supposed to be an encyclopaedia is a constant source of embarrassment.”
In response, Hillbillyholiday said: “Thanks, Bounder… really didn’t expect the RfC [Request for Coment] to pass and was beginning to regret using Mail-style tactics of blatant sensationalization [sic] and flagrant misrepresentation of sources; it seemed rather ‘poetic’ at the time.
“Anyway, job’s a good’un, I’m off to hide somewhere where [Daily Mail editor Paul] Dacre won’t find me.”
In a leader column today, the Times said Wikipedia’s ban on the Daily Mail was evidence of a “promiscuous extension of the phrase ‘fake news’ to cover stories and publications that the complainer happens merely to dislike”.
“Newspapers make errors and have the responsibility to correct them. Wikipedia editors’ fastidiousness, however, appears to reflect less a concern for accuracy than dislike of the Daily Mail’s opinions,” the paper said, adding: “It is the duty of legitimate news organisations to reveal real news.”
On the Daily Mail ban, Juliet Barbara, director of communications at the Wikimedia Foundation, said in a statement: “Editors have discussed the reliability of the Daily Mail since at least early 2015.
“In January 2017, an RfC (Request for Comment) discussion was proposed to evaluate the use of the Daily Mail as a reliable source on English Wikipedia. This is one of many community discussions that take place every day about a broad range of issues, including reliable sources.
“In this case, volunteer editors seem to have come to a consensus that the Daily Mail is ‘generally unreliable and its use as a reference is to be generally prohibited, especially when other more reliable sources exist’.
“This means that there is a general recommendation according to this discussion that the Daily Mail not be referenced as a ‘reliable source’ on English Wikipedia or used to demonstrate an article subject’s notability.
“That said, I encourage you to read the comments in the RfC itself. You will find considerable discussion on the topic, including views both for and against the proposal. Wikipedia is a living, breathing ecosystem where volunteers regularly discuss and evolve the norms that guide the encyclopaedia.
“Among Wikipedia’s many policies and guidelines, there is even a policy to ignore all rules. It captures the open spirit of the community: ‘If a rule prevents you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia, ignore it.’
“As a general guide to reliable sources, articles on Wikipedia should be based on reliable, third-party, published sources with a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy. Editors assess the reliability of a source at these levels:
- The piece of work itself (the article, book)
- The creator of the work (the writer, journalist)
- The publisher of the work (for example, Random House or Cambridge University Press)
“They also use a variety of criteria to evaluate reliability within each of these levels. For example, one signal that a news organization engages in fact-checking and has a reputation for accuracy is the publication of corrections.”
The making of a Wiki-Lie: Chilling story of one twisted oddball and a handful of anonymous activists who appointed themselves as censors to promote their own warped agenda on a website that’s a byword for inaccuracy
- Wikipedia’s editors decided that the Mail’s journalism cannot be trusted
- The ban was supported by just 0.00018 per cent of site’s ‘administrators’
- The Mail is the only major news outlet on the face of the Earth to be so censored
- Ban sets a dangerous precedent, raising troubling questions about free speech
The Daily Mail
4 March 2017
Here, you will learn that he’s ‘single’, is a fan of graffiti and folk music, and has worked variously as an ‘artist’ and ‘education management professional’.
Cockram boasts 153 online friends, and claims to live in Angoisse, a village in the Dordogne in south-western France. He also appears to take great pleasure in regularly circulating obscene images and racist sentiments via the social network.
His Facebook page includes an image of two gay men performing a sex act in public, a photograph of a naked, dark-haired man having oral sex with himself, and a painting that depicts bestiality between a man and a sheep.
Three years ago, Cockram wrote on his timeline that ‘all Muslim men admitted to Paradise will have an ever-erect penis and they will each marry 70 wives, all with appetising vaginas’.
Around the same time, he declared: ‘If you gently lick the outside of a Kinder Egg, you can slowly recreate the changing skin tones of Michael Jackson.’
It’s lubricious, utterly unedifying stuff. Indeed, a casual observer could be forgiven for pigeon-holing Cockram as a bigoted oddball who spends rather too much of his life in darker corners of the internet.
Yet in the modern world, bigoted oddballs who are over-familiar with the internet can wield tremendous power — and this potty-mouthed man is a case in point. For when he’s not posting obscene images or racist sentiments, Cockram is a regular editor of the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, where (according to multiple posts on his Facebook feed) he operates under the alias ‘Hillbillyholiday’.
Last month, ‘Hillbillyholiday’ was the architect of a cynical PR stunt which saw this newspaper publicly smeared by damning its journalism ‘unreliable’.
He and 52 like-minded anti-Press zealots, almost all of whom remain anonymous, collaborated in a vote which persuaded Wikipedia, the sixth most popular website in the world, that it ought to ban the Daily Mail.
The move by the online encyclopedia — which was founded in 2001 and has in a few short years become a hugely influential source of information — was revealed in the pages of the Left-wing Guardian newspaper.
It reported that Wikipedia’s editors had decided, in a democratic ballot, that the Mail’s journalism cannot be trusted.
No statistics were offered in support of this claim, which, incidentally, came days before the Mail won Sports Newspaper Of The Year for an unprecedented fourth straight time, and was shortlisted for 15 awards at the British Press Awards, the news industry’s Oscars. (Indeed, as we shall see, the Mail has an enviable record on accuracy.)
Neither did Wikipedia, nor The Guardian, bother to shed much light on how this decision was reached.
If they had, then it would have become apparent to readers that this supposed exercise in democracy took place in virtual secrecy, and that Wikipedia’s decision to censor the Mail — the only major news outlet on the face of the Earth to be so censored — was supported by a mere 53 of its editors, or 0.00018 per cent of the site’s 30 million total, plus five ‘administrators’.
Curiously, though it has now placed a ban on this paper, the website remains happy to use the state propaganda outlets of many of the world’s most repressive and autocratic Left-wing dictatorships as a source for information.
Wikipedia has not, for example, banned the Chinese government’s Xinhua news agency, Iran’s Press TV or the Kremlin mouthpiece Russia Today.
Neither does it place a black mark against Kim Jong-un’s in-house propaganda outlet, the Korean Central News Agency, which in 2012 published a report claiming that archaeologists in the country’s capital, Pyongyang, had discovered the remains of a 1,000-year-old unicorn lair.
Wikipedia even heralds Exaro, the now-defunct British website notorious for making false claims about an establishment paedophile ring which saw a number of innocent people arrested, as a valid ‘investigative news source’.
And yet, it has declared that the Daily Mail — one of the most popular mainstream newspapers published in any Western democracy — is somehow too ‘unreliable’ to be included on its site.
In an era where the term ‘fake news’ is increasingly used as a desperate slur, with Donald Trump applying it to CNN, the BBC and any major outlet that tends to disgruntle him, it’s tempting to suggest that both Wikipedia and The Guardian are guilty, in this deeply disturbing saga, of creating what might be regarded as false news.
More worrying, this ban has set a dangerous precedent, raising profoundly troubling questions about free speech and censorship in the online era.
And ultimately it provides an object lesson in the way well-organised campaigners from extremes of the political spectrum are now seeking to impose their prejudices on society by seizing control of the most valuable resource of the internet age: information.
To understand how, you must first understand Wikipedia and the manner in which it works. Founded in 2001 by Jimmy Wales, husband of Tony Blair’s former diary secretary Kate Garvey (Alastair Campbell played bagpipes at their wedding), the site is an encyclopedia whose pages can be written and edited by anyone in the world.
Wales has said he wants it to contain ‘the sum of all human knowledge available to all in their own language’.
Over time, the theory goes, successive contributors, or ‘editors’, will gradually improve and update every Wikipedia article. Thanks to the so-called ‘wisdom of crowds’, they will slowly but surely create an ever-more-valuable repository of facts.
Today, Wikipedia has more than five million pages in English, and is visited about 269 million times a day, making it more popular than the sales site Amazon.
Thirty million people have now registered as ‘editors’, of whom around 130,000 have been active in the past six months.
Since it’s easily accessed online by Google, billions more use its pages as a key source of what they assume is accurate and unbiased information.
That’s the theory, at least. However in practice, the site — so quick to smear the Mail as ‘unreliable’ — has itself become a byword for inaccuracy.
Banned as source material by many universities, Wikipedia’s reputation for carrying fake news has seen it claim (among other things) that Robbie Williams eats domestic pets, that the Greek philosopher Plato was a Hawaiian surfer who discovered Florida, and that the TV news presenter Jon Snow has been patron of the British Conifer Society. (For the record, Mr Snow himself has said: ‘I hate conifers and I’m not the society’s patron.’)
Victims of ‘Wiki-lies’ have over recent years included some of the loftiest figures in the land.
Take Lord Justice Leveson, whose vast report on the Press informed readers that the Independent newspaper had been founded by a man called Brett Straub.
In fact, Mr Straub is a Californian student whose name had been uploaded to Wikipedia by way of a prank. Leveson’s team had simply cut-and-pasted it from the online encyclopedia into the report without checking: quite a boob for a man who lectured the Press for sometimes getting facts wrong.
Behind the scenes, Wikipedia is supposed to be run along broadly democratic lines, with groups of users making key decisions and founder Jimmy Wales describing himself as its ‘constitutional monarch, like the Queen’.
He doesn’t wield executive power, and, indeed, has occasionally fallen out spectacularly with users of the site.
In 2005, they discovered that Wales had edited his own Wikipedia entry to remove references to the pornographic nature of a search engine he once ran called Bomis Babes (which contained images of ‘lesbian strip poker threesomes’ among other things). The references were soon re-added. In 2010, he deleted 1,000 pornographic images from Wikipedia only for furious users to restore 900 of them.
As a result of its devolved structure, major policy decisions that affect the online encyclopedia are supposed to be vigorously discussed in chat-rooms and then put to a vote.
That’s the idea, at least. Yet as the recent censorship of the Daily Mail shows, the website’s version of democracy does not always work perfectly in practice.
For this momentous decision was made not by a large proportion of the site’s billions of users, or even by many of its 30 million editors, but instead as the result of an online debate in which just a few dozen people participated, despite the fact that it took place over a month.
There was then an election, in which a mere 77 of them voted, with 53 endorsing a ‘ban’ on the Mail. As elections go, it’s hardly a popular landslide.
No further steps were taken to gauge the opinion of Wikipedia’s wider user base, or to establish if there was any evidence to support the contention that this paper is somehow ‘unreliable’.
The wheels of this stunt were set in motion on January 7 by ‘Hillbillyholiday’, whose attitude towards the popular Press is evident in the fact that he also uses the alias ‘Tabloid Terminator’ and who has included an image of himself burning a copy of the Mail on his profile page.
In the past, he has declared: ‘If the Daily Mail were a person, I would kick them square in the nut.’ He’s also said he ‘hates The Sun and thinks anyone who treats it as a reliable source is stark raving mad’.
Using an obscure chatroom browsed by some Wikipedia editors, he kicked things off by saying: ‘Should we prohibit the use of the Daily Mail as a source?’ He continued: ‘I envisage something just short of blacklisting.’
Blacklisting is a term which in its modern context was popularised by the Nazis, who drew up a ‘Black Book’ of 2,820 Britons, including the philosopher Bertrand Russell and Winston Churchill, who would be sent to concentration camps if Hitler won the war.
Discussion was then joined by a number of other Wikipedia editors with either Left-wing political leanings or wider anti-Press agendas. Steven Slater, a fortysomething science fiction fan from Essex, declared this newspaper a ‘fake news’ outlet.
Another regular contributor was an American called Guy Macon who has said: ‘Kill it. Kill it with fire. Under NO circumstances should the Daily Mail be used for anything, ever.’
All of them were apparently of the view that the Mail is far more inaccurate than any other news organisation on the face of the Earth. Yet they failed to cite any data to back up their contention.
Indeed, asked for evidence to support this claim, ‘Hillbillyholiday’ simply claimed that this newspaper had more of press regulator IPSO’s sanctions against it than his favourite title, The Guardian. He failed to state that The Guardian is not regulated by IPSO, so can’t possibly have been sanctioned by it.
In other words, this opponent of the popular Press was using a deeply misleading claim to accuse someone else of inaccuracy.
As it happens, like every newspaper in the land, the Mail does of course sometimes make mistakes. In common with most titles, we correct all significant factual errors pointed out to us, via the Corrections and Clarifications column.
According to IPSO’s own report, the regulator’s figures suggest the Mail’s record is better, not worse, than our peers.
In 2015, with our sister website MailOnline, the Mail published more than half a million stories; IPSO upheld complaints against two of them. By way of comparison, five articles in The Times had complaints of one kind or another upheld against them, along with four in the Daily Express, and ten published by the Telegraph group.
This would tend to suggest that Wikipedia’s decision to ‘ban’ the Mail was based on naked prejudice rather than any empirical evidence.
It should be noted here that, ironically enough, the Mail wrote to all its writers and reporters three years ago instructing them never to rely on Wikipedia as a single source, such were the concerns about its accuracy.
Of course, the Wikipedia ban would never have made headlines if news of the website’s debate result had not promptly been leaked to The Guardian which — surprise surprise — has Jimmy Wales on its board.
The Left-wing newspaper carried a short report of the Daily Mail ban in its print edition, and a longer one online. Each was originally published before this newspaper was in a position to comment.
Its online report was then re-published, with a quotation from a spokesman for this newspaper describing Wikipedia’s ban as ‘a politically motivated attempt to stifle the free Press’.
Amazingly, that comment was edited by The Guardian prior to publication to remove criticism of Jimmy Wales for editing his own Wikipedia page. Disgracefully, it was also altered to remove the crucial information about just how few of Wikipedia’s 30 million editors had been responsible for the ban.
This was only subsequently added into the online story after further representations by the Mail. Even then, The Guardian did not include the fact that the ‘vote’ had been endorsed by just five anonymous administrators.
Talk about fake news! Because, of course, by now this misleading story had been validated by its publication in a well-known national newspaper, and was being repeated verbatim by other news outlets, particularly from the Left — showing just how corruptible information has become in the online age.
To this end, it’s worth noting that while the number of articles in English-language pages of Wikipedia has more than doubled in seven years, the number of people editing the site has declined by a quarter — thus concentrating editorial power in a small number of hands, and creating a narrow nexus of obsessive meddlers.
Today, around 90 per cent of these editors are men, and most are white. Only a tiny proportion come from outside the developed world. Most are under the age of 40 and have a liberal world view. Some could be accurately described as cranks.
Such a man is Michael Cockram, whose Facebook page (in between the obscenity and racist bile) also celebrates juvenile acts of vandalism that appear to have been carried out on Wikipedia entries.
‘The common tadpole, also known as a polliwog, is in fact not from frog eggs, but from goose poo,’ reads one. ‘Tadpoles can sing at a frequency higher than what humans can hear.’
This, then is the bizarre individual who, with a self-selecting handful of other zealots, has managed to ban a major popular newspaper from the world’s sixth largest website.
It’s a perverse state of affairs, and one which must, surely, rile Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales. Only last month, he wrote in The Guardian on the subject of fake news, arguing: ‘None of us is comfortable with the social media giants deciding what’s valid or not.’
Yet here is Wikipedia, a social media giant whose pages are riddled with inaccuracies, unilaterally deciding, at the request of a handful of people, that a major newspaper is somehow not valid.
I asked the website’s parent organisation, the Wikimedia Foundation, how it squares Wales’s ethos with recent events. It refused to answer.
Perhaps it has something to hide. After all, financial papers filed by the Foundation show that, for an organisation that calls itself a ‘small non-profit’ business and begs users for donations (‘the price of a cup of coffee’) to keep it afloat, it enjoys bulging cash reserves.
The Foundation’s accounts show it has assets of more than $90 million (£73 million), and spent $31 million (£25 million) in salaries last year, up from $26 million (£21 million) the year before.
Since the same documents state that it employs 280 members of staff and contractors, their average salary appears to be more than $110,000 (£90,000).
Meanwhile, the Foundation’s last tax return showed that its former executive director, Lila Tretikov, earned $308,149 (£251,000), plus another $18,213 (£15,000) in ‘other’ compensation, while former boss Sue Gardner was on roughly the same.
Are these amounts not excessive? Again the Foundation refused to answer my questions about the subject.
Perhaps they feel no need. For theirs is a world where it has become troublingly easy to ignore awkward questions, or indeed everything, from a newspaper which an infinitesimally small number of their members happen to dislike.
- Migrant ‘children’ arriving in Britain on coaches from Calais Jungle camp
- But critics argue they look much older than the 14 to 17 they claim to be
- Aid workers said some are lying about their age to get entry to Britain
- They claim those arriving in the UK are ‘adults pretending to be children’
- Daniel Gadi, nine, from Eritrea is among those still stranded in France
Aid workers in Calais have warned the most vulnerable children face being stranded in the Jungle camp because adults are lying about their age to gain entry to Britain.
Volunteers working in the migrant camp said the process for registering those with family members was ‘chaotic’ and warned vulnerable children are being left behind.
Critics have claimed that migrants arriving into Britain over the last two days appear to look older than the 14 to 17 years the Government claims they are.
The Home Office has come under fire for not carrying out routine tests such as dental checks to determine their age because they are deemed ‘too intrusive’.
The second wave of ‘child’ migrants from the Jungle Camp arrived in Britain at lunchtime today with up to 300 more expected to follow in their footsteps in the coming week – although the Home Office has not yet confirmed the exact number.
Some 14 children arrived in the first wave yesterday, but the Home Office also refused to confirm how many came to the UK today.
After photographs of the refugees arriving were published, Conservative MP David Davies wrote on Twitter: ‘These don’t look like ‘children’ to me. I hope British hospitality is not being abused.’
Officials insist the migrants have undergone rigorous interviews and document checks to establish they are aged under 18.
But it has emerged that this is simply a screening process where they are verified as a child based on their ‘physical appearance’ and ‘demeanour’, with social workers signing off an ‘age assessment’.
A Whitehall source added that the migrants may simply look older because fleeing war zones had ‘probably toughened them up so they’ve grown up a bit quicker’.
Daniel Gadi, a nine-year-old boy, from Eritrea, in Africa, whose mother is dead, is among those still stranded in France.
WHY IS HOME OFFICE NOT DOING MEDICAL CHECKS?
On background checks, the Home Office states:
We work closely with the French Authorities to ensure that the cases applying to come to the UK qualify under Dublin.
Initial interviews are conducted to gather information on identity, medical conditions and age among other criteria.
On age we use a number of determining factors:
– That the individual has provided credible and clear documentary evidence proving their claimed age;
– That the individual has a physical appearance/demeanour which does not strongly suggest they are significantly over 18 years of age
– That the individual has been subject to a Merton compliant age assessment by a local authority and been assessed to be 18 years of age or over, which must be signed off by two social workers.
His father Abaye said he wants his son to be looked after by his late wife’s sister in London, but was refused entry to Britain as he is not an unaccompanied child.
‘My son is nine,’ Abaye said. ‘I want him to go to London to be with his mother’s sister. We have been here for three months, I do not want my son to be here.
‘I have two sons aged 12 and 16 who are already in London with their aunt. Their mother is dead.’
The first child migrants began arriving in Britain from Calais on Monday, while the second wave got to the UK Visas and Immigration office in Croydon, south London, this afternoon.
They being transferred from the Jungle before it is demolished later this month.
Some waved to the waiting cameras as they stepped off the packed bus before being escorted into the main building by UK border enforcement officers.
Between 200 and 300 youngsters with family already in the UK will be brought across the Channel by the end of the week, according to French police.
But as the transfers began, volunteers working in the Jungle camp raised concerns that those most in need would be left behind because adults are taking their places.
One unnamed aid worker in Calais raised concerns that adults may be lying about their age to gain entry into Britain.
The worker said: ‘It is a complete mess. Those at the front of the queue are not the most needy and vulnerable – they are adults pretending to be children.’
Another volunteer, Neha, added: ‘I know there are vulnerable kids, kids with epilepsy, who are still here that have family in the UK they could be with right now.
‘It’s a shambles. Children are not being told what they are queuing up for, they are not being given information, there is complete confusion.’
Up to 1,200 children are stranded in the sprawling Jungle camp in the French Port town, which is due to be demolished this month.
A Home Office spokesman admitted that routine medical tests, such as checking dental records, have not been carried out because it could be ‘intrusive’. Pictured: Arrivals in Croydon – There is no suggestion that those pictured are lying about being under 17
Migrant ‘children’ arriving in Britain from Calais to critics claiming they look ‘old enough to be adults’ may look older ‘because war has toughened them up’, a Whitehall source claims. Pictured: An Afghani migrant waves as he leaves Saint Omer, France, for Britain today
One British volunteer said: ‘It’s a shambles. Children are not being told what they are queuing up for, they are not being given information, there is complete confusion.’ Pictured: Migrants in the Calais jungle, which is due to be bulldozed later this month
Home Office staff have gone out to Calais to ensure a smooth transition. Pictured here is a UK official (centre, black coat) and a camp volunteer (hat and beige coat) assisting a group of migrant children aged 12-16 ahead of their departure
Around half say they have family in the UK, giving them the right to move here.
Under the system, the children have to apply for asylum in France with their claims transferred to Britain once they show they have family links already in the country.
A team of Home Office officials has been dispatched to Calais to work with the French authorities to screen applicants before they are granted entry.
Part of the vetting process will include attempting to determine their ages.
CHILD ARRIVALS SPARK HUGE DEBATE ON SOCIAL MEDIA
The arrival of the migrant children has caused a huge stir on social media, with everyone from politicians to television presenters weighing in.
UKIP temporary leader Nigel Farage said the pictures of the refugees proved the need to ‘verify who was coming into our country’.
But ex-England footballer and Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker hit out at those accusing the migrants of lying about their ages.
He wrote on Twitter: ‘The treatment by some towards these young refugees is hideously racist and utterly heartless. What’s happening to our country?’
Many people were unswayed by his comments though, taking aim at the Home Office over the process and questioning the ages of those arriving.
Owen Gibbs replied: ‘@GaryLineker i think it has a lot to do with the fact that we were told it would be refugee children but we’re seeing migrant men.’
Tony Pearce tweeted: ‘@AmberRudd_MP we wanted a strong home secretary who will keep our country safe, but you want to import migrant men posing as children.’
Laird Glencaird added: ‘Errrrrr, when are the first migrant children from Calais due. Lots of Migrants coming over but haven’t seen any kids yet. Please Help??’
Many made light of the situation, joking about what the ‘children’ will do when they arrive in the UK.
‘Dukesy’ tweeted: ‘The Calais migrant children have all been offered places at a local junior school but have decided 2 go straight into labouring for brickies.’
And another Twitter user known only as ‘Lee’ added: ‘These Calais migrant children aren’t aging well, are they?!’
The Government said it has ‘worked closely with the French Authorities to ensure that the cases applying to come to the UK qualify’, but admitted tests are based on ‘physical appearance’ and ‘demeanour’, with social workers signing off an ‘age assessment’.
A Home Office spokesman admitted medical tests, such as checking dental records, were not carried out because it could be ‘intrusive’.
The first group of children from war-torn countries including Syria and Sudan, arrived yesterday by coach at Lunar House, followed by a second batch today.
As part of the process, family members will also have been grilled by a team of screening officers trained to spot inconsistencies in their stories.
As doubts were raised about the new arrivals’ ages, Tory MP David Davies tweeted: ‘These don’t look like ‘children’ to me. I hope British hospitality is not being abused.’
Meanwhile, Twitter user Iain McGregor wrote: ‘Does the British Foreign Office think we are stupid? I was expecting kids under the age of 16, not over the age of 21.’
Another, writing under the name Dot, added: ‘When I read child migrants I thought it was youngsters. These are young men!!’
And David Moore said: ‘Lie about your age and you get a ride into the land of milk and honey. Don’t think they will be asked for ID at the pub.’
Others commented that some of the ‘children’ had managed to grow facial hair, while Mr Davies questioned why no girls or women had been brought to Britain.
He told The Telegraph: ‘These young men don’t look like minors to me. They are hulking teenagers who look older than 18. I’m all for helping the genuine children but the well of goodwill is rapidly being exhausted here.
‘I’m also curious that there are no young women – I would have thought they would be much more vulnerable. I worry that once again British hospitality is being abused.
‘There is no way of knowing if someone is a child. We could end up causing even more misery if we are not careful. We should invite anyone who wants to come to the UK to take dental tests.’
However, a Whitehall source said the child migrants may look older because fleeing war zones had ‘probably toughened them up so they’ve grown up a bit quicker’.
The youngsters now face further screening by the Home Office before they are reunited with family members. Some might be housed in specialist accommodation while these safeguarding checks take place, the spokesman said.
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘This is the start of the process to transfer as many eligible children as possible before the start of the clearance, as the Home Secretary set out in Parliament.
‘The transfer process is not straightforward. We need to make sure the essential checks have been made for their safety and the safety of others.’
Earlier, campaigners and faith leaders warned there are many more children left behind at the Jungle camp who also deserve Britain’s help.
WHAT THE LAW SAYS
The law which governs EU asylum claims states migrants should claim asylum in the first EU country reached.
However there is a clause which allows minors to apply for asylum in another European country if they already have family living there.
Lord Dubs, who came to Britain on the Kindertransport programme for Jewish children fleeing Nazi Germany, brought an amendment to the Immigration Act which was passed in May.
This states the UK will take ‘vulnerable unaccompanied child refugees’ who arrived in the EU before March 20.
These child refugees must be travelling on their own and fleeing conflict in their home country. Exceptions also apply to children under 13, girls and orphans.
More than 80 unaccompanied children have so far been accepted to Britain under EU asylum law this year, according to the Home Office.
It is not yet clear how many children will be accepted from Calais this week, although some figures suggest it will be around 100.
‘We know that at least three children have died trying to get into Britain. Three children who actually had a legal right to be with their families,’ said former archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.
Speaking to reporters in Croydon in south London, where the teenagers were being processed, he said yesterday: ‘I really hope it will be the beginning of some kind of new life experience with none of the horrors they’ve endured.’
Charities estimate up to 10,000 migrants from Africa, the Middle East and Asia have settled in the ‘Jungle’ in the hope of reaching Britain, but French authorities are expected to close it down by the end of the year.
‘No child must be left behind in the chaos of demolition,’ said Lord Alf Dubs, who fled the Nazis for Britain in 1939 and helped force the change in the law on child refugees.
A Home Office spokeswoman said Britain had agreed to transfer ‘as many minors as possible’ under EU asylum law before the Calais camp is closed.
She said that those eligible under British law must be looked after while their cases were assessed, adding: ‘Work is continuing on both sides of the Channel to ensure this happens as a matter of urgency.’
Meanwhile a French court today rejected a request by aid groups to delay the closure of the migrant camp in Calais, allowing authorities to clear out its thousands of residents in the coming weeks.
French authorities are gradually relocating or deporting the 6,000 to 10,000 migrants from the camp.
No date has been set for a large-scale clear-out operation, but the government has promised to shut it down by the start of winter.
Several aid groups filed an emergency request last week to postpone the closure, arguing that authorities aren’t ready to relocate its residents.
A Lille court rejected the request Tuesday, according to Pierre Henry of aid group Terre d’Asile.
Charity groups have warned that many of the migrants don’t want to stay in France and may set up camp elsewhere to continue trying to cross the English Channel to Britain.
The Daily Mail
Call me old-fashioned, but I’ve never understood why so many pregnant women these days insist on flaunting the ultrasound scans of their unborn children.
Then again, I come from a generation reluctant even to discover the sex of their baby in advance, because it would spoil the surprise.
Anyway, surely making a song-and-dance at such an early stage of pregnancy is tempting fate. Why not wait until the child is actually born?
More to the point, who outside the immediate family is remotely interested?
You wouldn’t share the X-ray of your duodenal ulcer or triple heart bypass on the internet. Would you?
Ask a silly question. There are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of websites dedicated to displaying intimate snapshots of surgical procedures.
Come to think of it, I’ve got a picture of my last colonoscopy somewhere, if anyone’s interested. It looks like the menu board at Dunkin’ Donuts. Not that I’d dream of subjecting you to it here, in place of one of Gary’s brilliant cartoons. I wouldn’t want to put you off your breakfast.
So what makes diver Tom Daley and his husband think we want to look at the ultrasound of their yet-to-be-born baby? For a start, one foetus looks pretty much like all the others, just as all babies look like Winston Churchill.
Yet there they were this week, all over the newspapers and on social media, posing proudly with the grainy image taken inside a womb. Daley posted it on Instagram on Valentine’s Day, complete with emojis of two men, a child and love hearts.
As John Junor, late of this parish, used to remark: Pass the sick bag, Alice.
Before the usual suspects start bouncing up and down, squealing ‘homophobia’, don’t bother.
Here we have two men drawing attention to the fact that ‘they’ are having a baby. But where’s the mum, the possessor of the womb which features in this photograph? She appears to have been written out of the script entirely
I supported civil partnerships long before it was fashionable and I’d rather children were fostered by loving gay couples than condemned to rot in state-run institutions, where they face a better-than-average chance of being abused.
That said, and despite the fact that countless single parents do a fantastic job, I still cling to the belief that children benefit most from being brought up by a man and a woman.
Which is precisely what worries me most about the Daley publicity stunt. Here we have two men drawing attention to the fact that ‘they’ are having a baby.
But where’s the mum, the possessor of the womb which features in this photograph? She appears to have been written out of the script entirely.
We are not told her identity, where she lives, or even when the baby is due. She is merely the anonymous incubator.
My best guess is that she lives in America, since it is still illegal in Britain to pay surrogate mothers other than modest expenses.
That’s why wealthy gay couples, such as Elton John and David Furnish, turn to the States when they want to start a family. Good luck to them. No one is suggesting that homosexual couples can’t make excellent parents. But nor is everyone comfortable with the trend towards treating women as mere breeding machines and babies as commodities.
I’ve written before about the modern tendency in some quarters to regard children as fashion accessories, like those preposterous designer handbag dogs.
This week’s photos of a beaming Tom Daley, his husband and their ultrasound scan are all about the parents (except the birth mother). Look at us, we’re having a bay-bee!
What I also find slightly disconcerting is that this story was reported virtually everywhere without so much as a raised eyebrow, as if it would be impolite even to ask any questions about the parentage.
For instance, is Daley or his husband the father? Was it Bill, or was it Ben? Or neither of them? More pertinently, never mind Who’s The Daddy? Who’s The Mummy? Which brings me to the Number One ‘Oi, Doris!’ news story of the week, headlined: ‘Woman born a man is first to breastfeed’.
Apparently, a 30-year-old transgender woman has successfully breastfed ‘her’ baby after being given hormone therapy to encourage milk production. It’s probably easiest if I quote directly from one of the reports:
‘The woman, who has not been named, approached doctors in New York after her partner became pregnant. She had received no surgery to transition from a man, but had been undergoing hormone therapy for some years and had already developed fully-grown breasts.
‘She explained that her partner was pregnant but not interested in breastfeeding, and that she hoped to take on the role of being the primary food source for her infant.’ There goes another couple of paragraphs I thought I’d never read, let alone write. Or, rather, reproduce. In the perceptive words of reggae star Johnny Nash, there are more questions than answers.
For a start, this person is described as a woman, but has had no surgery to transition from a man. Sorry, but I’m with Germaine Greer — someone in possession of a full set of wedding tackle is a man, not a woman.
Secondly, if this is his/her baby, did he/she fertilise the egg in the traditional fashion? On third thoughts, let’s not go there.
Fourthly, of about 40 other questions, has anyone considered what could be the long-term effects of feeding a baby breast milk manufactured artificially in the body of someone who was born — and remains biologically — a man?
Of course not. This is the most extreme example yet of the demands of selfish adults being given priority over the best interests of the unborn child.
No doubt scientists are already working on a way of ensuring that someone born a man can both father a baby and give birth to it, cutting out the middle-woman altogether. Stand by for the coming Hermaphrodites’ Rights movement.
Look, I don’t want to ban anything, within reason, but there are limits. Depressingly, this bizarre breastfeeding story was also given credulous coverage everywhere, as if it was the most natural thing in the world.
Why are so many of my fellow journalists taking stuff like this at face value? Are they all afraid of asking awkward questions, lest they are monstered by the deranged diversity bigots on Twitter?
Can they please grow a pair — if that’s not too ‘transphobic’ — and stop pretending this is the new normal. Not in our house, it isn’t. Nor, I suspect, in yours or 99.99 per cent of the rest of the world, either.
Still, I’m looking forward to the photos of Tom Daley breastfeeding his new baby.
Britain may have voted 52-48 to quit the EU, but the world of the arts and showbiz was over-whelmingly pro-EU.
Ninety-six per cent of those in the so-called ‘creative’ industries backed Remain. Now the four per cent have formed their own support group, after suffering online abuse and worse from Remoaners.
Brexiteers say they are being refused work by EU fanatics determined to punish them for voting Leave. They had their first meeting at a Wetherspoon’s pub in North London recently.
Sounds like my idea of a good night out. Who would you rather go drinking with — Leavers John Cleese, Michael Caine and Roger Daltrey?
Or luvvie Remoaners like Steve Coogan, Benedict Cumberbatch and Bob Geldof?
Basil Fawlty versus Alan Partridge? Get Carter v Sherlock? The Who v The Boomtown Rats?
No contest. We won’t get fooled again!
The BBC is in trouble for referring to female competitors at the Winter Olympics as ‘girls’. Only ‘ladies’ or ‘women’ will do. No one ever complains when football managers on Match Of The Day talk about ‘the boys done good’.
But the England women’s football team gets very grumpy if you call them ‘ladies’ or ‘women’. So they have to be described simply as ‘England’.
Confused? You’re supposed to be. It’s difficult keeping up. Now that ‘girls’ is verboten, can we expect Posh, Baby, Scary, Ginger and the Other One to bill their reunion tour as the Spice Women?
London City Airport was closed for 48 hours while a World War II bomb in the nearby River Thames was defused. If the UXB teams had taken that long during the Blitz in 1940/41, most of London would still have been off-limits come VE Day.
For years, we’ve been told that we mustn’t call prostitutes ‘prostitutes’. Apparently, it’s demeaning. The only acceptable term is ‘sex workers’.
Yet ever since the Oxfam sex-for-aid scandal broke, all we hear about is child ‘prostitutes’.
Obviously, when the prostitutes in question are Haitian children, not British women, it’s OK. And why is anyone remotely surprised that aid workers at Oxfam and the UN have been abusing vulnerable children?
The notorious American gangster Willie Sutton said he robbed banks ‘because that’s where the money is’.
Predatory paedophiles join international aid organisations because that’s where the kids are.
- Crisps, biscuits and baby food have ‘raised levels of cancer-linked chemicals’
- Food Standards Agency says 25 products have higher amount of ‘acrylamide’
- Studies on animals suggests the chemical can trigger DNA mutations
- Products including Kettle Chips, McVitie’s and Hovis are on the danger list
Tests on best-selling crisps, biscuits and baby food showed raised levels of a chemical linked to cancer.
The health alert comes just 24 hours after an official watchdog warned of the risks of eating burnt toast and roast potatoes.
The latest products on the danger list include Kettle Chips, Burts crisps, Hovis, Fox’s biscuits, Kenco coffee, McVitie’s and products from Cow & Gate.
A number of big name brand products contain raised levels of acrylamide, a chemical linked to cancer, according to the Food Standards Agency
According to the Food Standards Agency, 25 products have raised levels of acrylamide.
Animal studies suggest the chemical can trigger DNA mutations and cancer.
The link to acrylamide was also behind the warning over fried, roasted and toasted foods such as potatoes and bread.
The agency cautioned that any risk to humans related to lifetime consumption and not occasional eating.
However a renowned statistician yesterday insisted the link to cancer in humans from acrylamide was extremely weak.
‘There is no good evidence of harm from humans consuming acrylamide in their diet,’ said Professor David Spiegelhalter.
The FSA and other watchdogs in Europe test supermarket food to assess whether acrylamide levels are above a suggested limit – IV, for indicative value.
Of 526 products in targeted tests in 2014 and 2015, 25 had raised levels. Although the agency is not advising consumers to stop eating the products, the manufacturers have been told to cut the levels.
The FSA said: ‘For all of these samples we followed up with the manufacturers or brand owners via local authority inspectors.
‘They alerted them to the findings and requested information about what is being done to control acrylamide in those products.
‘We would emphasise though that the indicative values are not legal maximum limits nor are they safety levels.
‘They are performance indicators and designed to promote best practice in controlling acrylamide levels, Helen Munday of the Food and Drink Federation, which speaks for the manufacturers, said: ‘Food companies have been lowering acrylamide in UK-made products for years.
‘The FSA report provides a useful snapshot of acrylamide levels in a wide range of foods.
‘At the time of surveying these products, up to three years ago in some cases, any individual foods found to contain levels of acrylamide above indicative values would have prompted a review by both FSA and the brand owner.
‘UK food manufacturers have been working with supply chain partners, regulators and other bodies, at home and abroad, to lower acrylamide levels for years.
‘To continue to make progress, the food and drink industry, in partnership with the European Commission, has developed detailed codes of practice.’
Cow & Gate said: ‘We take food safety extremely seriously and have been working hard to reduce acrylamide levels.
‘In fact, in 2015 we took the decision to discontinue Sunny Start Baby Wheat Flakes as we were unable to reduce the level sufficiently.’
The statement said a spaghetti bolognese failure was expected to be a ‘one-off result’.
M&S said all the products highlighted in the research had since been shown to have low levels of the chemical.
Acrylamide has been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as ‘probably carcinogenic in humans’ and the World Health Organisation has concluded that exposure to the chemical in food ‘indicates a human health concern’.
Professor Spiegelhalter said: ‘Adults with the highest consumption of acrylamide could consume 160 times as much and still only be at a level that toxicologists think unlikely to cause increased tumours in mice.
‘People may just consider this yet another scare story from scientists, and lead them to dismiss truly important warnings about, say, the harms from obesity.
‘To be honest, I am not convinced it is appropriate to launch a public campaign on this basis.’
However Steve Wearne, the FSA’s policy director, said: ‘All age groups have more acrylamide in their diet than we would ideally want.
‘As a general rule of thumb when roasting or toasting, people should aim for a golden yellow colour, possibly a bit lighter, when cooking starchy foods like potatoes.’
These are scare stories of an attention seeking quango, writes JOHN NAISH
Why is the Food Standards Agency so keen to frighten us off crispy roasties and toast that is well done?
Apparently because of a potential cancer risk from acrylamide, a chemical that is created by cooking starchy foods at high temperatures – the longer and hotter such foods are cooked the more acrylamide forms.
But hang on, what does potential risk mean here? All sorts of chemicals might potentially cause cancer, but the risks are so small and vague that no one can tell either way.
The experts at Cancer Research UK say that the evidence for any link between acrylamide from burnt food and cancer is at best only weak and inconsistent.
And here’s the clincher: the charity points out that: ‘Even food industry workers, who are exposed to twice as much acrylamide as other people, do not have higher rates of cancer.’
As a health correspondent of 25 years’ standing, that’s good enough for me and my toaster.
So why would the FSA apparently want to scare people unnecessarily? Well, it makes people think that the FSA is doing something useful to protect our health.
After its initial announcement, the FSA not-so-helpfully clarified that it wasn’t telling people to avoid roast potatoes altogether – just to make them aware of the risk and how to reduce it.
On a section of its website devoted to its latest campaign, it advised people to ‘check for cooking instructions on the pack and follow carefully when frying or oven-cooking packaged food products such as chips, roast potatoes and parsnips.
This ensures that you aren’t cooking starchy foods for too long or at temperatures which are too high’.
To call this mere window-dressing would be an insult to the nation’s window-dressers, as they do indeed perform a useful job.
For such pointless cancer scaremongering on the FSA’s part only distracts people from the real and preventable risks of cancer, such as smoking, being overweight and drinking heavily.
The agency is charged with protecting the nation from dangerous food. But offering worthless, patronising advice is a less challenging task than protecting the public against contaminated, diseased, fake or dirty foodstuffs.
It has past form on patronising warnings. Among them was its ‘Your Fridge is Your Friend’ campaign, which aimed to nudge us about food safety at home, yet treated us like a nation of dunderheads.
Before you go shopping, check what’s in the fridge or freezer,’ was one piece of advice. ‘Make a list of what you need to buy,’ said another.
This could be comical, but such stunts only mask the fact that the Food Standards Agency is sadly unfit for purpose.
The agency was set up by the Blair government in 2000, in the wake of the salmonella and BSE disasters.
It was supposed to be a tough watchdog that would make safety scares a thing of the past, by protecting us from food poisoning, ensuring we know what goes into the food we buy, and policing the hygiene standards of restaurants.
But in early 2013, its inability to perform this most basic public-protection task was exposed when the horsemeat scandal broke.
Safety tests conducted by the Irish government revealed widespread adulteration of beef burgers with horsemeat. It warned the FSA. Caught on the hop, the FSA then asked suppliers to conduct their own tests.
These revealed, among other things, that the ‘beef’ in frozen lasagne and spaghetti bolognese made for Tesco, Aldi and Findus was up to 100 per cent horse.
In the wake of the scandal, Christopher Elliott, the director of the Institute of Global Food Security, was asked to examine how the FSA should pull its socks up.
He recommended that the agency set up a food crime unit, with a special department dedicated to using investigative powers to punish offenders counterfeiting foods such as meat, honey and wine.
In 2015, Professor Elliott complained that the FSA had failed to create the special department. The FSA says it is still considering the matter.
As a result, the agency has a food crime unit – which costs £2million a year to run – but it does not have a department to investigate or convict offenders.
This might help to explain why its work has not resulted in any prosecutions.
The FSA says the unit has been fully operational only for the past nine months and is working on a number of criminal investigations.
‘In that time it has focused on building links with sources of information in order to better understand the nature and scale of the food crime threat,’ a spokesman told reporters last month.
Professor Elliott is unimpressed and told a parliamentary inquiry into food fraud that: ‘We are quite far behind a number of other European countries in relation to thinking about the scale of food crime and food fraud.’
Meanwhile, there is bafflement about the agency’s food protection policies. The most likely place you will see an FSA logo is on the food-hygiene ratings posted on a restaurant’s doors.
But in England, restaurants and takeaways with awful hygiene ratings – such as only one star or no stars at all (meaning urgent improvement is required to address dreadful cleanliness) – don’t actually have to put the sticker up.
They can just ignore the rating and trust you won’t notice. What’s more, a zero hygiene rating does not automatically mean public health officials will issue enforcement notices – or that the business will have to close down.
It’s hard not to conclude that the FSA apparently prefers to fret over toast, rather than enforcing hygiene measures that would improve our health – and potentially save lives.
Les journalistes Ariane Chemin et Benoît Collombat sont les invités de Léa Salamé à 7h50. Ils reviennent sur les convocations à la DGSI de plusieurs journalistes enquêtant sur des scandales ou des mensonges d’État.
30 mai 2019
« On a l’impression d’une erreur de casting », raconte la journaliste du Monde Ariane Chemin sur sa convocation à la DGSI. « Ça ressemble un peu au Bureau des Légendes, on descend au quatrième sous-sol, c’est gris, il y a des néons, une paire de menottes qui pendouille… Vous êtes interrogé dans un cadre normalement réservé à des personnes accusées de terrorisme. » C’est d’ailleurs ce qui inquiète le plus les deux journalistes, qui s’alarment d’une forme de « criminalisation du travail journalistique ».
« Avec la multiplication de ces auditions à la DGSI, on a l’impression que c’est une logique antiterroriste qui est appliquée aux journalistes », explique Benoît Collombat, journaliste à la Cellule investigations de Radio France. « On parle de l’affaire Benalla, une affaire d’État. On parle des armes françaises au Yémen, un mensonge d’État. Et là, on n’est pas dans le cadre traditionnel du droit de la presse, devant les tribunaux devant lesquels on peut se défendre. »
Pour eux, quand Sibeth Ndiaye dit que les journalistes « sont des justiciables comme les autres », elle se trompe. « C’est vrai dans la vie quotidienne, mais pas dans l’exercice de leur métier », s’agace Ariane Chemin. Le principe du secret d’État et celui de la liberté de la presse « ne se valent donc pas ».
Benoît Collombat enfonce le clou : « le journaliste a une fonction sociale, il n’est pas là uniquement pour publier passivement des communiqués officiels du gouvernement ». « Dans le cas des ventes d’armes de la France utilisées au Yémen, on parle quand même de la pire catastrophe humanitaire depuis la Deuxième Guerre Mondiale : on entend que les journalistes ne sont pas au-dessus des lois, mais l’État non plus ! La France ne respecte pas les traités sur le commerce des armes qu’elle a signés. »
Bref les deux journalistes sont inquiets sur la liberté des journalistes dans le pays, notamment avec la crise des gilets jaunes. « Il y a une accumulation de faits qui devient inquiétante », assure Ariane Chemin. « C’est pas en cassant le thermomètre (les journalistes) qu’on fait baisser la fièvre », conclut Benoît Collombat.
L’Iran fournit aux Houthis des armes sophistiquées internationalement prohibées, entre autres des missiles destinés à frapper l’Arabie saoudite et des drones de type « tempête »
Depuis le coup d’Etat des houthis, de nombreux rapports internationaux prouvent sans équivoque que l’Iran a fourni des armes aux milices putschistes. Certaines de ces armes sont prohibées sur le plan international. Le dernier rapport en date a été annoncé par le secrétaire général de l’ONU, Antonio Gueterrs le 12 décembre. De nouvelles armes que l’on croit fabriquées en Iran, ont été trouvées au Yémen.
Selon le rapport, le Secrétariat des Nations Unies a « examiné deux lance-missiles anti-char saisis par la coalition arabe dirigée par l’Arabie saoudite au Yémen, et a constaté qu’ils avaient des caractéristiques iraniennes. Ces lance-missiles ont été fabriqués en 2016 et 2017 ».
Le rapport indique que l’enquête en cours déterminera l’origine de ces armes. L’Iran a toujours nié livrer des armes aux rebelles Houthis, affirmant qu’il les soutient politiquement uniquement. Le rapport onusien porte sur le respect par l’Iran de l’accord nucléaire signé en 2015 avec six grandes puissances. Les Etats-Unis s’en sont retirés en mai dernier rétablissant les sanctions à l’encontre de Téhéran.
Washington avait par le passé accusé l’Iran de violer ses obligations en ce qui a trait à l’accord nucléaire, en fabriquant notamment des missiles balistiques. L’administration américaine affirme que les missiles testés par Téhéran sont capables de transporter des ogives nucléaires. Un fait nié par l’Iran, qui affirme que son programme d’armement est « défensif» et « traditionnel ».
Les Nations Unies ont constaté le lancement, par les rebelles Houthis, de roquettes iraniennes sur l’Arabie saoudite. Fin novembre, les Etats-unis ont révélé la présence de nouvelles armes qui constituent une preuve que des missiles iraniens sont diffusés au Moyen-Orient. Parmi ces armes se trouve un missile sol-air Hunter-2C. Il y a un an, le gouvernement américain avait montré les restes d’un missile iranien tiré par les rebelles Houthis sur l’Arabie saoudite.
Ce n’est pas tout. De nombreuses armes iraniennes ont été saisies ces dernières années, notamment aux mains des Houthis dont des missiles balistiques à longue portée et des missiles anti-char. L’Iran fournit également aux Houthis des drones de fabrication iranienne de type « Qasif » utilisés pour attaquer les systèmes de défense aérienne, et d’autres de type « Ababil » utilisés pour attaquer les radars.
Le Liban, zone de transit
Téhéran a également collaboré avec ses agents régionaux comme le Hezbollah pour approvisionner les Houthis en armes par le biais de la contrebande. Le navire iranien Ceyhan 1, saisi en janvier 2013, contenait de grandes quantités d’armes, d’explosifs cet de missiles sol-air.
En février 2013, le navire Jihan 2, a été saisi près de Bab Al-Mandab, alors qu’en février 2016, la marine australienne a intercepté un voilier transportant des milliers de Kalachnikov, de grenades et de lance-roquettes. Il venait d’Iran et se dirigeant vers les rebelles Houthis. En juillet 2016, la résistance populaire a saisi un bateau de pêche qui avait réussi à transporter, en l’espace d’une semaine, six cargaisons d’armes vers les Houthis. « L’Iran a l’intention de fabriquer et de moderniser jusqu’à 800 chars », a déclaré le vice-ministre iranien de la Défense, cité par l’agence Tasnim. Il n’a pas indiqué le type de chars ni leur nombre dans chaque catégorie. « Notre programme prévoit la production de 50 à 60 chars par an. Le budget nécessaire à cette production a été alloué en raison des besoins urgents de l’armée et des gardiens de la révolution », a indiqué le ministre iranien.
Un rapport britannique sur l’armement confirme l’implication du régime iranien dans la livraison de mines aux milices houthies au Yémen, ainsi que la formation de plusieurs de leurs éléments pour construire un grand nombre de mines localement.
L’expert international Jonah Leif, directeur des opérations à l’Arms Research Foundation britannique, affirme que Téhéran est directement impliqué dans la livraison de mines aux milices houthies. Ces mines n’étaient pas en possession de l’armée yéménite avant le coup d’Etat contre la légitimité. Dans un rapport intitulé « Les mines et les explosifs utilisées par les militants houthis sur la côte ouest », le chercheur souligne l’importance d’élaborer des cartes pour le déminage. Le rapport donne un aperçu des mines et des engins explosifs improvisés utilisés par les milices houthies sur la côte ouest du Yémen.
Le rapport souligne les dispositifs électroniques utilisés par les Houthis sur la côte ouest et permettant d’actionner les engins explosifs à distance comme les capteurs et les transmetteurs. Le document affirme que la conception de ces dispositifs est « identique à ceux fabriqués en Iran en 2008 ». Le rapport souligne également que les mines utilisées par les houthis sur la côte ouest du Yémen, sont identiques à ceux saisis aux avec Da’ech à la ville yéménite d’Aden, ce qui révèle que l’Iran soutient cette organisation terroriste et pas seulement les Houthis.
Rapports de renseignement
D’autre part, selon un rapport des renseignements américains publié mi 2018, les flottes occidentales ont intercepté trois voiliers en mer d’Oman, certaines armes trouvées sur ces voiliers étaient identiques à celles confisquées au Yémen et qui étaient en possession des combattants Houthis. Le rapport, citant des sources officielles iraniennes, affirme que deux de ces bateaux non immatriculés étaient fabriqués par la société de construction navale iranienne, Mansur, dont le bassin est situé à proximité d’une base des Gardiens de la révolution.
« Depuis 2012, les bateaux de la compagnie Mansour sont impliqués dans de nombreuses opérations de contrebande d’héroïne, de cannabis et, plus récemment, d’armes », déclare l’Arms Research Institute basée en Grande-Bretagne. Et d’ajouter : « L’analyse des armes indique qu’au moins deux des trois cargaisons ont été envoyées avec la complicité des forces de sécurité iraniennes »
Selon le rapport, certaines armes confisquées lors de l’interception des bateaux portaient des numéros de série nouveaux, ce qui indique qu’elles proviennent du stock de l’un des pays. Les numéros d’identification des armes antichars découverts dans l’un des bateaux correspondaient aux numéros de production d’armes similaires qui, selon les Emirats Arabes Unis, avaient été confisquées aux Houthis.
Le rapport souligne enfin le rôle des ports somaliens en tant que zones de transit : « Les navires de guerre HMA S Darwin, FS Provence et USS Sirocco ont saisi plus de 4 500 fusils, obus de mortiers et de lance-roquettes en l’espace de 4 semaines entre février et mars 2016 », affirme le rapport.
Voir par ailleurs:
Londres, de notre correspondant
«Meurtriers», titrait hier le Daily Mail, ajoutant en une, photos et identités à l’appui: «le Mail accuse ces cinq hommes d’un meurtre raciste. Si nous avons tort, qu’ils nous fassent un procès.» Il n’est pas dans les habitudes du tabloïd conservateur de prendre ainsi parti dans un crime raciste. Mais son rédacteur en chef expliquait hier soir que l’assassinat jusqu’ici impuni d’un adolescent noir, il y a quatre ans, était devenu le symbole d’une justice à deux vitesses, efficace pour les Blancs, déficiente pour les sujets de couleur de Sa Majesté. Avant d’ajouter que le Daily Mail entendait faire pression sur le gouvernement.
Jeudi soir, les parents de Stephen Lawrence, qui mènent combat depuis quatre ans pour que justice soit faite, ont finalement obtenu qu’un tribunal reconnaisse que leur fils a été tué «au cours d’une attaque raciste, non provoquée, par cinq jeunes Blancs». Une victoire certes, mais limitée: les cinq jeunes dénoncés par le Daily Mail et meurtriers présumés de l’adolescent restent libres, après une enquête de police bâclée et une instruction maladroite.
Stephen Lawrence a été poignardé à mort en avril 1993 par un groupe de cinq jeunes Blancs alors qu’il attendait le bus à Eltham, dans le sud-est de Londres. Stephen avait dix-huit ans et a été tué parce qu’il était noir. «Prends-ça, sale Nègre», avait crié l’un des meurtriers, le perçant de coups de couteau. Sa famille était arrivée de Jamaïque, sa mère est institutrice, son père maçon, et Stephen, étudiant brillant, voulait devenir architecte. Les soupçons de la police se portent immédiatement sur un groupe de cinq jeunes, membres d’un club, «The Firm», ouvertement raciste et supporters du National Front (un minuscule parti raciste britannique ), qui vivent dans une cité voisine. Ils ont déjà injurié et agressé les quelques Noirs vivant dans le quartier. Entre mai et juin 1993, ils sont tous arrêtés mais nient avoir tué Stephen; faute de preuves suffisantes présentées par la police, le procureur les libère. La famille persévère et, à ses frais, monte en avril 1996 une private prosecution, un «procès privé», comme l’autorise une procédure rarement usitée du droit anglais, devant des magistrats publics de l’Old Bailey de Londres (l’équi- valent de la Cour de cassation). Personne ne veut se présenter à l’audience pour témoigner contre les cinq assassins présumés. Par peur, selon la police; parce que l’enquête a été mal faite, selon la famille. Les enquêteurs peuvent seulement présenter des enregistrements effectués par la police de conversations ouvertement racistes des cinq jeunes. On entend l’un d’entre eux dire: «Il faut couper les bras et les jambes des Noirs pour qu’ils n’aient plus que des putains de moignons.» On voit un autre, sur un film vidéo, donner des coups de couteau dans l’air en criant: «Sale Nègre, sale Nègre.» Des éléments à charge certes, mais pas de preuves, témoignages ou aveux suffisants pour assurer une condamnation. Ce nouveau procès s’effondre. Entre-temps, Stephen est devenu une cause célèbre: Nelson Mandela, lors de sa visite en Grande-Bretagne, rencontrera même les parents de l’adolescent assassiné. Jeudi soir, le ministre de l’Intérieur a finalement décidé d’ouvrir une enquête sur le travail de la police. Sinon, reconnaissait l’avocat de la famille, Imran Khan, «les Britanniques de couleur finiront pas croire qu’ils doivent eux-mêmes se faire justice».
During 26 years at the helm of the Daily Mail, editor Paul Dacre has published some striking and memorable front pages.
His strong pro-Brexit stance, and anti-Labour sentiment, has been unabashed, while he has spearheaded a number of successful campaigns including calling for justice for murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence.
Dacre announced yesterday that he will leave his role as Daily Mail editor to become chairman and editor-in-chief of Associated Newspapers later this year, stepping back from day-to-day editorial responsibilities.
In a statement to staff, Dacre described them as “Fleet Street’s greatest team of journalists”, who had been behind the paper’s “countless successful campaigns” that often made the front page.
Here are some of Dacre’s most memorable splashes through the years.
Dacre recently revealed he caused a “deathly silence” on the Daily Mail back bench when he proposed the now famous splash accusing the five suspects in the Stephen Lawrence murder case of killing him.
Dacre had been moved to run the front page after watching the suspects repeatedly refused to answer questions at Lawrence’s inquest, which returned a verdict of “unlawful killing”.
Under the headline “Murderers”, Dacre wrote: “The Mail accuses these men of killing. If we are wrong, let them sue us.”
In 2012, after David Norris and Gary Dobson were convicted of Lawrence’s murder 19 years on, Dacre wrote that the newspaper had taken a “monumental risk” with the front page but that he believed “as a result we did a huge amount of good and made a little bit of history that day”.
The Daily Mail led a campaign for the release of Royal Marine Sergeant Alexander Blackman after he was jailed for shooting a Taliban fighter.
Mail readers raised £810,000 to go towards a legal challenge against his life sentence after the campaign launched in September 2015 with the headline: “A shameful injustice”.
The battle lasted two years before Blackman’s release from jail in April last year. The newspaper put the news of his release on the front, giving it equal billing with Theresa May’s signing the letter to begin Brexit.
In 2009 the Daily Mail threw its weight behind Gary McKinnon, a British Asperger’s sufferer accused of hacking into Pentagon and NASA computers.
The newspaper campaigned to stop McKinnon being extradited to the US, calling it an “Affront to British justice” in a splash headline. McKinnon was eventually told he would not be extradited, and then that he would face no further criminal action, in 2012.
In 2008 the Daily Mail launched a “Banish The Bags” campaign with the striking image of a turtle entangled by plastic.
The campaign resulted in the introduction of a 5p charge for plastic bags at supermarkets and other large retailers.
This year, the newspaper has stepped up its anti-plastic crusade again with its “let’s turn the tide on plastic” message.
Some of the Mail’s most famous front pages of recent times relate to Brexit, for which it campaigned fervently and has been credited with perhaps tipping the balance in Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.
When a panel of judges ruled that Brexit could not be triggered without a Westminster vote in November 2016, Dacre didn’t hold back, calling them “Enemies of the people” in a move that drew criticism and even comparisons with a Nazi newspaper headline.
When peers voted to give Parliament the power to force ministers to reopen talks if MPs rejected the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal with Brussels, the newspaper took aim once again, calling the House of Lords the a “House of unelected wreckers” and writing that the “Remainer elite” was “fighting a guerilla war against Brexit using any weapon it can” in a leader column.
In February 2016, as David Cameron negotiated with Brussels ahead of the EU referendum, the newspaper dedicated its front page to a leader comment asking: “Who will speak for England?”
The Daily Mail supported Theresa May’s call for a snap General Election in 2017, saying it was a chance for her to “crush the saboteurs” of Brexit. The outcome didn’t quite go as planned for May or the Mail.
In December, the Daily Mail asked Tory Remainers “Proud of yourselves?” after siding with Labour in a Brexit vote, picturing each of those “accused of treachery”.
In June 2017, the front page was dedicated to accusing Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and Diane Abbott of being “apologists of terror”.
Voir de même:
The murder of Stephen Lawrence, an 18 year old young black student stabbed to death in a racist attack in 1993, was one of the defining moments in the British 20th Century.
A public inquiry later concluded that « institutional racism » from London’s Metropolitan Police bungled the case and let the men suspected of killing Lawrence walk free.
Today, 18 years later, two men were finally convicted of the murder. And one man played a huge role in that eventual result. The Daily Mail’s editor in chief, Paul Dacre.
It was Dacre’s decision to put the photos of those accused of murder on the front page in 1997, possibly in contempt of court, under the headline « MURDERERS:The Mail accuses these men of killing. If we are wrong, let them sue us ».
Not one of the men ever sued, and public opinion swung wildly against the accused and the police who had mishandled the case. Eventually, in 2007, police began re-investigating the case, and in 2011 charges were brought against two men.
It was certainly out of character for Dacre, often characterized as a right wing populist with little time for concerns of racism — in his book Flat Earth News, Nick Davies writes that the group changed its coverage after a personal link to the family was suggested (reports suggest that Lawrence’s father had at one time worked on Dacre’s house). But even Dacre’s detractors have to accept his huge role in getting the case reopened and an eventual guilty verdict.
Voir de plus:
Stephen Lawrence’s parents thank Daily Mail for ‘going out on a limb’
Newspaper’s ‘Murderers’ headline in 1997 put the case at heart of public consciousness, say David Cameron and Ed Miliband
4 Jan 2012
Stephen Lawrence have praised the Daily Mail for « going out on a limb » and branding suspects in the death of their son as « murderers » 15 years ago.
They led the tributes to the paper that campaigned for justice ever since. David Cameron said the Lawrences were helped enormously by the paper while Labour leader Ed Miliband said it played an « honourable role » in helping to bring the killers to heel.
Neville Lawrence, the teenager’s father, said that along with the intervention of Nelson Mandela, the Daily Mail’s campaign was the crucial turning point in the case.
And Doreen Lawrence, Stephen’s mother said the landmark front page of the Daily Mail on 14 February 1997 branding five suspects as « Murderers » made the case matter to the whole country.
Her former husband said he was in Jamaica when the paper ran that highly risky story inviting the suspects to sue if they were not the killers.
He told the Mail today: « I was very pleased, but I admit I was very frightened, too, because I realised the implications. If you name people as murderers you have to be pretty sure you have the proof or you’ll be in trouble. »
He added: « The fact that the Mail – which is a very influential newspaper – went out on a limb for us showed how committed you were to the case. Not a lot of editors would have done that. Not a lot would have chanced it. »
Ms Lawrence said: « When the Mail first published their faces, up until that point nobody – apart from those in their local neighbourhood – really knew what those boys looked like.
« Then the whole country knew. They were no longer faceless people …
« [The Mail’s front page] definitely surprised me; that a newspaper would go out on a limb because at the time, even though we suspected they were guilty, there was nothing to prove that they were murderers.
« It makes a big difference to have that support because you don’t want to be this lone voice. »
The Daily Mail devotes 21 pages to the story today with tributes from 11 key public figures for its unstinting campaign.
Miliband told the Mail that its quest for justice was important to salute at a moment when journalism is under fire.
« At a time when the reputation of the newspaper industry is at an all time low, it is important to recognise when campaigning journalism makes a difference.
« That includes the honourable role the Daily Mail has played over almost two decades. »
In its editorial today, the Mail says it hopes readers will forgive it if it takes « credit from our own trade » and for the « special pride » it had in bringing Gary Dobson and David Norris to justice.
« When the entire British press is, in a sense, on trial at the Leveson inquiry, we believe this case offers a timely reminder of the vital importance to a healthy democracy of independent, self-regulating and viable newspapers. »
Former journalist and chairman of the Human Rights Commission Trevor Phillips described the decision to brand the accused as murderers as an « act of great courage » by the paper’s editor Paul Dacre.
« But it was also a shrewd recognition by the most acute judge of middle England’s temperature that attitudes to race had changed profoundly. »
Sir Peter Bottomley, the Tory MP who represented the suburb of Eltham at the time, said that in 1993 the media didn’t care because the boy was a black kid from south London.
« I would like to give praise to the Daily Mail and Paul Dacre for their bravery in naming the suspects on 14 February 1997.
« This helped keep the attention of the country and police on the need to find the evidence which would lead to a full trial and possible conviction of the killers.
« Without the Daily Mail, I do not believe this would have happened. »
The full impact of Paul Dacre’s decision to run the headline he has described as a « monumental risk » was revealed today by the former home secretary Jack Straw.
He told the paper today that it helped secure the co-operation of the police inquiry into the Met’s handling of the case.
« The Daily Mail’s intervention made my job much easier in getting agreement from the Metropolitan police to set up the inquiry, which itself changed the face of policing in Britain. »
The Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre has admitted that he ran the newspaper’s famous front page, calling five suspects in the racist killing of Stephen Lawrence “murderers”, because the teenager’s father had performed excellent work plastering his house.
Neville Lawrence said the unprecedented 1997 front page played a major role in bringing to justice some of the men who killed 18 year-old student Stephen, who was stabbed to death whilst waiting for a bus in south-east London.
Dacre knew Lawrence family
In a rare interview, Mr Dacre tells a landmark BBC series marking the 25th anniversary of the murder, that the Mail would not have backed the family’s campaign without his unlikely personal connection to the Lawrences.
Neville Lawrence had been recommended as a “very good plasterer” when Mr Dacre needed “lots of work doing” at his home, the Mail editor-in-chief said.
“He did a lot of plastering work. He was clearly a very decent, hard-working man. Would the Mail have done it without that knowledge? Probably not.”
Mr Lawrence, unaware of his employer’s position, had complained about the Daily Mail’s coverage of the family in the aftermath of the murder.
Mr Dacre offered the Lawrence family a chance to “put the record straight” in an exclusive interview.
Suspects ‘Taking the piss’
A meeting with Paul Condon, the Met Police commissioner, after three suspects were acquitted of the murder, convinced Mr Dacre to challenge all five in print.
“Paul said he would bet his life these men were the killers but they couldn’t get the evidence,” Mr Dacre said. “These guys were taking the piss out of British justice.”
Mr Dacre sketched out the headline “Murderers”, challenging the five suspects “if we are wrong, let them sue us” at 9pm, 45 minutes before the paper went to press.
He forced the “cataclysmic” front page through nervous libel lawyers. “The next day the s-h-i-t hit the fan.”
The paper was accused of interfering with justice by naming the “killers”.
Two suspects convicted
Gary Dobson and David Norris were convicted of murdering Lawrence in 2012 and are serving life sentences.
The talented architecture student was set upon by a racist gang. From Stephen: The Murder that Changed a Nation Stephen Lawrence – (C) The Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon OBEHowever the teenager is believed to have been surrounded by up to six attackers that night.
Imran Khan, who has represented Stephen’s mother Baroness Lawrence since a few days after her son’s death, said he did not expect anyone else to face prosecution for the murder, despite police appeals.
Mr Khan claimed institutional racism is “thriving” in the Metropolitan Police, 25 years after the murder, despite the 1999 Macpherson inquiry which made 70 recommendations after finding that the initial murder inquiry was riddled with police incompetence and racist attitudes.
PM backs undercover police probe
Theresa May tells the film that the Undercover Policing Inquiry she launched as Home Secretary three years ago, to discover whether the undercover policing units developed over 40 years were out of control, would provide important evidence about alleged police corruption.
The inquiry was launched after allegations that Scotland Yard infiltrated the Stephen Lawrence campaign 20 years ago, in order to find material to smear the family.
:: Stephen: The Murder that Changed a Nation begins BBC1, Tuesday April 17, 9pm and continues April 18, 19.
“MURDERERS” – of myths, Macpherson, and the Daily Mail
As we approach the 25th anniversary of Stephen Lawrence’s murder, it’s time to critically assess whether the Daily Mail really played the pivotal and progressive role it likes to claim in the case, and its impact on Britain’s race relations.
2 November 2017
When David Cameron gave evidence to the Leveson Inquiry he wanted to give an example of newspaper campaigning that had benefited society. With the entire modern output of the national press to pick from, he chose the Daily Mail’s work on the Stephen Lawrence murder. This, he informed the judge, had been ‘extremely important’.
No doubt many others would have made the same choice. Even the Mail’s rivals sometimes hold up its coverage of the infamous 1993 race murder as a high point for British journalism and as proof of the essential role of the press. As for the Mail’s critics, they find the case a stumbling block. If the Mail really played a heroic part in achieving justice for a black family that had been failed by the white establishment, it becomes harder for them to classify the paper as simply intolerant or racist.
Next April will be the 25th anniversary of the murder. It will be a moment for commemoration and for reflection about race in Britain. For the Mail, which takes intense pride in its own involvement in the case, it will also be an opportunity to remind the public of what it did.
So what did it do? Most famously, in February 1997, at a moment when the police and the justice system appeared to have failed the Lawrence family, it published a front page accusing five young men of the murder and defying them to sue for libel. A stroke of editorial brilliance, this caused a sensation, raising the profile of this troubling case and stirring debate about trial by media. Over the years that followed, the Mail would return many times to the Lawrence case in front pages, inside spreads and editorials, and the paper has made some bold claims about the difference it made. Several of these were drawn together in a single statement by its editor, Paul Dacre, after two men were convicted of the killing in 2012:
‘Quite simply, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that if it hadn’t been for the Mail’s headline in 1997 – “Murderers: The Mail accuses these men of killing” – and our years of campaigning, none of this would have happened: Britain’s police might not have undergone the huge internal reform that was so necessary; race relations might not have taken the significant step forward that they have; and an 18-year-old A-Level student who dreamed of being an architect would have been denied justice.’
The Mail has also claimed that its reporting brought about the 1998-99 Macpherson Inquiry into the murder and that its campaigning led to the reform of the double jeopardy rule that made possible one of the 2012 convictions. Dacre has also asserted that he risked jail by publishing the 1997 front page.
These claims have rarely been examined closely, but in an article just published in the journal Political Quarterly I have tested them against the historical record. I found that, while the paper’s actions involved editorial brilliance and probably had positive consequences, its principal claims are at best exaggerated and at worst unsupported by evidence. Even where it can be argued that the paper did help bring about changes for the better, they were not the changes it actually sought.
One example is the assertion that the Mail’s reporting ‘prompted Home Secretary Jack Straw to initiate a major inquiry’, as the paper put it in February 1999. That claim has been made on a number of occasions but it is problematic and at the very least needs careful qualification – chiefly because in the relevant months of 1997 the Mail never once called for a public inquiry. Even when the Lawrence family demanded one, the Mail conspicuously did not give its support. And once it became clear, in the early summer of 1997, that there would be an inquiry, the Mail publicly opposed the kind of inquiry – into police failures – that Doreen (now Baroness) Lawrence was arguing for and that the government of the time ultimately set up. In short, the paper has been claiming credit for the establishment of an inquiry which the record shows it didn’t seek and which took a form it actually opposed.
Of course this is not a simple matter. While Jack Straw, in his autobiography, gave credit for the establishment of the inquiry ‘above all’ to Baroness Lawrence, he also wrote that the Mail helped give him political ‘space’ to make his decision. No doubt this is correct: that a conservative paper was conspicuously involved will have made a difference, but again the context must be considered. Straw made his decision in July 1997. It is conceivable that, had he not had the ‘space’ created by the Mail, he might have said no. But the events of 1997 show that six months later, no matter what the position of the Daily Mail, he would have had no choice but to order an inquiry anyway. When, that December, a report by the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) revealed wholesale incompetence and worse in the original police investigation of Stephen Lawrence’s murder, all arguments against a public inquiry would have fallen away. In other words, insofar as the Mail’s involvement might have made a difference by giving Straw more room to act, the difference was between the announcement of an inquiry in July 1997 and the same announcement five months later.
The Mail’s claim – repeated as recently as June this year during an angry spat with the Guardian – that its campaign to bring the Stephen Lawrence murderers to justice “did more to improve race relations in this country than anything the Guardian has achieved” is a claim which, at best, requires considerable qualification, not least because throughout the whole history of the Lawrence case the Mail’s understanding of the role of race has been a very particular one.
In its reporting just after the murder in 1993 its principal interest was in challenging mostly black ‘race militants’ whom it accused of ‘hijacking a tragedy’. The paper was happy to quote the Lawrences when they expressed concern about ‘militants’, but it conspicuously failed to quote them on the subject of racism in British law enforcement and justice and its role in their plight. Even in 1997 the Mail still refused to accept that the Lawrences’ colour might have made a difference. An editorial published on the same day as the famous ‘Murderers’ front page declared bluntly: ‘But suggestions made by his grief-stricken mother that that police were less than assiduous because of Stephen’s colour are misplaced.’ In the eyes of the Mail, in other words, Doreen Lawrence was simply wrong to see racism in the British establishment as a factor in her family’s tragedy.
Why did the Mail get involved at all, if it took that view? Look at the record and the answer is clear. Dacre was outraged by what he called the swaggering conduct of the five suspects at the inquest (which had just ended when the front page was published). He was appalled that they appeared to be getting away with murder, as his own crime reporters and senior police officers told him they were. His focus and that of his paper was on five white ‘thugs’ from southeast London, and accusations about racism in the police or the justice system or in wider British society were wrong, and worse, were damaging distractions.
It was for that reason that the Mail did not want a public inquiry into police failure and instead looked to the Macpherson inquiry (in vain) to hold the five suspects to account. When the inquiry report declared that the police service suffered from ‘institutional racism’, and when the Tony Blair government asserted that the whole country had lessons to learn from this, the Mail was openly disgusted. This was, it said, ‘a kind of politically correct McCarthyism’, and it asked: ‘Should the majority in this fundamentally decent and tolerant nation be tainted by collective guilt?’ The only racism the Mail would ever acknowledge in the case was the racism of the attackers (who were heard to use the word ‘n****r’) and conceivably of a few ‘bad apple’ police officers who, it said, should be driven out of the police service.
Against this background, assertions by the Mail that it was instrumental in improvements in race relations and also in reforms of the police that flowed from the Macpherson inquiry must ring hollow. Not only did it not want the inquiry in the first place, but it was also broadly dismissive of the inquiry’s eventual findings.
There is, however, one significant way in which the Mail probably helped bring positive change. The Stephen Lawrence affair was the first occasion when the white majority in this country came to understand and identify with the grief and anger of a black British family. They saw past angry black faces and recognised human suffering and a case of injustice. Those chiefly responsible for that change are the Lawrences themselves, but the Mail also deserves some credit. Baroness Lawrence wrote in her autobiography, And Still I Rise: ‘The Daily Mail’s front page had helped to open the story up. In fact the press had always been interested, but that report was said to have “touched Middle England”, the feelings of white people who don’t normally care much what happens to black youths in inner cities.’
It may well be that the public inquiry would have done this anyway, with its months of shocking testimony vindicating the family’s position, but it is clear that the Mail’s sensational intervention in February 1997 accelerated the process and it seems likely that many who would not otherwise have given consideration to the Lawrences’ grievances were induced to do so as a result.
My article in Political Quarterly looks at all of this in some detail, and also at the other claims made by the Mail. For example, I found no evidence in the historical record to support the suggestion that the Mail campaigned in any sustained way for reform of the double jeopardy rule, nor for the suggestion that the editor of the Mail risked jail when he accused the five suspects of murder. Dacre’s assertion that if it had not been for the Mail Stephen Lawrence would have been denied justice is particularly hard to credit since there is nothing to support it in the known narrative of the police investigation that led to the two convictions. Even a general proposition that the Mail helped bring about convictions by continuing to highlight the issue does not withstand scrutiny.
Newspapers boast, and they often exaggerate – how often do we see two papers claiming the same story as an ‘exclusive’? In that light the exaggerations of the Mail about the Stephen Lawrence case may be seen as normal. But where a matter is as important as this one, and where it remains important even after the passage of nearly 25 years, it is essential to test the boasts against the record and try to arrive at a more accurate picture of what has happened.
The Daily Mail and the Stephen Lawrence Murder
The Political quaterly
23 October 2017
The Daily Mail‘s coverage of the 1993 race murder of Stephen Lawrence has been held up as an example of newspaper journalism at its best. It is a cause of pride to the paper, which has asserted that its 1997 front page accusing five men of the murder, and the comment and reporting that followed, brought about significant social and policy changes and helped achieve justice. The coverage has also been cited by the paper to rebut critics who accuse it of intolerance. Examined in detail here and set in their context, the paper’s claims about its role in the case prove to be either exaggerated or not supported by evidence. The Mail‘s engagement in the Lawrence case involved a famous instance of editorial brilliance, but insofar as its campaign brought about or contributed to changes, they were not usually changes sought by the paper and they were sometimes contrary to its aims.
WHAT DID the Daily Mail do in the Stephen Lawrence case and what did it achieve? Although nearly 25 years have passed since the notorious race killing in south‐east London and 21 years since the Mail‘s famous front page naming five men as the murderers, these questions remain relevant. They are relevant because the Mail‘s actions have gained a special place in the story and self‐image of modern British newspaper journalism, often held up as an example—sometimes the leading example—of editorial brilliance and bravery; of inspired campaigning for justice; of the press bringing about change against the odds. The Mail takes a special pride in what it did, its editor declaring that it proves that ‘the power of journalism, courageous headlines and relentless campaigning can act as a huge force for good in society and make a major difference to countless lives’.1 Other newspapers cite the case as proof of the social value of the press: last year, for example, the Daily Telegraph identified among the principal achievements of the industry that it had ‘ensured that criminals such as the killers of Stephen Lawrence were brought to justice’.2 And at the Leveson inquiry in 2012 the then Prime Minister, David Cameron, when he wished to give an example of valuable newspaper campaigning, and with the entire modern output of the industry to choose from, singled out the Mail‘s Lawrence coverage for praise, saying it was ‘extremely important’.3
For critics of the Mail it is no less significant. The paper is often characterised as reactionary and unsympathetic towards minorities but its treatment of the Lawrence story, as it is generally understood, is not easily reconciled with such a picture. Alastair Campbell has written that the paper’s coverage of the case ‘makes it so much harder to challenge the Mail over its overt and its more subtle racism’.4 This works in the other direction too. Responding to a suggestion in The Guardian that it encouraged Islamophobia, the Mail said it would not take lessons on the subject: ‘Our campaign to bring Stephen Lawrence’s murderers to justice, for which the editor of this paper could have been jailed, did more to improve race relations in this country than anything The Guardian has ever achieved’ (Daily Mail, 22 June 2017).
Given all this, it is surprising that the history of the Mail and the Lawrence case has received little detailed scrutiny.5 That is the purpose of this article. It will look first at what the Mail did and identify the various assertions that have been made about its impact. It will then review the context and background of the Mail‘s actions and will assess, against the various claims, what the consequences have been.
The pivot of the story is the front page of 14 February 1997. The headline was one word in capitals: ‘MURDERERS’. Then came: ‘The Mail accuses these men of killing. If we are wrong, let them sue us.’. Below that were photographs of the principal suspects in the case: five young white men from the district where the murder occurred. This caused a sensation. The five had not been convicted in a court of law. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had refused to prosecute them for want of evidence and a rare private prosecution brought by Stephen Lawrence’s parents had ended in acquittals. If people in Britain are innocent until proven guilty, then these men were innocent, yet one of the country’s biggest‐selling newspapers had called them murderers.
For a few days, the headline dominated public discussion. Other papers reported it on their front pages and published editorials; the news bulletins and current affairs broadcasts kept returning to it; the legal profession was exercised, for and against, and the matter was discussed in Parliament. People asked: was this trial by media? Had the Mail gone too far? Might the five sue? And if they could not sue, was that fair? There were also questions about the case itself. Why was this murder still unsolved? Had the system failed the Lawrence family, as they claimed? Was their race a factor? And simply, what were the facts?
The Mail would return many times to the story in the years that followed, publishing occasional front pages, inside spreads and editorials, including scoops relating mainly to the suspects and to the police investigations. January 2012, when two of the five—Gary Dobson and David Norris—were convicted for their parts in the murder, saw a kind of crescendo. The paper’s editor, Paul Dacre, released an unusual video statement on the day of the verdicts that is still viewable online and which gives the fullest account to date of the Mail‘s understanding of its own contribution to the case.6 Stating first that it was a glorious day for the Lawrences, for the police, for politicians who took vital decisions and for newspapers generally, Dacre continued:
Quite simply, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that if it hadn’t been for the Mail‘s headline in 1997 … and our years of campaigning, none of this would have happened. Britain’s police might not have undergone the huge internal reform that was so necessary. Race relations might not have taken the significant step forward that they have. And an 18 year‐old A‐level student who dreamed of being an architect would have been denied justice.
Without the Mail, in other words, Britain might not have seen important police reforms and gains in race relations, and no one would have been convicted of the murder. As we have seen above, the Mail has also claimed that its editor risked jail in publishing that front page. And elsewhere it has asserted both that its actions prompted the government of the day to order a public inquiry—the 1998–99 Macpherson inquiry—and that those actions brought about the ending of double jeopardy, the ancient legal convention that prevented people being tried twice for the same crime.
What prompted the Mail to publish that front page and what was the background? To understand this we need to see the paper’s relationship with the case from the beginning. Stephen Lawrence, a black sixth‐former on his way home from an evening out with his friend, Duwayne Brooks, was stabbed to death close to a bus stop in Eltham, south‐east London, on 22 April 1993. Witnesses saw at least four assailants and possibly as many as six, all white. One shouted the word ‘nigger’ at Brooks as they attacked. Brooks managed to escape unhurt. The murder was formally recognised as racially motivated by the police, and local black people were quick to note that it was the third or fourth race murder in the area in a couple of years. In common with other papers, the Mail reported this news in a straightforward fashion, under the headline ‘Murdered just for being black’ and the sub‐heading ‘Fear of reprisals after white gang knife teenage student’ (Daily Mail, 24 April 1993).
The family swiftly formed the view that the police were failing to investigate the case properly and after ten days they made their concerns public at a press conference. Shortly afterwards they met Nelson Mandela, then on his second visit to London after his release from prison, and stood with him as he told reporters that their story reminded him of South Africa, ‘where black lives are cheap’.7 The Mail did not report either the family’s press conference or the Mandela meeting. It returned to the case only after there had been violence at a demonstration prompted by the murder, and then its focus was not on the police. A two‐page spread carried the headline: ‘How race militants hijacked a tragedy’ and there followed an interview with Neville and Doreen Lawrence headlined ‘For the sake of Stephen, please put an end to this violence’ (Daily Mail, 10 and 12 May 1993).
The Lawrences and their close supporters were indeed horrified by the violence and were angry with some groups they suspected of using outrage among black Londoners to advance their own causes. What is striking about the Mail‘s coverage at this stage is not that it addressed this—challenging left wing ‘militants’ has long been a routine Mail activity—but that it did so to the exclusion of the family’s other concerns. Mandela was now mentioned, but only in passing and without repeating his remark about the cheapness of black lives, and where the police were discussed, it was with approval: police sources were quoted as saying that detectives were working ‘flat out’ and ‘in a professional and diligent manner’. If there were any difficulties in solving the crime, the Mail‘s reporting suggested, they were caused by radical groups getting in the way of the police.
One development at this early stage has attracted attention, though it did not become public knowledge until later. When the Mail reporter was interviewing the Lawrences it emerged that Neville Lawrence, Stephen’s father, knew the paper’s editor, Paul Dacre, because he had done plastering work at Dacre’s Islington home in the 1980s. The significance of this connection is hard to measure. The journalist Nick Davies suggested in his 2008 book Flat Earth News that it had an instant effect, with the news desk issuing orders to ‘do something sympathetic’.8 Such an instruction could have made little difference on that occasion, however, since there was no reason for the Mail to be unsympathetic—its interest was purely in militants and the Lawrences were ready to criticise militants. Nor was there any sign in the coverage over the next two or three years that the paper or its editor felt any special sympathy towards the family.
This was a bleak period for the Lawrences. Though arrests were eventually made, the charges were soon dropped, the suspects were released and police and prosecutors professed themselves helpless to deliver justice. A private prosecution seemed the only way to make progress, but it proved a cruel ordeal: after a long, stressful build‐up it ended abruptly with acquittals before the jury had even begun to hear evidence. Through most of this period the Mail, in common with most other national newspapers, reported developments without comment, without probing in depth and without giving the case any particular prominence. It was only with the collapse of the private prosecution in April 1996 that, again like other papers, the Mail began to suggest that something special might be happening. A headline used words from Stephen Lawrence’s mother Doreen (now Baroness Lawrence): ‘What do people like us have to do to get justice?’ And near the end of the report came a striking paragraph: ‘The Lawrences’ legal battle has been conducted throughout with quiet dignity. They have refused to allow extremists to make political capital out of Stephen’s death, insisting: ‘What we are fighting for is justice’’ (Daily Mail, 26 April 1996).
February 1997 brought the long‐postponed inquest. By now there was widespread unease that something was wrong and frustration that this blameless family had been let down. Those feelings would be brought to the point of maximum discomfort by what happened in the coroner’s court, and most national papers had reporters there to report it. On the first day, Doreen Lawrence made a passionate, angry speech that was reported by the Mail under the headline: ‘White justice failed my son’. An editorial commented on this ‘anguished cry for justice’, noting the problems of evidence and the failure of the private prosecution. It concluded with a revealing passage:
Sadly this bereaved mother has now convinced herself that her son’s killers walked free because racial bias retarded the initial police investigation and somehow inhibits the whole judicial system. What is undeniable, however, is that the Lawrences are a thoroughly decent family who have suffered a tragic loss and been grievously denied justice. They should know that the hearts of the overwhelming majority of British people (of whatever colour) go out to them. (Daily Mail, 11 February 1997)
While the Mail felt sympathy and frustration, therefore, it rejected the idea that race played any part in the failure to secure convictions and it presented Doreen Lawrence’s opinion purely as a sign of motherly desperation.
Sympathy and frustration increased as the inquest unfolded, as they did in other papers, especially when the five suspects were brought before the court and refused to account for themselves, responding to almost all questions with the words: ‘I claim privilege’. By chance, in this period senior Daily Mail executives, including the editor, had lunch with the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Paul (now Lord) Condon, and some of his staff. The inquest and the conduct of the suspects were discussed and, Dacre would relate, ‘one of the Yard’s most senior police officers … said words to the effect that he’d stake his life on their guilt’.9 By now the editor was angry. His own crime staff shared the officer’s view and yet it seemed to him that the suspects were not only getting away with it but mocking the authority of the courts as they did so. He would describe their conduct in court as ‘the most sickening thing’. When the inquest jury returned a verdict that Stephen Lawrence had been unlawfully killed ‘in a completely unprovoked racist attack by five white youths’—all but identifying the culprits—everything was in place for that front page.
Fifteen years later, in his video statement, Dacre would provide a dramatic account of the final act:
It was about 8 o’clock. I reached for a layout pad. This was in the days before on‐screen make‐up and I literally wrote down with a thick pencil the words ‘Murderers’ and underneath it the sub‐deck: ‘The Mail accuses these men of killing. If we are wrong, let them sue us’. I showed it to the senior sub‐editors. There was a kind of nervous laughter.
The next step was to consult the in‐house lawyer, Eddie Young.
To his eternal credit, he was unfazed by the headline … The mood, surprisingly, was very calm. Clearly, there were many powerful reasons against the headline. But there wasn’t one over‐riding reason not to do it.
And so the front page was printed.
Its effect has been described above, but it is worth pausing to consider what the Mail did and did not do on that day. It provided a lightning rod for public feeling. Editors, and especially editors of tabloid newspapers, often seek to give voice to their readers’ stronger feelings and even to articulate their unformed thoughts; here was a brilliant example of that function at work. And it was more than this, because by saying what had generally been thought unsayable, it provided a sudden, unexpected emotional release. The suspicion that these young men were guilty was no longer something to be kept to oneself or whispered, because the Daily Mail had announced it on the front page. As an act of journalism connecting a paper with public sentiment at a difficult moment, it is rightly celebrated, and it is no surprise that expressions of gratitude flowed into the paper for weeks afterwards, in many cases from people otherwise hostile to the Mail.
Significantly, however, nowhere in its commentary or in its reporting on that or subsequent days did the Mail give its support to the Lawrences’ arguments that the police had let them down and that their son’s race had played a part in the failure of the justice system. A Mail editorial pinned the blame squarely on the suspects. ‘Ever since the attack, a climate of fear has gripped the mean streets where members of the gang live.’ It was this, the paper asserted, that had prevented the police from gathering evidence and had left ‘a pack of bigots … walking free and smirking at the thrill of getting away with it’. The editorial continued: ‘Small wonder that Stephen’s relatives feel betrayed, or that they lash out in their grief at the police and the CPS for failing to bring the murderers of ‘only a black boy’ to justice. But suggestions made by his grief‐stricken mother that police were less than assiduous because of Stephen’s colour are misplaced’ (Daily Mail, 14 February 1997).
For the Mail in February 1997, therefore, the front page was intended as a challenge to an outrage against justice, but the scandal was not about the police or about race and the Lawrences were wrong to believe that it was. The paper’s wrath was directed at five white men who it complained had terrorised their white neighbours into silence and then raised two fingers to the white establishment. Describing it in 1999 I adapted the language of apartheid: this was primarily a ‘white‐on‐white’ matter.10
As mentioned above, in the 20 years since 1997, many assertions have been made by the Mail and others about the effect of the front page and of the paper’s subsequent coverage of the case. It is time to examine those.
The risk of jail
As recently as June 2017, a Mail editorial referred to ‘our campaign to bring Stephen Lawrence’s murderers to justice, for which the editor of this paper could have been jailed’. Paul Dacre had made the same claim at the Leveson inquiry in 201211 and he has also recounted in his video statement that on the night of publication, when he instructed his staff to publish the ‘Murderers’ headline, he used the words: ‘Let’s go … You can always come and visit me in jail.’
There was never a serious chance that he would go to jail. Indeed, the legal risks to the paper were modest, which is presumably why, in Dacre’s words, the Mail lawyer Eddie Young was ‘unfazed’ and ‘very calm’ on the night of publication. There were two possible legal dangers, of which the greater was in libel—the suspects were challenged to sue. Dacre and Young knew, however, that they were unlikely to do so, first because they couldn’t afford it (there is no legal aid in libel), and second because suspects who had been so anxious to avoid answering questions under oath at an inquest would scarcely place themselves voluntarily in a position where they were obliged to do so in a libel court. The other risk was contempt of court—meaning interference with the course of justice. For a paper to be guilty of contempt, as experienced news journalists know, criminal proceedings have to be ‘active’, but in this case the whole point was that the justice process was not active. It had been exhausted.
Insofar as any legal risk existed, moreover, it was primarily to the newspaper rather than the editor. And even if by some outrageous misfortune Dacre had been found personally guilty of libel, he would not have gone to jail because the remedy in such cases is the award of damages. Had he been convicted of contempt, a jail sentence was theoretically possible, but in practice the punishment would certainly have been a fine. The 1990s saw at least three cases in which national newspapers were found guilty of very serious contempts of court and no editor was ever jailed. Indeed, so far as I can establish, no editor has been sent to prison for contempt of court since 1949.
The most forthright critic of the Mail‘s actions at the time was a retired Master of the Rolls, Lord Donaldson, who said the paper ought to be prosecuted for contempt of common law. This notion received no support elsewhere, but the Attorney General’s office, which had already dismissed the idea that there might have been a statutory contempt, agreed to consider the question of common law contempt, and two weeks passed before it again announced there was no case to answer. Could Dacre have been in fear of imprisonment in this two‐week period? If he was, he was at odds with his own paper, which issued a statement on the day Lord Donaldson spoke, stating: ‘We are entirely satisfied that we have not committed any form of contempt, whether statutory or common law’.12 The Mail also published news reports the next morning declaring on the authority of one former Attorney General and three QCs that the ex‐judge had got it wrong. One QC dismissed Lord Donaldson’s suggestion as ‘logical nonsense’, and another, George Carman, stated: ‘I find it very difficult to conceive of circumstances in which the Mail could be considered in contempt of court’ (Daily Mail, 17 February 1997). It is worth noting too that even Lord Donaldson did not propose that the editor should be prosecuted, let alone that he should face prison.
The very idea that in 1997 the editor of a national newspaper might have gone to jail under any law for publishing such matter was far‐fetched, and in the weeks after the front page was published no serious public suggestion to that effect was advanced or discussed. This is not to say that there were no risks to the Mail and its editor in publishing that front page, because undoubtedly there were, but the risks were to their reputations and to their bank balances.
Prompting the inquiry
On 2 October 1998, while the Macpherson inquiry into the Lawrence case was sitting, the Mail wrote: ‘It is arguable that there would not have been an inquiry but for our decision to name the five’. The following February, just before the inquiry report was published, it wrote more categorically: ‘The paper’s move led to an uproar. It also prompted Home Secretary, Jack Straw, to initiate a major inquiry’ (Daily Mail, 4 February 1999). In 2012 the paper repeated the claim, referring again to Straw, ‘who, responding to the Mail‘s campaign, commissioned the Macpherson inquiry’ (Daily Mail, 4 February 2012). At that time, Dacre also said in his video statement: ‘Jack [Straw], whom I’d known at university, told me that it was the Mail‘s coverage that persuaded him of the necessity of this move.’
Any claim that the inquiry was established in response to the paper’s actions, or that it might not have occurred without them, must at the very least be heavily qualified—chiefly because, as the published record shows, the Mail never sought a public inquiry. From the day of the famous front page in February 1997 to the day the inquiry was announced five months later, the Daily Mail did not once call for an inquiry in its pages. Even when the Lawrences publicly demanded an inquiry, the paper remained silent on the subject. More than that, it explicitly opposed an inquiry of the kind that came about.
The narrative is as follows. The Lawrences had been seeking an inquiry since 1993, meeting only rebuffs from the Conservative government of John Major, but in May 1997, two months after the inquest and the Mail‘s front page, Labour won power and by the following month, after public appeals by the family and by sympathetic Labour MPs, it was clear an inquiry would happen. The next question was: what kind of inquiry? In his autobiography Jack Straw explains that there were two possibilities: a general inquiry into race relations or one that scrutinised the handling of the Lawrence case and drew conclusions.13 The Mail made plain its preference in an editorial:
Of course police methods are open to criticism and claims of racism within the force will have to be investigated. But it would be tragic if such an inquiry were to turn into a witch‐hunt against the police. It is not the police who should be on trial. The truth that cries out to be told is about a monstrous wall of silence which continues to shield the guilty. (Daily Mail, 25 June 1997)
Doreen Lawrence took a different view, believing that only close scrutiny of the police investigation would reveal what had gone wrong. Her 2006 book And Still I Rise confirms that when she met Straw in June 1997, the two options were discussed and she felt under pressure to accept the more general option. Instead, she dug in her heels and showed her anger in a conversation with Straw as the meeting broke up. She writes: ‘I believe it was that exchange as we walked along the corridor that changed his mind and persuaded him not to go down the line of least resistance.’14 In July, Straw announced an inquiry under the retired judge Sir William Macpherson, tasked with investigating ‘matters arising from the death of Stephen Lawrence’ and identifying lessons to be learned for the future handling of race crimes.15 Contrary to the Mail‘s wishes, therefore, the Metropolitan Police would be on trial. The paper made clear its view that this was a mistake: ‘The new inquiry … will have wide powers. It should use them to question these five men again. More than anything it must investigate the terrifying intimidation surrounding the case’ (Daily Mail, 1 August 1997).
It is clear from this that the inquiry was not a direct result of the Mail‘s actions. Though the family had been seeking an inquiry for years, and though they renewed the request for an inquiry after the inquest verdict and were supported in this by others, the Mail chose not to endorse that position. Instead, when it became clear that there would be an inquiry the Mail welcomed the prospect but, contrary to the wishes of the Lawrences, urged that the investigation should not focus on police failure.
Nonetheless, it might be argued that the Mail‘s campaign helped bring about the inquiry in indirect rather than direct ways. Here again, any such claim must be qualified, and one way to show why is to adopt the newspaper’s own formula and ask what would have happened ‘had it not been for the Mail’.
First, it is worth remembering that while the Mail greatly increased public awareness of the case, it did not pluck it from obscurity. By February 1997, the story of the black teenager murdered at a bus stop was well known and the family had a good deal of public support, albeit mostly on the left of the political spectrum. The inquest verdict, overshadowed at the time by the Mail‘s actions, gave them powerful new leverage in their demands for action. Though the Conservative government was deaf to these demands, there is surely a strong possibility that, given the family’s case, its strong support and the verdict, the incoming Labour government would have set up a public inquiry in much the way that it did, even without the Mail‘s front page.
Straw describes the position in his autobiography: ‘Once I had become Home Secretary I was determined to establish an inquiry in any event and it is Doreen above all who deserves the credit for pushing me to do so.’ He goes on: ‘But there is no doubt that the Mail‘s dramatic intervention—and the suspects’ refusal to react to the invitation to sue—profoundly changed public sentiment about this appalling crime. It also gave me much more political “space” in which to act.’16
Let us imagine, then, that in the absence of the Mail front page and therefore deprived of this ‘political space’, Straw had felt unable to order an inquiry in July 1997. He would have faced the anger of the Lawrences and their supporters, including MPs on his own back benches. He might well have weathered this but it is impossible to imagine that the family, having come so far, would then simply have given up the struggle. The pressure would have continued, and just five months later an event occurred that had nothing to do with the Mail but which would have left Straw with no choice but to grant an inquiry. The family’s allegations about the Metropolitan Police at the inquest prompted the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) to commission an investigation. This was conducted by Kent Constabulary, whose report appeared in December 1997 and presented a shocking catalogue of police error, negligence and stupidity, vindicating beyond doubt the Lawrences’ complaints about the quality of the first police investigation. After this, Doreen Lawrence could not have been denied the public inquiry she demanded.
This suggests that ‘had it not been for the Daily Mail’ a public inquiry into the killing of Stephen Lawrence would have begun in 1998 anyway. The most that can be claimed with confidence on the paper’s behalf is that, by raising the profile of the case as it did, it helped ensure that it was ordered in July 1997 rather than December. And in saying that, we need to remind ourselves that for the paper this was an unintended consequence, since the Mail did not actively seek an inquiry.
In 1997 the principle of double jeopardy applied and, had this not changed, it would not have been possible to try Gary Dobson for murder in 2011–12, since (unlike David Norris) he was one of those acquitted at the private prosecution. Paul Dacre’s video statement after the guilty verdicts on Dobson and Norris in 2012 referred to this:
Throughout the Mail campaign we highlighted the need for the double jeopardy law—which prevented an individual being charged with the same crime twice—to be reformed … The 800 year‐old law was finally reformed in 2005 by the Home Secretary, David Blunkett, a man whom I’d come to like and respect. Many senior police officers and prosecution officials believed that this momentous change would not have occurred but for the relentlessness of the Mail‘s campaign.
If any viewers of the video inferred from this that the Mail mounted a relentless campaign for the law to be changed they would be mistaken. The facts are as described below.
When, in the week after the Lawrence inquest, Geoffrey Robertson QC floated the idea that the double jeopardy rule might be overridden where new evidence has emerged, a Mail editorial on 19 February 1997 noted that this was being discussed but said no more. It was only seven months later that the Mail first gave explicit support to the idea, and that was in response to an initiative by Brian (now Lord) MacKenzie, the president of the Police Superintendents’ Association (PSA). MacKenzie wrote in his 2004 autobiography, Two Lives of Brian, that he had been concerned about the rule for many years and was prompted by the Lawrence case to challenge it in a speech at his association’s conference in September 1997.17 While preparing that speech he met a Daily Mail journalist who persuaded him to use the ‘Murderers’ front page as a backdrop.18 The speech was widely reported, most prominently in the Mail, which carried a photograph of MacKenzie alongside the projection of the front page. The Mail also published an editorial stating firmly that MacKenzie was right, and that his idea ‘demands serious consideration’ (Daily Mail, 15 September 1997).
After this, however, the paper’s coverage of the issue was no more than routine—nothing like the persistent reporting and prominent commentary associated with a genuine Daily Mail campaign. When the PSA raised double jeopardy at the Macpherson inquiry in September 1998 and when the inquiry report recommended in February 1999 that the Law Commission consider the merits of amending the rule, the paper showed little interest. After this came a four‐year process of official deliberation, through two stages at the Law Commission, a Commons select committee report, a further review by a senior judge, two consultations, a White Paper, a Bill, debates in the Commons and Lords and ultimately the passing into law of Part 10 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003. Though all of this, most Mail readers could hardly have been aware that their paper had an opinion on the issue.
Only once, in an editorial responding to the White Paper, did it offer a comment: ‘Yes there is still unease among lawyers over the proposals. But in the present climate Mr Blunkett is probably pushing at an open door … Isn’t it an affront to justice when killers swagger free, knowing they can’t be touched?’ (Daily Mail, 18 July 2002). Against this, however, a news report in the Mail in 1999 seemed hostile to change, describing double jeopardy as ‘a basic safeguard of the legal system’ (Daily Mail, 1 March 1999). And Melanie Phillips declared in an opinion article in 2002 that moves to change the rule ‘threaten to undermine the presumption of innocence on which liberty depends’ (Daily Mail, 24 June 2002).
The Mail did not mount a sustained campaign for change to the double jeopardy rule, nor can it be said to have ‘highlighted the need’ for change with any persistence. Instead, over the whole relevant period of almost six years it published just three editorials that mentioned the matter, only one of which genuinely advocated it, while its reporting on the issue, after that engagement with MacKenzie’s initiative in September 1997, is best described as occasional and unengaged. This is not how the Daily Mail behaves when it really wants something.
In his video statement in 2012, Dacre gave that list of things that he believed would not have happened but for the 1997 front page, one of which was this: ‘an 18 year‐old A‐level student who dreamed of being an architect would have been denied justice’. The description is of Stephen Lawrence, so on the face of it this is an assertion that nobody would have been convicted of the murder had it not been for the Mail—a claim that has also been made elsewhere.19
The evidence that led to the jailing of Dobson and Norris was uncovered by forensic scientists who, at the instigation of a senior detective tackling the case afresh, re‐tested clothing that had been held by investigators since 1993. It is obvious that the Daily Mail had no role in work of that kind, so how else could it have contributed? It might be argued that, by raising the profile of the case in 1997 and revisiting it many times in the years that followed, the Mail ensured that the police did not drop the investigation where otherwise they might have done. This argument is also difficult to sustain because the Metropolitan Police had long had their own powerful reasons for wishing to see the case resolved. As early as April 1996—significantly, almost a year before the Mail front page—Assistant Police Commissioner Ian Johnston pledged in response to the family’s complaints: ‘We will never give up on this inquiry. We will never close this case and we will go on looking forever’.20 Once the PCA had confirmed the inadequacy of the first investigation, and even more so once those failures had been humiliatingly laid bare by the Macpherson inquiry, that determination to mitigate the disaster by securing convictions was all the stronger. A series of well‐resourced investigations led by top detectives followed, but it seemed the breakthrough would never come.
On 25 May 2002, the Daily Mail published a scoop: ‘After nine years and £30 million, police finally admit defeat in Stephen Lawrence case.’ The latest team of detectives, it reported, had presented their best evidence to the CPS, which was about to announce that it was not sufficient to justify prosecuting anyone. It seemed no more could be done. What is most relevant here is the Mail‘s editorial comment. The paper did not protest at the prospect that the search for justice was over, nor did it insist, as it might have done, that the police must try again. Instead it offered words of closure. Yes, the killers were still free, but Britain had changed for the better since the murder of Stephen Lawrence, and the police too. It concluded: ‘we would like to think that his death was not entirely in vain’.
It follows that, when Detective Chief Inspector Clive Driscoll volunteered to look afresh at the evidence four years later, it was not because of pressure from the Mail. Nor, we have to assume, did the Mail‘s views weigh on the senior officers who gave him the go‐ahead and the resources to proceed. The explanation lies elsewhere. As Driscoll’s 2015 autobiography, In Pursuit of the Truth, makes clear, he was an officer with a record of solving difficult cases and this was just the kind of challenge he relished. It took a good team and a great deal of patience, but ultimately he produced a case sufficiently airtight to convince a jury that Dobson and Norris were guilty.
In his video statement in 2012, Paul Dacre stated that he did not think it was an exaggeration to say that if it had not been for the ‘Murderers’ front page ‘Britain’s police might not have undergone the huge internal reform that was so necessary’.
This is not the place to assess the extent of reform in the police service since Stephen Lawrence’s murder, a substantial subject in its own right. However, it seems safe to say that where relevant changes occurred they were due primarily to the recommendations of the Macpherson inquiry, whose mission was ‘to identify the lessons to be learned for the investigation and prosecution of racially motivated crimes’. As we have seen, the Daily Mail did not seek a public inquiry and specifically resisted one that focused on policing. Given this record it is not obvious how the paper can deserve credit for anything achieved in this area by the inquiry, unless it subsequently changed its views and supported the process in some significant way. Did that happen?
There was certainly a change. Once the PCA findings on police failure had been made public in December 1997, the Mail‘s line on the case could not stand. Until then it had endorsed the Metropolitan Police assertion that its officers had done their best. The paper’s explanation for the absence of convictions was the ‘wall of silence’, meaning both the refusal of the suspects to account for themselves and their alleged intimidation of witnesses. The PCA report not only showed that the first investigation had been incompetent, but also made clear that the local community, far from remaining silent, had done its very best to point the investigation towards the suspect group. The Mail made no attempt to shield the police, roundly condemning the ‘blunders’ that ‘let Stephen down’. It reported the lengthy exploration of this at the inquiry and it pressed strongly for the punishment of the officers found to be to blame. To the Mail, however, the most important aspect of the inquiry was always the prospect that the five men it had named as killers would testify. The paper’s view remained that these were the real guilty parties who needed to be brought to justice. They did testify, but in most respects it was an anti‐climax. Since the inquiry was not a criminal court they could not be examined directly about the murder, with the result that the questioning was oblique and little was learned.
After this, the Mail‘s tone about the inquiry became carping and resentful and, in particular, it was deeply suspicious of suggestions of police racism. It was prepared to accept that there were individual ‘bad apples’ in the police and it expressed concern about a lack of trust in the police among black people, but it would go no farther. An article by columnist Peter McKay in July asked: ‘Even if the Metropolitan Police were to announce that racism in its ranks was the reason the killers were not brought to justice, where would that leave us?’ (Daily Mail, 6 July 1998). And when the possibility arose that Sir Paul Condon might be forced to resign, the Mail drew a line. ‘Don’t forget where the guilt really lies’, a headline declared, pointing at the suspects, while an editorial argued that ‘there is something unedifying in the hue and cry to make an honourable police officer the scapegoat’ (Daily Mail, 2 October 1998). Doreen Lawrence, who had lent her voice to calls for Condon’s departure, was ‘mistaken’, the Mail declared. In the end the inquiry did not call for Condon to go, but by then the Mail had an even greater concern.
On the eve of the publication of the report, in an editorial entitled ‘For Stephen’s sake avoid a witch‐hunt’, it begged Sir William Macpherson not to conclude that the police were affected by ‘institutional racism’. ‘The words could hardly be more chilling. However he tries to define them, they must damn every member of the force’ (Daily Mail, 24 February 1999). This, the paper warned, would amount to ‘a kind of politically correct McCarthyism’ and would ultimately ‘make matters worse’. Contrary to the Mail‘s wishes, however, Sir William did indeed use those two words in his report, carefully defining their meaning, and he was adamant about their central importance to progress: ‘There must be an unequivocal acceptance of the problem of institutional racism and its nature before it can be addressed, as it needs to be, in full partnership with members of minority ethnic communities.’ He made clear that the interpretation of the term ‘institutional racism’ offered by the Mail, and also by police officers opposed to change, was mistaken. ‘We say with emphasis that such an accusation [of institutional racism] does not mean or imply that every police officer is guilty of racism. No such sweeping condemnation can be or should be made.’21
The Mail was not interested in such arguments and explanations. To apply such a term to the police was, the paper would insist in the months that followed, inaccurate, counterproductive, preposterous and dangerous. It consistently took the side of police officers resisting reform. ‘Muggings soar as Lawrence case criticisms “paralyse” police’, said one headline, while an editorial declared: ‘The pendulum has swung too far’ (Daily Mail, 15 May and 16 December 1999). An opinion article by Simon Heffer announced: ‘Since the Stephen Lawrence inquiry accused the police of ‘institutional racism’ many bobbies have been afraid to stop and search black people in case cynical lawyers accuse them of racism’ (Daily Mail, 31 July 1999).
The dominant message from the Mail to its readers about the Macpherson report was negative. There is very little in the story of the paper’s relationship with the inquiry, from inception to aftermath, to support the view that the newspaper deserves credit for any reforms of the police that followed.
The most general of the claims made by the Mail in relation to the Lawrence case relates to what it calls race relations. According to Paul Dacre in 2012, one of the things that would not have happened but for the 1997 front page was that ‘race relations might not have taken the significant step forward that they have’. This was echoed in that 2017 editorial: ‘Our campaign… did more to improve race relations in this country than anything The Guardian has ever achieved.’
For reasons given above we can set aside any idea that the Mail might be due credit for reforms in this area that flowed from the recommendations of the Macpherson inquiry. That leaves one alternative: that the Mail‘s famous front page and its subsequent reporting of the Lawrence case in themselves helped to improve relations between white people and ethnic minorities in Britain. Is this true? There can be no objective measure, but here is a personal view.
The Lawrence case altered the way Britain thinks about race. It was the first conspicuous occasion on which a black family got past the stage of simply airing a grievance against this country’s institutions and managed to achieve very public proof that their complaints were justified. In crude terms, the Lawrences fought the law and the Lawrences won. Of course this did not instantly bring about a level playing field for ethnic minority people—far from it—but a particular form of white superiority came to an end. The credit for this rests with Doreen and Neville Lawrence.
At the same time, another, softer change happened. This was the first occasion when the white majority in this country came to understand and identify with the grief and anger of a black British family. They saw past black faces and recognised human suffering. Again, nothing would be quite the same afterwards, and again, those chiefly responsible are the Lawrences themselves. But here, the Mail also deserves some credit. Baroness Lawrence wrote in her autobiography: ‘The Daily Mail‘s front page had helped to open the story up. In fact the press had always been interested, but that report was said to have “touched Middle England”, the feelings of white people who don’t normally care much what happens to black youths in inner cities.’22 It may well be that the public inquiry would have done this anyway, with its months of shocking testimony vindicating the family’s position day after day, but it is clear that the Mail‘s sensational intervention accelerated the process. Though the famous front page concerned itself with the suspects, in the days that followed the paper did not shy away from the involvement of a black family as victims of injustice. It is likely that many who would not otherwise have given consideration to the Lawrences’ grievances were induced to do so as a result.
An irony in the Mail‘s insistence that it helped improve race relations is that, at the time, it flatly refused to accept that race had any part in the story except as a motive for the killers. It even stated, more than once, that the Lawrences were wrong to see race as a factor. Further, the Mail doggedly rejected the view expressed both by Jack Straw and Tony Blair, after the Macpherson report was published, that the whole of white Britain had lessons to learn from the case. The paper caricatured this as an assertion ‘that literally everyone in Britain is riddled with racism and must be forcibly shaken out of it’, and asked: ‘Should the majority in this fundamentally decent and tolerant nation be tainted by collective guilt?’ (Daily Mail, 27 February 1999).
In short, in my view the Mail can legitimately claim to have contributed to improving relations between races through the exposure and support it gave the Lawrences—even though it never embraced their ideas, or those of the Macpherson report, or of the government of the time, about the importance of racism in the case or about what should be done to tackle it.
The achievements of the Daily Mail in the Stephen Lawrence case are not so grand or transformative as the paper, its longtime editor and others in Fleet Street have asserted in recent years. There has been exaggeration, to say the least. This began within months of the publication of the ‘Murderers’ front page and reached its most expansive after the convictions in 2012. Significantly, that was the time of the Leveson inquiry into press standards, when much of the national press, including the Daily Mail, was under scrutiny. The paper’s Lawrence coverage was promoted as a positive factor in the midst of a debate prompted by the disgrace of illegal phone‐hacking at the News of the World. In the arguments relating to the implementation of the Leveson recommendations over the succeeding years, exaggerated accounts of the impact of the Lawrence coverage have become part of the effort to prove that the proposed reforms are unjustified.
In disposing of these exaggerations, however, we should not lose sight of what was achieved. The front page of 14 February 1997 was a remarkable coup. Arising from a sincere sense of outrage, it provoked debate to a degree that editors normally only dream of. That a conservative paper should have acted in this way in relation to a racially motivated murder in which the victim and his family were black, and that it followed the case over a long period, is to that paper’s credit. And it is argued above that this accelerated the process by which white Britain came to acknowledge the Lawrences’ ordeal, a process that brought benefits for toleration and diversity.
Reviewing the story, one is struck not by how far the Mail departed from its normal agenda but by how little. It saw young men who appeared to be getting away with a serious crime while humiliating the justice system and it attacked them. It stuck for as long as it could to a narrative about hard‐working detectives frustrated by a wall of silence. Having no interest in an inquiry into police shortcomings, it focused on the testimony of the suspects and once that was over it turned against a process that implied challenges to policing and to society, ultimately ridiculing its core finding as mere political correctness. Thereafter, the paper stayed with the case in the sense that it remained interested in the fate of those suspects, and when two of them were convicted, it revelled in the news. In short, whatever anyone else may have thought, for the Mail, the case of Stephen Lawrence was always about crime and punishment and never about race.
Voir par ailleurs:
A secret FBI dossier on civil rights leader Martin Luther King alleges that he had a string of affairs and other « sexual aberrations », as well as links to the Communist Party.
It is dated just three weeks before Dr King’s assassination in April 1968.
The file was released in a tranche of documents relating to the assassination of John F Kennedy released on Friday.
Mr Kennedy is not referenced in the file and it is not clear why it was kept secret for almost 50 years.
There is no evidence that any of the claims in the report were verified.
Its cover shows it was assessed in 1994 by an FBI task force on the JFK assassination, which concluded none of the document should be released.
Many of the allegations contained in the paper appear to be reports of private conversations between others, or hearsay reported third-hand.
One allegation, that King had a mistress in California with whom he fathered a child, was attributed to « a very responsible Los Angeles individual in a position to know ».
Among its other accusations are that:
- Dr King was surrounded by advisers with strong links to the Communist Party USA
- His statements were always subject to approval by the alleged communist sympathisers
- He was a secret supporter of communism, « a whole-hearted Marxist »
- His organisation, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, set up a « tax dodge » to raise funds for its activities
- Dr King took part in « drunken sex orgies » and coerced young women to participate
- He had love affairs with at least four women, including folk singer Joan Baez
The list of alleged indiscretions would likely have been deeply problematic for the civil rights leader if it had been made public in 1968.
The paper paints Dr King in an extremely negative light, despite his receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize and his contribution to passing the Civil Rights Act four years previously.
It is not entirely clear why the dossier was commissioned. But several pages of the 20-page document are concerned with Mr King’s upcoming « Washington Spring project » which was scheduled for the coming months.
It warned that despite Dr King’s history of calling for peaceful protest, « the combined forces of the communist influence and the black nationalists advocating violence give the ‘Washington Spring Project’ a potential for an extremely explosive situation. »
Dr King was killed before the planned march.
A ‘slow thinker’ with ‘abnormal’ sexual preferences
Despite Dr King’s historical reputation as a skilled speaker, the FBI file claimed that other advisers approved everything Mr King said.
« King is such a slow thinker he is usually not prepared to make statements without help from someone, » it reads.
Linking Dr King to communism, it claimed:
« King is a whole-hearted Marxist who has studied it (Marxism), believes in it and agrees with it, but because of his being a minister of religion, does no dare to espouse it publicly. »
And in another part says: « During the early 1960s, the CPUSA [the communist party] was striving to obtain a Negro-labor coalition to achieve its goals in this country… Martin Luther King, Jr, and his organisation were made to order to achieve these objectives. »
The most salacious claims about Dr King’s sex life are contained in a dense collection of rumours in the final two pages.
At a February 1968 workshop to train ministers in urban leadership, it is alleged: « One Negro minister in attendance later expressed his disgust with the behind-the scene drinking, fornication, and homosexuality that went on at the conference. »
« Several Negro and white prostitute[s] were brought in from the Miami area. An all-night sex orgy was held with these prostitutes and some of the delegates. »
The document alleged that Dr King also engaged in a « two-day drunken sex orgy » in Washington in January 1964.
« When one of the females shied away from engaging in an unnatural act, King and other of the males present discussed how she was to be taught and initiated in this respect, » it added.
« It is a fact that King not only regularly indulges in adulterous acts but enjoys the abnormal by engaging in group sexual orgies. »