None of the tweets below are true.
None of the tweets below are true.
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”.
(Or in a real emergency, simply asserted with no evidence at all.)
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.
Our attention was drawn today to hardcore shrieky Loyalist nutter collective Scotland In Union releasing “new research” on an independent Scotland’s finances, which in fact came out last year but which for unknown reasons they’re touting again now.
Commissioned by the loongroup from a London-based thinktank that we’d never heard of by the name of “Europe Economics”, it predictably produces a doom-and-gloom conclusion that independence would have cost over £10bn in the first year.
There are so many gaping chasms in the logic we could hardly stop laughing for long enough to type, but one in particular was worth wiping the tears from our eyes for.
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).
But what she said just made the situation MORE confusing, not less.
Almost a year ago we ran a short piece mocking a Scotsman headline which claimed that “THOUSANDS” of people had signed a Tory anti-referendum petition, when the actual number was a strictly-accurate-but-pathetic TWO thousand.
We didn’t think that could ever be beaten for technically-true hyperbolic exaggeration, but we’d reckoned without the bold boundary-pushing ingenuity of the Daily Express.
Hundreds of thousands? How many hundreds, exactly?
Sometimes the word “spin” just isn’t enough to get the reality across.
Ladies and gentlemen, we give you: the Scottish media.
There’s a truly abominable piece of hatemongering in today’s Times. A grotesequely dishonest Nat-bashing smear job based on stupendously misrepresented fragments of quotes, it’s penned by Patrick Harkness, someone who the paper identifies as “a past co-chairman of the RSE [Royal Society of Edinburgh] Young Academy of Scotland”.
For some reason it’s chosen to leave a few lines off his CV.
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson a couple of hours ago:
Just a few teeny tiny issues with that one.
The most overused political insult du jour is for people to accuse each other of dealing in “fake news” and “alternative facts”. Normally, of course, they’re referring to dodgy memes on social media or the latest mad yelping from Donald Trump or his minions.
But in Scotland, our fake news is in the real newspapers.
Pretty much every day of every week of every year.
It’s a well-known fact, of course, that 87% of all statistics are made up. But as this site regularly observes, if you’re the Scottish opposition and media there’s no need to invent fake ones when you can twist the real ones to present an image completely at odds with the reality.
The Sunday Times today has some fine examples of the craft of massaging figures for the purposes of deception. It carries two separate scare stories on the NHS, both of them using figures which aren’t based on any sort of news, but on opposition spin on existing stats. One comes from the Tories, under a dramatic headline:
The banner is pulling a classic trick – the £685m figure is actually the total sum spent in a decade, not the single year that most people would assume (since there’s no good reason to measure spending in decades, so headlines usually don’t do it). But remarkably it’s just about the most honest thing in the paper’s health coverage today.
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.
Wings Over Scotland is a (mainly) Scottish political media digest and monitor, which also offers its own commentary. (More)