Following years of printing Muslim-baiting articles, the Daily Star this week threw its support behind the English Defence League (EDL).
On Wednesday, they ran an uncritical and sympathetic front page story about how the EDL might form a political party. The story was accompanied by the results of a phone poll which claimed 98% of Star readers supported the EDL’s policies.
Then on Thursday, they published a story claiming that Stephen Lennon, the EDL’s leader, had received death threats from Muslim extremists and had to be put under 24-hour guard.
When contacted by Roy Greenslade from the Guardian, a spokesman for Richard Desmond said that the Star’s owner had no idea about the paper’s supposed support for the EDL. The paper’s decision seems, therefore, to have come from Dawn Neesom, editor of the Daily Star.
But this is where it gets really interesting…
On Tuesday, the Daily Star had run a story claiming that the EDL “will fight for hero’s” [sic]. The article made the claim that the EDL were organising a march in protest of two councillors who had refused to give a standing ovation to Matthew Croucher, a marine who had just been awarded with the George Cross.
Now as it happens, both councillors were Muslims - a fact that the papers felt necessary to mention, over and above the fact that both councillors were also members of an anti-war party and that one of them was even head of Birmingham’s Stop the War Coalition.
Well, today’s Daily Star Sunday carries a story based on quotes from the same marine who says of the EDL, “not in my name”:
Whilst the Daily Star’s coverage of the EDL could be described as sympathetic, the Daily Star Sunday’s definitely cannot.
In their article, the Daily Star Sunday says that the EDL’s leader is “bleating about concerns for his safety”. They describe him as “[t]he tanning salon boss, who has a conviction for assault”. They make a point of mentioning that Lennon “joined the British National Party in 2004 and attended at least one BNP meeting in Luton in 2007″.
The Star then describes the EDL as consisting of ”football hooligans and other hoodlums” and finishes off by saying:
But this newspaper has already revealed how a prominent EDL member is a convicted people smuggler.
Ex-serviceman Allan Hetherington-Cleverley, 55, spent four years in prison for smuggling Chinese immigrants across the Channel in an inflatable speedboat.
Contrast this with the Daily Star’s front page story from Wednesday and you’ll see what I mean when I said it was uncritical and sympathetic.
As a further sign of the Daily Star Sunday’s opposition to the English Defence League, it also carries the following story, which portrays the EDL and its leader in anything but a positive light:
Like other Sunday newspapers, the Daily Star Sunday is separate from its daily counterpart, which is published from Monday to Saturday.
The Daily Star Sunday has a different editor in Gareth Morgan, a different team of journalists and writers and, as is demonstrated here, goes its own way editorially. (This lends credibility to the idea that the Star’s support for the EDL comes from Neesom, and not from Desmond.)
It’ll be very interesting to see if the Daily Star Sunday’s opposition to the EDL will continue.