I’m not a reader of the Daily Telegraph but I admit to occasionally picking up a discarded copy in a coffee shop or on public transport. Call it a kind of strange perversion but I am always intrigued to read what Andrew Bolt, Piers Akerman and Miranda Devine have to say in their various opinion columns. Most of the time it’s totally predictable as they inevitably attack the left, spin the conservative line and express their own personal outrage on a variety of topical issues.
Last week I grabbed a coffee-stained copy of the Tele off a train seat which featured Miranda Devine’s take on the recent mass shooting in El Paso, in which she wrote:
“The bodies in El Paso were barely cold when Beto O’Rourke started blaming President Trump.”
She then went on to accuse the Democratic presidential candidate of “disgusting opportunism” for his attacks on Trump, in which he labelled the President a racist and a source of anti-immigrant rhetoric. It was textbook Devine with once again her favourite whipping boy, the amorphous mass of the ‘left’, copping the blame for distorting the true reality.
Her diatribe aside, what really caught my attention in her column was a quick mention that she was soon joining the crew at the New York Post, a newspaper she noted was Donald Trump’s favourite (as opposed to his least favourite The New York Times and Washington Post). It seems Miranda is off to NYC to cover the Presidential elections and carry on a fine tradition of Australians who have made their mark at one of America’s most notorious tabloids.
Rupert Murdoch bought the Post back in 1976 for US$30.5 million and between 2001 and 2016 it was edited by former Daily Telegraph editor Col Allan, an old school, iron-fisted newspaper chief who quickly earned the nickname of ‘Col Pot.’ Even though Col resigned a few years ago he is apparently back as a special advisor, gearing the Post up for another pro-Trump campaign in 2020. The Post was also home to another celebrated Australian between 1976 and 2008, in the shape of the late Steve Dunleavy, a legend in US newspaper circles noted for his numerous exposes and sleuth like scoops.
The newspaper is perhaps best known for its lurid front pages and outrageous tabloid headlines, the most famous of all being the immortal “HEADLESS BODY IN TOPLESS BAR”, penned by the late staffer Vincent A Musetto and widely regarded as the greatest headline in New York newspaper history. The story followed a robbery at a Bronx strip club, during which one of the victims was decapitated. In defence of the headline, Steve Dunleavy later recalled: “How do you tell a sensational story other than sensationally.” Other infamous headlines included “GOOD NOOSE – Saddam sentenced to hang”, “ARAFAT DEAD And he won’t be missed”, and “Boy Oh Boy! Jacko cleared of kid molest.”
During the last Presidential election, the Post made no secret of its support for Trump and its dislike for Hillary Clinton with numerous anti-Clinton headlines such as “DELETER OF THE FREE WORLD” in respect of her email controversy. As her campaign continued her tabloid name was shortened to “HILL” as in “HILL’S SLIP IS SHOWING”, “HILL HEALTH CRISIS” and “HILL OF BEANS.” Whoever becomes the Democratic candidate for 2010 can expect much of the same.
The New York Post makes no pretence whatsoever of being a quality newspaper – it’s an unashamed tabloid rag, aimed at a particular readership. As far back as 1980, the Columbia Journalism Review stated that the “New York Post is no longer merely a journalistic problem. It is a social problem – a force for evil.” Despite its numerous critics, it remains the fourth largest newspaper by circulation in the US and no doubt a regular source of inspiration for Trump’s late-night tweets.
Back in 2010 Miranda Devine left the Sydney Morning Herald to join the Daily Telegraph and whilst her secondment to the New York Post could well be temporary, it does seem a bit like a slippery slope of journalistic standards. I would imagine we will still be getting her first-hand insights as to the looming US election, reprinted in the Tele and totally free of any bias towards the re-election of the Post’s favourite front page sexy symbol – Donald Trump!