Nowadays The Daily Express is known for its scrupulous factual accuracy and its fiercely impartial reporting. This wasn’t always the case, though. As hard as it is to believe, in centuries gone by, The Daily Express was renowned for being a touch reactionary. Here we take a look at how The Crusader dealt with some of the great moments in history. It didn’t always cover itself in glory.
The Daily Express Covers the Crucifixion
Ordinarily, when somebody is tortured to death in a truly gruesome manner, we would expect some fairly sympathetic coverage from the press. Back in the days of Rothermerus Maximus, the first owner of The Daily Express, however, things were a little different. Rothermerus was an angry man, deeply troubled by his haemorrhoids. He was often known to vent his rage on all and sundry via splenetic articles in his newspaper.
His report on the death of Jesus even raised a few Roman eyebrows as it descended into a long anti-Semitic rant and demanded death for long-haired men, anyone who ever committed an act of charity and people who didn’t suffer from piles. His claim that Pilate’s decision to execute Jesus was made in response to a poll in the Express, in which 98% had voted to execute “do-gooders” in the vilest way possible, is widely disputed. Many archaeologists have pointed out that mobile ‘phones were invented several years after 33 A.D.
The Daily Express on Pompeii
In spite of his ever-worsening issues “downstairs”, Rothermerus Maximus remained at the paper’s helm for another 46 years. Then, in 79 A.D., he finally went a little too far with his coverage of the eruption of Vesuvius.
By now a staunch Christian zealot, Rothermerus took great delight in the death of 16,000 Roman citizens. Sadly, for him, the Roman’s did not see the funny side. Remembering his earlier comments on the crucifixion, the authorities promptly nailed him to a tree. It was an inauspicious start for the nation’s propaganda sheet of hearts but better days were to come.
The Daily Express Drags Itself Into the Middle Ages
Very little is known about what happened to The Daily Express during the Dark Ages. It is, however, considered highly likely that it caused them.
For that reason, we must skip a few centuries to the shortest-lived of the paper’s proprietors, Aethelmere. Having taken the reins in 792, Aethelmere got off to a fine start. However, an attack of acute xenophobia was to considerably shorten his life when he mistakenly accused Viking leader Ragnar Lothbrok of being a Norwegian.
It is believed that Ragnar was so furious about the accusation that he rode all the way to London especially to have a word with the perpetrator. It is said that he also made it abundantly clear to Aethelmere that none of his crew had applied for benefits or accommodation since their arrival, whilst removing the hapless editor’s internal organs with a dirty tooth-pick.
1066 and all That
After some initial reluctance, Rothermere Rothermereson decided that the Normans offered a fine alternative to the Danelaw. He became a firm admirer of William the Bastard’s aristocratic approach and his ruthless, and frequently terminal, oppression of the peasantry. By the time that William arrived in Hastings, the Daily Express was firmly committed to the cause.
The man who was soon to become King William was, indeed, highly privileged. It would be another eight and a half centuries before the Express got quite so firmly behind a foreign leader with plans to invade the British Isles.
The Crusader is Born
By 1189, things had been getting a little too peaceful for the Express’s liking. Lord Percival Rothermere decided that it was time to campaign for a new war. Having carefully selected an enemy by sticking a pin in a map, Percival launched an all-out media assault on the Moors. With its almost daily rants against Islam and foreign things in general, the Express created an environment in which it was impossible for Henry II to do anything other than declare war on Darkest Foreignshire.
Nobody is entirely sure how many people died in the third crusade but The Daily Express’s tireless campaign for it has to be regarded as one of the most successful in its long and colourful history. Sadly, however, the precise location of the Holy Grail remains unknown.
Join us again soon for part 2 of this series when will be looking at how Britain’s oldest brand of toilet paper inadvertently encouraged its readers to die of the Black Death; fail to discover the New World; set fire to London and much, much more.
Please note that no offence is intended to any Daily Express hacks or proprietors, either dead or braindead.