How the Daily Mail lies about immigration. Part IV: "The Big Little Lie"

This is the fourth in a series of posts about exactly how the Mail article '120 immigrants from Romania and Bulgaria arrive in Britain every day to be circus stars' misleads the paper's readers. The other parts of the series are linked at the bottom of the post.

So, the bait and switch is complete. The rest of the article shifts confusingly between talking about A8 migrants and those from Romania and Bulgaria, making statements that only apply to one in order to exaggerate the rate and implications of migration from Romania and Bulgaria. More on the rest of the article later, but for now I want to look at the logic of hanging the article from a lie about circus performers.

Why bother lying about the number of 'circus artistes' and make that the whole focus of the article?

The headline claim is quite transparently a deliberate lie. This is something that initially seems baffling. What's the point of singling out this one figure to focus on? At first, it just seems like a Daily Mail eccentricity, but doing this serves four very useful purposes for the article. I've briefly touched on a couple already, but not explicitly.

Exaggerating the overall total of migrants

Saying that 120 a day arrive to be circus starts gives the impression that the real total is well over 120 a day. The article even out and out states that the total is more than 120 a day. But given the possible number of professions, 120 circus stars a day gives the impression that the total of all the other professions put together must be huge.

Giving the impression that people registering have lied

One of the things that saying most Romanians have applied to be circus artistes does is make them look like liars. How can over 10,000 people all have jobs as circus stars? It seems unbelieveable because it is actually a lie. The journalist must know that only 40 Romanians have applied to be circus artistes, as the number appear in the same table that circus artiste is top of. It's still reported as 120 a day.

Giving the impression that the appplication process is an easily cheated shambles

If that many really had registered with joining the circus in mind, it would make the system look decidedly dodgy. If it seems obvious to the reader that 10,000 people can't have jobs as circus artistes, then it should also be obvious to the people processing the applications. But 120 a day are getting registered in this profession and it's the most common profession claimed by Romanians. So a bunch of gullible fools are allowing the system to be cheated.

Creating the bridge between the bait and the switch

By mentioning that the most common profession for Romanians is 'circus artiste' right after mentioning the government's prediction of a further 40,000 Romanians and Bulgarians arriving this year, and opening the sentence with the 'For rather than the plumbers and builders many expected,' statement - the article boosts the impression that the 40,000 prediction will be a vast underestimate.

By then switching to talk about how a previous government prediction was wrong, the article creates its switch.

At the same time, it casts further doubt on how accurate the "actual" total of 10,535 applications can be.

A useful hook - and a useful label

Given what this misleading stat has allowed the paper to do, it is a very useful hook to hang the rest of the article from. But there's one other thing.

It gives a nice little label to use as a stereotype for Romanians. The paper had already gone into fits of panic about the number of gypsies set to come from Romania, and circuses are associated with gypsies. The label links in nicely with this.

Thanks to the Mail we now have Romanian circus star along with Polish plumber to add to our list of questionable racial epithets.

So focusing on circuses isn't just eccentric. It's very useful indeed to the Mail.

Click below for the further thrilling instalments in 'How the Daily Mail lies about immigration'!

How the Daily Mail lies about immigration. Part I: "The Context"
How the Daily Mail lies about immigration. Part II: "The Bait"
How the Daily Mail lies about immigration. Part III: "The Switch"
How the Daily Mail lies about immigration. Part V: "The Quotes"
How the Daily Mail lies about immigration. Part VI: "The Final Chapter"