The Mail hits back… slowly and ineffectually

without comments

It took the Mail over a week, but yesterday it responded more fully to Sir David King’s attacks on its coverage of MMR and GM crops (‘I got it wrong on GM crop, admits science chief’).

For something that took such a long time to put together it seems rather a poor (though characteristically bitter) comeback.

The GM crop heading refers to comments King made about a crop trial in Africa which he failed to describe accurately. The Mail appears to have picked this story up from the Independent on Sunday, whose environment editor wrote about the ‘War of the Boffins’ last Sunday.

But the science of the story is just a peg on which to hang a personal assault on King himself. The paper quotes ‘critics of Sir David’ saying he has become ‘demob happy’, writes that his ‘credibility has been shaken by the error’ and that, in the words of Richard Horton it is ‘a sorrowful end to a not undistinguished term of office’.

Yet most of the material for this assault is taken either from the IoS, or from a blog written by Dr Richard Horton, editor of the Lancet, on the Guardian’s website last Tuesday (Horton who is himself inextricably tied up in the MMR story since he was responsible for publishing the original Andrew Wakefield article that kicked off the debacle).

So the Mail appears to have cobbled together bits from the blog and from the IoS – some over a week old – and tried to turn it into a substantive assault on King’s credibility. It even gets lost when trying to describe the nature of the scientific error.

Of course unlike the newspaper, King was willing to admit he made a mistake. Imagine if the Mail admitted it got it wrong on MMR…

Written by Martin Moore

December 20th, 2007 at 10:38 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , ,

Leave a Reply