If you want to start your day in the worst possible way, you can’t go wrong with a dose of The Sun, the UK’s worst tabloid.
Others may pretend to stretch and embroider the truth, but they don’t hold a candle to The Sun. This is the Big Leagues. Each issue is an eloquent argument against freedom of the press.
The present incarnation of The Sun was spawned from the ashes of its predecessor, The News of the World, a similarly tawdry Sunday tabloid (dubbed “The News of the Screws” for its preoccupation with big-name dalliances, alleged, or simply made up) that had run for 168 years before folding up in 2011 under a cloud of lawsuits and scandals related to its covert phone hacking of the families of British servicemen killed in action. Those crimes, along with other illegal and quasi-legal operations, led to several suicides and the indictments of the paper’s hierarchy, including its editor, Rebekah Brooks, who somehow landed on her feet, thanks to owner Rupert Murdoch’s beneficence. Murdoch hired Brooks back as editor of The Sun, now hastily refurbished to run as a Sunday replacement for News of the World, as well as for the rest of the unfortunate days of the week. There, she continued the proud tradition of its predecessor, only now 24/7.
It wouldn’t be so bad if Rupert Murdoch’s high-flying red-topped rag were just a lying cesspit of canards laced with exclamation marks and bold typeface. No, The Sun, through its constant and consistent drumbeat of hatred masquerading as news, has been directly and indirectly responsible for a fair share of violence and misery in the world.
If you want to start your day in the worst possible way, you can’t go wrong with a dose of The Sun.
As Exhibit A, witness The Sun’s coverage of the 1989 Hillsborough Stadium disaster in which 96 died and over 700 were injured in a human crush at a soccer final due to police negligence and failure on the part of stadium personnel to properly fence the facility. The police, in an attempt to avoid accountability, blamed the disaster on the “hooliganism” of the Liverpool fans, feeding the story to the news outlets. The Sun took the lie and inflated it with fabricated falsehoods smeared on the front page, including: “Some fans picked pockets of victims,” “Some fans urinated on the brave cops,” “Some fans beat up PC [police officer] giving kiss of life.”
A 1993 House of Commons National Heritage Select Committee inquiry and a second inquiry in the House of Commons in 2012 involved over 400,000 documents and resulted in the full exoneration of the fans and the full fault falling squarely on the authorities. Editor and headline writer at the time, Kelvin MacKenzie, at first apologized, then said he was coerced to apologize by Sun owner Rupert Murdoch, then said he was “misled”—this last written nearly 30 years after the fact. To this day, The Sun is boycotted in Liverpool and referred to as “The Scum.” The paper cannot even be given away in that city and, when accepted, is summarily torn up, burned or spat on.
But The Sun does not confine its canards to British sports fans. Witness, too, its decades-long campaign against ethnic migrants, and minorities in general and Muslims in particular. Among the screaming headlines The Sun has spewed in this regard are:
1 IN 5 BRIT MUSLIMS’ SYMPATHY FOR JIHADIS
THE GREAT MIGRANT CON
1M MIGRANTS HEADING THIS WAY
2015 saw a possible change of heart in the paper as in January of that year, it discontinued its decades-long practice of featuring a topless model on page 3.
Actually, nope, same old bigoted Sun. Three months later, in print for all to see, The Sun published an article comparing African migrants to cockroaches, likening them to “feral humans” and noting that they were “spreading like the norovirus.” The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights responded to this hateful idiocy, warning that: “History has shown us time and again the dangers of demonizing foreigners and minorities... it is extraordinary and deeply shameful to see these types of tactics being used... simply because racism and xenophobia are so easy to arouse in order to win votes or sell newspapers.”
In 2016, Leicester University’s Centre for Hate Studies observed that the recent alarming surge in UK hate crimes targeting Muslims had been “fueled and legitimized... by the media,” specifically naming The Sun as a major culprit—with Cambridge University adding that “Mainstream media reporting about Muslim communities is contributing to an atmosphere of rising hostility towards Muslims in Britain.”
“It is extraordinary and deeply shameful to see these types of tactics being used.”
Uncowed by such voices of reason, The Sun moved on to greater egregiousness, pondering in August 2017 what British society should do about “The Muslim Problem.” The slander prompted instant outrage, with a number of news outlets condemning the similarity to Nazi propaganda with “The Jewish Problem.”
A joint complaint was made to the Independent Press Standards Organization by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Tell MAMA and Faith Matters. A statement by the groups read: “The printing of the phrase ‘The Muslim Problem’—particularly with the capitalisation and italics for emphasis—in a national newspaper sets a dangerous precedent, and harks back to the use of the phrase ‘The Jewish Problem’ in the last century, to which the Nazis responded with ‘The Final Solution’—the Holocaust.”
The Sun continues to make headlines. Just lately, in the wake of the Oprah Winfrey interview of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, a private eye recently in the employ of the publication saw the light and came clean on numerous underhanded deeds done to the former royal couple in the name of the paper—including stealing their Social Security numbers (a criminal offense), breaking into a protected database, obtaining six of the Duchess’ private phone numbers, and numerous other shady practices at the behest of The Sun; and that, moreover, he had been doing just those identical practices for decades, also with the blessing of The Sun.
In his statement apologizing to the Duke and Duchess and the Royal Family, the private investigator, Dan Hanks, said, “I’m sorry to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry for targeting her family, particularly her dad, on behalf of The Sun.
“I never wanted to cause Meghan Markle harm, and wouldn’t have done the job if I’d have known it would lead to all these problems.
“I also wanted to take this opportunity to apologize to The Queen, because I realize the harm of what I did for The Sun has affected the whole family.”
The Sun, predictably, has denied all charges, well-documented though they are, and to make extra careful they are well covered, has stoutly denied charges (such as phone tapping) that no one to date has accused them of.
The Sun is blatantly, emphatically and decidedly an insult to journalism, an affront to truth and common decency and is, as a subscription paper, barely fit to use for housebreaking your poodle. The Sun must set, and it must set now. It’s giving us all a bad name.
Who is “us?”
The human race.