Times extradition story turns out to be just another tiresome bullshit job

If The Times is, as the surtitle on its banner claims, ‘Britain’s most trusted newspaper’, the only question can be: ‘trusted for use as what? Composting?’

I’m featuring today’s Times front page lead story not because it is a particularly novel or blatant piece of common-or-garden spin, but out of a sense of wonder that the MSM are still going through motions of foisting pathetic, kludged-together tripe like this on their collapsing readerships in 2018.

Because it most definitely is just another tiresome bullshit job from the establishment typing pool formerly known as Fleet Street.

The structure:

  1. Scarcely-credible headline With Keywords
  2. Sub-head not borne out in the body copy
  3. Fact-lite, unsourced story, pretty much entirely contradicted in two key paragraphs.

The only noteworthy aspect of the piece is a para contradicting the headline at the half-way point. Unusually high up the story for this kind of job.

There’s no need to take it apart line by line. It makes a big claim – UK plans to extradite Russian poisoners – and then expends 450-odd words on putting precisely no substance behind it.

All it offers is a lot of ‘it is understood that’ and ‘it is believed that’, from ‘security sources’. But ‘government sources’ tell the paper no warrants are being prepared. Nor is an extradition application planned.

The one named individual in the story, a former British Army intelligence officer and chemical weapons expert – thankfully not the ubiquitous and compromised Hamish – says the police are under political pressure to come up with names for the perps.

But nine paragraphs earlier, the story, which took no fewer than three Times staffers to ‘write’, says: “Scotland Yard detectives are understood to be confident that they have identified the would-be assassins.”

Well, obviously not, according to our former Army intel officer.

The only other para worth quoting in full is the last one:

“The Metropolitan Police, CPS and Home Office refused to comment.”

Exactly. Unsubstantiated rumours from anonymous sources who contradict each other throughout. Not a shred of information from any of the bodies responsible for the criminal investigation or a prosecution/extradition should either of those ever take place. If I’d submitted this piece as a junior reporter, it would have ended up on a spike, not a front page.

In some ways, though, you have to give the article some credit as a slice of propaganda.

It’s primary role is put the headline out there on the supermarket and garage forecourt gondolas, where those keywords are the only element that passers-by take in.

…extradite Russian poisoners

And away go Mr and Mrs Public, vaguely sure that they’ve now learned that Inspector Knacker has absolutely definitely pinned Salisbury on the Russkies and that plucky Britannia is in the processes of forcing the big bully to hand over the miscreants.

And although the poison(s) used in Salisbury behaved nothing like novichok, and no-one has produced evidence that unequivocally ties whatever they were to Russia, our most trusted national newspaper manages to slip in mention that Charlie Rowley was “left seriously ill from the effects of the Russian-made nerve agent” as if Russian provenance were fact.

So there you go. Today’s cut and paste bulletin from State central. Disgusting but effective.

Like an enema.

(And maybe I shouldn’t pick on the Times. The Beeb, the Guardian and all the other Handmaids all ran much the same propaganda)

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