Last year, David Cameron proved he was happy to take the tabloids' rubbish at face value with a 'Gorblimey, it's all gone mad, health and safety, innit?' rant.
At first, it seems like he's at it again today, portraying himself as the voice of reason in a world gone (health and safety and PC) mad, in relation to Myleene Klass and what may or may not have happened at her house - but it's not quite that simple. Cameron:
The Tory leader said he did not know the full facts of the case but said the police "do seem to do things that slightly fly in the face of common sense".
Asked about the incident on ITV's This Morning, he said: "If that is the case I think it is ridiculous to complain about someone who is obviously worried about what people were threatening her with."
He went on: "I don't know the facts of the case and sometimes when you look at these cases and you find a bit more detail, you find it is not quite ... what it appears.
"But we want some common sense in policing. One of the things that has gone wrong with all this red tape and form filling is that we are taking away discretion from the nurse, the teacher, the doctor, the police officer. We have got to give them back that discretion."
To be fair to Cameron, he does couch his response this time in lots of ifs. And he's right to do so, as we'll see. But what's the betting that his careful "This might not be the whole story" attitude is not reflected in stories in tomorrow's papers? Particularly when the story in which his quotes are contained is so certain about what happened:
Klass was warned by officers about waving a kitchen knife to scare off intruders who had entered the garden of her home near Potters Bar in Hertfordshire.
Was warned. Reported as fact.
C64Glen first alerted me to something a bit whiffy about the Klass story. Because while the BBC at first report:
TV presenter Myleene Klass has said she has "no regrets" after being warned by police for waving a knife at youths who entered her back garden.
Klass was warned. Reported as fact. But wait:
But a police spokeswoman said that "at no point" were any warnings given.
That's not reported as fact, that's reported as opinion. Essentially, then, the word of a celebrity TV presenter is regarded as being more credible than that of the police. C64Glen:
Google news now has 200+ reports of this story where Myleene’s word is taken as fact giving us more Britain’s gone ’elf and safety mad tabloid nonsense while giving Myleene lots and lots of free publicity.
So was she warned or not? It doesn't seem to matter. Because the story fits nicely into a familiar narrative - PC police telling householders they can't defend themselves in their own homes, no matter what intruders do, isn't it terrible the way that PC is ruining our lives and giving the criminals all the rights? - it's not questioned. People just assume that Myleene, via her publicist, has got everything right, and if the police say that's not the case, well they must have got it wrong.
You can see it as the power of celebrity, the laziness of churnalism, confirmation bias or whatever, but we just don't know for sure. What we do know is that the vast majority of reports of this incident couldn't care less. It's the big bad police telling a poor innocent homeowner off for defending their property - people want to believe that. They don't want to think about the alternative. David Cameron, at least, is a bit more reserved in his judgement - but will that be reflected when it comes to tomorrow's papers?