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A line by line guide to the Mail statement on Gately article outrage

Posted on 16 October 2009 | 7:10pm

Mail Group Obergruppenfuhrer Paul Dacre continues to hide under his stone so instead of getting his balding head above the parapet to deal with the Stephen Gately storm, he has left it to a statement from the hapless Jan Moir to try to repair the commercial damage her/his article has done.

It reveals hitherto unnoticed comic genius in the twisted Dacre world.

Note the lovely, gentle, soft tone of the statement’s opening. ‘Some people, particularly in the gay community, have been upset by my article about the sad death of Boyzone member Stephen Gately.’  Sad.. she and Paul were so so sad.

‘This was never my intention. Stephen, as I pointed out in the article was a charming and sweet man who entertained millions.’ Doesn’t the word ‘sweet’ look lovely in a Mail statement? You can feel the sadness in the sweetness.

‘However, the point of my column” – ah, here we go, I was wondering what the point was – -‘which, I wonder how many of the people complaining have fully read’ – classic Dacre psychology here, insult the people who complain –  ‘was to suggest that, in my honest opinion,’ (interesting they have to say their opinions are honestly held) ‘his death raises many unanswered questions. That was all.’ Oh I see, that was the point. His death raised unanswered questions. The Mail loves unanswered questions .. you know the kind of thing … Are teenagers having too much sex with their laptops? Are asylum seekers eating our babies? Does too much cellulite threaten the Church of England? Does Tony Blair want to be Pope?

Dacre loves question marks because they can be used to insinuate anything that his demented imagination dreams up as he is driven into work.

So let’s get back to sad, sweet Jan’s statement. ‘Yes, anyone can die at anytime of anything.’ What an insight. I didn’t realise I could be struck down by any disease any second. ‘However, it seems unlikely to me that what took place in the hours immediately preceding Gately¹s death – out all evening at a nightclub, taking illegal substances, bringing a stranger back to the flat, getting intimate with that stranger – did not have a bearing on his death. At the very least,’ – I love this bit – ‘it could have exacerbated an underlying medical condition.’ Oh, she and Paul are back to worrying about Stephen’s welfare. Sweet. Touching. And thanks for answering the unanswered questions. There was me thinking a coroner might be better qualified.

‘The entire matter of his sudden death seemed to have been handled with undue haste when lessons could have been learned.’ What on earth does that mean? And do we really want the Mail to be lecturing anyone about ‘undue haste’ when they pride themselves on being first out of the traps to get the worst possible angle on any event?

But what about the charges that her piece was anti-gay? ‘One very important point. When I wrote that “he would want to set an example to any impressionable young men who may want to emulate what they might see as his glamorous routine”, I was referring to the drugs and the casual invitation extended to a stranger. Not to the fact of his homosexuality. In writing that “it strikes another blow to the happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships” I was suggesting that civil partnerships – the introduction of which I am on the record in supporting – have proved just to be as problematic as marriages.’ Don’t you love the way she assumes to know what example Gately would want to set to impressionable young men, about whom Dacre and his little gang care so much? And has anyone ever seen a piece in the Mail about the happy-ever-after myth of marriage between a man and a woman? No, didn’t think so.

And finally, let’s shoot the messengers who have been busy expressing disgust at Dacre’s rag. ‘In what is clearly a heavily orchestrated internet campaign ‘ – orchestrated by whom? Reds under the bed? The response to the Mail was powerful and instant, and required no such orchestration. The fact they believe such a response can only happen if orchestrated reveals not just control freakery, but incomprehension at how the web is changing news and views consumption and dissemination.. ‘I think it is mischievous in the extreme to suggest that my article has homophobic and bigoted undertones,’ she concludes. Mischevious? What a lovely sweet word. What a lovely article it was about lovely sweet Stephen, and how silly we all are to think it was anything other than a nice piece about a much missed entertainer.

Also, alles klar, mein Kapitan.

Is The Daily Mail a vicious poison running through Britain’s veins?

Oh sorry, that one was real… silly me.

  • Stewart Cowan

    I’m not defending Jan Moir’s article per se, but you must love this sort of thing, as it takes the public’s limited attention away from New Labour’s vile and disgusting behaviour.

    And another thing, you don’t much like people wanting to know how someone really died, do you? I’m thinking of Dr Kelly and Mr de Menezes in particular.

  • Benjamin Caspersz

    It’s a sad, sad statement.

    The Daily Mail will love winding up the gays and lefties but will crap themselves at the impact of this on advertisers…

  • Chipps Channon

    The sadness is that a lot of the protests are from people who hate the Mail anyway, but you watch in the newsagents tomorrow — the same folk will be trooping in for their daily poison slurp

  • Harriet P

    Three great blogs today. Great to see your stuff raging round twitter too. You’re right that their claim it is all orchestrated misses the point … this kind of thing only happens when there is genuine outrage as opposed to the kind the Mail loves to orchestrate

  • Adam

    Well said! Particularly your last comment…

  • Em

    I only read the revised version which I found homophobic enough. What takes the cake is the gusto with which Moir is claiming victimhood — that “orchestrated” campaign.

    And she tries to downplay the reaction by noting that “upset” was registered particularly in the gay community. Perhaps she believes DM readers won’t take the complaints as seriously as if they came from the community at large. Now I’m sure many gays have complained, but it is clear that many non-gays are deeply offended as well.

    Moir should move to Louisiana where a justice refused to marry an interracial couple recently. It’s true, this made international news and even in the Deep South people are appalled.

    Poor Jan, fewer and fewer places to hide.

    Great work on this, Alastair.

  • Fozia

    It’s just a Tory propaganda sheet. Sorry Stewart I realise I shouldn’t let the facts get in the way, as you were…

  • Gary Hills

    Ignorant points fron an ignorant paper. Nothing suprises me with how low this paper will go to appeal to the nasty people who buy it.

    Those who hide behind the need for news and inforamtion who are racist and homophobic use the paper as a slavlation from the hoards around them whithout a ounce of real understanding of the issues or why. For any journalist to work for such a rag should be a badge of shame.

  • katy

    I will never buy the paper again. Although as I haven’t bought it for years I don’t expect they will miss me!!. I only see it when I order online from Tescos. For some reason they insist on including a free copy of the Mail, however many times I ask them not to. The thing that always stands out is their obsession with the weight of women – either too thin or too fat. I did get my delivery today, and read the column with disbelief. To condemn the mother for “insisting” on natural causes, when it was the considered view of the Doctor? And to do this the day before the funeral? Let alone everything else she insinuated. Unbelievable. But I am happy to be able to agree with you. This happens rarely, which I regret, because I do quite admire you!

  • Stewart Cowan


    I’m not a fan of the Daily Mail, or the Tories. What concerns me is that if the same things had been said about a heterosexual pop star, would the reaction have been the same?

    I doubt it, because we’ve all been conditioned to be supportive of homosexuals and be outraged on their behalf. This has worked by leading people away from the physical behaviour and the morality, to view it more in abstract terms re: ‘discrimination’ and ‘rights’.

    I don’t know what Ms Moir’s reason for writing was, but as I alluded to earlier, there are far more important matters getting sidelined while people make time to write about this rubbish.

    And I’m guilty as well!

  • Andy

    Good blog Alistair, but methinks that the only way the Mail (and dacre) will hurt is the loss of ad revenue. It would be nice if someone who had the time could list all advertisers in the Mail so that a real orchestrated campaign could unfold…..only a suggestion

  • Jenna Appleseed

    great blog – nearly enough to make me forgive you for being such a pro-Tony you-know-what (rhymes with hunt) and your share of responsibiity for making things worse over the last 12 years.

  • CallyD

    Fantastic blog Alastair!

    Hopefully this issue will bring to more people’s attention the poison that the Daily Mail spreads every day.

    I wonder, however, if the large companies which have today had their ads removed from the article can continue to advertise with the paper (which is yet to apologise)without it affecting their own reputation?

  • Jane A

    Good work on the blog and the campaign to raise this filth to more people’s consciousness. I read the DM has had an almost record number of complaints (and that must be saying something).

    If everyone offended as I am sent a mail/note to each DM advertiser saying they would never buy their products again if they advertised in the DM, this could make a difference…

  • Gareth

    Brilliant dissection. Thank you.

  • JC

    So what do you call a journalist who has to explain her article for all the mischievous readers who misinterpreted what she wrote? Ah yes, a bad one with a poor command of the English language.

  • Alan Quinn

    Great piece Alastair, any chance you could do one on how the Mail suggested there was a link between the MMR vaccine and Autism?

  • ben

    I don’t know where people get this idea that the Mail is a Tory paper. It has been an active supporter of Gordon Brown’s since he usurped Blair, so let’s stop this crap about it being a Tory mouthpiece.

    My my how easy it is to tease out people’s sense of moral indignation. Someone else said nobody would give a damn if the article was written about a “non-homosexual”, as heterosexuals are now known.

    Here’s my theory – the people who are quick to take offence are the real bigots.

  • Megan

    I read the article in question today and was appalled at her insensitivity and crass ignorance. The only problem I have with your blog , Alastair, is that it stinks of hypocrisy. You talk about Moir/The Mail, shooting the messengers. Does that tactic ring any bells? Was that not the modus operandi of the no.10 press office during your reign? People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones!

    I have no problems with people complaining about the article to the relevant authorities ,( I may even join them ), however, it is disingenuous of you to mock ‘a heavily orchestrated internet campaign’. Last time I looked,a blog on Labourlist had a link to the Press Complaints Commission

  • Adi

    Thanks for your comment ben, you clearly display a level of incite far beyond the comprehension of the majority. A trait, I fear, that only ‘Mail readers seem possess (thank God!).
    Now please, go and read the column again and accept it for what it was….

  • Sleuth

    It’s unbelievable that you can write an article like that considering all the dirty, grubby little schemes you have been involved with.

  • Trevor Malcolm, Portsmouth Hampshire

    As I wander around, ignoring most printed matter, not just the Daily Mail, not much so-called “news” affects me. Plenty else out there you can focus your attention upon, after all

    So, no reason for Paul Dacre’s writer Jan Moir to even touch my radar. But then I read Mr Alastair Campbell’s blog ( see opposite)

    … BOOM …

    … Now, this is the stuff of written communication at its best. This is what I love most, reading Mr Campbell’s prose, whenever it reaches these levels, and becomes a match for any other writer in the land, bar none

    I would even wager, sir, despite other blogs you’ve penned since beginning last February 2009, (although I will always cherish personal favourites, eg AC on mental health issues), Friday’s blog could be your finest so far — THANK YOU

    During a chequered week for previous Mind Champions, eg for your 2008 predecessor, the outspoken Dr Liz Millar, whom you’ve met during Mental Health Awareness tv charity promotionals and during the production of your tv documentary. Her Wednesday onwards, featured being verbally abused online, privately and publically

    Intimidated, big-time, in fact. All because she chose to make public how disgracefully many psychiatrists perceive their patients (especially behind their backs), until eventually poor Lizzie’s legally threatened by – wait for it – “Bullying Doctors” to shut up

    Clearly, the psyche doctors didn’t appreciate her honesty and integrity, anymore than some Tory voters disapprove of yours

    With me, the sensitive soul who blows gaskets each time someone leaves an abusive comment about AC on your own blog, events made this a volatile, roller-coaster week

    But, I was intrigued by Dr Jane Appleton’s 10pm suggestion of sending messages to Daily Mail advertisers saying, no more purchases from us, if you continue advertising there; inspired? And likely to bomb ad-revenue, especially from DM’s “Big Bucks” fractional page regulars

    Then, I stumbled upon activists online like blogger Malcolm Coles, and Stella Driscoll, and others, already so incensed they’d put action before words, and were already getting BIG results

    I much prefer people’s intensity, fury and outrage to their usual lethargy, their apathy and their fecklessness

    Trevor Malcolm
    Portsmouth, Hampshire



  • Ed

    An excellent riposte. I find it disingenuous to suggest either that there is a comparison with AC’s own behaviour, or that those quick to take offence are “the real bigots” as in earlier comments. It is entirely reasonable to be offended by the lump of used toilet paper that is Moir’s article. Show me where AC has ever peddled prejudice like this.

  • Rob

    Well i can’t say i’m a Labour voter Alastair but i certainly dislike the Mail and this has all highlighted why. It constantly brings shame upon the right wing and right wing media.

    Nobody is saying she can’t question his death, but that its best to leave it until next week or later. If she says something she knows is controversial then she can expect a backlash. The problem is that the Daily Mail has pushed its readers down the line of believing that a “PC Brigade” is out to get them and their “liberties”, that they think they can say what they want when they want and that there should be no consequences because of “free speech”. Technically they can say what they want of course, however as above they shouldn’t be suprised by a resulting backlash. I’m sure if the article just questionned his death there wouldn’t have been such a problem (other tabloids have done this all week), however even as a straight man there is a clear undertone of mistimed homophobia and slease for a quick buck. I wonder what would happen to the Mail and the Mailites “PC Brigade” if the Margaret Thatcher died and the following day there were made up slurs about her in the Guardian?! And of course its ok for the Mail and the Mailites to form part of the “PC Brigade” when its the BBC thats being attacked. Such simple predictable people, completely oblivious to the irony every else sees.

    Its amusing this woman comes out through the Daily Mails spokespeople and says that she questions how many people actually read the story. I firmly believe that the majority have and certainly more than the approx. 2% that heard the “sachsgate” answerphone message before the Mail sent its sheep readers into a fenzy and that even today they remind people of. What goes around comes around Daily Mail and Mailites. Whats more offensive – a stupid childish voicemail message on an old mans phone or speaking ill of a dead man on the verge of his funeral and slurring homosexuals? You decide.

    Manners seem to be lost behind cries of “Political Correctness” whilst at the same time the Mail complains about people lacking manners and standards in 2009 – you surely can’t have it both ways?! In the words of Lord Littlejohn of Florida, you couldn’t make it up.

    Of course for disliking the Mail i’ll be predictably be accused by mailites of being a liberal, guardianista, a lefty or a labour voter – because to Mailites your either with them or against them.

    As for her later statement (for it clearly isn’t an apology), she completely misses the points as do many of her apologists.

    If this story had been written in a proper newspaper, there wouldn’t have been a problem – it would have been timed and worded better. The article itself is probably only a little more offensive than most of the nonsense thats printed in the Mail on a DAILY basis. My concern is after this has died down, it returns to how it is normally – being offensive, hypocritical, selective of news stories, semi-brainwashing of its readership and biased; hiding behind “free speech”, “political correctness”, selective use of fact, mistruths, Littlejohn and telling everyone how bad the country is whilst giving readers DVD’s to brighten up their otherwise dreadful days. Somebody needs to stick it to the Mail.

  • matt booth

    “The fact they believe such a response can only happen if orchestrated reveals not just control freakery”

    How’s that pot of yours AC? Still black?

  • Jorge

    “orchestrated by whom? Reds under the bed?”

    Are you short of a few brain cells… or was that a feeble attempt at humour? Oh, and dissecting an article line by line to inject your own loaded interpretation, out of context, is facile and the resort of the archetypal Internet dilettante.

  • David

    I laugh my arse off every time I hear the Mail decrying political correctness and ‘The PC Brigade’. The Mail is, of course, the most PC news source that exists in this country – just a different type of politics.