In an extraordinary confession on Friday, the Telegraph defended Boris Johnson’s false Brexit poll story saying the MP was “entitled to make sweeping generalisations” in his £275k a year column as it “was clearly comically polemical, and could not be reasonably read as a serious, empirical, in-depth analysis of hard factual matters”.
The Telegraph has been forced to print a correction, albeit miniscule, after the prominent Brexiter MP falsely claimed that a no-deal Brexit was the most popular option among the British public.
Despite this, the newspaper brazenly and fiercely defended Johnson’s column to the so-called press regulator, IPSO, arguing that “readers would understand” that the polling mentioned did not actually exist but was used to back up his opinion.
In other words, it’s more than fine for highly influential figures, writing for mainstream newspapers, to deliberately mislead the public with bogus polling dressed as ‘facts’ on matters of national importance, if it supports their opinion.
IPSO upheld the complaint which said polls showed no-deal Brexit was the preferred option “by some margin” after it could not provide any data to back the claim. But in true toothless fashion, the sham regulator argued that a correction in the tiny box on page 2 was good enough, despite the story being teased on the front page of the Telegraph.
Mitchell Stirling, a statistician from Reading, said he made the complaint about Johnson’s fallacious facts because he felt “a potential prime minister shouldn’t be able to make things up in a weekly column”.
And yet, as usual, the press industry’s puppet regulator finds a measly, easily-buried correction more than sufficient after the printing of deliberate inaccuracies.
And worse still, it took IPSO more than 3 months to come to that utterly predictable conclusion.
Is this really regulation? The press will never take care not mislead the public by publishing falsehoods and inaccuracies, if THIS is the penalty dished out.
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