This is a fantastic dissection of a particularly odious anti-Muslim story in the generally extremely odious Daily Express.

What perhaps shouldn’t surprise me quite as much as it does is that the story has only the slightest resemblance to the truth. The headline (“Sniffer dogs offend Muslims so now bomb search police face restrictions”) is in fact not just a distortion but literally untrue and is disproven by the fine print later in the story.

This stuff really annoys me. Most days I wander past the news stand and see the headlines on the Daily Mail and the Daily Express and feel vaguely amused at how biased they seem to be. All tabloids pander mercilessly to their perceived demographic, after all, whether left wing or right wing.

Sometimes though I do get disheartened by how relentlessly the more right wing publications are brazenly trying to stir up xenophobia and make their reader (some hypothetical middle class, middle aged white person) feel that their way of life is under attack from all sides. For example, during the recent petrol strike (that only minimally disrupted the country) the Express chose big headlines stating “Government says not to panic but FUEL COULD RUN OUT!” To be fair, most of the media became obsessed with seeking out areas where there had been at least some disruption. Most didn’t actively set out to cause panic, however. The Express is particularly fond of headlines that sound like they’ve been screamed by someone experiencing a nervous breakdown. Starting the headline with the word “NOW…” is their preferred means of indicating that this latest indignity is the final straw.

The website linked to above notes some of the more extreme comments to this story, which appear to be made by people who only read the headline. Okay, even the BBC website tends to have comments threads filled with slighty deranged people ranting from their chosen soapbox, but I still find this a little depressing.

I know the Daily Express is an easy target. I know they pander to a readership who already believes these things. I just find them particularly shameless and manipulative, and the one thing that really does aggravate me in journalism is Making Stuff Up.

(Link courtesy of the ever entertaining badscience).

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