A couple of people have said this to me recently: that attacking the Express is somehow a 'soft target' or a 'cheap shot'; that it's somehow unfair to criticise the awfulness of their output, because... well I never really understand the 'because', but I wondered to myself whether it might be the case. This was in relation to this post about how pitifully their embarrassingly banal food-obsessed stories compared with the genuine journalism being conducted by hard-working amateur bloggers.
But is there any truth in the accusation? Is the Express a soft target and am I just squashing a butterfly with a cricket bat by having a go at it? Well, I think it's true that they do often put tedious fluff on their front pages
and yes, when you look back over the course of the past few days, there have certainly been a few stories about dieting, food, health and related tedium. Is it really picking on a soft target to take a cheap shot at a national newspaper wasting its valuable front-page space on food-related health bollocks? Or have we really gone so far that we don't expect anything more?
However, it's not those front pages where the Express becomes really nasty. Sky News always puts up a list of front pages, which is where I harvest the images for this blog, but I couldn't help noticing something odd about this one, from last week:
That's odd. Why on earth might the bottom half of the page be missing? What was on there that Sky News decided not to publish? Well, the answer is
as Tabloid Watch points out, that the person in the picture is not a fanatic who wants to kill 'us':
the headline and the picture (no, not Alesha Dixon, the other one) strongly suggest the 'fanatics' in the headline are linked to loudmouth trouble-maker Anjem Choudhary. And yet, the story isn't about him at all.
Is the Express really a soft target? Is it really a cheap shot to think that our national media should be responsible when reporting issues as sensitive and inflammatory as Muslim extremism? Or is that just being a punter at the news-stands, appalled by what you're seeing?
Yes, the Express can be comically bad and laughably silly, as I've attempted to document down the months and years. But it's also got a nasty streak, particularly with regards to Islam and immigrants, one which is welcomed by far-right extremists and those who are also the enemies of 'us' - if you think of 'us' as being ordinary folk in Britain. I'd rather it stuck to the bollocks about mushrooms curing cancer and eating breakfast being good for you, but it doesn't. So in that sense it's a hard target, and one that deserves everything it gets.