John Mason is a victim of ‘Quack Journalism’

Imagine asking people their opinion on a hypothetical event nobody was proposing and that pretty much everyone agreed was not going to come to pass.  On Monday The Herald newspaper gave over its front page to just such a survey.

The newspaper dutifully reported that a majority of people in Scotland did not want a second independence referendum this year.  So something that nobody is proposing isn’t backed by people who aren’t asking for it.

It’s what I’ve termed ‘Quack Journalism’.  Quack journalism is presenting as news something that isn’t.  It’s the manufacturing of a story to give it the appearance of news.

Gordon Wilson

Another example of ‘Quack Journalism’ appeared in the same newspaper the day after the survey.  The story – SNP ex-leader: Delay the vote on independence –  appeared courtesy of the irrelevant and politically redundant former MP Gordon Wilson.

The article contained the following:

NICOLA Sturgeon should shelve a second independence referendum “indefinitely”, a former SNP leader has said, after a new poll showed most Scots opposed to another vote this year.

… Reacting to the poll, Mr Wilson said the poll “confirms that there is no appetite for an immediate independence referendum”, and added it was “worrying” for the SNP that a third of its voters also didn’t want one, “a figure close to the number [of SNP supporters] who voted Leave”.

The article also contained this bewildering piece of drivel:

For Labour, shadow Scottish secretary Dave Anderson said: “This poll is yet further evidence that most Scots are opposed to the SNP’s latest attempt to divide our country, just as they were before Brexit.”

So we had Quack Journalism built on Quack Journalism.  Both stories were utterly worthless and probably harmless.  Wilson is of course one of a number of ex-SNP figures with an axe to grind, who regularly sharpens it within the pages or airwaves of the Scottish media.  Few take him seriously anymore.


Perhaps the worst example of Quack Journalism appeared on Tuesday evening when The Herald published a story so ridiculous that it took quackery to a whole new level.

This particular gem was based on a tweet by SNP MSP John Mason.  Below is an image of the MSPs tweet.

Here’s how The Herald article began:

SNP MSP John Mason has defended himself against claims that a message he sent on Twitter was sexist and might contribute to ‘rape culture’.

So John Mason says that, “The girl does not always say yes first time.” And he’s correct of course, many girls don’t say yes first time.  In my experience most don’t … although a few do!

This of course applies to asking for a dance, a date, a kiss or … well you know what I mean.

In terms of that most intimate of acts, through time, and if the courtship goes as hoped, then both the boy and girl may eventually feel comfortable enough to accept the advances of the other [It isn’t always boys who take the initiative.]

This is how relationships begin and progress.  It is often clumsy with signals being misread.  Initial rejection is the norm.  What it isn’t is part of a rape culture.

To imply such is Quack Journalism at its worst.  It’s the deliberate contorting of a comment for the worst possible motive.  The motive is to blacken someone’s good name, perhaps end a career, by using that most emotive of subjects – rape.

John Mason isn’t in trouble, unless of course we define ‘being in trouble’ as being the victim of Quack Journalism or the opportunists who have leapt on the quackery.  Four such opportunists are the president of NUS Scotland, Vonnie Sandlan, Glasgow Labour council candidate Maggie McTernan, Conservative equalities spokeswoman Annie Wells and Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale.

Sandlan claimed Mason’s tweet amounted to “trivialising rape culture and coercive control”.

McTernan said the tweet implied “overriding a woman’s consent”.

Wells said the tweet was ill-judged “when we are trying to tackle domestic abuse and violence against women”.

I find these interpretations of John Mason’s tweet far more disconcerting than the tweet.  Do these women really believe Mason is trivialising rape, suggesting a woman’s consent be ignored, advocating violence against women?

Dugdales response can be seen below in full:

“This is an entirely unacceptable comment from SNP MSP John Mason, which has caused considerable offence and hurt.

“Mr Mason must personally apologise for this comment and I’m sure Nicola Sturgeon will want to apologise on behalf of the SNP. The SNP leadership must now consider what disciplinary action it will take against Mr Mason.

“The First Minister will have to decide if Mr Mason is a man she genuinely believes can continue to represent the SNP, given his apparent sexist attitude towards women.

“For the first time in Scotland we’ll soon be able to prosecute coercive behaviour as the result of a Domestic Abuse Bill that was supported by all political parties.

“Mr Mason clearly learned nothing from those parliamentary debates about the importance of using responsible language.

“We have made great strides through education and campaigns to teach the lesson that No means No, and Mr Mason’s choice of words risks undermining that progress.”

Dugdale’s response sadly doesn’t surprise.  If there’s anything that the Scottish Labour leader can be relied upon to do it’s to try to make political capital in the most ill-judged manner.

Quack Journalism often misleads.  It can turn non-news into a front page scoop.  It can spawn similar quack stories.  They are often harmless.

However at its worst it can distort and seek to destroy.  Presenting an innocuous tweet as proxy-support of rape culture is as disgusting as it gets.

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10 thoughts on “John Mason is a victim of ‘Quack Journalism’

  1. mark

    Truly, truly disgusting.

    The depths they go to, the depths they try and pull everyone down to.

    And…there’s worse to come…no doubt. They won’t change their vile nature.

  2. Scott Cameron

    We should all wait with baited breath for the comments from the most exalted moral bastion that is Ms Dugdale, on her North Lanarkshire councillor’s indecent images allegation.

  3. ScotsCanuck

    ….. in respect of The Herald, did one expect anything other from it’s Omnipotent Editor, Magnus Gardam ?

  4. Alex Beveridge

    It doesn’t matter what the subject is to the M.S.M, or for that matter if there is substance to any particular “story”. It’s the headline that counts. That’s what most people see, so the print media’s job is done. They might be declining in sales, and influence, but an awful lot of people still take their lies as the gospel truth.
    All our supporters, especially our elected representatives, must take great care in their public pronouncements, as the media will twist any statement to try to blacken the S.N.P, and those of us who are due to go out canvassing in the near future, have a difficult enough job to do without having to field questions about headlines such as those above.

  5. Andy McKirdy

    Anyone with half a brain knows what Mason’s comment meant and that it had nothing to do whatsoever with what the Dug suggests but it is yet another example of our traitorous media giving voice to irrelevant politicians and Dugdale especially is completely irrelevant now in my country, as is her party.
    In any other country a politician leading a party with such poor support would be afforded attention in relation to that support but in Scotland the media shows its power by projecting the irrelevant way beyond its true position.
    I would like to see Nicola and the SG calling these people out for this type of crap in the same way as we do and in no way should anyone apologise in any way for anything to any of these arseholes.

  6. Thomas

    Absolutely disgusting, the way the MSM and some other MP’s and MSP’s portray this, its just utterly disgusting. They will take a totally innocuous and innocent statement and turn it into something that its not. Is this how desperate the MSM and SLabour MP’s are and what they will do to discredit SNP MP’s ?

    These people make me sick to the core, this is how low and slimy these people have become, shame on yous, and Kezia and Maggie McTernan you’s are both disgusting for suggesting this, this is not what the man meant and you know it. They will use any tactic to discredit someone. Nicola Sturgeon has to call this out for what it is an absolute disgrace.

    Main stream publications like this are an absolute joke and I hope no one buys these worthless rags and you close down. Journalism and integrity is dead in these London based rags, thank god for independent alternative news publications.

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