'Vicious, merciless killer' or 'peacemaker'?
The death of Martin McGuinness makes the front pages of most British and Irish newspapers today and, understandably given his controversial past, different outlets take a different tone.
Some led with his transition from militant to peacebuilder, while others emphasised his days as an IRA commander — as you’d expect in a pluralist media landscape.
What you wouldn’t expect is a single newspaper taking a drastically different tone in two different editions, as the Sun has done.
The UK edition is the most unforgiving of any major paper. ‘UNFORGIVEN’ the headline screams, while the editorial condemns the ‘revolting orgy of pious praise’ for the former deputy first minister, whom it describes as a ‘vicious merciless killer’.
So clearly the people at the Sun feel pretty about him, right? They think it’s absolutely wrong to lead with anything other than his involvement in terrorism?
Well, maybe not.
The Irish edition of the paper — owned and run by the British Sun group and featuring much of the same content — leads with a quote from Ian Paisley’s widow: ‘It’s not how you begin it’s how you end’.
The front page story opens with the phrase ‘peacemaker Martin McGuinness’, a strange translation for ‘vicious merciless killer’.
Now, different editors at the same outlet can, of course, take different stances on different issues. But in this case, the Sun‘s hypocrisy in doing so is clear as day. It is whipping up nationalist sentiment in the UK, while placating nationalists in Ireland — refusing to recognise that the two approaches are diametrically opposed.
For the Murdoch press, stoking hatred is a profitable business. And editorial integrity or ethics can’t be allowed to stand in the way.
And unsurprisingly, the Daily Mail is at it too…
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Irish Daily Mail v English Daily Mail on Martin McGuinness. I do enjoy this kind of morality based on sales. pic.twitter.com/jDKSERzdqT
— Felicity Morse (@FelicityMorse) March 22, 2017