Did you know that Italy is following the United Kingdom out of the European Union? Whaaat?! You hadn’t read that? Well, it’s right here in the Daily Express, the folks who brought you Brexit.
See, Express reporter Darren Hunt got a hot tip that someone named Geoff called into talkRADIO and spilled the beans. Geoff said he’s married to an Italian woman and they have a second home in Italy. So they know that everyone is watching the UK and when Brexit happens, boom! … Italy instantly leaves as well.
“We speak to these people all the time.” Well, there you go … the end of the EU.
SECONDHAND RUMOR, FRONT-PAGE HEADLINE
So Darren heard second-hand that someone called into a right-wing show and said the Italians are fed up.
That turned into a post on the Express website titled “Italy ‘PRIMED and ready’ to follow Brexit Britain and QUIT EU – Brussels ‘terrified’
Who wouldn’t be terrified with that kind of EXPLOSIVE reporting? (And what’s the deal with all the caps in the headlines, by the way? Is that to prime readers to light the torches and fetch the pitchforks?)
A few readers weren’t having any of it. But the majority of the comments left on the post celebrated Italy’s incredible bravery.
Despite the fact its leaders have said (over and over) the coalition government has no plans to leave the EU, which is one of those inconvenient truths the British tabloids conveniently ignore. Not to mention the fact that Brexit has gone exactly nowhere and has taken two years and 10 months to do it.
But how could Darren have known, right?
I emailed Darren and pinged him on LinkedIn to find out if the tubes are out on the Express’s Interwebs. Shockingly, he didn’t respond.
REPORTING OR FEARMONGERING?
Part of this is just my American bias. One of the biggest shocks for American expats in Europe is the British press.
Unlike in the UK, legitimate American news outlets make an honest effort to inform their readerships, not scare the shit out of them or play to their worst xenophobic and insular instincts. They might be weak tea like the USA Today and big newspaper chains such as Gannett, which have dumbed down the American hoi polloi, no question.
But conservative, liberal or middle-of-the-roader, we all depend on quality journalism from the Wall Street Journal – owned by relentless righty Rupert Murdock’s News Corp. – and Bloomberg – owned by moderate Republican Michael Bloomberg – to stay informed about financial markets, politics and pretty much everything else.
We know their opinion pieces typically reflect their left-right biases, but we’re free to skip them and still appreciate their dedication to deep, accurate reporting.
Even the Washington Times – funded by Sung Myung Moon’s Unification Church in South Korea – and Breitbart have a mix of content that’s more or less accurate if warped through the conservative lens. Often times, it’s propaganda, but at least it’s propaganda built on a factual foundation.
For the life of me, I can’t find their counterparts in Britain. With the exception of the Guardian, the Economist and the Financial Times, most of what I see on British news websites is crap. Some left-wing crap, but most of it is lies spun from whole cloth, content designed exclusively to pander to the worst prejudices of the Nigel Farage stooges, Moggsy’s upper crust authoritarians and Tommy Robinson droogies.
Yes, there are some creepy snake pits of putrid agitprop in the United States such as InfoWars that simply make things up for a special class of readers, the woke paranoids convinced everything – and I mean everything – is a new-world-order government conspiracy bought and paid for by globalist Jews like me.
And there’s always the tawdry tabs at the supermarket checkout counter, most prominently the National Enquirer, Trust me … no one except Trump takes those seriously.
SEX, LIES AND PHONE HACKING
In the UK, the tawdry tabs are the norm, with reputations for doing anything and everything to get the scoop from the News of the World hacking the phone of a murdered schoolgirl to the Sun simply making up the story, “The Queen Backs Brexit.”
For decades their publishers have dedicated them to poisoning the EU well.
Richard Desmond has filled his newspaper with anti-EU lies since the pornographer-turned-“news” baron bought the Daily Express in 2000. He’s dedicated his front page to efforts such as creating a “crusade … to stop the new flood of Romanian and Bulgarian migrants” and other anti-immigrant pandering.
You know … the Poles, Romanians and Bulgarians who do all the work Brits won’t do from washing cars to taking care of the elderly in nursing homes.
But the British papers that so richly deserve Donald Tusk’s special place in hell are the Sun, Daily Mail and the Telegraph.
This is nothing new. Lord Rothermere, the Daily Mail founder, was a big, big fan of Hitler and the Nazis. Clearly, not a lot has changed with the Daily Mail.
In the British edition of GQ magazine, Matt Kelly wrote recently that current Daily Mail publisher Paul Dacre “has spread more lies about the EU than any other newspaper ….” Kelly added the Daily Mail, the Telegraph, Sun, and Express have shown “exceptional creativity” when it comes to shaping the British public opinion toward Europe. In a bad way.
From the post “Here’s an A to Z list of Brexit lies”:
From excessively curved bananas to milk jugs being banned, from euro notes making you impotent to cows being forced to wear nappies and Bombay mix having to be renamed, our press has waged a decades-long campaign to ridicule the EU. But who’s looking ridiculous now?
My experience is, the far right – whether you’re talking about Donald Trump or Nigel Farage – can’t win the day through legitimate arguments.
They always resort to lies (the bus emblazoned with the “350 million for NHS” claim) distortions (the EU is taking over Europe like the Nazis, “and we know how that turned out”) and vilifications (pick your nationality, though Poles seem to attract special abuse) that seem transparent to those of us who believe in liberal democracy and global trade.
TRUMP IS A SIDESHOW, BUT BREXIT IS FOREVER
This is where the British tabloids are most devious … they’ve fed Brexit to a gullible British public they’ve already moronized with vapid content – their granular coverage of the royals and celebrities; the tawdry twaddle about their abs, affairs, pills and booze. And it worked.
In the age of declining readership and profits, the Sun and Daily mail are still hugely popular and profitable. (See the chart above.)
So successful the whole British approach has now bled into the U.S. media, with clickbait sites such as BuzzFeed mixing trash and trinkets with news coverage.
Okay, you’re saying, “Hypocrite! Fox News in the U.S. is no better than the British tabloids.” True … except Fox has actual reporters such as Chris Wallace and Shep Smith who constantly push back on the News Corp. pro-Trump line.
Why? Because they know Trump is an American anomaly. Someday, we’ll wake up, the Trump curse will be lifted and he and all his cronies and family will be in jail.
But you Brits … Brexit is forever. Even if it never happens and the UK stays in the EU, the damage is done and Britain’s credibility and economy are damaged for a generation. And for that, my friends, you can thanks Messrs Rothermere, Murdoch, Desmond and Decre.