The Culture Secretary tweeted “There were far, far more cheers, but that doesn’t make a good headline does it” in response to an article in the Times reporting that Boris Johnson had been booed by crowds as he and his wife Carrie arrived at St Pauls’ cathedral for the Jubilee thanksgiving service.
There was no doubt, that the Prime Minister was roundly booed or that there were more boos than cheers. Those present reported this and TV viewers could hear them. Chris Ship, ITV Royal Editor, stated that: “The facts are, and I was there, the boos were very loud indeed. No escaping that. Reporters are there to report. Not make stuff up.”
Johnson was booed, as The Times, ITV and many others reported, and those outside St Pauls heard with their own ears. There is therefore no question the Culture Secretary was misleading her Twitter followers.
But perhaps it’s wrong to accuse her of lying. Maybe she really believed what she said. This cannot be ruled out. Note the similarities between Nadine Dorries’ denial of reality and Donald Trump’s response to photographic evidence proving that Barrack Obama had attracted larger crowds to his inauguration in 2009 than he did in 2017.
Trump and his supporters flatly denied this was the case and accused the news media of lying, while White House press secretary Sean Spicer admonished the news media for reporting that Trump’s crowd was smaller than other recent inauguration crowds, claiming, “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period — both in person and around the globe.”
A study by the Washington Post polled voters and discovered that a significant number of supporters of Donald Trump, even when confronted with photographic evidence proving the opposite, asserted that the Trump crowd was larger.
The Washington Post concluded: “To many political psychologists, this exercise will be familiar. A growingbody of research documents how fully Americans appear to hold biased positions about basic political facts. But scholars also debate whether partisans actually believe the misinformation and how many are knowingly giving the wrong answer to support their partisan team (a process called expressive responding).”
We approached Nadine Dorries' office and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport to give her a chance to comment, but received no response.