Sack Paul Dacre! 50,000 call for Daily Mail editor’s head... Here are 5 of the paper's top scandals
The petition accuses Dacre, chief editor of the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and Mail Online, of using his editorial position “to stoke fear, hate and xenophobia in the UK, while offering virtually no Remain campaign perspective” in Thursday’s referendum.
Launched by the campaign group Avaaz on Tuesday, the petition urges Mail owner Lord Rothermere, who is believed to pro-Remain, “to reel in or reconsider Paul Dacre, as the editor.”
Citing an article on the Mail’s front page last Thursday, which mistakenly claimed that illegal migrants found in a truck in east London had said they were “from Europe,” the group accused Dacre of peddling “untruths” and harming journalistic integrity. A 54-word correction to the story, which was based on inaccurate agency copy, was issued on the following day on page two.
“The story was plain wrong – but instead of remorsefully retracting it, the Mail just buried a tiny correction in the paper,” the petition reads.
Speaking to the Guardian last week, Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants chief executive Saira Grant said: “It is absolutely vital that the media report accurately, without scaremongering or demonizing certain groups.”
Dacre left little doubt about the paper’s support for a Brexit in the weeks leading up to the vote, running a slew of anti-immigration stories. However, breaking with its sister paper, the Mail on Sunday, for the first time since 1983, the publication formally backed the campaign for Britain to leave the EU just days ahead of Thursday’s referendum.
Avaaz hopes – in light of Lord Rothermere’s pro-Europe leanings and rumored rift with Dacre – that the petition may “trigger a broad push and help end this hate media.”
As so many call for Dacre’s ouster, RT takes a look at a few of the Mail’s most noteworthy flops.
‘The man who hated Britain?’
In 2013, the paper attacked Ralph Miliband, Marxist academic and father of then-Labour Party leader Ed Miliband, calling him “the man who hated Britain” and describing his legacy as “evil.”
The article, penned by columnist Geoffrey Levy, prompted a livid response from Ed Miliband, who accused the paper of an unjustified character assassination in an article published by the Mail a few days later. The paper, however, printed Miliband’s story alongside an editorial defending the original piece.
Polls showed most Daily Mail readers wanted an apology over Ralph Miliband. Presumably Paul Dacre thinks they're a bunch of lefties too— Owen Jones (@OwenJones84) October 12, 2013
The coverage sparked widespread criticism, especially after the Mail on Sunday subsequently sent a reporter to gatecrash a private memorial service for Ed Miliband’s uncle.
At the time, nearly 100,000 people signed a change.org petition launched by former Downing Street communications director Alastair Campbell, who accused Dacre of being a “coward and a bully,” calling for the editor to debate the coverage on TV.
Migrant crisis cartoons
At the height of the refugee crisis last year, the Mail provoked hundreds of complaints with the publication of several anti-migrant cartoons. One illustration showed dead migrants trying to get into heaven ‘illegally.’
Another depicted rats scurrying across the floor alongside men and women passing over the European border.
Richard Burgon MP told Dacre the image “appears to liken immigrants of the Muslim faith to rats.”
“To me, and to many of my constituents, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, this cartoon appears to be Islamophobic,” he wrote.
Critics likened the imagery to anti-Semitic Nazi propaganda.
Daily Mail cartoon shows dead migrants trying to get into heaven 'illegally'. Are we truly this heartless now? pic.twitter.com/vS8jHVWdPU— Laurie Penny (@PennyRed) August 5, 2015
That Daily Mail cartoon is like the stuff you see in exhibitions about the Holocaust.— Rob Drunken (@aboynamedposh) August 4, 2015
Petition to divert foreign aid to British flood victims
In 2014, the Mail launched a petition of its own, urging ministers to divert funds from the UK’s foreign aid budget towards domestic flood relief.
The move was roundly criticized by aid agencies, MEPs, and EU and UN officials, who warned the move would breach Britain’s international obligations.
“It is a disgraceful proposal to take from the poorest people on Earth in order to avoid paying the cost of flooding from Britain’s own resources, resources which the prime minister has already promised,” the chairman of the UK’s independent Committee on Climate Change, Lord Deben, told EurActiv.
Downing Street catwalk
That same year, the paper’s coverage of women newly promoted to David Cameron’s Cabinet came under the headline “Downing Street catwalk.” The spread triggered both anger and mockery.
The paper described Employment Minister Esther McVey as “sashaying into No 10 in a bust-emphasizing dress with thigh-flashing slit skirt … her blonde mane thrown backwards as in a shampoo advert … No longer shrouded in black tights, Esther is clearly keen to show off her toned legs.”
Downing Street Catwalk subtext: "Hey ladies, you might be in the Cabinet, but we'll NEVER take you seriously!" pic.twitter.com/6OJLw8q5RQ— Rachel Thompson (@RVT9) July 16, 2014
A number of outlets, including the Guardian and the New Statesmen, published parodies, subjecting male ministers to the same appearance-based scrutiny.
The paper frequently comes under fire for printing misogynistic and asinine descriptions of female celebrities and public figures. In January, for instance, the paper caught flack for running an unflattering paparazzi photo of Kate Middleton under the headline “Feeling the Xmas strain are we, Kate?.”