Editorial: The Faking of Reports by the Beaverbrook Press
The Beaverbrook newspapers the Sunday Express and Daily Express have a long record of faking certain kinds of reports. In reporting speeches they consider it legitimate to alter certain words and phrases and present their own doctored version as if it were the original. In our issue for January, 1945, we showed how the Daily Express of 2 December, 1944, took a speech made by Mr. Anthony Eden in the House of Commons, altered his specific references to “Labour Government” and to the “hon gentlemen opposite ” into “Socialist Government” and “Socialists” and presented this version as Mr. Eden’s actual words. Shortly afterwards the Manchester Guardian (10 April, 1945), caught the Sunday Express (and the Daily Telegraph) doing the same with a speech by Mr. Ernest Bevin. The Manchester Guardian in a leading article with the title of “Hard of Hearing ” doubted if the reporters could be blamed for this and wondered if the true explanation was not a “directive” that this doctoring should always be done. Unable to ignore the Guardian’s rebuke the Daily Express (12 April, 1945), came to the defence of its stable companion, the Sunday Express, by explaining that the trouble was about “a mistake in one of the provincial editions” of that paper. But they craftily refrained from saying what the Guardian had charged against the Sunday Express, so their readers were left in the dark. Of course the explanation explained nothing and the practise of faking has gone on ever since. We are therefore presumably to believe that by strange coincidence Beaverbrook reporters then and since have been afflicted with a defect of hearing that causes them to go on making the same mistake.
It becomes more curious still when we find that a reporter can be not only deaf but blind. For on 14 June, 1945, the Daily Express published what purported to be an extract from an article by Mr. John Yarwood, official of the National Union of General and Municipal Workers, in the Union Journal far June, 1945. In that journal Mr. Yarwood wrote:—
“I admit that we have union members who are professed Conservatives. I can’t understand them. Further, there is reason to suspect that considerable numbers who pay lip service to Labour Party policy cast their votes for Conservatives in the secrecy of the ballot. I cannot understand them either.”
In the doctored version of the Daily Express this became:—
“We have members who are professed Conservatives and members who pay lip service to the Socialist Party and then vote Conservative. I can’t understand either.”
In 1945 we also took up with “Candidus” of the Daily Sketch (not one of the Beaverbrook group) his practice of referring to the Labour Party as the Socialist Party. He dealt with our protest in an article on 1 April, 1945 and gave what we considered the unsatisfactory explanation that he considered it to be a justifiable practice; but at least he gave space to our protest.
The recent attitude of the Evening Standard has been quite different. In their issue for 12 October, 1945, they published an article by Sir Beverley Baxter in which he reported the conference of the Labour Party as the conference of the Socialist Party of Great Britain. Our letters to him and to the Editor of the Evening Standard brought curt replies which made no apology and offered no defence or explanation. We have therefore sent the correspondence to the National Press Council which is to consider the matter. There for the present it rests until we receive the further reply promised by the Council.