Here we go again...
You’d have thought that after all the rhetoric being blasted around about fake news that the world of journalism might be taking some extra precautions to make themselves seem respectable. Apparently at least one newspaper is doing the exact opposite of that. I wonder if you can guess which one.
Kelvin MacKenzie’s weekly diatribes in the S*n hit a new low on Friday when he compared Everton footballer Ross Barkley to a gorilla. Barkley has a Nigerian grandfather and predictably, the S*n were inundated with complaints, prompting them to take the column down. MacKenzie has been suspended and is supposedly on a Soviet-style “holiday” to keep him out of trouble at least until the paper’s next printing.
It doesn’t matter if he didn’t know about Barkley’s heritage. It’s the duty of editors to check that what they are reporting is accurate and not racist or offensive. They are supposed to inform and comment and entertain, not attack based on primal prejudices lurking deep inside their columnists skulls.
Even worse were his comments about the city of Liverpool. He should have learnt his lesson last time with that one. An organised city-wide campaign against his editorship of the paper which victimised the 96 dead from the Hillsborough disaster has been immensely successful. It resulted in his sacking after the falsehoods he spread and the lives he damaged. A stalwart showing of people-over-corporation power (made even stronger by Murdoch’s sinister influence).
The Truth of the situation is this: MacKenzie has gone too far against a city he is clearly bitter against. Who wouldn’t be? They removed him from the premier job in UK journalism. That’s no excuse to go after a city and culture that he obviously doesn’t appreciate or understand in even a single cell of his brain. Making broad brush-stroke statements about a multitude of different people (who are all drug dealers apparently) when you can’t substantiate them is not a great idea. Especially if you’ve victimised them in the past.
That’s not to say that journalism shouldn’t be controversial. It must be challenging if it’s worth anything to us: to provide people with a soapbox that makes the powerful accountable. But attacking based on morally abhorrent prejudices and stereotypes is hateful and has no place in Fleet Street. It’s acceptable to poke the wasp’s nest every now and again. Edginess is sometimes valuable in entertainment and comedy. In this context, with the 96 who died in the disaster, with the pain he inflicted on those families, it’s not.
I side with the cabbies of Liverpool on this one. Don’t buy the S*n.