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Ian Burrell

Ian Burrell edits the Media Weekly pages of The Independent.

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The Daily Mail and the death of Stephen Gately

Posted by Ian Burrell
  • Friday, 16 October 2009 at 02:37 pm

"What a cold and nasty piece of gutter journalism"...."This is an absolutely revolting article"...."Shame on you Jan Moir", are just a tiny selection of soundbites from the outpouring of outrage on the Daily Mail's website following an extraordinary piece by one of the paper's best-known columnists, suggesting that the death of the Boyzone singer was not by natural causes, as an official announcement had stated.

The article, attacking gay lifestyles, has caused uproar among bloggers and on the instant messaging site Twitter, where calls are being made for an advertising boycott of the Daily Mail and for the sacking of Jan Moir.

On the social networking site Facebook a group has been set up calling for the retraction of the article. Hundreds of users quickly signed up.

Sources at Associated Newspapers, which owns the Mail, were this afternoon trying to distance the paper from the comments of individual columnists, a claim that is hardly likely to appease critics.

Moir is understood to be currently working on a statement to explain her actions.

Scoffing at the outpouring of grief over the pop singer's death, Moir wrote in her column this morning that "The sugar-coating on this fatality is so saccharine-thick that it obscures whatever bitter truth lies beneath." And as she launched into a vicious attack on gay lifestyles, she opined that "whatever the cause of death is, it is not by any yardstick, a natural one."

According to Moir, "I think if we are going to be honest, we would have to admit that the circumstances surrounding his death are more than a little sleazy." She then suggested that because Gately and his partner Andrew Cowles had invited a Bulgarian friend home on the evening of Gately's death "it is not disrespectful to assume that a game of canasta...was not what was on the cards".

The singer's death, she said, was a reflection on gay marriage. "Another real sadness about Gately's death is that it strikes another blow to the happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships," she claimed. "Under the carapace of glittering, hedonistic celebrity, the ooze of a very different and more dangerous lifestyle has seeped out for all to see."

Read the full article here


dogsolitude_v2 wrote:
Friday, 16 October 2009 at 02:41 pm (UTC)
Good to see that dreadful piece of defamatory tittle-tattle being given the kicking it richly deserves.

Sometimes, when I read an article like this, I wish I could just go through the entire article with a red pen and highlight all the jumped conclusions, weasel-words and insinuations that lead to this article being *ahem* wrong on so many levels.

As an aside: are journalists given training in avoiding logical fallacies? I don't know much about the subject, having never been much good at English, so I'm not sure what sort of training is available in this field.
helen40 wrote:
Friday, 16 October 2009 at 04:18 pm (UTC)
Great post dogsolitude.

I am never surprised at anything the Daily Mail does.

Their columnists opinions are as irrelevant as the toilet paper they wipe their asses on every morning.

I don't think it needs a boycott. If its diatribe effects anything it is only to cement the opinion of many of us that it is a right wing homophobic racist classist (not sure thats the right term) rag. I think people will avoid it (I certainly do) just on that basis.

dogsolitude_v2 wrote:
Friday, 16 October 2009 at 04:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you :)

I can't personally boycott the Daily Mail because I never bought it in the first place. My parents like it though.

They may lose a few readers over the article temporarily I suppose... I don't know enough about the world of journalism to be able to say whether or not I believe that the whole paper can justifiably condemned, so I'm going to sit on the fence and watch the proceedings with interest.
helen40 wrote:
Friday, 16 October 2009 at 05:31 pm (UTC)
I'm smiling here, yes your parents AND my parents read the Mail.

They certainly have the 55+ contingent.

reinertorheit wrote:
Friday, 16 October 2009 at 05:25 pm (UTC)

It does need a boycott.

Next time you're given the Daily Mail on a British Airways flight (the Mail are in bed with BA bigtime, and it's the only newspaper carried on board) refuse to take it, and tell them why.

Personally I won't fly BA at all, and I'm a frequent flyer.
maradona_2009 wrote:
Friday, 16 October 2009 at 09:40 pm (UTC)
to be fair helen this is nothing new and i dont really know what the big deal is especially when you look at the death of michael jackson the same sort of rubbish was printed about him and his life only it was a a million times worse from all the media outlets and papers in this country and america yet nobody says a thing im no fan of the daily mail but i dont think this journalist has done anything diffrent to any other journalists when jackson died
bemused2 wrote:
Friday, 16 October 2009 at 07:07 pm (UTC)
And next time you are given a "free" Daily Mail with a Tesco delivery, and do refuse to take it, and do tell them why... have a look at your receipt for the 1p they charge you for the free paper you didn't want.
setsintheeast wrote:
Friday, 16 October 2009 at 07:58 pm (UTC)
i just read the article, waiting in anticipation of another example of the daily mail being... the daily mail. to be honest and fair to the author, she did appear to be talking about the "hedonistic celebrity" lifestyle rather than the "gay" lifestyle.
late night of clubbing? bad for your health.
sex (of any kind) with strangers? potentially bad for your health.
Mr Burrell took it as given that the article attacked "gay lifestyles", so is he suggesting that clubbing, abusing drugs, and having sex with strangers are inherently "gay" behaviors? that would be something about which to become outraged. i didn't see Moir attack gays. it is possible to support homosexuality AND prudishness.
setsintheeast wrote:
Friday, 16 October 2009 at 08:04 pm (UTC)
that said, if the family don't want all the details of his death to become public, we should all respect that.
bobbellinhell wrote:
Tuesday, 20 October 2009 at 11:19 am (UTC)
I agree with the idea of a Mail boycott - but any gay person who buys the Mail in the first place is simply collaborating in their own oppression.


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