Though I am generally opposed to tabloid journalism, and fondly nostalgic for the days when broadsheets, at least seventeen inches wide, covered their front pages with “smalls” (classified ads in agate type) — I concede that the tabs have their moments. “Literate” people (and I mean that term broadly) often read them in addition to The Times, to gain insights into the minds of the common people, which would help them prepare defences against the next seething mob. Or, they might take low-class literature for light entertainment on long train rides. (Detective thrillers are more rewarding, however.) It should be said that, whether intentionally or unintentionally, much of what appears in tabloids is actually quite amusing, if rather coarse. Today, alas, we have nothing but tabloids, across a range of media “platforms”; and in our public life, nothing but mobs. But we have opinion polls, to provide the governing authorities with their “hedz-up.”

There are myths about old times. One of them is that we turned to tabloids to get the dirt that had been politely omitted from the broadsheets. This was never true. All the best dirt could be found buried in the latter, on an inside left-hand page below the fold, beginning about the third paragraph under a discreet headline. The learned knew how to search it out, without help from screaming banners. They knew the tabs would have only half the story.

Today, we have rightwing and leftwing tabloids, as we did before, but the choice is between them instead of between either and something else. A law of the universe, which provides that no two things will ever be precisely equal or symmetrical, still operates. In roughly the proportion that humans themselves are right- or left-handed, we find little truths blazoned in the tabloid media of the two sides. These truths are invariably partial, but sometimes one slice can be more enjoyable than the whole pie.


My prize this morning goes to Brian Lilley, of something called “Sun News.” I do find him a remarkably astute and well-informed journalist; and credit Sun News for being the Canadian media outlet which most frequently gets something right. This is because that something will, in almost every instance, be politically incorrect, and Sun News is about as politically incorrect as Canadians can hope for. Too, this television station makes a specialty of rude attacks on a competitor, the taxpayer-subsidized CBC. And with a target like that, you can’t miss.

Mr Lilley observes that most media handle with kid gloves and vocal gestures of awe, anything to do with Islam. We know that already, and even the reason for it: pant-wetting cowardice. But the example he gives is still rather priceless. It is their habit of referring — even after declaring that they are Charlie Poseur — to “The Prophet Muhammad.” Having given the sage of desert Araby that honorific, why do they not also refer, for instance, to “The Prophet Jeremiah”? Or to the founder of another long-established religion as, “Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ”?

The gentleman only calls attention to this routine example of shrieking hypocrisy, but perhaps we should treat it as an “action item,” accepting no glib or sophistical excuses. Space considerations cannot apply, for this last honorific may be abbreviated to “Our Lord.” Or, if the journalist does not, miserabile dictu, accept Jesus as his personal saviour, he could show the same respect as to Islam by referring consistently in a hushed, exalting tone to “The Lord,” or “The Messiah,” or “Jesus the Christ.”

It would be unChristian, I think, to threaten journalists with death if ever they failed to do so. But we could shower them with formal complaints.