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Friday, July 21, 2006 

Tabloids shamed by the Daily Filth.

As Obsolete noted a couple of days ago, the tabloid coverage of the crisis in Lebanon has been astonishingly poor, even for newspapers whose natural concerns are their middle class readers' house prices.

What's even more pathetic is that both the Sun and Express have today ran stories relating to Lebanon on their front pages, but rather than focusing on the human catastrophe which has left over 300 Lebanese civilians dead and forced at least 500,000 to flee their homes, they're more concerned about the extremist cleric Omar Bakri Mohammed. He left Britain of his own volition last year in the aftermath of the 7/7 bombings and was then blocked from returning. Yesterday he was apparently begging to be let on one of the British ships transporting stranded citizens to Cyprus, so that he could visit his family back in Britain.

The Express up till today had made no mention of the Israeli-Hizbullah conflict on its front page since the conflict was triggered last week, instead splashing variously on the weather, house prices and Princess Diana, all far more important topics for the average person who cares about real values and real value for money. The Sun meanwhile has been the tabloid which has gone with Lebanon the most, but with its own atypical spin and devotion to covering how our citizens were/are in peril. Last Saturday's paper described the conflict as a "terrorist war on Israelis", Monday's talked of a "Mercy dash to Brits", Tuesday's reported that 6 ships were in involved in a 'war' rescue (apparently changing their minds over the nature of the bombing within 3 days) while Wednesday's front page was mainly dedicated to the "BRITS FLEEING LEBANON".
Today's coverage inside the Sun is just as bad. It refers to the tour given to journalists of the southern Beirut Shia suburbs, destroyed and reduced to rubble by Israeli bombing, as a "sympathy seeking stunt by terrorist leaders". Nowhere in the two pages given over to the crisis does it mention the civilian death toll.

The Daily Mirror, the supposed left wing tabloid which proclaims to still carry its heart on its sleeve only bothered to mention Lebanon on its front page in a tenuous way when it reported on Bush and Blair's inadvertently recorded conversation at the G8 conference on Tuesday. It did however call for a ceasefire in its leader column on Wednesday. bat020 from Lenin's Tomb reports that today's Mirror contains coverage on the 18th and 19th pages - even further back in the paper than the Sun's articles.

Most disgraceful of all though has been the attitude of Associated Newspapers. Yesterday's London Evening Standard has to be a contender for worst front page of the year, if not the decade. Entirely based on the comments of Amos Oz, a man of Israeli left, who seems to think that the large child death toll may be because Hizbullah is using them as "human sandbags". No evidence to back it up, especially when it's considered that Israel has been bombing southern villages and roads, full of those trying to flee from the violence. Still, put the idea into the public's heads, and it's another way to look past the otherwise horrendous loss of life. After all, Israel is protecting itself from terrorists bent on the destruction of the Jewish state, right? Justification for more death is always needed.

As for the Daily Mail itself, the only mention given over to the conflict on its front page was on Wednesday, a small box reporting "180 Britons in escape from Beirut". Over the rest of the week, the Mail variously screamed that it was "hot enough to melt the roads", how "well-off children are more at risk from cancer" and advised the nation not to rub in suncream. Today it reports on the "biggest wave of migrants in history" and how the Spice Girls, err, betrayed women.

Which brings us to possibly one of the most shameful episodes ever to hit the Street which wallows in it. The Daily Sport, the newspaper which habitually prints fake nude photographs of celebrities, has a pair of breasts on almost every page and which in the aftermath of September the 11th printed articles calling for little less than the turning of the Middle East into a sheet of glass, today features Lebanon on its front page. The centre pages contain various photographs of dead Lebanese civilians, some of which can be seen on this blog, and has an editorial which begs readers to write to the Israeli embassy calling for an immediate unconditional ceasefire. The Sun, by contrast, attacked Jacques Chirac last Saturday for daring to do just that. One pornographer having more morals than another might not be much to get excited or hopeful about, but when even the gutter can see that something is going horribly wrong, a lot more of those who normally ignore or shrug off the news start to take notice, which can only be a good thing.

(If you happen to have a copy of the Daily Spurt for whichever reason and can scan/take photos of it so we can have the images for prosperity, Obsolete would be eternally grateful.)

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