10 Completely Fabricated Stories Published By The Daily Mail
It’s all too easy to mistake the British tabloid Daily Mail for a reputable news source. After all, their newspapers enjoy wide circulation and their website is flashy and professional. But pick up a copy and thumb through it for a few moments and you’ll realize it has about as much credibility as The Weekly World News.
It’s no wonder, then, that the paper is frequently embroiled in controversy. Whether the blame lies in poor journalistic ethics, questionable sources, a heavy ideological slant to the right, or their love of embellishment – the Daily Mail routinely publishes half-true, misleading, or flat-out fabricated stories. Here are ten examples of stories published by the Daily Mail that just don’t align with the facts.
George Clooney’s Disapproving Mother-in-Law
In 2014, veteran actor George Clooney popped the question to his then-girlfriend Amal Alamuddin, a Lebanese-British human rights lawyer. All was going well – no controversy, no drama, just two people in love.
But that wasn’t quite juicy enough for the Daily Mail. Citing unnamed “friends”, the tabloid claimed Alamuddin’s mother was deeply and actively opposed to the marriage on religious grounds, and feared her daughter might be “cast out of the community” were she to go through with it.
Making the bizarre and completely unfounded claim that Alamuddin’s mother was a member of the ethnoreligious minority group known as the Druze, the Daily Mail told their readers she had “half of Beirut” hoping the engagement fell apart.
Clooney was furious with the paper, slamming them in an editorial for USA Today.
“None of the story is true.” He said. “Amal’s mother is not Druse. She has not been to Beirut since Amal and I have been dating, and she is in no way against the marriage.” He went on to call the Daily Mail “the worst kind of tabloid“.
The Gay N***** Association, or GNAA for short, is a professional internet trolling organization. They’re dedicated to that most ubiquitous of online activities – getting a rise out of some unsuspecting person, then making them look like a fool when they angrily rant at people who don’t actually exist.
After Hurricane Sandy, the GNAA posted a series of satirical images online, depicting African-Americans looting progressively more ridiculous items. The pictures were accompanied by over-the-top captions like “N**** I JUS STOLE A CAT OUTTA SUM1S HOUSE GET ON MY LEVEL“.
Despite the obvious absurdity of the posts, the Daily Mail ran with the story, claiming the fictitious ‘Sandy Loot Crew’ were terrorizing New York City in the aftermath of Sandy.
GNAA president Leon Kaiser laughed the incident off, saying “Anyone who takes ‘N**** I JUST STOLE A CAT OUTTA SUM1S HOUSE GET ON MY LEVEL’ at face value probably shouldn’t be working in the news industry.“
In 2015, a few news outlets reprinted a dubious story about a restaurant in Nigeria that was discovered selling human meat to customers. The Daily Mail wasn’t the only news organization that fell for the bogus story, but they did take their embellishment to a whole new level by including a picture of the purported human flesh.
Of course, it wasn’t really human flesh, but a steak from a high-end London eatery called Hawksmoor. Understandably, they didn’t appreciate their product being used to represent human innards. Hawksmoor’s owner had to clear things up for the media. “For clarity’s sake,” he said. “We don’t serve human flesh, there are no severed heads in our kitchen, and we’ve never even been nominated for ‘Nigeria’s Best Restaurant’ or ‘Cannibal Menu of the Year.’“
A 2002 scientific study seemed to suggest that women who regularly had intercourse with male partners wearing condoms were more likely to suffer from depression than women whose partners didn’t wear them. They speculated the hormones found in semen may act as a natural anti-depressant. Unfortunately, the researchers failed to remember a key principle in scientific surveys: correlation does not imply causation. Put simply, this means the researchers jumped to the conclusion that the semen was responsible for the surveyed women’s improved mental health, while ignoring a host of other factors that could have influenced the findings.
True to form, the Daily Mail spun the story to imply that females who regularly perform oral sex on their male partners suffered less depressive symptoms than those who didn’t. But the original study never even examined oral sex, or whether oral ingestion of semen had any impact on mental health.
Facts Be Dammed!
In Feburary of 2015, the Daily Mail claimed the Israeli government intentionally flooded the Gaza Strip by opening up dams in southern Israel. However, a few minutes of research would have revealed the fact that southern Israel has no dams. In reality, the flooding was the result of heavy rains and poor drainage systems.
Businesswomen Are The Source Of Autism
The circumstances behind this story are almost as outrageous as the story itself. In 2011, Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, cousin of Sacha Baron-Cohen, the satirist behind films like Borat and The Dictator, theorized that the human brain could be divided into male and female categories. Male brains, he speculated, are more analytical and less emotional than female brains. Autism is the result of possessing an “extreme male brain”. He surmised that scientists, engineers, technicians, or pretty much anyone society might deem ‘smart’ was at a higher risk of having a child with one of these “extreme male brains”.
The professor later conceded that half of all females have male brains, and half of all males have female brains, making much of his theory essentially meaningless. It’s also been largely rejected by mainstream science. That didn’t stop the Daily Mail from citing Baron-Choen’s theory in a piece they called Is the Changing Role of Women in Our Society Behind the Rise in Autism in the past 30 Years?
In it, they attempted to make the case that since more women have become educated and entered the workforce, there’s a higher chance of two male brains getting together to produce offspring with an “extreme male brain”. In other words, that working women cause autism.
Today, most know Brian Paddock as a Liberal Democrat politician. But until his retirement in 2007, Paddock was Deputy Assistant Commissioner in the London police force. He was also the UK’s most senior openly gay police officer.
Paddock advocated a lenient policy on so-called ‘soft drugs’ – like marijuana and LSD – and instead focused his department on reducing harm from ‘hard drugs’ like heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamines.
The historically right-wing Daily Mail frequently went after Paddock in the pages of their tabloid. They once paid James Renolleau, one of Paddock’s former partners, £100,000 ($160,000) for an interview. In it, Renolleau claimed Paddock let him smoke marijuana in their shared apartment.
The editors at the Daily Mail spun the story as a tale of “smoking pot, picking up strangers for sex in public, cruising swim pools for conquests […] gay saunas and unprotected acts with Aids victims.“
Paddock successfully sued the tabloid, who were forced to pay him compensation for defamation.
After a particularly bad break-up, copywriter Juliet Shaw moved from Manchester back to her hometown in the English countryside. Innocent enough, right? Leave it to the Daily Mail to turn a simple change of scenery into a lurid tale of horny nymphomaniacs moving to rural towns for sex and romance.
The paper completely fabricated quotes from Shaw, who described the incident as highly embarrassing. She attempted to sue the Daily Mail for defamation, but soon received threatening phone calls warning her of the high legal fees she would pay if she continued the lawsuit. Undeterred, she managed to settle the matter out-of-court. The Daily Mail was not required to print a retraction.
The Immigrants Are Coming
In 2013, the UK lifted work restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian immigrants. Soon afterward, the generally anti-immigration Daily Mail published an article titled Sold out! Flights and buses full as Romanians and Bulgarians head for the UK.
As it turned out, the first part of 2014 saw fewer Eastern European immigrants than the previous year. Naturally, there were plenty of flights and buses available. The tabloid printed an update to the story, stating: “We have since been made aware, however, that some readers were able to find a larger number of flights […] We understand that some seats on buses bound for London were also available at the time.“
Rowling With The Punches
J.K. Rowling, author of the best-selling Harry Potter book series, penned an article detailing her experiences as a single mother working in a church. The piece included a story about a woman who stigmatized her for being unmarried. The Daily Mail decided to put words in Rowling’s mouth, publishing an article called How J.K. Rowling’s Sob Story about Her Single Mother past Surprised and Confused the Church Members Who Cared for Her.
In it, a reporter for the Daily Mail claimed Rowling’s article bashed the church staff she worked with. They interviewed several of Rowling’s former church co-workers, who were understandably confused by Rowling’s non-existent assertion that they discriminated against her.
Rowling successfully sued the paper for libel. The Daily Mail had to print an apology and pay Rowling significant monetary compensation. She donated the money to charity.