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Friday, 17 November 2017

Murdoch Digital Hypocrisy

On many observers’ radar yesterday was the confession by Rupert Murdoch that his print titles are having a hard time in today’s New Media age. As the Guardian reported, Murdoch “says News Corp is not looking to expand its newspaper empire, conceding digital advertising ‘has been tremendously damaging to print’ and some of his papers were struggling”. The Great Man was clearly not happy.
He told investors at News Corp’s AGM in Los Angeles “So far I think we have done pretty well in replacing lost advertising revenue in the major papers, but it continues to be a big problem … I think the big three successes we have are the three big national papers: the Wall Street Journal, the Times in London and the Australian … The other papers, a lot of them are still very viable, but they are struggling”.

So what are the Murdoch mafiosi going to do in order to turn the situation around? Will they be looking to improve their print offer? Might they look to reverse the appallingly low trust ratings that papers like the Sun now suffer in the UK - the title is less trusted than Twitter and Facebook? Will there be moves to reverse all those years of declining circulation, a push to show that print is still a force to be reckoned with?

As if you need to ask: the Murdoch strategy is, as ever, to resort to the dirtiest tricks available to them and their hangers-on, and to put the boot in on any and every new media player in order to drag them down - rather than improving what News Corp and News UK put out there. So it should have been no surprise to see the Murdoch Sun devoting editorials not to kicking the EU, but laying into the hated Web Giants instead.

More specifically, this week’s Sun target has been Facebook, with screaming headlines likeWeb giants should be fined huge sums for every damaging post they publish … Facebook has technology advanced enough to censor every ­nipple, but apparently not to spot ­political ads bought in roubles”. Er, hello? When did the Sun ever get fined for publishing something damaging? Has Rupe never done business in Russia?
Well, yes he has, hence a recent FBI investigation into those interests and their activities. Still, details, eh? Today the Sun has gone after Facebook yet again, howling “Facebook has lost control if it takes 48 hours to down rape threats and MPs need to regulate the monster the social media giant has become”. Regulation? By MPs? Can anyone remember Leveson? And can they now smell hypocrisy?

The Murdoch goons have even roped in the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog - maybe Rebekah Brooks called them personally with their instructions - to slag off BuzzFeed, whose “long trumpeted IPO looks increasingly unlikely”. The source for the Fawkes massive? You don’t even need to guess - the “news, which emerged overnight” [yeah, right] comes courtesy of the Wall Street Journal.

Still the Murdoch mafiosi fails to get new media. But instead of trying to figure it out, they once again resort to putting the boot in - in the vain hope that they can turn back the digital tide. It would be laughable, were it not so pathetically sad.

Katie Hopkins Sex Hypocrisy

Still promoting the garnering of More And Bigger Paycheques For Herself Personally Now, pro-am motormouth Katie Hopkins has seen an opportunity to get a few more outrage points by shooting off her North and South about underage sex, or, as many people inconveniently call it, illegal sex or even paedophilia. As so often with Hatey Katie, though, the point at which she trips herself up over her own bigotry is never far away.
Viewers may still want to look away now

Ms Hopkins has decided that what Judge Roy Moore did with a 14-year-old girl is no big deal, but only on the basis of her objective judgment you understand, and not because he’s a rabidly right-wing politician who she wants to see elected at any cost. So on seeing Moore’s poll ratings tanking after he was accused of what is a felony offence, she decided to point out how she herself was sexually aware at the age of 14.
After Moore was accused, she wanted everyone to know that 14-year-old girls were somehow “not innocent”, which may provide an interesting talking point at the school gates, provided of course that other parents give her the time of day. “Wake up people. 9th grade = age 14/15. You think 15 is innocent? Go take your heads for a wobble”. What was she trying to say? Did she think Moore would get off a felony rap?
It was looking that way. After seeing that Moore’s attorney was trying to discredit the molestation allegations - that would be as in “serious enough molestation allegations for it to be a straight felony” - she sniped “If you take 40 years to remember how upset you were at 14, you are not a victim. You are a weapon #RoyMoore”. So now the woman who complained of being molested is being attacked. But not Roy Moore, oh no.
And then she did it: Katie Hopkins told the world that 14-year-olds indulging in sexual activity was fine. As the law stands on both sides of the North Atlantic, she was ready to approve criminal behaviour, paedophilia even. Off she went: “Not all girls are innocent at 14. I was pleasuring my boyfriend harder than a Russian gymnast working a pole (Capital P optional) #RoyMoore”. Who would give her media appearances and writing gigs now?
One woman reading this was beyond outrage: “I’m physically sick reading this Tweet. From a woman no less. How can you even condone paedophilia? How the fuck can you justify an adult taking advantage of an adolescent?” Hatey Katie did not trouble herself with reason, but resorted to simply sneering “Tweeting through the vomit. Good skills. One hopes your phone is waterproof darling”. And she had forgotten the hypocrisy bit.
Because last year, she had decided that 14-year-olds being molested was A Very Bad Thing Indeed, Tweeting “More than 20 girls molested by migrants at Swedish festival. Some girls as young as 14. We need Leadsom - get us OUT”. Ah, but the acts of alleged molestation were only bad if the perpetrators were Scary Muslims (tm). For Ray Moore, and other upstanding white Christians, a quick grope was A-OK.

Racist bigotry comes all too easily to Katie Hopkins. As well as the paedophilia approval. Yes, I can just see all those media outlets queuing up for her services. Or maybe not.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Don’t Menshn Corbyn Paranoia

Some Zelo Street regulars may not agree, but this blog does not mention anyone and the Russian connection together without at least some concrete evidence that connects the two, with the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog being the latest. The act of claiming a Russia connection on a whim I leave to others, and for anyone who wants a prime example of this genre, it’s already Out There.
Has she got news for us? Er, no

Here, we encounter the wacky and not necessarily wonderful world inhabited by (thankfully) former Tory MP Louise Mensch, who has made a whole series of highly creative claims about the Trump Gang on little more than a hunch. She then declared herself to be the foremost authority on the subject. She may even have claimed to rank as high as any in Rome. But much of what she claimed was in the realm of wacko conspiracy.
All of that need not concern politics watchers in the UK - until now. Because Ms Mensch has now declared that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is in hock to the Russians, although she is, to no surprise at all, unable to pony up any evidence (no change there, then). But she is ready to tell us “UK tweeps should know: Jeremy Corbyn also benefited from Russian propaganda in the General Election and if he knowingly cooperated, he should be arrested, like anybody in #Brexit who knowingly colluded. @ me all you want; I broke Russian bots for Brexit last year”. Yeah, course she did. Do go on.
Not only did I (and I alone) break Russian bots for #Brexit last September, I also broke the story of @Comey’s #TrumpRussia investigation on Nov 7th, thus scooping both UK and US media on both their biggest stories of the last year”. Her alone? Funny, last time I looked she was claiming to have sources in the US intelligence community.
But she’s off and running: “And I am quite used to mainstream press gnashing their teeth at my true reporting then parroting it nine months later. Russia ALSO interfered in the General Election for its asset @JeremyCorbyn. If he knew, he should be jailed. #Brexit”. Well, if he was a Russian asset, he’d know. There wouldn’t be an “if”. Think about it.
Then she starts giving MI6 instructions, and we are through the looking glass. “It’s time for MI6 to start front-facing Russian propaganda for Corbyn and I don’t mean in the bloody @FT, it might as well still be classified for all Dearlove’s warnings on @GenFlynn got noticed. Please try and be a bit less Foreign Office :)”. Wibble, wibble, she’s a hatstand.
What did her audience make of this fresh and steaming bullpucky? Matt Zarb-Cousin was short and to the point, with “Load of old cobblers. Hope you’re well”. Other replies included “Seriously what in the world is she talking about?” as well as “Basically, because she broke a few things about Trump (i.e. assumed things like everyone else did) she's now under the illusion she's a hard-hitting investigative journalist. Reality is, there's more truth in the Beano than on her twitter feed” and “The idea that the Russians had any significant influence over the election result, or that Corbyn is collaborating with them, is utterly bizarre”. But she could always set out her evidence and reasoning.

Until then, it will have to be concluded that Louise Mensch has journeyed beyond Barking and is in danger of overrunning the buffer stops at Upminster. No change there, then.

Tommy Robinson - Get The Nanoviolin

And so it came to pass that those in charge of Twitter decided they would actually do something about those who use the social media platform for what is classed as hate speech. To this end, several well-known figures have woken up today to find that their prized blue tick, the symbol of Twitter verification, had vanished. As a result, there has been much of the proverbial wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Stephen Yaxley Lennon aka Tommy Robinson

Those losing the blue tick include Richard Spencer, well known white supremacist and believed to be a real neo-Nazi. The man who organised the Charlottesville, VA white supremacist protest lost his too. Also taking the hit was Laura Loomer, whose determination not to accept a Muslim Uber driver led to her being banned by the driver and rider matching service. She was then also banned by Uber competitor Lyft.
So today, exhibitions of Olbermann’s Dictum - “The right exists in a perpetual state of victimhood” - have been in evidence across the USA. And these have extended to the UK, as Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson, has lost his blue tick too. This has provided excellent spectator sport as Lennon, clearly unaware of the glaringly obvious reason for his disqualification, has taken the news very badly.
Publishing Twitter’s notification to him, which confirmed that the blue tick would be “permanently removed”, Lennon told ominously “& so it begins”. What begins was not told. But his followers knew that he had been wronged. “Tommy had his verification taken away because he has a different opinion to the the globalist elite. Open our eyes people, we will not be silenced” told one, unaware that no-one had been silenced.
Another claimed “This is poor form by twitter. He’s a well-known public figure, should clearly be verified. Political correctness”. They were wrong too. And one enterprising individual sold the pass in no style at all with “Another act of punishing & attempting to silence anyone that even dares to speak the truth. What a wank world we live in”. None of them got it. So let me put these people out of their collective misery.
Twitter can remove the blue tick for behaviours that occur on their platform - this happened to appalling man-baby Milo Yiannopoulos, before he was kicked off altogether. It can also be removed for behaviours that occur off the platform. Lennon has recently abused peoples’ privacy, been found in contempt of court, and only the other week lost a man his job by constantly harassing him at his workplace.
And on top of all that, there is one thing that disqualifies Stephen Yaxley Lennon from having a Twitter blue tick: all the time he had that tick, he was using a false name. That is an instant disqualification from having a blue tick. Nothing to do with being censored. Nothing to do with speaking truth, lies, or anything in between. Nothing to do with Islam. Nothing to do with the Global Elite. Or George Soros. It’s his own fault.

[Zelo Street did not make any representation to Twitter to have Lennon’s blue tick removed. Because I’m not about to sink to his level. Hint]

Guido Fawkes Russia Connection

John le Carré’s great spymaster George Smiley said that there was no such thing as a coincidence. Le Carré’s great Smiley magnum opus, the “Karla Trilogy”, was all about how he ultimately prevailed over his opposite number in the then Soviet Union, a state which may be long gone, but whose appetite for espionage lives on in present-day Russia.
What Smiley would have made of the current rash of Russia connections is an interesting prospect. He might not have approved of the amateurish nature of so many of them, including, it now seems, the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog. Yes, they too have a Russia connection.
Cole: tell-tale overreaction

In late 2011, Staines’ then tame gofer, the odious flannelled fool Master Harry Cole, flew in to Moscow with Jag Singh, the latter being linked to Staines via MessageSpace. Cole was especially sensitive about comments made on his visit, so much so that he went off the end of the pier in no style at all when I tweaked his tail on the subject.
OH WHAT A GIVEAWAY

Why these two less than totally august individuals should feel the need to visit Moscow in the depths of the Russian winter was unclear. But we do know that in July 2012, the Fawkes blog went after Labour MP Chris Bryant because he had a column in the Independent, accusing him of taking bungs from Russians (this despite the Indy being owned by a British citizen) in an exercise of routine hypocrisy.

That was because the Fawkes blog really was taking money from the Russian Government - as witness the adverts for their embassy appearing on the same page as the attack on Bryant. But this could have been no more than a coincidence.
The Fawkes Russia hypocrisy in one screen shot

It seems it may not have been: a Zelo Street source, speaking on condition of anonymity, has joined up the dots. This person had, in early 2012, been working alongside a number of Russian and Russian speaking media people. One of those people, a young woman, also worked with Julian Assange, and took my source to meet The Great Man, who was presenting a programme for Russian state broadcaster RT.
Yes, he's here, too

It has been put to me that the young woman’s online contacts included not only Staines and Cole, but also Mark Clarke and André Walker. In the words of my contact, “they would speak to her online … as if they knew her and were a little bit frightened of her” [my emphasis]. The Fawkes blog began to take Russian ads soon afterwards.

On top of that, another account I’ve had related on the subject tells how the usually aggressive Staines became noticeably defensive and even upset when the Zelo Street post pointing out his taking Russian adverts (and therefore Russian money) was put to him. It’s as if, for once in his life, The Great Guido had developed a guilty conscience.
It wasn't a coincidence there, either

Then, in the wake of the Tory bullying scandal, in which he was heavily implicated, André Walker went off to work for the New York Observer. This move, although perhaps unexpected, did not garner too much attention at the time. But the NYO is co-owned by Jared Kushner, who is now … heavily implicated in the Trump-Russia affair.

All of this could be a series of coincidences. But George Smiley, for whom there was no such thing as a coincidence, might have concluded otherwise.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

BBC Promotes Fake News Failure

Many users of social media, especially those on the left, give broadcasters, and especially the BBC, a hard time because their reporting does not always serve up news that is acceptable to them. That the real world may bring unpalatable truths, though, is part and parcel not only of everyday life, but the Beeb’s duty to report. That is not a problem. What is a problem is when the oxygen of publicity is given to right wing fake news outlets.
Milk, no sugar, hold the smears

And there is no greater bringer of - at least borderline - fake news than the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog. The Fawkes massive are also no strangers to failure, today bringing another flop at they try to do their press masters’ bidding by laying into independent press regulator Impress. The post is another fake news item. It is going nowhere. And it is not the only Fawkes flop.
Jo Coburn, today's Daily Politics presenter

Much more significant has been the vicious attack on Labour MP Emma Dent Coad, who represents Kensington. This has followed the usual sneering and bullying template established by the Fawkes blog’s newly anointed teaboy Alex “Billy Liar” Wickham, which had previously been utilised to try and unsettle new intake MP Laura Pidcock, allied to a little bullying and threatening towards her Parliamentary researcher.
Another fake story ...

The attack on Ms Dent Coad, which began two days ago, generated no front page newspaper exposure yesterday. It has generated no front page newspaper exposure today - despite the Fawkes rabble calling in their pals, notably LBC host Iain Dale and Murdoch hack Iain “a clear public interest defence” Martin, and persuading a number of Tory MPs to do their clear partisan duty and kick the Rotten Lefty (tm).
... a nasty threat ...

The use of threats was typified by Wickham telling his followers “Corbyn to have ‘a chat’ with Emma Dent Coad. That chat might take a slightly different tone after tomorrow morning’s story”. Yeah, we’re going to do her in good and proper in the morning - are we not men? WE ARE GUIDO! Sadly, there was no story “in the morning”. It was an empty threat, another attempt to scare by reputation, another slice of fake news.
... two pals roped in ...

But that did not stop the BBC Daily Politics from humouring The Great Guido and running the Dent Coad story as if it were a serious news item, rather than a nasty bunch of fake news merchants and their Press Establishment masters trying to take out an MP whose focus on the Grenfell Tower aftermath could cause the Tories significant discomfort.
... make that three pals

Why did the Beeb effectively promote the Fawkes fakers? The story, such as it was, had been promoted by the Fawkes rabble solidly since Monday and had got precisely nowhere. What interest is served by giving prime time coverage to another attempt by the Fourth Estate’s boot boys to bully and intimidate a woman Labour MP? Was there equal coverage given to Ms Dent Coad’s latest report and campaigning on the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower disaster? And if not, why not?
And the inevitable result

Why is a respected public service broadcaster giving airtime not just to a borderline fake news site, but one so beset by failure? It would be interesting to see the answer.

Brexit Bullying Backfires Badly

The use of front page splashes to name and shame those who have incurred the displeasure of our free and fearless press - otherwise known as monstering, bullying, incitement or intimidation - is well known. But until today this unsavoury tactic had been restricted to the mid-range and red-top tabloids: indeed, it is a tried and trusted staple of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre and his obedient hackery at the Daily Mail.
But today all was changed as the increasingly downmarket and desperate Telegraph went totally gaga and decided to pinch the Mail’s clothing for a less than totally subtle act of bullying against fifteen Tory MPs who have sensibly decided to call out Theresa May’s ridiculous idea of enshrining in law the date when Britain leaves the EU.

All the fifteen are pictured on the Tel’s front page: Heidi Allen, Stephen Hammond, Nicky Morgan, Oliver Heald, Jonathan Djanogly (Nadine Dorries hates him, so he must be doing something right), Sarah Woolaston, Vicky Ford, Bob Neill, Dominic Grieve, Ken Clarke, Antoinette Sandbach, Paul Masterton, Jeremy Lefroy, Tom Tugendhat, and (ey up, look out, she wants a word with you) Anna Soubry.
Oi you - yes you, the plonker from the Telegraph

This is, let us not drive this one around the houses for too long, so unsubtle as to be total bullshit. “The Brexit mutineers” can now take their place alongside those judges whom the Mail declared to be “Enemies of the People” and the “Saboteurs” who needed to be “Crushed” - not that the press incites violence, you understand, that’s what the Rotten Lefties (tm) do, honest - as another group the press has tried, and failed, to demonise.

Why does the Tel think that this idiocy will work to the advantage of their Europhobic agenda? Well, they may have looked at the fear that the spite of the Mail puts into people, but the Vagina Monologue and his obedient hackery have a bigger megaphone, and have worked the bullying and intimidation half to death already. Worse, as the tide of public opinion slowly turns against the headlong rush to leave the European club, the idea that the Tel can bully any of the fifteen into changing course is for the birds.
We can see this from one look at Ms Soubry’s Twitter feed, where she observed “The bullying begins. We want a good Brexit not a Hard ideologically driven Brexit” and later added “#Mutineers include former Chancellor SoS Education AG SG Biz Transport Ministers & 4 serving Select Comm Chairs #Fab15”. There was also a former Justice Minister. She was not being pushed around by the clowns at the Tel.
It may be the way that David and Frederick Barclay (aka The Fabulous Bingo Brothers) do things on the island of Brecqhou, but Great Britain is not the personal fiefdom of the rich and greedy - not yet, anyway. This is another staging post in the sad decline of a once revered name in the press pantheon, and a sure sign that the Brexit hardliners are out if ideas, and out of time. The Telegraph attack is already a busted flush.

The Bingo Brothers took over the Tel, and ran it into the ground in their thirst for short-term profits. Now that the paper is a laughing stock, they can have no complaints.

Farage Takes £100K Libel Hit

[Update at end of post]

For those whose trade is in falsehood and misinformation, there is usually a reckoning, a painful denouement, somewhere down the line. For former UKIP Oberscheissenführer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage and his use of a slot on LBC to peddle his brand of alternate reality, that moment of truth came yesterday when he found himself seriously out of pocket after his campaign against Hope Not Hate turned out not necessarily to his advantage.
Squeaky £100K climbdown finger up the bum time

Farage had, with his customary sensitivity, gone on the attack against Brendan Cox, whose late wife, Labour MP Jo Cox, was so brutally murdered outside a constituency surgery last year. “Well, of course, he would know more about extremists than me, Mr Cox, he backs organisations like Hope Not Hate, who masquerade as being lovely and peaceful but actually pursue violent and very undemocratic means” he claimed.

Hope Not Hate do no such thing, but the group does make a habit of calling out the kind of hateful bigotry in which Nige trades so willingly. Their problem was that they, like all the other little people, did not have the means to take Mr Thirsty to the cleaners in order to cause him to retract his lies. So they crowdfunded their legal case. More than 16,000 people chipped in. Now they have had their day in court and Farage has lost.
Hope Not Hate’s CEO Nick Lowles put it directly: “For too long right-wing politicians have got away with smearing and abusing their opponents. We drew a line in the sand and 'no more’”. Dead right they have. But for Farage, the idea of admitting that he not only fouled up, but lost, could not be allowed to enter. So he resorted to lying once more.
I am very surprised at @hopenothate’s announcement today that they have won their legal case against me. Some victory! Their statement today is thoroughly disingenuous” he blustered. But, as the Guardian has reported, Hope Not Hate won, and Mr Thirsty lost: “The case had been due to be heard later this week, but after a meeting on Friday between lawyers from the two sides, Farage agreed to back down over the claim … Hope Not Hate said Farage had promised not to repeat the claim or let anyone else do so on his behalf”. He lost. Nick Lowles felt duty bound to point this out to The Great Man.

Let's look at the evidence. You have acknowledged that we are not violent or undemocratic and you have promised not to repeat it. Sounds like a victory to me”. Moreover, Farage will have to pay his own legal fees, which have been estimated to be around £100,000. After so many years sponging off the EU, he can easily afford it.
And while he claimed Hope Not Hate “demanded an undertaking to the court which they did not get”, as the Guardian had to point out, “A spokesman for Farage declined to say what undertaking had been sought which he did not give”. In other words, Mr Thirsty is once again shooting from the hip and has been caught out lying.

As Lowles concluded, “He’s picking at straws and trying to find any crumb of comfort; this is not a victory for him, it’s a humiliation”. Worse for the former head Kipper, Hope Not Hate’s example is now likely to be followed by others Farage casually defames.

And that’s before his involvement in the Trump-Russia comes back to bite him. The phoney politician that is Nigel Farage was for a time, but not for all time.

[UPDATE 1310 hours: as Nigel Farage persists with his pretence that Hope Not Hate have in fact paid HIS costs, a little reality check is in order.

There was a half day hearing on the case a couple of weeks ago when the costs FOR JUST THAT HEARING were awarded against HnH. However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, in settlement, those costs were split 50/50, and HnH ended up having to pay out around £9K. Farage had to pay the rest of his costs himself - estimated at well over £100K.
And just to show who won, and who didn't, Nick Lowles offered to go on Farage's LBC show to discuss the claim - no call came back. Farage was then invited by the BBC to talk about the case - but he declined.

So let's not drive this one around the houses any longer. HnH won, and Farage lost. Badly. He and his pal Andy Wigmore can spin all they want, but it will make not one jot of difference.

Mr Thirsty is well north of £100K worse off as of now. Just rejoice at that news]

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Dent Coad Attack Gets Desperate

Still the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, with newly anointed teaboy Alex Wickham in the vanguard, go after Labour MP Emma Dent Coad because she shows no sign of submitting to their implicit demands. Now, Wickham has been joined by apprentice sandwich monitor - oops, sorry, “senior reporter” Ross Kempsell in their sniggering schoolboy huddle.
Milk, no sugar, hold the smears

Having run out of accusations of racism - never a good topic for a blog that spends an unduly large amount of time kicking Diane Abbott, Chuka Umunna and Sayeeda Warsi - this less than dynamic duo have gone after Ms Dent Coad for suggesting that 13-year-olds do not engage in sexual intercourse, and for illustrating a blog post in a fashion that does not meet with their approval. Yes, it’s becoming that desperate.

The attack is laced with heavy suggestions that Ms Dent Coad should be a Good Little Lefty and run along, such as “It’s another Jared O’Mara case - Labour clearly didn’t vet this candidate, and now the people of Kensington have ended up with a fruitcake for an MP”. Yes Labour people, we got O’Mara, and you’re going the same way too. Also, the customary mental health smear is duly noted. It’s not the only one.

Ms Dent Coad is then accused of “suggest[ing] her Kensington constituents were victims of a conspiracy at the hands of the Illuminati and Freemasons”. They weren’t her constituents, and she was talking about the Council, which does not use the same boundaries as the Parliamentary constituency, but hey ho. This is followed by another mental health smear as the post under discussion is called “particularly loony”.

Once again there is an attempt to tell Ms Dent Coad “we got O’Mara, and you’re next” as the post concludes “the sort of thing which the most basic vetting should have flagged up before she became an MP”. There is yet another characteristic smear, the use of the tinfoil hat, another Fawkes standby. Then comes their backing for Tory MPs James Cleverly and Kemi Badenoch, because they are pushing for Ms Dent Coad to lose the whip.
Emma Dent Coad

The difference in tone towards those MPs - Ms Badenoch is even awarded the first name “Kemi” in the post title (almost “Nadine” status, eh?) - stands in stark contrast to the nastiness directed towards Ms Abbott, Umunna and Baroness Warsi (who is routinely introduced to Fawkes readers by the smear “BAROMESS”), despite Warsi being a Tory.

Of course, not all Fawkes targets are pursued so obsessively: former Screws and Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan was the subject of some particularly vitriolic attacks at the time that phone hacking finally burst through into the public consciousness, as Zelo Street noted at the time, as well as predicting correctly that the Fawkes rabble were going nowhere with their sniping and would get nothing out of it.

Now that the evidence is stacking up against Morgan, The Great Guido is absent. Because his ultimate boss, Rebekah Brooks, will cut him off at the knees if he so much as peeps in the direction of her old pal. Something to remember next time anyone suggests that the Fawkes blog could differentiate between a moral stance and a hole in the ground.

Meanwhile, Emma Dent Coad remains in post, unaffected. Another fine mess.

Sunday Times Jihadi Jack Shame

Richard Kerbaj is the security correspondent for the Murdoch Sunday Times. His work has gained him a BAFTA award and an Emmy nomination. He has participated in such works as The KGB Killers and My Son The Jihadi. He is also the hack who gave Muslim convert Jack Letts the pejorative nickname “Jihadi Jack”. And he stands accused of hanging Letts’ parents out to dry in exchange for personal gain and an easier life.
Richard Kerbaj gets another award ...

Kerbaj is the journalist whom this blog said it would name, when looking at the latest pack of lies peddled by the Murdoch press, this time by the Sun, last weekend. His involvement with the Letts family goes back some way, but because of contempt of court rules some of his involvement cannot be discussed at present. But what can be discussed is that Kerbaj was taken into the Letts’ confidence and appears to have roundly abused it.

His Sunday Times story on Jack Letts started the 24-hour news Speculatron rolling. Apart from coining the nickname “Jihadi Jack”, it was Kerbaj who claimed “THE 20-year-old son of a leading figure in the organic food movement has become the first white British male known to be identified as having joined Isis … Letts, a keen footballer and highly regarded student, admitted to his parents that he was with Isis in Syria in September 2014”.

The article also claimed that Jack Letts was using the name “Ibrahim”, but not because this would provide a dog-whistle for those on the lookout for Scary Muslims (tm), oh no (Ibrahim is the Arabic equivalent of Abraham, as anyone who has studied the basics of the Qur’an and Torah will know). Kerbaj’s claims do not match the recollection of Jack Letts’ parents, who have written to all non-Tory MPs to raise awareness of the case.

This is part of what they are allowed to say right now: “Jack insists he was never a member of Isis, and he condemned Isis repeatedly on social media over the past three years. He has condemned Isis' activities as well as the death and destruction caused by the governments of Assad, Russia and the coalition”. And there is more.

He has stated that, if released, he wants to spend the rest of his life 'bearing witness' against Isis' and making sure the world knows that their teachings are un-Islamic”. Their problem in progressing their case? “We, his parents, are unable to defend him in the media because we have been charged with 'funding terrorism' for having tried to send him money to escape from Isis territory - with the approval of PREVENT and SECTU (the SE Counter Terrorism Unit)”. Richard Kerbaj knows all about that, too.

He also knows that, because of contempt of court rules, as the Letts put it, “we are unable to talk about what we knew about Jack's activities from when he left Oxford in 2014 until our arrest in 2016. As a result, we cannot defend him against the lies and distortions that have appeared in the media, even though we are the only people who actually know anything about his activities over this period”. How convenient for the Sunday Times.
... while Jack Letts languishes in a Kurdish Jail

And as the Letts’ letter also notes, “The media, however, does not seem to be worried about printing falsehoods that could prejudice our trial and flagrantly breaches contempt of court rulings every day”. It must be something to do with money. And agendas.

Jack Letts’ parents are of modest means. As a result, as I noted earlier, they have become fair game for every less than totally scrupulous hack out there, and their even less scrupulous editors and proprietors. And it is not as if they are terror apologists.

This is what they have to say on that subject: “To be clear, we believe that everyone who went to Syria should be detained and arrested when they return. If they have committed a crime they should be investigated and put on trial, and if found guilty they should be imprisoned or controlled as the law decides. We understand the fear of terrorism, but we also believe in the rule of law, and that people should be considered innocent until proven guilty - unlike the Minister for International Development Rory Stewart and the tabloid press who believe that anyone who went to Syria should be executed at the soonest opportunity”. Perhaps Stewart would care to comment? Perhaps not.

It would be good to see Richard Kerbaj put as much effort into, and promote equally enthusiastically, having the full story about Jack Letts out there so that the public can see what has been going on - not just with one young man’s journey to the Middle East, and his ending up in a Kurdish Jail, but the machinations of the Murdoch press.

Indeed, the impression is given that Jack Letts’ parents were encouraged to send their son the money to get him home from Syria, with the full knowledge that this would immediately be interpreted as “assisting terrorism” and get them nicked. It is almost as if the methods of “Fake Sheikh” Mazher Mahmood had been updated for a new age of media stings.

Of course, I may be totally wrong. So perhaps Richard Kerbaj would like to confirm that he had no knowledge of this possibility, and that nor did anyone at the Sunday Times. But until then, no-one should be holding their breath.

After all, there are awards to win and plaudits to savour. Thus the reality of our free and fearless press, and the care they show for their victims. No change there, then.

Iain Dale Article 50 Fail

Matters of law are often best left to those who understand law, and that, whisper it quietly, usually does not mean the great and good of the Pundit Establishment, those with the sense of entitlement that comes from having their views solicited by a range of broadcasters on subjects on which they are all too often woefully unfit to pontificate. The argument around Brexit has provided a superb example of this shortcoming.
Iain Dale

Specifically, Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty has provided an excellent opportunity to compare two positions: that of the Pundit Establishment, and that of the real world. On the question of whether Article 50 is reversible, it should come as no surprise that these two positions do not agree with one another: in other words, more than one of the Pundit Establishment has ended up covered in rather more than confusion.
Fraser Nelson

Worse, this excursion into the realms of unreality was totally self-inflicted: respected pundits made themselves look foolish - as well as getting it wrong - by their own inability to grasp points of law and legal jurisdiction. The most notable contribution came from LBC host and pundit Iain Dale, who started well enough, telling “Article 50 is part of the Treaty of Lisbon, a legally enforceable international treaty. It's a treaty. Not a political document”.
No problem so far. But then he went all wrong, blustering “The Supreme Court has interpreted Article 50 as being irreversible. And you can't get away from that. That's not something Parliament can overturn. Learn your law”. Sadly, Dale had not learnt that law himself, and what was worse for the ranks of the Pundit Establishment, he was not alone.
Spectator editor Fraser Nelson, taking time out from commissioning more Muslim-bashing bigotry, opined “Why the surprise? The Supreme Court ruling proved that Article 50 made Brexit final - so a ‘no deal’ outcome is the default. If Parliament rejects a deal, then it votes for no-deal”. He helpfully provided a link to an article on the subject by Himself.
Such was Nelson’s confidence in his judgment - that Article 50 was irreversible - he returned to the subject later: “But Article 50 irreversibility means no-deal is the default. It’s a deal that has to be approved by the Commons”. This was, sadly for both Dale and Nelson, one of those things that looks too good to be true turning out to be indeed too good to be true. Because the Supreme Court had not ruled on the subject.
As David Allen Green had to point out, beginning his attempt to let Dale and Nelson down gently, “Have seen a couple of tweets from pundits asserting the @UKSupremeCourt decided that Article 50 was irreversible. I won't embarrass the pundits by quote tweeting them”, the Supreme Court did not rule on the reversibility or otherwise of Article 50.
You read that right. It did not rule thus because not only was it not asked to do, it could not have done: Article 50 is part of EU law, and therefore not within the jurisdiction of our Supreme Court (Allen Green’s complete Twitter thread outlining this can be seen HERE).
That has not stopped Iain Dale heartily endorsing Tory MP Nick Boles’ inference that Article 50 is irreversible. There’s someone who missed Keynes’ legendary riposte. So perhaps Dale would like to address it now: “When the facts change, I change my opinion. What do you do, Sir?” Well, Iain? No pressure, now.