It is tempting for people with populist pretensions to defend the tabloid press as the voice of the working man. Sadly, if this were true the working man would be a fool. I have nostalgic memories of tabloid newspapers dating back to when I would read copies of the Sun, Mirror and Star as I delivered them door-to-door before I went to school. One must grant that they have sometimes published useful information that the broadsheets were too sensitive to touch. More often they not, however, they publish trash. Take the Daily Express. It is full of paranoid weather forecasts, morbid rumours about missing girls and warnings of how random household items are carcinogenic. It is also crammed with tales of how Britain is going the dogs. That alone is not obnoxious (or, indeed, untrue). But pursuing sensationalism over sincerity, it prints lurid and prurient misinformation.
Take this story of how foster parents took in “migrant children” who turned out to be adults. Perhaps there is a grain of truth but it is buried amid chaff. The parents are not named, “over fears of reprisals”, and there is no indication that these journalists have looked into their claims. When these migrants arrive, the sources state, the first thing that they ask for is razors. What would you want first if you arrived in a new country? Food? Clothes? Money? Wifi? Not a razor. One lad arrived with “a shirt undone to his stomach and a gold medallion”. Somebody had fun making that up. Since then, the sources claim, they have been deluged with requests to take in “child migrants”. “It usually starts in the night,” they say, “With a call from a duty social worker who says, ‘The police have stopped a truck of migrants and one is claiming to be under 18. Can you take him?’” I’m no expert on how government agencies work but I don’t think the wheels of bureaucracy turn that fast. Just as liberals are fooling themselves when they unquestioningly trust the Guardian in claiming that the craggy-faced migrant on their cover is 16, conservatives are fooling themselves if they unquestioningly trust what looks for all the world to me like pulp fiction.
This garbage affirms perceptions of conservatives as ignorant bigots. Brown-baiting progressives will, of course, always believe that anybody to the right of David Cameron is a fascist but their accusations can seem more or less plausible and if the right promotes this stuff it makes them more convincing. More importantly, these are barefaced lies, and we get force-fed enough of them without swallowing more.