The United Kingdom is about to stumble into its terminal chaos of Brexit – the British exit from the 28-nation European Union.
With his customary hypocrisy, shamelessness and barefaced lies, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has agreed to do it on virtually the same terms that the outraged herd of Gadarene Swine Brexiteers excoriated his predecessor Theresa May for accepting.
Unlike the eternally hapless May, Johnson at least has the dubious gift of King Midas in reverse. He turns everything golden he touches into worthless dross – with the added enchantment that his millions of dupes are convinced he has turned dross into gold!
Johnson’s reliable ally in his bibulous drunken bungles over the past decade as Mayor of London and then rising star of the Conservative Party has been the supposedly lovable but truly vile tabloid press of Britain.
They have relentlessly sold him to the British public as a lovable, endearing embodiment of patriotism rather than the power-hungry, exceptionally irresponsible, lazy, erratic and prone to-panic Straw Dog he truly is.
One should not be surprised: For the UK’s tabloid press has a long, detailed record that is horrifying, disgusting and degrading.
In the UK, the popular tabloid newspapers in Rupert Murdoch’s media empire hacked into the voice mail of a murdered 13-year-old girl. They did the same in the case of British soldiers killed fighting in the line of duty in Afghanistan.
The harsh truth, never acknowledged anywhere in the British media culture, is that the hypocritical and salacious British hunger for tabloid trash — far worse than anything seen in the United States, Russia or any other major industrialized nation — has done the British people incalculable harm on at least three occasions in the past century.
The first occasion was in the 1914-18 period through World War I. The popular British press then was dominated by two newspapers which, although not tabloids in technical form in those days, certainly conformed to the most base tabloid ethos.
They were the Daily Express, owned by Max Aitken, who became Lord Beaverbrook, and the Daily Mail, owned by Alfred Harmsworth, who became Lord Northcliffe.
Through World War I, these two newspapers supported the British governments of Herbert Henry Asquith and David Lloyd George by whipping up a patriotic frenzy against Germany. They published and endorsed hysterical stories of horrific war atrocities supposedly committed by German forces occupying Belgium — stories that were totally fictitious. (The great Irish patriot Roger Casement who exposed the lies about atrocities in Belgium was later captured by the British and shamefully hanged on a trumped up charge of treason.)
A generation later, during World War II, sober, factual accounts of genocidal Nazi behavior in the Holocaust against the Jewish people, and towards Polish, Ukrainian and Russian communities, were widely dismissed in the West because of the alleged precedent of fabricated stories by the Northcliffe Daily Mail and its emulators during World War I.
Even worse, the UK popular press, led by Northcliffe, portrayed the British generals led by Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig as military geniuses, when they were in fact merciless, stupid butchers and bunglers of the lowest order.
More than one million British soldiers died in a series of Western Front battles, culminating in the Battle of the Somme in 1916 and Passchendaele in 1917 — endeavors that gained only a ludicrous few hundred yards of territory.
By the end of World War I, with the armistice of November 11, 1918, one-third of all adult Britons between the ages of 18 and 45 had either been killed or seriously injured with wounds and chronic conditions that caused their premature deaths 30 to 40 years ahead of actuarial probability.
Northcliffe was never held to account for his monstrous lies. He died insane in 1920, probably from advanced syphilis.
The second great damage that reckless press lords inflicted on the British people came in the 1930s when Lord Rothermere, the publisher of the Daily Mail (and the brother and successor of Northcliffe), and (once again) Lord Beaverbrook and his Daily Express, admired Adolf Hitler as a champion (in their minds) against communism and the Soviet Union.
Those 1930s press lords reassured the British public that Hitler was no threat to them and systematically suppressed fearless reporting from its correspondents in Germany that would have revealed the true nature of Hitler’s dictatorship.
In recent years, the tabloids have adopted the opposite approach to Russia – painting it as a land of poverty, terror, misery and tyranny –which anyone who has travelled there over the past 20 years knows to be a ludicrous and shameful lie.
The UK tabloids’ cynical support for Johnson, a reckless adventurer who betrayed and systematically worked to ruin the two previous prime ministers he served under – David Cameron and Mrs. May – should therefore come as no surprise.
Britain’s popular press lords have gone to bed with the country’s political leaders for more than a century, usually with catastrophic results.
The British people have paid an appalling price through two world wars and bungled economic policies for their ceaseless appetite for prurient gossip and the unnecessary details of grisly crimes.
If they now recklessly take the leap with Boris Johnson into economic isolation, economic collapse and social disintegration they have no one to blame but themselves – and their beloved tabloids.