Media & PR

The curious case of Iain Dale, the Daily Mail and the missing comments

Today’s Ephriam Hardcastle column in the Daily Mail made the sort of snide unpleasant comments about Iain Dale that you expect of homophobes. It’s generated a lot of hostile comment around the internet, including this post from Stephen Glenn, people being encouraged by Kate Bevan via Twitter to complain to the Press Complaints Commission and Iain himself deciding to lodge a complaint.

There’s one curious little twist I noticed. You see, when you look at the story on the Daily Mail website, it has the usual comment features but no comments are published.

Ah, you say, but perhaps no-one has made any comments? Well, I know that to be untrue because at least one person did. Viz, myself. Ah you say, but perhaps they haven’t moderated the comments yet? Well, I know that to be very unlikely because I submitted the comment before breakfast and on past experience comments would have appeared several hours ago. In fact, I can’t think of any story on the Daily Mail website where I’ve tracked the comments (and I have quite often, as you can see from this example) and where it takes more than a full working day for them to start appearing.

What’s going on? Two obvious possibilities: lots of comments posted criticising the Mail and they’ve decided to pull down the shutters. Or the lawyers have got involved and gone for the cautious route of not letting any comments appear.

Either way, it would appear all is not calm in Daily Mail towers when it comes to this story…

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13 responses to “The curious case of Iain Dale, the Daily Mail and the missing comments”

  1. I went to look at the Mail article so as to have a better idea of what nastiness I was to pillory and put “Iain Dale” into their site’s search engine.

    Top reference was Iain Dale’s libel on Labour MP Tom Watson, for its publication of which the Mail had to apologise. viz Tom Watson was not involved in the McBride affair as alleged.

    I do wonder wether they resent Iain Dale misleading them?

    The Mail often cans worms, and often uses them too.

    Their insinuations against the PM have been the nastiest, so nasty that they removed the worst from their site, and it has been taken down pretty much everywhere else.

    My site goes into some such Tory libels and so forth.

  2. I didn’t libel Tom Watson. if I had done, he would have sued me. I asked for a sentence to be replaced in the article but the MoS failed to do that. The woman I sent the correction to had gone home. Simple as that.

  3. @ Iain Dale

    “The Mail on Sunday has apologised in the High Court to Civil Service Minister Tom Watson over an article by Iain Dale on April 12 which incorrectly said he received copies of emails from Downing Street adviser Damian McBride and encouraged him in talk of smearing Opposition politicians.

    “We accepted he had no knowledge of the proposed ‘Red Rag’ website nor of the emails he regarded as completely inappropriate.

    “We have agreed to pay Mr Watson substantial damages and costs.”

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1186963/Tom-Watson-MP.html#ixzz0SitDgUPN

    and http://www.tom-watson.co.uk/2009/05/press-release/ likewise.

    Funnily enough not all libelers are prosecuted, but I accept your word that you retracted yours before publication, a pity that is not mentioned in either article.

    My apologies.

    If I owned the Mail (LOL) I would be pretty pissed off with you all the same.

  4. 1. The absence of a lawsuit is not proof of absence of libel

    2. Iain Dale DID libel Tom watson. Repeatedly, for days.

    While he may have alerted the Mail on Sunday to what he claims to be an innocent error (just a little too late to avoid it going to print… how very unfortunate) he managed comment deletions etc. strategically in such a way that for at least two days he knowingly allowed a significant percentage of readers of his weblog to remain under the false impression that what he had claimed was true, when it was not, while leaving misleading text like this live on his site (please keep in mind when reading this that there is no proof that Watson knew about these emails before the issue broke as a story, Iain only claimed there was, based on a SINGLE source).

    “What did (Tom Watson) do when he found about these emails? Did he berate Damian McBride and tell him to stop abusing his position? No. Instead, he either tacitly or overtly encouraged McBride to send more.”

    Close to 18,000 readers were exposed to this lie in a single day (according to Dale’s own count) and it was live long after Iain quietly removed the false claim (instead of issuing an immediate correction, which is what any decent blogger with good intentions would have done). Again, according to Iain’s own figures, at least 20% of them will have read it after reading the false claim published by the Mail on Sunday that cost them “substantial damages”, and read many subsequent passages published by Dale along the lines of “of course Tom Watson knew” (when Iain had NO way of proving this, even if it were true)

    Dale has tried to defend this type of thing on the basis that it was simply opinion rather than something stated as fact, but this doesn’t wash when context is taken into account and he tried this stunt the day of Watson’s victory in court and was subsequently forced to delete at least one similar comment of his as a result.

    I can prove all of this, of course.

    Iain Dale knowingly misled his readers about what he could and could not prove about what he still claims to be a Downing Street conspiracy against him. (And he calls me paranoid!)

    Avoiding a lawsuit (by grace, luck or whatever) does not make you innocent, regardless of what Iain might imply here or elsewhere. (Part of the decision not to sue him may rest with the MoS having an audience in the millions compared to Dale with his thousands, but that’s pure speculation.)

  5. Infuriating, isn’t it, when no comments are allowed or when they’re invited but not published. I had a similar experience recently on the Cornerstone blog, which now seems not to publish comments from me, although they’re neither offensive nor libellous – just questioning and critical of one of their MPs who wrote a post in defence of himself over expenses.

    It’s difficult to lay down hard and fast rules, what with the hundreds of comments some sites receive, plus spam and the minority who do post offensive and libellous comments, but I think we should work to create a blogging culture in which people who are self-servingly selective about comments, as the Mail is clearly being here, are shamed into changing their ways.

    Even if lawyers are involved, I see no reason why comments can’t be published, with prior moderation.

  6. @Carl

    Pre moderation costs extra money, and a majority of posters seem to be in it for the abusing.

    I suggested that the Dully Tele make some sort of annual charge on posters, but then they would be contractually required to maintain some standard of service.

    We may see if Murdoch’s pay online newspackage includes blogs as an option.

  7. I left a comment in response to Ms Moir saying those complaining hadn’t read the article in full yesterday morning and its still not ‘approved’!

    I was poliet and only stated that yes I had read the article in full several times and I was disgusted with what had been printed. The only other thing I put was I had been a long time reader of the Daily Mail but I would no longer be buying nor reading the paper as I don’t agree with its view. And yes I was careful to just put views and not to imply what they might be!

    Now what might compromise any court cases in that? Freedom of speach streaches far enough for them to put hurtful (well spitefull is closer) comments the day before a talented young man is buried in their paper but not far enough for me to be able to tell them and others I don’t agree?

    I am a married straight woman and I was deeply offended at the ‘claim’ that being gay can kill you at a young age, my friend who is gay was horrified. Now the PCC say only Mr Gately’s family can complain. But surely my friend can? He’s gay and they have said being so means it will kill him while he’s young! (Mind you he had a few years on Mr Gately so I’m not sure he’d be counted as young!) I challenge every homosexual in the UK to complain! Its not personal to Mr Gately it was aimed at every one, if it wasn’t why was it printed in public????

    Right I need to go before Ms Moir starts on about disabled straight mums being louts and the cause of all evil!!

    Thank you if you read all this and didn’t fall asleep!

  8. Re the Dully Mail comments (and absences thereof):

    Follow the money, or, if you prefer, Remember in whose interest what action or inactivity might be.

    The online Dully Mail will still gets lots of hits from folk looking for their comments and to view the charnel house of their comments columns wether your (or my) post is visible or not.

    Advertisers like M & S may walk, others will just look at the numbers of hits the Mail has over this random month.

    Notoriety has compensations.

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