Alert readers will of course be aware that one of this site’s most frequently-recurring themes is “phantom news”, whereby events or unpleasant opinions that newspapers or broadcasters really want to have happened are conveniently brought to life, either by some random nobody on the internet, or an unnamed “source” or “insider”.
So when Nicola Sturgeon did something today that nearly everyone in the Northern Hemisphere knew she was going to do sometime soon, but wasn’t expecting just yet, there wasn’t time to prepare actual real people with the required quotes.
In the modern media world, though, that isn’t a problem.
We were very pleased to hear Gary Robertson challenge Kezia Dugdale on the curious matter of Scottish Labour’s membership and income figures on today’s Good Morning Scotland. Dugdale flapped and dodged and waffled for as long as she could before diverting the topic onto federalism, and eventually managed to wriggle away from the subject without any sort of proper answer (through no fault of Robertson’s).
Figures released yesterday indicated that the number of full-time teachers employed in Scotland had risen by 253 over the past year, despite budget cuts imposed by the UK government’s austerity programme. This obviously presented the Scottish media with a dilemma: how could such statistics be presented as an “SNP BAD” story?
Luckily, we’re dealing with experienced professionals here.
As alert readers will know, one of the primary purposes of this website isn’t just to tell people when the Scottish and UK media is lying to them, but to teach readers how to spot that for themselves. And one of the keys to learning that is to ask yourself what a story in the press is leaving out as well as what it’s telling you.
So last week, when several newspapers went on an orgy of shock-horror reporting about SNP MPs’ expenses – focusing mostly on aeroplane flights and only quoting figures for a small handful of MPs who’d allegedly been claiming far more taxpayers’ money than their Unionist predecessors – alarm bells started ringing everywhere.
And just as we’ve taught them to, Wings readers leapt into action to do the hard work that Scotland’s professional journalists don’t want to do, in order to provide Scots with the facts that the media doesn’t want them to know.
Here’s Ruth Davidson at FMQs today, telling the chamber that “last week the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors said the real problem facing investment and jobs in Scotland was [Nicola Sturgeon’s] threat of a second referendum”.
Would you like to know how many actual people that was, readers?
A member of an MSP’s staff posted an image on Twitter this morning of a flyer that had apparently just been shoved through their office letter box:
But after having a merry old chuckle at the layout, colour choice and language, we wondered what sort of person might produce such a thing. So, ably assisted as ever by a team of alert readers, we decided to see if we could find out.
Our “competitor” isn’t a site we look at a lot – the comments make the Daily Mail readership seem like enlightened and thoughtful moderates – but last week someone asked us about a smear piece they’d run on SNP MP Corri Wilson, and we only just remembered today to check it out. Our initial findings weren’t well received.
It seems that Mr Fawkes and his minions aren’t too keen on scrutiny themselves.
Ruth Davidson opened First Minister’s Questions yesterday with an attack on the Scottish Government over the performance of the NHS, citing a report that the service faced “pockets of meltdown” this winter.
But later in the session, alert backbench SNP MSP Clare Haughey claimed that the report being quoted by the Tory leader had only in fact examined THREE Scottish hospitals. So we thought we’d better check.