Morning Call: pick of the papers

The ten must-read comment pieces from this morning's papers.

1. Labour must fight this war, not the last one (Daily Telegraph)

Syria’s children have a dream, too – it’s worth fighting for to make the world a better place, writes Mary Riddell. 

2. Does President Obama know he’s fighting on al-Qa’ida’s side? (Independent)

‘All for one and one for all’ should be the battle cry if the west goes to war against Assad’s Syrian regime, says Robert Fisk. 

3What happens in Syria will not stay in Syria (Times)

If Assad is allowed to cross Obama’s red line without consequence, America is giving a green light to other evils, says Daniel Finkelstein. 

4. An attack on Syria will only spread the war and killing (Guardian)

Instead of removing the chemical weapon threat, another western assault on the Arab world risks escalation and backlash, says Seumas Milne. 

5. This is a moment for democratic nations to live up to their values (Daily Telegraph)

The use of chemical weapons by President Assad's regime in Syria is a moral outrage that cannot go unchallenged, argues William Hague. 

6. Republicans weigh up the death of Obamacare (Times)

The President’s healthcare policy is hugely unpopular but it would be risky to repeal it, writes Justin Webb.

7. It’s not HS2 that’s going to boost the north’s economy (Independent)

Building this line would be just another way of reinforcing London’s pre-eminence, writes John Rentoul.

8. This war monger is the very last man we should listen to (Daily Mail

Tony Blair has not learnt any lessons from the tragic mistake of Iraq, writes Stephen Glover. Let’s hope, at this eleventh hour, that David Cameron finally will.

9. A year on from the Paralympics, people with disabilities still face prejudice and abuse (Guardian)

Attitudes to disability are so deep-rooted that the euphoria over the 2012 heroes could not spark a sea change, writes Ian Birrell.

10. To pivot to Asia we must learn the lingo (Financial Times)

States with centrally set curriculums can quickly change their language profile, writes Irvin Studin.

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The economics of outrage: Why you haven't seen the end of Katie Hopkins

Her distasteful tweet may have cost her a job at LBC, but this isn't the last we've seen of Britain's biggest troll. 

Another atrocity, other surge of grief and fear, and there like clockwork was the UK’s biggest troll. Hours after the explosion at the Manchester Arena that killed 22 mostly young and female concert goers, Katie Hopkins weighed in with a very on-brand tweet calling for a “final solution” to the complex issue of terrorism.

She quickly deleted it, replacing the offending phrase with the words “true solution”, but did not tone down the essentially fascist message. Few thought it had been an innocent mistake on the part of someone unaware of the historical connotations of those two words.  And no matter how many urged their fellow web users not to give Hopkins the attention she craved, it still sparked angry tweets, condemnatory news articles and even reports to the police.

Hopkins has lost her presenting job at LBC radio, but she is yet to lose her column at Mail Online, and it’s quite likely she won’t.

Mail Online and its print counterpart The Daily Mail have regularly shown they are prepared to go down the deliberately divisive path Hopkins was signposting. But even if the site's managing editor Martin Clarke was secretly a liberal sandal-wearer, there are also very good economic reasons for Mail Online to stick with her. The extreme and outrageous is great at gaining attention, and attention is what makes money for Mail Online.

It is ironic that Hopkins’s career was initially helped by TV’s attempts to provide balance. Producers could rely on her to provide a counterweight to even the most committed and rational bleeding-heart liberal.

As Patrick Smith, a former media specialist who is currently a senior reporter at BuzzFeed News points out: “It’s very difficult for producers who are legally bound to be balanced, they will sometimes literally have lawyers in the room.”

“That in a way is why some people who are skirting very close or beyond the bounds of taste and decency get on air.”

But while TV may have made Hopkins, it is online where her extreme views perform best.  As digital publishers have learned, the best way to get the shares, clicks and page views that make them money is to provoke an emotional response. And there are few things as good at provoking an emotional response as extreme and outrageous political views.

And in many ways it doesn’t matter whether that response is negative or positive. Those who complain about what Hopkins says are also the ones who draw attention to it – many will read what she writes in order to know exactly why they should hate her.

Of course using outrageous views as a sales tactic is not confined to the web – The Daily Mail prints columns by Sarah Vine for a reason - but the risks of pushing the boundaries of taste and decency are greater in a linear, analogue world. Cancelling a newspaper subscription or changing radio station is a simpler and often longer-lasting act than pledging to never click on a tempting link on Twitter or Facebook. LBC may have had far more to lose from sticking with Hopkins than Mail Online does, and much less to gain. Someone prepared to say what Hopkins says will not be out of work for long. 

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