In journalese 'snubbing' is very much the new 'not doing something' - for Jeremy Corbyn at least. This week, among other things, he snubbed the national anthem and Rugby World Cup.
The Telegraph and Evening Standard claim Corbyn "snubbed" the Rugby World Cup.
It is all part of an increasingly desperate attempt to paint anything Corbyn does - or doesn't do, for that matter - in the most negative light possible.
If Corbyn had gone to the rugby, of course, the very same papers would have criticised him for betraying his socialist roots and 'sticking his snout in the trough of corporate hospitality', or some such. The extent to which Corbyn will be damned whatever he does was clear from The Sun's coverage this week.
Among other over-reaching criticisms of Corbyn this week was The Times attempt to convince readers that he rides a "Mao-style bicycle" - also known as "a bicycle" as a number of people were quick to point out. However, the prize for the most desperate hatchet-job of the week goes to the Sunday Express for this effort:
"Jeremy Corbyn’s great great grandfather was the master of a workhouse described as “a scandal and a curse to a country which calls itself civilised and Christian".
His "great great grandfather"? I'm not sure there was really much Corbyn could do about his ancestor's activities in the 1850s, given he wasn't born for another 100 years - though presumably the papers will report that as Corbyn snubbing Queen Victoria and the whole 19th century.
The Daily Express claims to have uncovered the "X-rated" past of an X-Factor contestant who told judges on the show she worked on the family farm.
The Express reports:
"Hannah told the judges and viewers at home that ...she hadn't given her singing career a real go because she'd been busy working on her family's farm...However, it's now been revealed that she spent at least one night...as a cage-fighting ring girl."
That doesn't sound very "X-rated". And you'd think the Express, of all people, would know what counts as X-rated, given their owner Richard Desmond owns porn channel Television X, home to programmes such as Gobble Box, Friends With Benefits Street, Mummies Gone Wild and Lolly's School of Rubber.
From the newspaper that revealed Paris Jackson was lined up to be the new Doctor Who comes news that David Beckham is set to be the new James Bond.
Despite the Star's confident claims, which are based on some people on Twitter thinking it sounds cool, Beckham's odds to be the next Bond remain long at 200-1 with bookmakers Paddy Power and Ladbrokes. That makes him even less fancied for the role than other unlikely candidates such as Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe (100-1), comedian David Walliams (100-1), John Travolta (100-1), boxer David Haye (100-1) and fellow ex-footballer Vinnie Jones (80-1).
Bookies' favourites Tom Hardy, Idris Elba or Damian Lewis remain hotly fancied to beat Beckham to the role.
In recent years I've tried to ignore Daily Mail columnist Richard Littlejohn, largely because when I do read his columns I find the increasing adherence to his unimaginative template just as offensive as what he says. His constant repetition and limited range invariably leave me wondering whether I've read this one before or whether they really are all exactly the same.
If you have to be offensive at least put some effort into it, but with Littlejohn it feels as if any original thought there might once have been is now lost in a sea of huffing and puffing about "diversity", "elf and safety", "muslims", "foreigners", "gays" and the "self-righteous Guardianistas" and "metropolitan elite" ruining schools, marriages and bin collections. Any mention of equality, liberals or feminists is couched in inverted commas because typing "so-called" before every mention would be too much work for Littlejohn. The same goes for 'human rights' though Littlejohn spells it 'Yuman Rights' because his readers' expectations regarding what passes for wit have been set incredibly low.
Of course all writers, particularly columnists, need a recognisable style. But it seems that is all Littlejohn has. There is little discernible substance; no wit, no compelling argument, no originality.
He even relies heavily on the same tired cultural references, often from the same 1980s comedy programmes, which appear with tedious monotony:
But on Friday, Littlejohn shared his thoughts (for want of a better word) on the harrowing images of refugee Aylan Kurdi, the Syrian child whose body washed up on a Turkish beach sparking widespread calls for action on the crisis. With dread intrigue I clicked to see how the most predictable of commentators had reacted to something which had forced many in the UK media to stop and think and even ditch their routine criticism and contempt for migrants.
"By any standards, it was a horrible, harrowing, heart-wrenching image. A young boy, washed up dead on a Mediterranean beach, cradled in the arms of a Turkish policeman. I defy anyone with a shred of humanity not to be moved by the photograph…"
At this point even Littlejohn was still making sense.
But not for long. He went on to put the boot into "preening pundits queueing up to parade their compassion" and "media tarts" exploiting "the shocking death of a child just [to] feel good about themselves" with their "deranged" reaction to the images. But he omitted to mention the most glaring volte-face on this whole refugee crisis had arguably been from his own paper who apparently needed those images more than anybody to wake up to the fact there is a "human catastrophe" taking place in Europe:
Of course logic isn't Littlejohn’s strong suit as he proved when wheeling out a most ludicrous argument in response to Labour MP Yvette Cooper’s call for the UK to take in more refugees.
"If Yvette is so keen on welcoming Syrian migrants, maybe she could invite a couple of families to live [with her]".
This was the same argument a UKIP councillor used when trying to troll a celebrity on Twitter and it doesn’t get any less stupid for repeat use or an appearance in a national newspaper.
And so it transpires that yet again, even with painfully topical subject matter that forced others to stop and think, Littlejohn’s offering is the same old all-too-predictable grumbling-by-numbers.
The lazy clichés and tiresome cheap shots repeat to fade as ever, with mentions of "the joyous 'diversity' we are all ordered to 'celebrate'" and "self-righteous metropolitan Guardianistas" (of course) - not forgetting the "'liberal' luvvies", complete with inverted commas.
The images in today's papers are almost impossible to bear. But it shouldn't have needed a dead child to force some people to rediscover their humanity and it shouldn't have needed a dead child to force people to stop demonising the victims of a humanitarian crisis.
It shouldn't have needed such harrowing images to make people end cruel and dehumanising attacks on "swarms" of families just seeking safety. It shouldn't need the hideous reality behind those images to stop people whipping up fear and hatred towards those most in need of our help.
It shouldn't take a dead child to force those with a powerful voice to start talking about "victims" not "vermin"; for open contempt to be replaced by traces of compassion which may prove fleeting but might, hopefully, become the prevailing voice in the media.
It shouldn't, but sadly it has.