To the two million or so regular Daily Mail readers this article will already be dismissed as “some sort of leftie propaganda” to destabilise the reputable newspaper which regularly goes out of its way to scare its readers. Perhaps the “reds under the bed” are manipulating Hollywood stars to take time out of their busy lives to criticise a UK tabloid for publishing stories which “are probably true anyway”.

The fact that Daily Mail readers are frighteningly paranoid is neither here nor there at this point because the paper has seen yet another backlash against it today in the form of criticism levelled at it by – the almost too perfect – George Clooney.

Clooney has said that an article published at Mail Online about his Fiancee’s mother (which says she denouces their marriage because George isn’t of the Druze faith – let’s face it, what mother would say their daughter wasn’t allowed to marry George Clooney?!) is an entirely “premeditated lie”.

George Clooney

Rights; Josh Jensen

In an interview with the American newspaper USA Today he said that “In the apology, managing editor Charles Garside claims that the article was ‘not a fabrication’, but ‘based on conversations with senior members of the Lebanese community’.”

“The problem is that none of that is true,” he adds, “the original story never cites that source, but instead goes out of its way to insist on four different occasions that ‘a family friend’ spoke directly to the Mail. A ‘family friend’ was the source. So either they were lying originally or they’re lying now.”

To say the mail has been rumbled is an understatement, but this is a completely natural turn of events considering the nature in which The Mail Online operates. A friend of mine worked there for a brief stint a few months ago and told how demanding they are of their writers. With very little sub-editing, fact checking or even subject checking it is unsurprising that fabricated articles slip through the cracks. All it takes is for one person whose articles haven’t been performing well to embellish something for everything to go tits up.

It may sound as if I’m defending these hacks who write lies but I’m not, it is entirely their fault, it’s their responsibility to ensure that the articles they publish are accurate and typo free. But the environment in which they work is far from ideal.

Any news or magazine publication has a responsibility to ensure that all writers are good enough and well trained enough in the law to publish on their own – or that an editor looks over it.

To give the paper some credit, by apologising to Clooney, removing the article and internally investigating how it became published at least the dodgy methods employed by The Mail Online are being investigated.

George Clooney is One Hundred Percent right when he says that the Mail is “the worst kind of tabloid”; it is fabricated articles like this one which gives a bad name to journalism and especially tabloid journalism. There is good tabloid journalism and bad tabloid journalism; it’s just a shame we need a respected and admired Hollywood A-Lister to point out which is which.

We should know that already.


About the author

Harry Parkhill

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I am the Editor for the Evans Review. I have previous experience working as a writer and editor for dozens of publications, including The Daily Telegraph, MSN, the Editorial section of (now defunct) LOVEFiLM, Kettle Mag and Journalism-Now Politically right of centre.