Beware of newspapers that claim to be your friends
There are few things more irritating in the British press than elite media organisations posing as the voice of the working class.
Perhaps the chief offender in this corporate performance art is the Sun newspaper, ‘Britain’s best-selling paper’ and organ of the Australian billionaire Rupert Murdoch.
A feature today called a ‘Bluffers’ guide to sounding cultured’ instructs its readers on how to drop famous names or facts into conversation to sound clever, (or as the subheading puts it: ‘DROP SOME NAMES IN YOUR BANTER’.)
This rather presumptuous idea (who says Sun readers aren’t ‘cultured’ already?) is compounded by the tone of the ‘examples’, all of which imagine their students as boozy louts, sick with covert sexism – and all in the tones of salt-of-the-earth common sense.
Examples: ‘My cheating ex is as fat as Socrates, who was as famous for his girth as his brains’.
‘My best mate’s no stranger to paying for it. He gets through more ladies of the night than Charles Baudelaire and Emile Zola on a stag do.’
Perhaps my favourite: ‘Sure, this Platt family murder story on Corrie is tough going and Kylie’s in real trouble. But remember what Nietzsche always said about morality being the herd instinct of the masses.’
(One wonders if Mr Murdoch agrees.)
All of this sounds more like a Pete and Dud sketch than advice for readers of a national paper, but as ever, the subtle political content in all of these quotes spills out into open propaganda given the opportunity.
Under the heading ‘politics’ we read:
“THERE’S nothing like a dash of Russian revolutionary and grisly murder victim Leon Trotsky, right, to spice up a political opinion:
‘I’ve had it up to here with Jeremy Corbyn. I hope he gets the old ice pick like his idol Leon Trotsky.’
Who knew the Stalinist rot had spread so far! Here we have the Sun newspaper encouraging jokes about the assassination of the leader of the Labour party, (who has never been a Trot, incidentally).
One could be generous and say this was meant as a desire for political assassination only, that is, Corbyn being forced from power. But Trotsky had already been exiled by the Soviet Union when Stalin’s agent finally broke open his skull.
Regardless, the assumption here is that Sun readers want to see the back of Corbyn one way or another – not a safe one since a big chunk of the Sun‘s readers voted Labour. And that was under the last leader the Sun told them was a dangerous Leftie.
As so often, this fake populism hides an attempt not merely to reflect or condescend to public opinion, but to shape it. That it comes in the guise of friendship has been true, as today’s feature might put it, of every betrayal since Judas.
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Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter
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