Last June, the Economist ran this chart: "Lies, Damned Lies, and Directives," which documents decades of flat-out lies about EU regulations that were published in the tabloid press (many invented by the UK's post-Brexit foreign minister and Trumpian hairclown Boris Johnson, whose press colleagues considered him most reckless confabulist on European matters in their ranks).
The lies were debunked by a tepid truth squad employed by the European Commission, who managed to get an average of about 1,000 visits to each of their articles. The Daily Mail gets 225 million visits/month.
The Economist also provides a hand league table ranking the British tabloids by their propensity for lying, with the Daily Mail at the very top (of course).
THE Brexit campaign has been plagued by little white lies, half-truths and disinformation. Neither side has showered itself in glory in its attempts to persuade the British public of the benefits or drawbacks of EU membership. But Britain has a long and well-observed tradition of fabricating facts about Europe—so much so that the European Commission (EC) set up a website to debunk these lies in the early 1990s. Try our interactive quiz below and see if you can spot the myths.
Since then the EC has responded to over 400 myths published by the British media. These range from the absurd (fishing boats will be forced to carry condoms) to the ridiculous (zippers on trousers will be banned). Some are seemingly the result of wilful misunderstandings. A story published by the Sun, a tabloid, in 1999 claimed that the queen would suddenly have to make her own tea because of new EU rules. Not only is this inaccurate, as a patient EC official pointed out, but the laws that this referred to were enacted by Britain itself in 1993. Another article in the Daily Star in 2004 reckoned that the EU was going to limit the speed of children’s playground roundabouts. This voluntary guideline, it turned out, was not proposed by the EU at all, but rather by a different organisation with the word “Europe” in its name. Other myths do not originate from anything close to reality, such as the allegation that the EC would ban darts from pubs or outlaw unwrapped sweets.
Debunking years of tabloid claims about Europe
(via John Naughton)