I suppose one can applaud Kelvin MacKenzie for judging how to appeal to the baser instincts of Sun readers. The applause stops, however, when he gets within sight of Liverpool municipal boundaries.
Boot-boy journalism, which is the MacKenzie credo, carries the risk of passing into the wild west terrain of Twitter and Facebook, where rules are unobserved. Popular it can be, but it can also be populist in its base form, a style of ranting designed to pluck out prejudice. With Ross Barkley it went too far. It isn't just Liverpool (the whole of the city and not just Everton) which is staggered by his idiocy. As far as the Barkley diatribe is concerned, the truth, because MacKenzie historically trades in truth (as with Hillsborough), is that Kelvin is the thick one for believing that accusations of racial slurs are beyond parody.
It has been revealing to note how News Corp in its different forms has rounded on the one-time Sun editor. TalkSport is ultimately owned by the Murdoch empire. In a discussion of the Barkley column, MacKenzie was branded an idiot. It was one of the various Dannys who described him thus. There are so many it's difficult to identify which one, but I think it was Gabbidon. It doesn't really matter. It will be even more revealing if Sunday evening's Press Pass programme dissects the affair. It would be odd were it not to, given that this is a programme with sports journalists who discuss what has been in the press. Its presenter is typically Neil Ashton, chief football reporter at the Sun.
It does seem, however, that outrage only genuinely surfaces when there are specific targets of this boot-boy banter. Earlier this month, MacKenzie had a go at Spain. He raised the populist and nationalist flag over Gibraltar and proposed that the British boycott Spain. What would happen, he mused, if all the Brit tourists stopped going. In so musing, he was wide of the mark in terms of the numbers of tourists. That was just poor research. The rest of what he had to say was either offensive or stupid. Say goodbye to all the Spaniards in the UK, place a special tax on Rioja, let's hope that the state visit by Felipe and Letizia can be ruined, the people who govern Spain are "cretins".
The Spanish reaction, press-wise at any rate, is to understand that the British will take no heed of his boycott call. MacKenzie represents the worst of the noble office of journalism. He is the cretin.