Saturday, 15 July 2017

Adonis and the Nazis. There Should be No Place For Fake News.

I have now had chance to read the Telegraph. On page 9 the headline reads "Leaving the EU is like Nazi appeasement, says peer".referring to an interview with Lord Adonis.

Did he? The fifth paragraph quotes what he actually said "We got it right on colonisation, we got it wrong on appeasement and I think we're in serious danger of getting it wrong in the way we leave the EU"

This is consistent with the BBC's reporting in which it says "Brexit was as big a step for Britain as the decision to appease the Nazis in the 1930s" but under the headline of something else he said that "Leaving The EU Will Impoverish Millions"

As a historian, he was referring to the Government's actions, not in any way comparing leaving the EU to the actual Nazi appeasement.  The headline was wrong.

So we have a cast iron example of "fake news".  The Telegraph also reports Iain Duncan Smith saying "For him to turn round and compare leaving the EU to Zazi Germany is insulting to the British people".  But Adonis didn't.  A former party leader such as Smith should know better.

On page 18 Charles Moore goes on to say "Brexit was like our appeasement of Zazi Germany in the 1930s, I struggled to understand the comparison." Perhaps he should have read what Adonis actually said.  And the Telegraph should have stopped publication of an article based on such a misunderstanding.  But they didn't. Because it wouldn't have suited their general approach to Brexit?

Whatever, this distortion has taken hold across social media  Lord Adonis should have realised what would happen.  Maybe he did, and deliberately said something to hit the headlines.  Perhaps only he knows. 

But one thing is clear.  If "quality" newspapers like the Telegraph want to retain our trust, and sell their web and printed output, "fake news" like this should play no part in their news coverage.

UPDATE for the following day's Sunday papers

The Mail on Sunday has printed an article by Lord Adonis himself in which he emphasises the true meaning of what he said.

Conversely the Sunday Telegraph is perpetuating the lie by its inclusion in Dia Chakravarty "Comment" article.  Everything else in her article loses its value.

Now the Adonis issue is a matter of fact.  There are subjective matters too. The Telegraph leader says "Britain definitively voted leave" last June.  52:48 was not "definitive".  It was marginal.  And potentially ephemeral.  I personally have spoken to a number of people whose Leave vote was a protest, believing Remain would win, or otherwise without any great desire to Leave the EU.  It only needs a tiny swing in public opinion for it to go 49:51. "Definitive" would have been at least say 60:40, so public opinion was unlikely to drop below 50%.  Everything else said in the leader becomes worthless. We're left with newspaper wrappings.

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