Do the media lead the anti-benefits screaming?

The cleverness of photo-manipulation.

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Among the most interesting things that happen on the news desks of papers are the decisions -- often taken quite high up -- over which photograph should go with a story. Searches will be made to find downcast pictures of politicians having a bad day -- Gordon Brown was a regular recent victim of this -- and often a split-second averting of the eyes to some notes can be made to look like an expression of despair from someone about to throw themselves off a bridge (try putting Brown, or John Major, into Google Images for some commonly used results).

So it was interesting to see that the Mail used this picture for a story about disability benefit.

According to my colleague Mehdi Hasan, Iain Dale, during a debate on Radio 5-Live at the weekend, denied that the media led the way when it comes to demonising benefit claimants, claiming instead that anti-benefits feeling came from the public.

I am sure many people are fed up with claimants (though I find the new consensus that Labour simply spent its time handing out benefits to fakes and the undeserving somewhat hard to believe). But looking at this picture, do you agree that the media do not play a leading role in this?

I particularly like the bit in brackets after the caption:

Feet up: Claimants will lose their disability benefits as the public spending cuts bite (Posed by model)


James Macintyre is political correspondent for the New Statesman.
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