“Their methods are direct falsehoods, misrepresentation, half-truths, the alteration of the speaker's meaning by publishing a sentence apart from the context...What the proprietorship of these papers is aiming at is power, and power without responsibility - the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages”
Stanley Baldwin’s observation on the popular press may have been made in March 1931, but it was never more true than today. And there was never a more stark example of the press exercising power, only to casually saunter away from the consequent responsibility, than what happened this week in and around Madrid’s Plaza Mayor.
Leicester City - a club with one of the best-humoured and best behaved fan bases - has, as a result of winning the Premiership last season, qualified for the Champions’ League. Moreover, the team has made it all the way to the quarter finals, where they must face Atlético Madrid over two legs, the first at the Vicente Calderón stadium. Thus the travelling support was in the Spanish capital prior to the match.
But not all Leicester fans were behaving themselves, as the Murdoch Sun told its readers: “LEICESTER CITY fans have been charged at by police in Madrid after they were reportedly causing disturbances in the centre of the capital … According to Spanish newspaper Marca, a group of Leicester fans clashed with the police after engaging in drunken antics”. But then came rather worse.
“ROWDY Leicester City fans taunted Atletico Madrid supporters and clashed with cops before last night’s 1-0 Champions League defeat in the Spanish capital … Footage has emerged showing some supporters chanting ‘you Spanish b*******, Gibraltar is ours’ while smoke bombs and flares were let off in a litter-strewn square … It comes amid heightened tensions between the UK and Spain over the disputed status of Gibraltar, which was ceded to Britain in 1713, ahead of Brexit negotiations”. Er, WHAT?
Why would Leicester fans provoke the Police over Gibraltar? Well, perhaps the Murdoch goons at the Baby Shard bunker would care to address that one themselves. It was, after all, the Sun that earlier this month told its readers “Sun Gibraltar Campaign … Our message to meddling leaders of Spain and the EU … UP YOURS SENORS … THE Sun today demands Spain and the EU take their hands off Our Rock”.
It was the Sun that then indulged in a bout of puerile willy-waving over a Spanish warship sailing past Gibraltar, telling readers “As UK and Spain tensions over Gibraltar mount, watch the moment the Royal Navy chases a Spanish warship out of British waters … THIS is the incredible moment a plucky Royal Navy patrol boat chased a much larger Spanish vessel out of Gibraltarian territorial waters today”. There was no chasing.
When the Murdoch goons inspect the photos of Madrid’s Plaza Mayor, strewn with litter which someone else will have to clear up, they could for once engage both brain and conscience and ask themselves if it was such a good idea to kick off a hate campaign against the Spanish. The bad behaviour of the press can have unpleasant consequences.
Start taking responsibility when exercising power, Sun hacks. Do something useful for once.