The name Jan Moir won't be forgotten in a hurry. In one ill-thought out article, the Daily Mail columnist managed to seriously offend the family and friends of Stephen Gately, his millions of fans, gay men and women the world over, anyone who has lost a loved one suddenly, those with heart conditions and well… pretty much anyone with a heart I should imagine, writes Phil Matthews.
I do feel sorry for so-called ‘journalists' like Ms Moir. They seem to live in this extraordinary tabloid bubble, every day desperate to come up with the next controversial headline to gain attention, jabbing their sharp pin against the surface. Unfortunately for Jan, it seems today she poked a little too hard. The bubble of bile finally burst.
Putting aside the specific homophobic undertones of her article and her speculation of how the singer died for just a moment, the very fact she found herself writing an article of this kind in the first place is truly deplorable.
How any writer of any worth (or human being for that matter) thinks it's a neat idea to insult a young man on the day his body is flown back to his grieving parents, is anyone's guess. As Charlie Brooker of the Guardian puts it – Jan “has already managed to dance on his grave. For money.”
How any writer of any worth (or human being for that matter) thinks it's a neat idea to insult a young man on the day his body is flown back to his grieving parents, is anyone's guess.
The backlash of Ms Moir's comments saw the Press Complaints Commission website crash within a few hours of the article being published, with over 1,000 objections already been lodged. Social networking sites were bombarded with angry messages, calling for the journalist to be sacked. Celebrities such as Stephen Fry twittered their disgust, advertisers were unimpressed, and by mid-afternoon it was clear the repercussions were just beginning. Matthew Wright, a ex-Fleet Street journo himself who has already attacked newspapers for their ill-informed assumptions on the matter, has an entire weekend to prepare for his Jan-bashing item on Monday's The Wright Stuff.
Of course Ms Moir has issued a statement through the newspaper claiming it was not her intention to upset anyone. I imagine most people have read the article by now and although I've tried, I just can't seem to see how “the circumstances surrounding his death are more than a little sleazy” can be considered non-offensive, when several medical reports have clearly stated Stephen Gately died of natural causes. “Healthy and fit 33-year-old men do not just climb into their pyjamas and go to sleep on the sofa, never to wake up again.” Oh the ignorance.
In her reply, Ms Moir also seemed to defend her comments about civil partnerships. She said: “I was suggesting that civil partnerships – the introduction of which I am on the record in supporting – have proved just to be as problematic as marriages.” Erm… yeah. But what's this got to do with Stephen's death? Oh yes, how could I forget Jan was making an assumption that Stephen and Andrew's civil partnership was doomed because they had invited someone back to their apartment that night. Clumsy, careless journalism.
Nevertheless, the team at the Daily Mail must be well pleased with themselves. This is just the sort of awareness they thrive on. Oh and if you've complained to the Press Complaints Commission as I did today, it will be interesting to see the outcome. The Chairman, Paul Dacre, happens to be the Editor of the Daily Mail.