It must be true, I read it in the Mail

In the short history of this website, we haven’t taken aim, really, at the media. Thanks to the Daily Mail on Saturday, however, that’s about to change. You see, the Daily Mail offered a corker of an example of how the media ignore all common sense, logic and reason and draw on pre-established narratives to appeal to their readers. Like all good dealers of addictive schlock, they keep hitting the same buttons they know will send a thrill through their audience to keep them coming back for more.

As I’m sure you all know, it would strongly appear as though Daily Mail hates the BBC. That’s their narrative and the Daily Mail’s ‘middle England’ readers lap it up. So it came as no surprise, then, when I came across a story on their site called “The price of beauty: BBC to spend £100,000 of licence fee payer’s money on make-up artists for news presenters”. Now, let’s keep in mind the fact that BBC News has 24 hour coverage, 7 days a week featuring no less than 30 people, anchors, journalists and contributors, (and probably tens more) which appear in the studio and need make up. Let’s keep in mind the fact, then, that for £100,000 the BBC is employing make-up people 24 hours a day, 7 days a week which could easily be the salaries of four people. Let’s also remember the fact that neither you nor I wish to see a melting George Alagiah or a Fiona Bruce with a forehead not too dissimilar to Niagara falls. And let’s remember that TV news programmes, be it ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 or Sky, all use makeup on their talent and contributors and that, due to studio lights, it’s nice when people’s faces don’t reflect every stage light into camera.

 

The Daily Mail have, however, ignored all that in Rebecca Twomey’s article, favouring instead emotive phrases like “the staggering amount of licence fee payer’s money”, “pricey measures” and “an expensive affair”. Knowledge is what allows us to hold bodies and politicians to account. Why, then, is this naked ideological agenda permitted and tolerated? This type of propaganda only serves the purposes of newspaper and its owners. Knowledge is vital to a healthy democracy and has a profound effect on the electorate.

 

On the same day, serial BBC hater Liz Thomas wrote an article called “A glass act: Fiona Bruce wears specs and no make-up to read the news after catching eye infection”. In this article, Thomas uses three Tweets (I kid you not) to show how her glasses sparked a “flurry of debate” about her glasses. So, after hammering the BBC for spending money on makeup artists and, ultimately, vanity, the Mail is now hammering one of the BBC’s newsreaders for not having makeup on and wearing glasses. Hypocrisy aside, it’s obvious the Mail uses articles like this to rile people up and drive traffic to their site. In the links here, however, you won’t be giving them any traffic. Win-win.

 

It’s a real illustration, however, of the role the media plays in the dumbification of the public. If it’s written in the papers, it has some legitimacy in it. That’s the perception. This is exactly why bullshit like homeopathy, psychics and the like float unchecked into the public’s consciousness, and how religion dictates, directly or otherwise, public policy. It might not seem like it matters, but homeopaths have been travelling to disaster zones handing out their glorified Skittles to people in need of real medication. Why do we accept this kind of stuff? Because it’s true, of course. I read it in the papers.

World in shock as psychic turns out to be wrong

So last week I was watching Psychoville at one or two in the morning on BBC iPlayer. This happens a lot. I have the sleeping patterns of a bat and the TV consumption habits of a student. Personally, I blame rap music.

Anyway, when it ended I went to the Guardian’s website and saw, at the top, in the Breaking News ticker, a harrowing developing story on a mass grave in Texas containing the bodies of up to 40 women and children.

“What in the name of Christ is this about?” I thought. “Was this some cult or a lone mental?” As it turned out, it was just the sick ramblings of a psychic the police had to look into. There was no mass grave.

Now, I was going to write a real skeptics blog post on this, but I really don’t need to since the Discovery channel’s news website have completely nailed it already.

If you want to hear the psychic’s ‘side’ of this, the Houston Chronicle managed to track her down.

Now, this story made it to the Guardian, Reuters and the New York times. The FBI was involved in the search. This psychic should face a penalty. Wasting police resources and, as such, tax payer money on the fanciful imaginings of a disturbed person while also including a national body is wholly unacceptable.

I haven’t heard if this psychic is going to face any consequences for this, but I sincerely hope they are. I can’t imagine I’m the only person that would want penalties in place so these people have to think again.