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Friday, December 05, 2008 

Mother of all moronic headlines.

Prize for the worst headline of the year must undoubtedly go to the Mirror, via 5cc:

How in fuck's name did no one on the paper manage not to notice that rather than describing Karen Matthews as "pure evil", their sentence actually suggests that it's her offspring that are?

Then again, considering the humbug that's descended from today's papers, especially from the Sun, the Mirror's crimes against the English language are probably the least of it. As a correspondent to the Guardian's letters pages noted, the same journalists that failed to see through Karen Matthews' lies and deceptions are the same ones that have been leading the witch-hunt against the Haringey social workers. The Sun even has the audacity to blame social services in this case, even when it was their £50,000 reward that Matthews was after, having succeeded in manipulating them more than any other media outlet. As Polly Toynbee notes:

Interestingly, the Sun accuses social workers of failing to detect the elaborate lies of Baby P's mother or the men living in the house, who hid in a trench in the garden when officials called. Yet in the Matthews case, Sun reporters were even more gullible. They put up the £50,000 reward money to find Karen Matthews' "little princess". They noted a message scrawled on Shannon's wall that she wanted to go and live with her real father, without unearthing the true story of her home life. Lousy social workers they would make - and lousy reporters too.

Quite. As said yesterday, no one emerges from this well, and Mr Eugenides has a decent post up critical of the hacks on all papers. Rather than introspection, the blame game has started up all over again.

Update: the Heresiarch in the comments disagrees:

Nice try. But "of" here is not indicating a possessive genitive, but rather appositional, qualifying the noun "mother". Thus, KM is also a mother "of 33 years", and a mother "of low moral character", without either of those being her offspring.


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Nice try. But "of" here is not indicating a possessive genitive, but rather appositional, qualifying the noun "mother". Thus, KM is also a mother "of 33 years", and a mother "of low moral character", without either of those being her offspring.

Fair enough. Easy to be misconstrued though.

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Allan said...

At the risk of being picky, 'of' indicates possession. A mother of seven children is a mother that 'has' seven children, that 'has' low morals or 'has' 33 years. The same way that a man of many letters is a man that 'has' many letters. So lets conclude that Karen Mathews 'has' pure evil (WTF).

Is Heresiarch taking the piss or what? You look at the headline and its pretty fucking clear its an error and reads badly.

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