Perhaps the owner and editor of UK’s Daily Mail newspaper have resigned themselves to being sued. Or perhaps they don’t believe singer George Michael is prepared to go through with the legal action he threatened two days ago. Whatever the view inside the Daily Mail, though, they have sunk to record lows in publishing a new article by psuedo-journalist Alison Bowyer in their TV & Showbiz section. The new article is designed to be a complete character assassination, and prints and re-prints blatant lies which will be trivial to prove as such in court, as well as futher libelling the singer.
Of course, the Daily Mail has always been a low quality newspaper, focussing on so-called “human interest” stories; and massively over-simplifying the reporting of the current affairs it does cover, to fit its own xenophobic and homophobic views of the world. So, the people involved with the paper clearly aren’t all the bright; but still I find their ignorance and stupidy shocking. The paper also practices cheque-book journalism in the same way that the News Of The World does. In fact, the Mail On Sunday newspaper is second only to the News Of The World in terms of its budget for paying for stories.
However, the newspaper’s pockets are nothing like as deep as those of Rupert Murdoch (who I saw on television yesterday, by the way. He’s looking pretty frail. Not long left now Rupert – all this talk of who you want to run the country after Tony Blair is a bit premature! You’ll probably be dead by that time, you old git – and just to let ya know, dying your hair isn’t going to prolong your life, ya twat! LOL!). I wonder if their lawyers realise just how many, and how damaging, the blatant lies the paper has been printing are. If it turns out that the laws of libel do indeed protect George Michael, as they should, the monetary damages that the Daily Mail will have to pay out will certainly be in the millions of pounds. I have never seen a campaign like this run by a newspaper or newspapers before; it is not even in doubt that they have printed lies, because so much of their source material is in the public domain. My view is that George Michael could sue them for in excess of ten million pounds. In this new article, the people running the paper are even so stupid as to admit that the stories they have been printing may have damaged beyond repair George’s chances of a successful US tour in the new year, which is what he had been planning. That sentence alone could potentially send their bill for damages over ten million pounds.
It is difficult to see this campaign as anything other than a massive error of judgement on the part of the newspaper; they don’t have the circulation to justify printing stories that could cost the paper this kind of money. I should expect the editors and the journalists involved will be fired, if they lose a court case of this magnitude. And given that the company that owns the Daily Mail, DMGT, has already seen its share price plummet by 30%, from over £8 to around £5.50 since the start of the year, executives of DMGT must also at risk. Furthermore, Associated Newspapers, the newspaper division of DMGT, which includes both the Daily Mail and the Evening Standard, has seen a steady decline in its profits in recent accounting periods. Losing a big lawsuit is the last thing they need, and it is unlikely that shareholders would simply stand by in the face of such gross corporate negligence. Heads would, and should, roll. I really hope George Michael is able to teach these people a lesson.
(Thanks to Evelyn for pointing me to this story)