Last night, the internet exploded with reports that Russian president Vladimir Putin was planning to step down due to ill health. It was reported by a number of…tabloids.
Turns out that it’s not true. (Nor was it caused by anything that happened in a certain popular urban fantasy show). The rumor was started by Putin trying to push a law that would extend his immunity to prosecution for life after he stops being President.
But he has no imminent plans to retire.
The entire mess reminded me of something I have to tell Americans all the time:
Stop reading the Daily Mail.
What is the Daily Mail?
The Daily Mail is a British tabloid newspaper. It’s owned by an umbrella company called DMGT, which has multiple other divisions. DMG Media owns the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday, Ireland on Sunday, i (yes, it’s just called that), Mail Today, Metro, Metro.co.uk and MailOnline. It also has shares in the London Evening Standard.
With the exception of Mail Today, all of these titles are UK based. (Mail Today is the Indian version of the Daily Mail).
The Daily Mail is a national UK paper that is published six days a week. The Mail on Sunday “replaces” it on Sunday. And it’s a popular paper.
It’s a rag.
The Daily Mail is a total rag.
There are even rumors that the BBC deliberately leaks incorrect information to the Daily Mail because they know they will run it.
The “journalists” and “editors” who work for this paper are more about selling papers and entertaining people than any kind of, well, integrity. The Mail seldom fact checks its stories and has the nickname in some quarters of the Daily Fail.
Here’s a few charming Daily Mail headlines:
“Abortion hope after ‘gay genes’ finding.”
“Just ONE cannabis joint can bring on schizophrenia as well as damaging memory.”
“We show tolerance to ‘gays’ and get tyranny in return.”
“Yew were always on my mind! The tree that looks like Elvis in profile.”
“Nasa simulates ‘inevitable’ asteroid hitting LA.”
(Yes, they lower cased Nasa, although they’ve also got it right before. The Daily Mail is particularly fond of forecasting our death by “killer asteroid”).
These headlines should tell you it’s a pretty conservative rag too.
But despite this, I routinely see clueless Americans spreading around links to this rag. It doesn’t help that while it’s a rag, it’s not the National Enquirer. Some of the stuff they report accidentally happens to be true.
So, here’s my challenge:
If you find something in the Daily Mail you want to post to social media: Stop. Search for it. Find another source. Post that one.
The root cause of the issue is, of course, the fact that Americans don’t know which British papers are tabloids and which are legitimate.
So, let’s give out some more information.
Here’s Everyone Else You Should Stop Reading (Except for Entertainment)
These British papers are also rags:
- The Sun.
- The Daily Mirror.
- The Daily Express.
- The Daily Star.
- Morning Star.
- The People.
- The Sunday People
- The Daily Record
Note that while it is in tabloid format, The Guardian is perfectly legitimate. The Independent is a good paper that often has great journalistic integrity. The Times and The Daily Telegraph are always fine.
Oh, and here’s my tip for not accidentally reading a tabloid:
Never say anything is true until you have found multiple sources calling it so.