I bought my copy of the Mail on Sundayon 10 Aug, and the front page headline was “UKIP TELLS ITS YOUTH WING: COPY HITLER”. My first reaction was “Oh God, who’s put their foot in it now?” I read the article, and it seems that it consists of a series of quotes taken out of context, and woven into a smear story. At the Young Independence Conference, apparently Bill Etheridge had described Hitler as “a magnetic and forceful public speaker” who “achieved a great deal”. Well I doubt if even the Archbishop of Canterbury could disagree with the truthfulness of such a statement, but referring to Hitler leaves us open to selective media interpretation, and the media are going to interpret it in the most malicious way they can.
In the small print towards the middle of the article it quotes Bill Etheridge as saying “At no point did I endorse Hitler or anybody else. I was merely discussing public speaking and the techniques used down the years.” However, this is overshadowed by large print quoting other things that Bill said. Apart from the front page, the article also occupied all of page 6, including a shot of the UKIP Conference with a picture of Hitler superimposed on it. On the bottom of page 7 there was an article about how Kirsten Farage is now working for Ray Finch MEP after new EU rules ban the employment of family members, which kept the UKIP theme on both pages. However, in what looks like a dirty journalistic trick, the other article on page 7 was nothing to do with UKIP but was about a contender for the Chairmanship of the BBC Trust having once been a member of the Monday Club (a right-wing organisation with links to the Conservatives) and showed a picture of him with other Monday Club members, some of whom seemed to be giving Nazi salutes. This presented a two-page spread with UKIP and a picture of Hitler on one side, and a picture of a group of people appearing to give Nazi salutes on the other side. I suspect that this was done deliberately, to give the impression to the casual reader that it was UKIP members giving the Nazi salutes.
Both these articles were written by Glen Owen. I have come across him before when it comes to misreporting and dirty tricks against UKIP. He wrote an article in the Mail on Sunday on 9 March about a UKIP man racially insulting the Lawrence family which contained one blatant lie and a lot of selective reporting. I made a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission about this and received a nondescript fudge of an answer to it (which came as no surprise!)
What we must learn from this is that the media is full of Glen Owens, who are going to interpret anything we say in the worst possible way. It looks as if the General Election campaign has begun in earnest and the media are sharpening their claws in readiness to attack us. Everything we say and do from now until the election will be put under a microscope by the media and they will extract every bit of dirt they can and report it with malice. Beware the media!