Kelvin MacKenzie’s missive against Ross Barkley and the people of Liverpool reaffirms his status in the city as a uniquely offensive and mistrusted figure.
Twitter users quickly voiced disapproval of his column, which likened a young player of mixed-race heritage to a gorilla and made disparaging remarks about Scousers.
The reaction – as the city prepared for the 28th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster – highlighted widespread bafflement that the piece got past the editors in the first place. Fair enough. What the hell was he doing writing about Liverpool at any time, let alone now?
It also resulted in a chain of events which include a police investigation into racial hatred, MacKenzie’s suspension from The Sun and Everton joining Liverpool in banning its reporters from its facilities.
I read the piece before it was taken off The Sun’s website and thought it was jaw-droppingly bad. Whilst there are concerns raised about banning reporters and the impact on a free media, I’d bet most people see it as long overdue.
Worst of media
In my view, Kelvin MacKenzie represents the worst of Britain’s media: needlessly cruel, unwilling to take responsibility for errors and ignorant of facts that don’t fit its worldview. His infamous Hillsborough front page that has taken victims’ families decades to counter displayed all these characteristics.
He’ll be remembered for that, above all else.
He epitomised ‘fake news’ long before it became a buzz word. His impact on politics and the tone of media discourse is still evident, as can be seen from the tabloids’ Brexit coverage and the recent ‘Up Yours Senors’ [sic] splash.
MacKenzie’s statement which states that he didn’t know that Barkley is mixed race doesn’t help his cause. A quick Google search would have cleared that one up in a couple of clicks.
It’s telling that many journalists have pointed out that he does not represent the profession in response to this latest misstep. Many on The Sun will surely feel likewise.
The Sun should take note and – finally – cut MacKenzie adrift.