'Daily Mail' Headline A Fitting Epitaph For Democracy

This blog is not given to media criticism – meaning discussion and analysis of how news organizations are covering a particular story. There are several reasons.

First, it just seems like kicking someone when they’re down. It’s also out of recognition of the incredibly wide variety of potential meanings and purposes that “news” may fulfill: No matter how irrelevant or trivial a story may seem, chances are someone has some use for the information it contains.

But there are limits, and those limits were reached and transgressed this week by the Daily Mail, a British tabloid that may have unwittingly penned the epitaph for democracy with a headline so contemptible it might qualify as self-parody. If the “self” in question wasn’t the Daily Mail. 

Like many other British newspapers, highbrow to low, the cover of Daily Mail’s Tuesday edition was devoted to an important meeting between British Prime Minister Theresa May and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. At it, the leaders grappled with thorny issues regarding Britain’s impending departure from the European Union, which has triggered calls for a second referendum on Scottish independence.

In short, May and Sturgeon were discussing very weighty issues that concern the future of millions of Britons, including many readers of the Daily Mail. If nothing else, the end of the 300-year-old United Kingdom might mean cumbersome border control and customs duties for English holiday-makers visiting Scotland — not to mention all the potential economic impacts of Brexit.

What the Daily Mail chose to focus on, however, was the fact that May and Sturgeon are both women — who have legs. The cover photo, showing both leaders wearing nylons or silk stockings, was accompanied by the headline: “Never mind Brexit, who won Legs-it!”

Let’s set aside the egregious sexism of the headline.

Calling the cover sexist is like calling Hitler irritable — in order to concentrate on the flippant, pandering idiocy with which Britain’s largest newspaper is covering the likely breakup of its own country.

And to be clear, this isn’t just about one country splitting up. The world’s oldest surviving voluntary political union, it helped lay the groundwork for the British Empire, thus shaping the modern world. It later came to serve as a model for other countries devolving powers to local and regional authorities.

Above all, it held out hope that different peoples could live together in relative harmony under a common democratic government — a key tenet of the old liberal worldview, now on the defensive in so many quarters.

Brexit and “Scoxit,” if it happens, may well usher in a new age of closed borders, economic protectionism and splintering states – for example Belgium and Spain both face internal secessionist movements. Plus, there are still powder kegs across the Balkans and Eastern Europe, which could easily explode with renewed ethnic violence.

But according to Britain’s most popular newsletter, “Never mind Brexit, who won Legs-it!”

On top of all that, it’s a crap pun.

2 comments about "'Daily Mail' Headline A Fitting Epitaph For Democracy".
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  1. Henry Blaufox from Dragon360, March 28, 2017 at 3:27 p.m.

    OK on the poor taste, even for ultra-tabloid Daily Mail. But why be so sure that the UK will break up? Not a likely outcome, I'd say. Especially since Scotland lacks its own armed forces, necessary to defend itself - especially a navy, essential to protect a valuable asset - North Sea oil fields. Without that, they might find a future England holding the fields. And that oil has a lot to do with any Scot claims to sovereignty. So, Keep Calm and (fill in the blank.)
    Also, abandon "Scoxit" - doesn't really work.

  2. Chuck Lantz from, network replied, March 28, 2017 at 4:38 p.m.

    A few days after the Brexit vote, there was a UK TV interview of a girl in her twenties. She said she voted for Brexit because some of her friends voted for Brexit, but she was surprised and shocked that it passed, and she was actually against it. 

    Arnie won in California. Twice. Bush won. Twice. Trump won and Brexit won. 

    "Not a likely outcome" is no longer a likely outcome. 

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