Possibly my favourite piece of tabloid hypocrisy ever comes from the Daily Star in 2001. To the right, outrage about Chris Morris’ Brass Eye paedophilia special, a satirical TV show. To the left, readers are encouraged to admire the breasts of a 15 year old girl, captioned “she’s a big girl now”, with the observation that she is looking “chest swell”. A fabulously ironic juxtaposition.
The Brass Eye special generated a moral panic in several tabloids, with government ministers chipping in, notes the Guardian:
Government Ministers condemned the programme, only to admit they hadn’t watched it. The papers which were frothing most exuberantly began quietly shooting themselves in the feet. One Mail splurge on the programme (headed ‘Unspeakably sick’, the words of one of the Ministers who hadn’t watched it) was preceded by close-ups of Princesses Beatrice (13) and Eugenie (11) in their bikinis; in the Star , beside a shock-horror-sicko Morris story, sat a picture of singer Charlotte Church in a tight top (‘She’s a big girl now … chest swell!’). Church is 15.