Papers Reviewed: The Sun, The Guardian, The Daily Mail, The Times
Topic of article: Police; Crime; Child Sex Abuse
Headline: Howe can he stay?
Authors: Chris Pollard (News Reporter)
Aim of the article: The article is reporting the calls from former Conservative MP (Harvey Procter) for Metropolitan Police Chief (Bernard Hogan-Howe) to resign following Operation Midland, an investigation into historical child sex abuse and murder involving prominent MPs, has ended and failed to come to any convictions.
Agenda of the article: The article presents only Procter’s argument that Howe and the Police have conducted a “homophobic witch hunt” into claims that he and other MPs were involved in “raping and killing children.” These allegations were invalidated by calling the claimant a “fantasist” in the article and the wording of “raping and killing” further makes the claims seem exaggerated in their extremity. There is little explanation of why the case “collapsed” and the background of the case. The article is arguing that because the Police have failed at convicting any of those involved in this single Operation, the Chief should resign. The “homophobic” criticism of the Police’s decision to investigate the allegations is brought in with Procter being introduced in the second paragraph as “Gay Procter” which is quite an interesting choice.
Bias of the article: The article does nothing to defend the validity of the allegations, the investigation, the Metropolitan Police, victims of child sexual abuse or Hogan-Howe as it only presents the words and views of one of those who was accused of being involved in this “VIP Paedo” investigation. To some degree it also has to be highlighted that a newspaper that itself could be seen as pitching articles that perpetuate similar things to what Procter is criticising the Metropolitan Police is almost satirical.
Topic of article: Politics; Domestic
Headline: Welfare U-turn leaves PM with £4.4bn to find
Authors: Anushka Asthana (Political Editor); Rowena Mason (Political Correspondent)
Aim of the article: The article is informing readers of the decision by the government to go back on plans to make reforms to Personal Independence Payments (PIP), a form of disability benefit, which would have saved them £4.4 billion.
Agenda of the article: The story is based on this idea of a “£4.4billion black hole” which the PIP reforms would have saved which will now, as announced by Duncan Smith’s replacement, not be filled by further cuts to welfare spending. However at the core of this article is that the Prime Minister and the Chancellor, shown as a pair of “friends”, are working as a team to “strike a conciliatory tone” in order to attempt to maintain some semblance of a stable and coherent government with a consistent message. This is on the background of a tumultuous period in the party with both the EU referendum debate splitting the party and now the potential catastrophic sign of the recent Iain Duncan Smith resignation over disability benefit cuts, which the government has now withdrawn. And what is the article suggesting Duncan Smith’s resignation and the “U-turn” on disability benefits are the catalyst for? Well, potentially the end of the reign of this power duo of Osborne and Cameron and the presumption that Osborne was expected to take the leadership mantel from Cameron after 2020. Furthermore the article highlights that the “now the frontrunner to become the next Conservative leader” Boris Johnson and bookmakers are both against them, and raises the question of whether they will survive this parliament with the phrase “new odds being offered on how long he has as chancellor.”
Bias of the article: The article quotes numerous sources including Cameron in his speech to the Commons and Duncan Smith’s replacement Stephen Crabbe’s details on the “U-turn” regarding PIP. On the other hand, perhaps most notable are the quotes from Boris Johnson and former conservative David Davis. The prior highlights that Johnson disagreed with the changes to PIP and thinks the government need to “try to sort it out” and Davis’ quote bluntly puts that Osborne’s leadership hopes are “sunk without a trace.” The article is suggesting that the party is in further disarray than previously imagined from the European Union discussion and uses these quotes to further this sense of drama and disaster for the party leadership holding the Conservatives together. There is little information provided on alternative views of the situation or any support for Cameron and Osborne, apart from one-another.
The Daily Mail
Topic of article: Policing; Crime; Politics
Headline: Humiliation of the Yard
Author(s): Stephen Wright (Associate News Editor)
Aim of the article: The article is informing readers of the recent report from Metropolitan Police that Operation Midland, which was investigating historical allegations of sexual abuse and murder involving “Establishment” politicians, has ended with no prosecutions or arrests made.
Agenda of the article: The article presents the Metropolitan Police as incompetent and implies that they should be “humiliated” and “embarrassed” by their decision to investigate these claims by a “suspected fantasist” any further. The article describes the long duration (“16 months”) and major cost (“£2million”) of this investigation that failed to “even justify asking prosecutors to consider bringing charges” or arrest anyone. The article, similarly to The Times front-page, highlights that the origin of the claims “Nick” should face prosecution for “perverting the course of justice.”
Bias of the article: The Metropolitan Police are shown by the article to be guilty of “desperately trying to justify the probe” and “refusing to say sorry to those whose lives have been ruined, or reputations shattered.” Generally the article supports the capitalised “Establishment figures” who were seemingly wrongly accused by this “fantasist”, “Nick.” The article selectively quotes the statement from the Police that the case was “handled well” which is intended to contrast starkly with the entire tone of the article, to completely undermine the integrity of the report and their decision making in pursuing this enquiry. Furthermore it could be suggested that by criticising the Police wasting money this indirectly implicates the current government leadership as a whole.
Topic of article: Policing; Crime; Child Sexual Abuse
Headline: Police spend £1bn a year on child sex abuse cases
Authors: Rachel Sylvester (Political Correspondent), Alice Thomson (Political Correspondent), Fiona Hamilton (Crime Editor)
Aim of the article: The article is reporting that the Police are currently spending £1 billion a year on investigating cases of child sexual abuse, including a significant proportion of historical cases of which it provides an example of Operation Midland which the Police now have ended with no convictions.
Agenda of the article: The article provides statistics to illustrate that the Police are spending a significant amount of money and time investigating these cases which are expected to increase in number to “200,000 by 2020” and generally the article suggests that this may excessive and therefore that the Police are making poor choices. The main way it does this is by highlighting the “failing” of the Operation Midland investigation into proposed abuses in the 1970s and 1980s by MPs at the time. They give the impression that Mr Rodhouse (deputy commissioner heading the investigation) only just “stopped short of saying …he was confident that there was never VIP paedophile ring” and suggests that the allegations made “failed to stand up to basic scrutiny” and therefore that the police were wasting their resources by investigating this.
Bias of the article: The article gives a lot of time to discrediting Operation Midland by supporting two of those who were alleged to be involved. Firstly this is by giving assumed high value to Lord Branall “92, D-Day veteran and former head of the army” as if these roles indicate he is somehow less likely to have been involved in the crimes. Furthermore the article gives an entire paragraph to the previously accused former Conservative MP Mr Procter highlighting the “self-serving” comments of other politicians regarding the case. The writers also suggest that the person who brought the case to the police in the first place called “Nick” should himself be prosecuted as his has concluded with no convictions. The article seems to feel that the Police investigating “Nick’s” claims and previously declaring publically that they were “credible and true” meant that they were perpetuating a timewaster who was out to destroy the worlds of highly respected former politicians with baseless claims. The article does little to represent the side of “Nick” or any other possible victims of historic or contemporary child sexual abuse.
Front page images from: http://en.kiosko.net/uk/
Reviewed by: Alice Edwards