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Wings Over Scotland

The twelfth man

Posted on February 01, 2013 by

One of the problems for anyone highlighting media bias is the “invisible hypothetical”. Take, by way of example, this snapshot of today’s Scotsman website front page:

The headline on the first piece especially is an astonishing piece of work. Rather than report that Parliament had passed a motion criticising the UK government’s welfare reforms (something given extra poignancy by the article below it, and despite Labour voting with the Tories and Lib Dems against the motion), the paper mind-bogglingly manages to twist the story into an attack on the SNP for not explicitly providing an alternative plan – even though Holyrood has no powers over welfare.

We invite any Wings Over Scotland readers with an idle moment to ponder what the headline might have been had it been Labour attacking the SNP in similar circumstances. We’ll get you started – you’ll be wanting the word “ACCUSED”.

The second SNP item is barely any better. The use of the word “avoid” implies that the SNP were expected to name the exact date of the referendum at FMQs yesterday, despite the fact that they’ve said they’ll be doing so in March. It was remarkable enough that Ruth Davidson couldn’t think of a more pressing issue to quiz the First Minister on than the precise date of something that’s over a year and a half away in the first place, but the Scotsman dutifully gives her feeble attempted jibe the dignity it comprehensively failed to merit by putting it on the front page anyway.

Again, we invite readers to consider why the Scotsman didn’t consider it newsworthy that Davidson this week rejected the Electoral Commission’s call for her campaign to provide more details about the consequences of a No vote, despite having spent weeks demanding that the Scottish Government commit itself to accepting the Commission’s recommendations in full, sight unseen.

Because it seems to us that someone demanding an organisation’s findings be obeyed, then expressly dodging them herself, is rather a more compelling example of “avoidance” than a party not doing something it never said it would do at that time, and indeed has consistently said it will do at a later date. But hey, maybe we’re biased.

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    37 to “The twelfth man”

    1. Luigi says:

      Ach, they have been fielding the twelfth MSM man since kick off. It’s only half time and they are 6-0 down already.

    2. FreddieThreepwood says:

      Given the parlous state of the likes of The Scotsman and the consistency with which WoS and others point out their jaw-dropping cant and mendacity, you have to seriously consider the possibility they’re just doing this now to deliberately annoy you – like the opponent in a battle to the death defiantly shouting ‘Fuck you!’ as he falls to his death from the cliff top.

    3. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      I’ve wondered for a while now if their main strategy is a sort of Verdun attrition – to behave SO outrageously that we’ll actually tire ourselves out from the sheer constant astonishment. Darling’s extraordinary claim that letting the No camp spend 20% more money than the Yes one was an attempt to “silence” the former is very hard to explain any other way.

    4. Training Day says:

      Yeah, I agree with Freddie – this is deliberate trolling by the Scotsman, along the same lines that the BBC provocatively opened comments on the hedgerow height article the other day having barred comments on independence issues for months on end.

      The BBC and Scotsman – Britnat agent provocateurs. 

    5. Angus McLellan says:

      This story is just as bad:
      Headline: Government U-turn secures Scottish defence jobs
      Article: Future of Clyde shipyards remains uncertain
      So the jobs secured turn out to be Faslane and Coulport. UK FTW!

    6. Robert Kerr says:

      The online Scotsman (sic) is worth the paper its printed on.


    7. cath says:

      It’s got to a point where it’s so bad it’s even hard to make satire out of because it’s kind of doing that itself. In fact, there was even a Scotsman story linked to on the British Unity page, and several of their commentators were saying to treat it with caution as it’s the Scotsman, hence “so biased against the SNP we could end up making ourselves look daft when it’s proved wrong”.
      When a paper hits that level it’s dead really.

    8. Embradon says:

      Odd that they could not find space for two extra letters to make clear that Remploy closed after UK Government cuts.
      The naive or gullible might be misled, by juxtaposition to the headlines including “SNP”, that this was the doing of the Scottish Government.

    9. Paul Martin says:

      Aye well, Ruth Davidson has form with the Electoral Commission doesn’t she …

      So one of the very people who was pushing for Scots Govt absolute adherence to Electoral Commission findings on #indyref , in fact turns out be someone who subsequently selectively ignores them and historically has been fined for breaching them.

      What a hypocrite. What a shyster. 

    10. Alastair Hutchison says:

      Afternoon All

      With even the worst polls for Independence coming in at 25% does anyone think one of the MSM papers might come out for Independence at somepoint?  There must be a market for a Pro Indy Paper?

      The Scotsman is clearly lost (in many many ways) But could the Hearld (Bell and MacWhirter) or in terms of red tops the SUN (its anti Labour Mantra and its history of backing “the winning side”) come out in favour in the future?

      Thoughts?  Or am I just day dreaming?


    11. martyn says:

      cant wait until this rag of a paper goes out of business.

    12. Ayes On The Prize says:

      I’m tempted to check out these Scotsman stories on their web site, but I can’t bring myself to do it as it would  record  a hit on their statistics.

      I’d never forgive myself.

    13. naebd says:

      “It’s only half time and they are 6-0 down already.”

      How are we keeping score here… 

    14. Marcia says:

      Ayes On The Prize
      Me too.

    15. Dcanmore says:

      The Sun will come out for Independence in the last week of campaigning, but nobody else will.

    16. Al Ghaf says:


      I know it is not a donkey, but it is on the official Labour Facebook page, and the image is priceless because of that: 

    17. Luigi says:

      “How are we keeping score here…”

      Well, six at least (posibly more) from the following list:

      Edinburgh agreement, No 2nd question (og), Favourable EC report, SNP – NATO resolution, Threat of EU referendum. And coming soon, loss of AAA ratinf, triple dip recession, tory poll recovery, whiote paper. These are big hits.

      MSM also claimed a few goals for BT (poor poll ratings, EU advice etc), but it is now apparent that they were all offside. Too bad.

    18. AnneDon says:

      There’s a suspicion that a number of newspapers will come out FOR indy in the late stages of the campaign.  The problem is no-one will be reading them by then.

      Of course, the real news, and tragedy, is the story in the centre, which is echoing the stories we’re getting about ATOS victims. People will disabilities ARE more vulnerable – they need to be treated more gently, not subjected to what this government is proposing.

      Although the Scotsman is such a Tory rag that it wouldn’t think that very important anyway.

      And I’m another who won’t even go onto their website – I couldn’t bear to boost their figures.  I know Yes Scotland and SNP folk have to deal with them, but, then, that’s why they get paid the big bucks (or so Johann Lamont tells us!)     

    19. TheGreatBaldo says:

      The Scotsman went beyond parody a long time ago…..historians will probably point to Andra Neil’s tenure as Editor as where it all started to go horribly wrong

      Alex Massie is still the best Unionist writer out there by the proverbial country mile (specifically because he has a low tolerence threshold from some of the more ludicrous No campaign claims and is willing to do so in print)

      …..and one of his latest offerings makes shall we say interesting reading….


    20. frankieboy says:

      The good thing is the Scotsman hardly has a readership to speak of. I have never bought a copy, not once. I have no intention of starting now. I refuse to go to their website and click on it.  I am convinced that they get most revenue from indy supporters looking for articles to be angry at. I have suggested to others for a long time now to stop posting links and promoting them, however well meaning.  I appreciate wingsland and other reputable bloggers I admire do the job for us. The NO campaigners would never in a million years publish a YES or pro- article. (they probably can’t find one anyway) so I take a leaf from their book and avoid pointing at most things anti- YES. We should be busy doing other more constructive things instead of being on the back foot dismissing wailings of madmen. You do a great job Rev, thanks

    21. frankieboy says:

      I meant to add that I have found there is usually no need to read any Scotsman article. They are formulaic and usually go like this:

      Spurious headline anti- INDY/SNP/AS/ SCOTLAND
      Repeat of above claim usually backed by ‘an insider’ or ‘sources close to ….(fill in a name)’ or an unnamed ‘spokesman’.

      Claim usually dismissed and proved to be fallacious by a sensible person

      Scotsman grudgingly agree but summarises with ‘aye, well but,  but we know its possibly crap but we are going to say it anyway. BOOOO A Salmond.
      That is roughly how they play it.

    22. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “I know it is not a donkey, but it is on the official Labour Facebook page, and the image is priceless because of that:”

      That’ll be tomorrow night’s “And finally…” sorted, then 🙂

    23. Bill McLean says:

      I stopped buying the Scotsman about a year ago. Stopped writing letters to it about a month ago and will not go anywhere near it’s web site. I would advise those friendly to independence to stop paying these clowns to ridicule our democracy in favour of the fanatics who vomit in their pages daily including some of the letter writers.

    24. M4rkyboy says:

      Rev Stu-
      ‘I’ve wondered for a while now if their main strategy is a sort of Verdun attrition – to behave SO outrageously that we’ll actually tire ourselves out from the sheer constant astonishment. Darling’s extraordinary claim that letting the No camp spend 20% more money than the Yes one was an attempt to “silence” the former is very hard to explain any other way.’
      You might not be far off.The link is to the 25 rules of disinformation.

    25. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      You might not be far off.The link is to the 25 rules of disinformation.”

      It’s all sound stuff, but when I see pages formatted (or in this case NOT formatted) so appallingly, my tinfoil hat turns red-hot as I start suspecting they’re actually created by MI5 to make people look like conspiracy loons…

    26. Juteman says:

      Stop paying the BBC tax too. Why should we pay for Unionist propoganda?

    27. Christian Wright says:

      With respect to their print editions, the Scotchman and the Herald and the Telegraph (in Scotland) and the Daily Express (in Scotland), et al, are irrelevancies when it comes to influencing the common five eighth, who are the demographic whose disposition on polling day will decide the referendum.  

      I recall reading that the Scotchman was receiving at total half a million “something” daily, to their website. I’m unclear if this figure was meant to include bounces, or that the number represented meaningful hits, or unique page views, or visits, or unique visitors.  Any which way, there was no information indicating how many page requests originated in Scotland. I doubt that a lot would be requests from the critical cohort, though.

      Where these propaganda channels have impact is in their ability to shape the zeitgeist which in turn can influence the crucial low-information voter through inculcation. Ultimately, this means the dissemination of propaganda through the broadcast media and to a lesser degree, the popular press (Sun, Record/Mirror).

      This brings us back again, like a broken record, to the role of the government/establishment controlled state broadcaster. Consider most of these lines of influence-peddling from the Scotchman, the Herald, et al, as tributaries feeding the Great Deliverer of this torrent of propaganda – the BBC. 

      While these small contributors are certainly an annoyance, the real damage is done by the central distribution apparatus of the collator and creator of political myth and opinion, the state broadcaster, which has a presence in virtually every home in the nation, and in one way or another, has the ear of most low-information voters. 

      Getting upset with the annoyance-press I would argue, only serves to distract from the existential threat to our cause presented by the BBC.  Were it not for the the Unionists near complete ownership of the megaphone – the instrument of persuasion – I would have few doubts but that we would win the argument going away.

      Alas, they do own it and that intolerable circumstance cannot be allowed to prevail, and necessitates the deployment of major resources dedicated to dismantling it or to at least to ameliorating its worst effects.

    28. M4rkyboy says:

      -Rev Stu
      They’re everywhere Rev.*dons tinfoil hat*

    29. I think that we should keep on trying to convince via reasoning,and play hard on the last few weeks,there are many questions that all of the “newspapers” are not asking,and are failing in their duty to the people,but more letters,emails and texts,asking them to investigate what they should be looking into.The Public and Private Initiative that Labour put into action,they could search for who owns these private companies,who gets the pay off,s? A big question on these private companies that get public money,is why don’t they also take a hit when loses are made?I am certain that there are many clever people out there who can think of more juicy stories that maybe a wee letter to a “Newspaper” could get the ball rolling.

    30. MajorBloodnok says:

      I’m not a subscriber but surely a fair few people watch Sky News rather than the BBC these days (to be honest I’ve not trusted the BBC for real news for at least 15 years – I used to watch Channel 4 news back in the day).
      Actually, there is a point here – the Scotsman and the Herald are ostensibly the ‘quality’ broadsheets but to be honest, what percentage of the Scottish population reads them?  I am sure that there are far more influential sources of news out there for the general public than those leaking tubs, i.e. The Sun, the Record, Sky News, etc…. perhaps understanding where they are coming from would give a more accurate picture of what is actually being fed to the public these days?

    31. Holebender says:

      You can get Sky News on Freeview, so you don’t have to be a Sky subscriber to watch it. Channel 82 iirc.

    32. MajorBloodnok says:

      I never get past Dave.

    33. Cameron B says:

      Alternatively, you could simply switch off. Why invite the enemy in to your living room?

    34. Holebender says:

      So you know what he’s up to?

    35. frankieboy says:

      I got rid of my TV and paying a licence. I agree that the BBC spread what these papers say, in fact I have had a few words with GMS via twitter. Reporting what a person says a person says is not news, its gossip. The BBC throw their hands in the air and claim they are only reporting facts, which is correct if you assume the ‘fact’ is that somebody said something and not what they were talking about. Its classic propaganda. I would like a Truth Commission set up now until after the referendum. Then, anyone who cares to pass lies or inaccuracies can be held to account. They would be fully aware of their required standard and might be less likely to do what they are doing now. 

    36. Cameron B says:

      We definitely need some form of impartial observer body ensuring democratic processes and procedures are followed by all four estates. Some chance of that though.

    37. JR Tomlin says:

      Very seriously, I susggest taking the advice from frankieboy. Remember that every time you click on a link there, you put coins in their pockets from advertising. How often do they say anything really worth reading anyway? They’re attacking the SNP and insulting Scots again? Well… duh.

      I suggest avoiding them and giving serious consideration to the same policy for the Scotland Herald. Considering how small their readership is, is it really worth giving them advertising money in order to say that they’re wrong?


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