Anthony McIntyre writes on a Sunday World smear.
Journalists make a lot of stuff up. So great is the demand for comment and 'insider' analysis that wild hunches, tripe really, is packaged as fact, trimmed with self-importance and flung into the insatiable mouth of the news beast – Andrew Marr
There used to be a frequent chant that would ring out at Old Firm derby games in Glasgow. When the Rangers keeper Andy Goram appeared in the net in front of the Celtic fans he was subject to a torrent of banter, or abuse depending on how it is looked at. Goram who had been diagnosed with a mild form of schizophrenia could hear the roar 'there's only two Andy Gorams'.
The Sunday World might have been a bit more sagacious had it been aware of this when last week it made a howler simply because it has journalists incapable of joining the dots or sufficiently astute as to be able to work out that in this world many people share the same name. It is not exactly a complex phenomenon like quantum mechanics. Yet There's Only Two Seamus Kearneys seemed well nigh incomprehensible to those who write with a crayon. Two people having the same name - how can that happen? Duh.
The tabloid reported on a piece written by former blanketman Seamus Kearney. It had being doing the rounds on the web by the time TPQ came across and subsequently reprinted it on the grounds of its topicality. Seamus Kearney was drawing on his relatively rare feat of human endurance - in Western Society at any rate - undergone by him on the H Block blanket protest of four decades ago to offer advice to the public on how best it might cope with the coronavirus lockdown.
It would be hard to take issue with what Seamus Kearney was attempting to do. His piece received a lot of coverage and was favourably received. Not, however, in the Sunday World. Eager to find somebody to rubbish, as is its wont, it leapt out of the traps, rushed its fences and fell flat on its face. The Seamus Kearney who wrote the piece was suddenly transformed into another Seamus Kearney - one the Sunday World has a hard-on for - who had been convicted of killing a member of the RUC in 1981. This action was carried out while the author of the piece was still on the prison protest. But don't expect the Sunday World to work that out. Like, how could a person not be in two different places at the same time? Surely, Schrödinger's cat experiment had allowed for that sort of inference to be drawn.
The Sunday World stretches licence to the point of credulity. It targets people with previous convictions for the purposes of smearing them, in anticipation that they lack the requisite standing to take a legal case for defamation. It simply piles on the fake news in the hope of titillating a readership that prefers scandal over substance. It frequently targets ex-prisoners, placing them at the centre of the lurid tales it makes up. The paper routinely lies when it comes to former prisoners, whether loyalist or republican. Former Provo And Loyalist Inmates Team Up To Launder Money By Purchasing Craters On The Moon is not a headline which has appeared in the paper's scoops. Not yet anyway, but you get the drift. Hide behind what they think the law might be and obviate the need for the journo on the story to walk the length of himself and do a fact check by simply lifting the phone and asking.
Recently while listening to a podcast I picked up on an observation that the Sun had a vocabulary of about 1500 words whereas Shakespeare used something like 37, 000. The range of the vocabulary employed in the Sunday Worst - as the late Martin O'Hagan, one of its staff, was fond of describing it for the piffle it churned out - probably makes it an ideal companion for the Sun. Shakespeare, well he was just somebody from some far off tribe that was renowned for shaking spears at people.
In today's edition the paper issued a correction but no apology to the author of the lockdown advice piece for the manner in which it had defamed and lambasted him. There is a precedent for a case there. Hopefully Seamus Kearney is aware of it and takes the rag to the cleaners.
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