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A Canadian On British Tabloids

13 September 11 words: Rob Cutforth

"I don’t like to judge, but if you were a regular News of the World reader, you are a moron"

I am officially bored of news. When I turn on the TV, news. On the radio, more news. It’s around the corner, it’s under my bed, it’s in my ice cube trays and in between my toes.

When I started writing this column on the phone-hacking scandal, it was just going to be a little piss-take about how the sight of Rupert Murdoch in the back of a limo in short pants, legs akimbo made me physically choke on my left lung and how Rebekah Brooks looks a bit like a pasty, pissed-off ginger she-squirrel. But news just kept on happening. They’re hacking dead soldiers phones! They’re hacking 9/11 families phones! They’re paying off cops! Whistleblowers are dying! They hacked a dead girl’s phone? I mean...come on.  It stopped being funny pretty quick. This is not a political column; my articles are puff pieces, cutesy pie pokes at British life through the eyes of a whinging expat. How am I supposed to write with all this newshanging about?

I always knew news in this country was nuts. One of my very first experiences with British “newspapers” happened just before my first visit to ol’ Blighty. I was working my last day before setting off to visit my English girlfriend (now wife) when a co-worker said, “Dude, make sure you pick up a copy of the Daily Sport while you’re over there.” He didn’t say “Make sure you see Big Ben” or “Westminster Abbey is pretty cool” - no, his one piece of British travel advice was to pick up a newspaper on British sport. We’d known each other for years and he knew I cared as much about British sport as I do about the eating habits of the Australian brush-turkey (I care about sport slightly more now, but even as a half-Brit, the thought of thumbing through an entire paper devoted to cricket and snooker literally makes my balls whimper, but anyway). He answered my perplexed look with a laugh. “Just buy one. It’s amazing”.

Wandering around Nottingham in a haze of jet-lag and culture shock (their potatoes wear jackets over here?), my girlfriend (now wife) and I passed a newsagents and I told her that I had to pick up some sports magazine thing for my buddy back home.  Scanning the racks full of news, the first thing I noticed was the tits. Tits everywhere. Tits on the front covers, tits on the back covers, tits in the middle, tits, tits, tits. And that was just the newspapers. There was another shelf above it with magazines (more tits) and another shelf above that with magazines wrapped in foil so you couldn’t see the covers. If they were displaying all these tits so frivolously on the fronts of newspapers, how freaky did something have to be to get wrapped in foil? Llamas in bondage peeing on each other?

Moving past the tits, I spotted the sport magazine section. Ah yes, it must be over here; the covers of these ones have football guys on; FourFourTwo, When Saturday Comes, World Soccer...ah yes, here it is! The Daily Sport. I picked it up triumphantly and declared to my girlfriend (now wife), Aha! This is the one!

Guess what? Tits on the front cover, tits on the back cover, tits in the middle and tits on every page. Tits, tits, tits. I think there were some footy scores in there somewhere near the back, but I could be mistaken. This can’t be it, I said nervously, my buddy’s laughter ringing in my ears. This is just full of tits. Flick flick, look here, more tits. And here! Flick flick. My girlfriend watched me with a look that one would give a dog who’d just dragged his shitting dog-bum across the carpet; one part disappointment and two parts pity.

My second clue that perhaps the British media wasn’t brilliant was in the last election when The Sun declared its support for the Tories on its front page. I thought, “Hang on - can they actually do that?” All newspapers have their political slant, but I’d never seen one declare its party affiliation so blatantly. It wasn’t just the crazy papers like the Sun and the Mail, either; the Guardian, The Times and the Telegraph all unabashedly declared their party support. I’d never seen anything like it. Even Murdoch’s deranged tabloid news channel on the other side of the pond pretends it’s impartial.

Having said that, I still didn’t think British news was as low-rent as Fox News.  Fox News darlings Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck have made gaybashing xenophobia themust-have personality trait for the discerning American conservative. No amount of tits or celebrity goss would out-evil that.  But then the News of the World/Milly Dowler thing was revealed. Not even wacky old Bill O’Reilly would hack a dead girl’s phone. The dead girl could have been a lesbian, Obama-supporting Greenpeace hippy and Bill would’ve probably left her alone for the most part. Andy Coulson makes Bill O’Reilly look like a little fluffy bunny who blows candy kisses and farts rainbows.

What exactly is Rupert Murdoch’s modus operandi? What goes on in a News Corp meeting?  Is “Destroying Every Living Human Being’s Life On Planet Earth” part of the agenda? I’ve never been to a News Corp meeting, but I think I can say with certainty that it involves beating children to death with bats and drowning kittens.

Now anyone with half a brain already hated News of the World because, frankly, it was crap. I don’t like to judge, but if you were a regular News of the World reader, you are a moron. I hate to break it to you, but your parents are your brother and sister. Or at least first cousins. The only people who miss the News of the World are the ones who you see around town in velour tracksuits eating chips for breakfast and chewing gum with open mouths. I’m surprised these people could turn the pages without taking their eye out.

But it’s not just the crap Murdoch papers that have screwed up royally; no, the lefty papers are junk as well. The Guardian, drunk on the blood of its now defunct rivals, published a story stating that the NOTW had obtained information that Gordon Brown’s kid had cystic fibrosis illegally when in fact it didn’t. Even my favourite paper The Independent was proved to be bent when it was discovered that their preachy little doughball columnist Johann Hari was madly plagiarising quotes in his interviews. But that kind of just went away, didn’t it? I bet little Johann is sitting in a quiet London suburb somewhere drinking milkshakes and thanking his dark lord Satan that the whole NOTW schmozzle happened when it did.
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The British media are like a pack of hyperactive goldfish Jimmy Swaggarts (Google him, youngsters). Zero short term memory, banging their heads against the bowl, pointing their fins angrily one minute, crying and asking for forgiveness the next. I didn’t mean it baby, really I didn’t. Hey look over there! Someone else is doing something dodgy, and THEY’VE GOT THEIR TITS OUT.

Forget it, I’ve had it with the lot of em. I’m throwing my TV in the bin, chucking my radio in a skip and burning down my local CostCutter. From now on, I’m getting my news strictly from twitter. It’s so free and untainted. It helped wikileaks break their stories and was first to show us Wayne Rooney’s hair plugs. That’s all I need really, why, according to the twitter news today #whitepeoplehobbies include “Falling down running in horror movies” and “Walking they kids with leashes”. Hahaha, it’s so true.

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