I am no fan of the right-wing espouser of nonsense and lies that is the Daily Mail. It is a horrible UK paper. For those across the pond who don’t know, it has a rather chequered history, supporting the Nazis way back when and then continuing in the vein ever since. Not really chequered, actually. All bad. I have written myself to the Mail about a misrepresentation of statistics once in their headline article which effectively amounted to lies.
What gets me is that I am sure that many of their journalists don’t really believe the shit they write, but have some sort of checklist as to how they should represent certain (non-)stories. But then, what is worse, a journalist who writes bigotry who really believes it, or one who does so for the money and a job, prostituting their writing abilities to include every negative -ism they (rightly) believe their core readers want to read?
Anyways, the Guardian has reported on their latest jaw-dropping piece of racism and sexism (H/T Sam Whitehall):
Academics blast Daily Mail for race and gender ‘insinuation’ in diary item
An item in the Daily Mail‘s Ephraim Hardcastle diary has engendered a stiff letter of complaint from a leading academic.
Hardcastle (aka Peter Mackay) wrote on Wednesday:
“Newsnight‘s Guardian-trained editor, Ian Katz, is keen on diversity. So, two women were invited to comment on the report about (white, male) American scientists who’ve detected the origins of the universe – giggling Sky at Night presenter Maggie Aderin-Pocock and Sri Lanka-born astronomer Hiranya Peiris.”
The BBC and Katz have grown used to such nonsense from the Mail. But Professor David Price, vice-provost for research at University CollegeLondon (UCL), was not prepared to let the matter pass.
“I am writing to express my deep disappointment in the insinuation in your newspaper that Dr Hiranya Peiris was selected to discuss the Big Bang breakthrough on Newsnight for anything other than her expertise.
In Ephraim Hardcastle’s column on 19 March, he asserts that Dr Peiris and Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock were selected based on gender and birthplace because ‘Newsnight’s Guardian-trained editor, Ian Katz, is keen on diversity.’
The implication that anything outside of her academic record qualifies Dr Peiris to discuss the results of the BICEP2 study is profoundly insulting. She is a world-leading expert on the study of the cosmic microwave background, with degrees from Cambridge and Princeton, so is one of the best-placed people in the world to discuss the finding.
Dr Aderin-Pocock is a highly-qualified scientist and engineer with an exceptional talent for communicating complex scientific concepts in an accessible way.
Mr Hardcastle also wrongly states that the discovery itself was made by ‘white, male American’ scientists, when in fact the study was conducted by a diverse group of researchers from around the world….
It is deeply disappointing that you thought it acceptable to print an article drawing attention to the gender and race of scientific experts, suggesting that non-white, non-male scientists are somehow incapable of speaking on the basis of their qualifications and expertise.
I look forward to your reply and would ask that the Mail rectifies the insinuations made about Dr Peiris and Dr Aderin-Pocock at the earliest opportunity.
Yours sincerely, David Price
Price attached what he called “the extensive academic credentials of Dr Peiris and Dr Aderin-Pocock.”
Both women also added comments of their own. Peiris, a reader inastronomy at UCL, said:
“I deeply pity the sort of person who can watch a report about ground-breaking news on the origins of the universe and everything in it, and see only the gender and skin colour of the panellists.
I am disturbed that he has even erased the contributions of all of the non-white and non-male and non-American scientists involved in the discovery at the same time.”
Aderin-Pocock, an honorary research associate in the UCL’s department of physics and astronomy, said:
“I find Ephraim Hardcastle’s idea very interesting, I now picture the Newsnight team flipping through their Rolodex, saying ‘too white, too male… ah, two ethnic minority females, perfect!’.
Monday was a very busy day for me, receiving 10 requests for news interviews, I was able to do Radio 4’s PM programme, 5 Live, Channel 5 News and Newsnight.
I believe that the requests were made for my ability to translate complex ideas into something accessible, rather than my gender or the colour of my skin.”
A Mail spokesman has made it clear that the paper fully accepts that the women were highly qualified in their field and that was the reason they were chosen for interview. The Mail is in contact with Professor Price.