In which The Independent jumps the shark

A couple of weeks ago Oliver Wright of The Independent ran a hatchet job, both horrible and nonsensical, about the head of the RCGP, Clare Gerada — the tireless and currently ubiquitous critic of the NHS privatisation Health and Social Care Bill. You may remember Ben Goldacre wrote about Oliver Wright’s awful story. He mentioned how badly the story reflected on Oliver Wright.

I thought about how badly the story reflected on The Independent. I don’t read The Independent very often (does anybody?) but it wasn’t the first time this year that I’d noticed The Independent taking a bizarro line, and in a news piece, supporting the government or libertorian lobbies on issues that seemed contrary to their traditional stance. I briefly wondered whether there had been a proprietorially-engineered shift in editorial position while I wasn’t paying attention these past few years, or whether maybe the staff cuts were taking their toll, and then I forgot about it all because I don’t really care.

Then Chester Cycling found and satirised this amazing comment piece.

So I took a look at The Indy comment pages for the first time in years.

The first article is a sub-Delingpole Telegraph Blogs-style piece: “Is catastrophic global warming, like the Millenium Bug, a mistake?”. Pure link bait and comment trolling. The most delightful thing is the illustration, still watermarked:

The second article is Daily Express-style capture-the-audience-with-fear fiction piece: “Michael Gove could be prime minister”.

I was a bit surprised to see The Independent publishing this sort of crap. Although I’ve hardly read anything from it in years (has anybody?) I still had a vague idea that it was a quality paper. But it seems that the well-documented link baiting and comment trolling practices, pioneered by Spiked! Magazine and familiar from the likes of Telegraph Blogs can not be stopped. The Independent has jumped the shark.

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