Thursday, 9 January 2014

How our newspapers treated the Mark Duggan verdict: a tale of two nations

I was appalled by the amount of TV news coverage given to the inquest jury decision that Duggan had been lawfully killed by the police. Channel 4’s pack of ravening leftists went utterly nuts in their main bulletin at 7pm. As for the BBC – well, it was ridiculous. Of course I understand that the shooting in August 2011 sparked an explosion of bestial violence which resulted in five deaths and wholesale looting and destruction of property, and that, therefore, there was a slight chance that the inquest result might result in another wave of mindless, nihilistic thuggery. But the tone of some of the TV news coverage suggested that some broadcasters would have positively welcomed another round of “righteous” ultra-violence. (Their wish could, of course, still be granted, as it’s not that cold today and, for a change, it isn’t raining.)

When I came downstairs this morning I couldn’t help noticing that the wireless – which is invariably tuned to Radio 4 – had been returned to Radio 3 and was pumping out classical music. Apparently someone (who shall remain nameless) had had enough of the practically non-stop coverage of yesterday’s verdict. I reached for the Telegraph wearily, assuming the whole of the front page would be devoted to Duggan – and was relieved to find that the story had been confined to a few measly paragraphs at the very bottom of the page, with more coverage confined to page 7.

This is as it should be: the Duggan story is almost entirely a source of fascination to our liberal-left politico-media elite, to whose world-view the Telegraph only fitfully subscribes (which is why I read it). I suspect the vast majority of non-elite Britons couldn’t give a flying one. Just to make sure I wasn’t mistaken that this was largely a Liberal Establishment story, I visited the Paperboy site to scan the front pages of all our major papers. Here’s what I found:

The newspapers which featured the Duggan inquest result as their main headline were as follows: The Times (“Riot police fear violence after Duggan inquest fury”); The Guardian (“Duggan family fury at ‘lawful killing’ verdict”), The Independent (“A three-month inquest, Ninety-three witnesses, One explosive verdict”); The Scotsman (“Anger as jury clears police over killing”).

The only non-liberal left newspaper to prioritise the story was the Daily Mail (“Mayhem at High Court as jury rules gangster shot by police was ‘lawfully killed’. The Mail redeemed itself by describing Duggan as a “gangster”, and one suspects the headline was more celebratory than condemnatory. It also loves scaring its right-wing readers – “mayhem” is a word that sends a shiver down the spine of its order-loving right-wing readers. Finally, the enormous banner headline just below the Duggan story read: “SUGAR IS THE ‘NEW TOBACCO’”.

The following newspapers didn’t feature the story anywhere on their front pages: Daily Star, Daily Mirror, Daily Express, The Sun. Inevitably, the main stories they did feature were rubbish - but if their editors had thought for one moment that their readers had lain awake throughout the night fretting about a supposed miscarriage of justice, tghen that's what they'd have gone with.

This cheered me up - until I remembered that the majority of Britons still get their news from the BBC, which was (as one could have predicted) jolly upset by the verdict.


  1. Please don't worry. As soon as Keith Vaz has completed his duties as the nation's official "Meeter&Greeter" of Roumanians and Bulgarians at Heathrow he will return to take charge of the Duggan affair. I also suspect that Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon is about to step into the media spot-light so that will be another positive. Senior police officers are beginning to be incomprehensible when interviewed on the subject - to-day the commissioner of the Staffordshire Police on R4 started burbling on about "enforcement activities" and "dishonesty offenders" [nicking blaggers?]. No mention of people " of protected characteristics" so far?

  2. I presume senior police officers are send on a specially-tailored course designed to teach them this sort of meaningless compassion-speak, and to convince them that criminals are their true clients. Why this persists, when we have a Tory Home Secretary and Justice Minister, is anyone's guess. It used to be criminals who spoke in riddles to hide the truth - now its cops!