A poster girl for idiotic journalism at its most inane

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The Independent Online

It was a close run thing this year, but finally we have a winner: nominations for Stupidest Bit of Journalism 2011 are now closed. Our champion blessed page 15 of yesterday’s Daily Mail, and came from the mighty pen of Sandra Parsons. Her writing was so stupid, dear reader, that I must beg forgiveness and re-produce it in full. Under the headline “Not such a smart move, Emily…”, and adjacent to a full-page picture of her, it read:

Emily Maitlis "swung her hips like a catwalk model as she sashayed about in tight tops, jeans and high-heeled boots during her documentary about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. She is blonde, beautiful and brainy, with a degree from Cambridge and a job on Newsnight, one of our premier current affairs programmes. She should be a role model for career women everywhere. What a shame she seems intent on merely becoming a poster girl.”

What?! Which devilish course of idiot-logic must one pass to infer this conclusion from the first sentence? How does it follow that Maitlis is “merely intent” on being a “poster girl”? Who the hell is Sardonic Sandra to write this nonsense about someone she doesn’t know? If Maitlis were wearing baggy jeans would she be spared such scorn?

Amazingly, our winning writer is oblivious to the irony that she is only commenting about Maitlis because she needed a beautiful woman in the main picture on the page – that is, if anyone is merely intent on turning Maitlis into a poster girl, it’s the journalist who plasters her across a national newspaper!

Logically, this leaves the Stupidest Bit of Journalism 2011 as a repository of three things: first, over-written prose; second, a specious argument; third, an insult to her colleagues on the picture desk, who spend their lives converting people like Maitlis into poster girls (a practice the columnist so abhors).

Readers may wish to know that, until yesterday’s emphatic conclusion to the competition, the favourite to win came from that other witless termagant employed by the Mail, Amanda ‘ Plateful-of-Hatred’ Platell. Her demented rant about Hugh Grant, published on November 3rd, was exquisitely excoriated by the actor in his testimony to the Leveson Inquiry.

I have never met Maitlis and do not know her. I do follow her on Twitter. Compared to these witches, her contribution to our national life is noble and precious. Plateful Platell I have long known to be without an iota of common sense. Yesterday, I must admit, Sardonic Sandra surpassed all expectations.

Nominations for next year’s competition will open in the New Year. In the meantime, please tell me: why do you sisters do this to each other?