A leaked email from The Sun newspaper has shown the depths to which the tabloid media will sink in order to find their “exclusive” stories on welfare and disabilities issues.
Journalist Kate Evans, from Oxford, works for a charity which promotes self-advocacy in the disabled community, and she received the appalling and “toxic” message via a mailing list this morning.
The email, signed by a contributing editor for The Sun, was asking for a woman over the age of 35 who “used to be overweight and on disability living allowance due to weight related issues, but is now a healthy weight and employed.”
The editor was looking for someone who would write that overweight people deserved to lose their benefits if they refused treatment such as gastric band surgery on the NHS.
The email stated:
We’d want her to talk about how having her benefits taken away would have given her the motivation to lose weight, and how great she feels now that she’s thin and supporting herself.
This press request from a women's magazine in my inbox this morning. Just no. pic.twitter.com/U24yHnakgM
— Kate (@katetokley) August 11, 2015
Journalism today. Story already written, narrative already set. https://t.co/mLZevWXIvB
— Return of the Mark (@Watski) August 11, 2015
Kate said she wasn’t offended by the journalist who’d sent the request, but rather by the fact that approaching stories in this way shows “systemic issues” in the media.
There’s something really wrong about this discourse we have around disabilities and benefits and weight and the way we are told to look at those issues.
It’s a pretty shocking example of the agendas that some news organisations in the UK are operating with. Remember that the next time you’re outraged by the latest story in the Sun or the Mail about so-called “benefit scroungers”.