The Sun has been forced to issue a retraction and admission of error, after publishing a story which was essentially made up. But the half-baked apology from Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid is of interest, because the original article was attacking a well-known independent news site.
Lies, damned lies… and more lies
The SKWAWKBOX is a left-wing news site. And on 5 July, The Sun ran an article entitled Boss of pro-Corbyn conspiracy website is entrepreneur who cashed in on NHS privatisation. The tabloid has since deleted the page; but the cached version is available here.
In its article, The Sun claimed that SKWAWKBOX Editor Steve Walker was “an entrepreneur who has profited from the outsourcing of NHS services to the private sector”. The paper also accused The SKWAWKBOX of being a “far-left site which has spread ‘fake news’ stories”. And it implied that Walker was hypocritical, due to SKWAWKBOX‘s repeated stories about NHS privatisation and the allegation that he had “cashed in” on the very same thing.
‘We’re… kind of sorry’
But the truth is that Walker’s company, Foojit, does not actually sell private services to the NHS. It offers its software for free. So on 13 July, The Sun was forced to issue this retraction; although it fell short of an actual apology:
The Canary spoke to Walker about the original Sun article. And referring also to the mainstream media’s [MSM] views on left-wing, independent media more broadly, he said:
We [left-wing, independent media] stand for – and promote awareness of – something they hate and are threatened by, and we’ve got a lot to tell people about that they’ve been starved of for a long time. The Corbyn surge shows the appetite out there for authenticity. And blogs like SKWAWKBOX strike a chord with people because we believe in what we’re doing and it’s driven by passion, not profit. The Tories are talking about trying to set up their own version, but most of the independent left media grew up organically and, even if they can create structures, they’ve got nothing genuine or exciting to fill it with. People want that and are inspired by it – and you can’t manufacture it. That’s a huge threat to publications with massive costs and infrastructure which are part of an establishment that can see growing numbers of people wanting change.
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Just who’s fake news?
Walker also had some choice words on the ‘fake news’ phenomenon; something The Sun accused him of:
The whole issue of fake news being primarily a mainstream phenomenon in this country is a massive part of it [the MSM’s ‘fear’] – and the reason why the mainstream is making a big deal about supposed fake news is to attack, shut down or just stop people listening to voices that break the spell. They’re so keen to do it that they’re perfectly prepared to ignore what’s actually written and create straw men so they can scream ‘fake news’. The SKWAWKBOX has been a target for that nonsense. Including from journalists who wouldn’t consider themselves right-wing, as well as by the usual suspects.
Don’t buy The Sun
Every person and organisation working in the media does, from time to time, get things wrong. When you’re working in a fast-paced environment, mistakes can happen. And it’s important for the credibility of the press as a whole that these are always highlighted, that wronged parties are righted, and that accountability is always paramount.
The incident with The SKWAWKBOX and Walker is still ongoing. But such issues are commonplace at the tabloid paper, which will stoop to any lengths to push its damaging right-wing agenda. This is far from the first time The Sun has had to retract an article that essentially lied. And it’s unlikely to be the last, too. There’s a simple remedy for this problem, though. Don’t buy The Sun.
– See other Canary articles on The Sun; follow the Total Eclipse of the Sun group on Facebook; and take action with Stop Funding Hate, which is taking on the “divisive hate campaigns of the Sun, Daily Mail and Daily Express by persuading advertisers to pull their support”.
Media Diversified, Novara Media, Corporate Watch, Red Pepper, New Internationalist, Common Space, Media Lens, Bella Caledonia, Vox Political, Evolve Politics, Real Media, Reel News, STRIKE! magazine, The Bristol Cable, The Meteor, Salford Star, The Ferret.
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