Jeremy Hardy thinks… about the press

'The fact the country is not overrun with lynching parties must mean not all readers take the papers seriously'

June 24, 2012 · 2 min read

I have never disliked the Sun as much as I dislike the Mail. I’ve always believed the latter to be more dangerous because its readers think it’s a proper newspaper. I don’t think Sun readers make that mistake.

Nor do I believe they pay much attention to its voting instructions. I remember that, in its Thatcherite heyday, an independent poll of readers revealed that most assumed the Sun was a Labour paper, which must have been both reassuring and disconcerting for the Labour Party at the time.

How a paper allied to what was nominally a party of the left might have delivered a verdict such as it did on Hillsborough is hard to imagine. That was in the days before Kelvin MacKenzie was re-invented as a loveable curmudgeon. His lies about Liverpool fans managed to shock without being surprising. The Sun had long been a vicious bag of hate and fiction. It continued to be so when it did start to support Labour.

Neither did the Mail or Express lighten up on travelling people or refugees when they fell in love with Tony Blair. The fact that they are read by so many people and that the country is not overrun with lynching parties must mean that, despite my second sentence, not all their readers take them seriously.

This is not to say the ‘quality’ right‑wing papers are covered in glory. The Telegraph is okay, so long as you know that a belief that the army should run the country informs even the punctuation, and that many of its readers use the word ‘abolitionist’ pejoratively. But the high-end News International papers are impossible to take seriously. The Kim family must passionately envy the Murdochs, wishing they got such an easy ride from the Pyongyang Times. No, it really is called that.


Lockdown live: ‘The politics of truth’

Join Marcus Gilroy-Ware, Sarah Jaffe, Thomas Konda and Hilary Wainwright to tackle conspiracy theories, fake news, and the increasing precarity of 'truth'

Love Island stars advertising various products

That’s advertainment: reality TV and product placement

Sophie Benson explores the insidious role of unethical advertising in reality TV – and in the offscreen careers of its stars

A tale of two blockades

Harry Holmes explores the relationship between environmentalism, the British press and a rising new-right


Woke jokes

There’s nothing radical – or funny – about right-wing comedy, says Jake Laverde

Boris Johnson on Have I Got News for You (BBC via The Guardian)

How Corbyn unmasked comedy

Juliet Jacques argues that the way comedians treated Jeremy Corbyn demolished their anti-establishment credentials

Who are ‘the working class’?

In this first of a two-part series, D Hunter and John-Baptiste Oduor discuss the presence and representation of working-class voices in British culture and politics