Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Implausible deniability

The Sun's "Queen Backs Brexit" scoop must be the week's daftest story - a sign of desperate flailing from a once-mighty tabloid in decline?
Well, we can always hope. But it also shows a touch of the old Murdoch magic that once made the Currant Bun such an efficient vector for made-up stuff.

Not because the underlying premise isn't completely stupid - a famously tight-lipped monarch who's only on the throne because she's descended from the royal house of Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha, and is married to a Greek migrant, sounding off about Britain being subject to European rule?

Nor because the story's convincingly sourced - it's just a "he-said/she-said" story about something somebody might, or might not, have said five years ago, splashed over the front page, then spun up to 4,000 RPM.

The clever bit, I thought, was alleging that she said all this to Nick Clegg, thus forcing him to deny it. This takes the old adage "Never believe anything until it has been officially denied" to a new level - if you've got a story that consists of nothing but anecdote and spin, how the hell do you make it sound believable? Have it officially denied by Nick Clegg. Brilliant.

Mind you, they can't keep on doing this for ever - I expect that there are already plenty of Sun readers whose attention spans don't stretch back to Nick's meteoric fall from Britain's New Hope to ineffectual Coalition yes-man and it probably won't be too long before the whole readership - and most of the rest of us - will start responding to Clegg stories with a "Nick who?" and, shortly thereafter, "Leader of the Liberal Democrats? What were they?"