The Daily Mail, a UK tabloid, ran a story accusing British athlete James Cracknell of breaking social distancing rules in a visit with his parents. It illustrated this with the above photograph, showing Cracknell sat inches from his father. The Daily Mail, however, fabricated this image by photoshopping what Cracknell actually posted, below. The real photo was, in fact, a humorous illustration of the social distancing measures the Daily Mail accused Cracknell of breaking.
Here’s a game of spot the difference. 1) @dailymail ‘s pic of me & my dad 2) the actual picture. Socially distant, no physical contact & was bringing them food. Been a long month of no contact, my mum worked for the NHS her whole career so she was ruthless about distance. Thanks pic.twitter.com/4cWifBGzMa
— James Cracknell (@jamescracknell) April 26, 2020
The blatant, pervasive, smirking fakeness of UK newspaper reportage is one of those things that everyone accepts but never quite groks. It’s not just the occasional photo, but the basic formula for content generation. Even editors who take it too far, such as Piers Morgan, tend to fail upward after a perfunctory moment of disgrace.
In this case, the defense upon which the Mail depends is that Cracknell’s visit was still against the rules. The fact of this isn’t clear, as Cracknell claims he bought them food, but this defense works with Britons delighted to be thusly policed.
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