John McCormick, who – as many readers will know – lives in Liverpool, writes: Vince commented recently that The Sun now calls SAFC “Derland” after SAFC banned them from football-related briefings. The question I would ask is why is it doing this? It’s a stupid activity that does no one any good, least of all The Sun itself, and it is being done at just the wrong time …
This is the newspaper, and I use that term though others might not, that behaved disgracefully towards Liverpool supporters, indeed the whole city, 25 years ago. On the day Sunderland played West Ham the Hillsborough inquests reopened and, I’m sure, provided many Liverpudlians with a reminder of just how wrong The Sun got it.
Some of you won’t have been alive then so here’s a reminder of what The Sun said, on its front page, in large print:
Some fans picked pockets of victims
Some fans urinated on the brave cops
Some fans beat up PC giving kiss of life.
Having got it wrong, The Sun kept getting it wrong. The Guardian gives an account of what went on at http://www.theguardian.com/media/2004/jul/07/pressandpublishing.football1 and includes this excerpt from Kenny Dalglish’s biography:
“Sun reporters and photographers would lie, telling people they worked for the Liverpool Post and Echo. There was a lot of harassment of them because of what had been written. The Star had gone a bit strong as well, but they apologised the next day. They knew the story had no foundation. Kelvin MacKenzie, the Sun’s editor, even called me up.
“‘How can we correct the situation?” he said.
“‘You know that big headline – ‘The Truth’,’ I replied. ‘All you have to do is put ‘We lied’ in the same size. Then you might be all right.’
“Mackenzie said: ‘I cannot do that.‘
The Sun became an object of hate and derision on Merseyside. It remains so to this day. I have seen it being read but only a few times over the last 25 years and I don’t know anyone who buys it. I do know, however, a few people who will ask you why you are reading it if they see you with a copy.
About 18 months ago, with the publication of the independent report into the Hillsborough disaster The Sun had a chance to do the right thing. Instead, what it said was:
Hillsborough: The real truth
Cops smeared Liverpool fans to deflect blame, new probe says 41 lives could have been saved, The Sun says: We are profoundly sorry for false reports and families of 96 victims call for prosecutions
To get the full article I’d have to register and there’s no way I’m doing that. But I suggest you visit the webpage above and ask yourself if The Sun could have done a little more to apologise. To paraphrase Kenny Dalglish,
“‘You know that big headline – ‘The Truth’, ‘All it had to do is put ‘We lied’ in the same size as that big headline.
The people responsible for the original report have no doubt long gone. The people responsible for breaking an embargo and then rubbishing Sunderland are different and the offence is nothing compared to the lies The Sun told over Hillsborough and the subsequent evasions. However, I would argue the mentality is the same. So I suggest you take the action Liverpudlians took 25 years ago and still take today. Boycott the rag that masquerades as a newspaper. Hit the owners in the pocket. It’s the only thing they understand.