The Daily Mail’s hypocrisy on refugees knows no bounds

Are they little angels or migrant hordes?


Of all the British newspapers, perhaps the most hypocritical is the Daily Mail. As with other papers today, the Mail seeks to have it both ways, lamenting the death of a child they wish had stayed in a warzone.

But the Mail’s methods are a special case and a class apart. 

Visitors to its website MailOnline this morning will have seen two stories. One was headlined:

We can’t cope with this tide! Europe’s despairing leaders bring back border controls with free-movement zone on brink of collapse”

The second:

“Father of migrant boys washed up on Turkish beach arrives at morgue to say farewell to the family he lost as it emerges he ‘tried to hold onto his sons after boat capsized but saw them washed away‘”

Mail tide crop online 3 9 15

(Click to enlarge)

Aside from the usual over-the-top tone and creepy use of someone’s grief, the thing to avoid here would have been the water metaphors.

Papers often speak of a ‘wave’ of migration, of migrants ‘pouring in’, or as today, a ‘tide’. Might this not seem insensitive when children (and hundreds of adults) are drowning in the sea?

The placing of these two stories together ironically exposes the key contradiction in the Mail’s coverage: using the emotions of the father of a drowned family, while still describing them and their countryfolk as a tide or wave ‘engulfing’ Europe.

It gets worse.

When posted on the Mail’s Facebook page, the first story was headlined:

‘Europe abandons open borders in face of migrant hordes

Daily Mail facebook 3 9 15


But just hours later they were sharing tributes to the boy who drowned, under the headline:

‘God be with you, little angel’

Daily Mail god be with you

So which is it? Are they little angels or migrant hordes?

Or do they switch from being one to the other only when they die?

The Daily Mail ought to make up its mind. Otherwise it will be open to the charge of just doing whatever pulls in advertising revenue. Perish the thought!

Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter

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17 Responses to “The Daily Mail’s hypocrisy on refugees knows no bounds”

  1. Godfrey Paul

    The parents of that child had been resident in Turkey for over a year. Turkey is NOT a war zone, It is a stable country and member of NATO. That makes them economic migrants NOT refugees.

    The parents chose to take their children into the open sea in an unstable boat with no lifejackets. The parents are clearly negligent and to blame for this tragedy – No one else.

  2. Giselle Martinez Evans

    Turkey hates Kurds – they are treated atrociously there. You are so wrong.

  3. Kevin

    Godfrey Paul what an awful human being you are. You should be ashamed of yourself. You do realize that Turkey borders Syria right????? And that the war is happening all along the border. You do also realize there is a large humanitarian crisis developing in Turkey – or are you so ignorant as to not read about anything before posting your thoughtless comments.. Are you saying that if your family was on the potential brink of starvation and threatened with a violent conflict on your doorstep you wouldn’t try to get out and find something better and safer??? You disgust me with your disdain for these poor people. You prob wouldn’t last a day where these people have come from without crying for your mum! Someone should put you out there and see how long you last. .

  4. mr_fatty

    Would freeloaders – you are implying that they are good-for-nothing freeloaders – be desperate enough to take such appalling risks?
    “Negligent” my bottom! Are you not perceptive enough to see total desperation? You seem to be a very callous man.

  5. jacko

    Unlike you, Adam Barnett, the Mail tells both sides of the story.

  6. JoeDM

    Millions of Kurds live and prosper peacfully in Turkey. The problem is the extremist Kurdish nationalist terrorists who are a very small minority that get lots of publicity.

  7. Cole

    Let’s remember that the Mail opposed Jewish refugees coming to Britain in the 1930s. It was ‘an outrage’ they said. Nothing has changed apparently.

  8. jj

    I really dont see the issue with reporting on the issues of the crisis? At least there are two sides to the story, the fact that many European countries simply cannot cope, Hungary for instance, and quoting leaders who are rightfully worried, but also reporting on the emotional side of the crisis as well? Surely that’s what journalism should be about. Left Foot Forward doesn’t report on a non biased platform either (obviously), so its a rather hypocritical report.

  9. The Daily Tang

    Those defending the Mail – it does not report ‘both sides.’

    For probably about a decade and a half it has run a program of dehumanising migrants of any kind as much as possible. To claim that the Mail has been in any way ‘fair’ or ‘balanced’ is absolutely laughable.

    They have found sympathy because of a chance photo which happens to be particularly heart-wrenching but have insofar as now promoted the idea that people like him are ruining our country when they arrive.

  10. G

    Maybe the mail will stop spending its time bashing charities now… or perhaps it will convince itself its been doing good work to help refugees rather than contributing to the problem. Whatever sells papers, and let’s worry about the consequences later

  11. Faerieson

    This comment is so ill informed as to be beyond a joke! To seek to describe the Daily Mail as balanced implies either a) a complete lack of awareness regarding the paper’s reactionary reportage, or b) the explicit wish to offend.

    Before you next time display such a lack of awareness I would suggest that you devote just a few moments to finding out what is happening in the living Hell that is Syria. That, at least, would place you ahead of the rag that you have chosen to blindly champion.

  12. Phil Astley

    I would suggest he look at this page since it has pictures but knowing what Daily Mail readers are like he probably will not.

  13. Cole

    Jacko is a right wing provocateur with loopy views

  14. Faerieson

    Do these even qualify as ‘views?’

  15. Faerieson

    Well, I’ve read it but I don’t imagine it will change the ‘righteous path of supremacy,’ as espoused by ‘jacko.’

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  17. Ethical Journalism Newsletter: September 4, 2015 - Ethical Journalism Network

    […] Of all the British newspapers, perhaps the most hypocritical is the Daily Mail. As with other papers today, the Mail seeks to have it both ways, lamenting the death of a child they wish had stayed in a warzone. (Read more on Left Foot Forward) […]

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