The media class hates the Daily Mail because it is far more successful than other newspapers, according to Spectator political editor Peter Oborne.
Oborne argued against the motion “The trouble with this country is the Daily Mail” at a debate at the Royal Geographical Society suggesting the newspaper’s high circulation demonstrated its popularity and success among the British people.
Oborne said: “The Daily Mail’s high circulation cannot be squared with the idea that it is out of touch with society. If an alien came to Britain, they would say that the Daily Mail is four times more in touch with the British people than a newspaper like The Times.”
But Times assistant editor Mary Ann Sieghart and Francis Wheen, who recently won the George Orwell Prize for political writing, argued that the Mail had little understanding of the British people and claimed that seeing its high readership as indicative of quality was a mistake.
Sieghart said: “The Daily Mail has a cardboard cut-out of the world and hasn’t realised that this country has changed.”
She added: “When people say the Daily Mail must be good because it has so many readers, I would say that McDonald’s sells lots of burgers, but that doesn’t mean it’s good food.
“The reason that it has so many readers is because of a lack of choice in the market.”
Wheen claimed: “The Daily Mail picks on people that can’t defend themselves – like asylum seekers.
“Anyone who thinks that journalism should have something to do with telling the truth, won’t find this in the Daily Mail. It’s purely a propaganda machine that has managed to persuade lots of people, including the Prime Minister, that it sets the agenda.”
Author and journalist Tom Bower, speaking against the motion, praised the Daily Mail’s proprietor. “Lord Rothermere, unlike other newspaper proprietors, is only interested in producing a cracking product which is full of good journalism,” he said.
“The Daily Mail works to expose the powerful and the corrupt and it can do this because of its independence. It’s a blessing for Britain. Without the Daily Mail, the country would be infinitely worse off.”
Despite his and Oborne’s defence of the Mail, the motion was passed.
By Claire Newell