How desperate does a pundit have to be in their efforts to appear relevant and a little bit edgy? Readers of the Daily Mail found out today when they cast their eyes over the latest offering from Sarah “Vain” Vine, whose weekly column has been featuring rather a lot of self-promotion of late, so much so that the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre must have wondered what he was shelling out for.
You're definitely not getting Sam's job now, Ms Vine
There was only so much churning over stories of how wonderful husband Michael “Oiky” Gove was at whatever job Young Dave had demoted him to, and prattling on about her dogs, that the Vagina Monologue would tolerate before urging Ms Vine, in his own inimitable fashion, to greater heights – or, indeed, depths. So it has proved, as she has waded into the Judy Finnigan rape remarks controversy.
Ms Finnigan has this week begun as a regular on the show Loose Women. And unfortunately for her, one of the first stories discussed was that of footballer Ched Evans, who has been convicted of rape, has served his time, and may now be welcomed back by former club Sheffield United. The new panellist suggested that what he did was not as bad as other rape scenarios.
She later held up her hands: “I apologise unreservedly for any offence that I may have caused as a result of the wording I used ... I absolutely wasn't suggesting that rape was anything other than an horrendous crime. As I said on the programme, I was in no way attempting to minimise the terrible ordeal that any woman suffers as a result”. We all make mistakes.
Enter Ms Vine observing without a hint of irony at the Loose Women aftermath “Cue a public lynching by Twitter, the 21st century equivalent of the medieval mob, whose users love nothing more than to take snippets and half-understood pieces of information, whip themselves into a self-righteous frenzy and then hurl abuse at their victim, without stopping to think or listen”.
That sounds rather like an attack by the Daily Mail. And the criticism of Ms Finnigan included several complaints to Ofcom, which is not Twitter. But Twitter is, as anyone who saw Dacre before the inquisition of the Leveson Inquiry will know, A Very Bad Thing. Ms Vine concurs: “the zealots don’t do context. Especially not on Twitter, where every thought has to be compressed into fewer than 140 characters”.
She also wants us to “look over there”: “Only a deliberately obtuse person would think Judy Finnigan was trying to defend rape”. Only a desperate pundit would use a discussion on daytime TV in order to garner a little more attention for Herself Personally Now. And only the most monumentally crass would use a discussion on rape to do so. Where that leaves Sarah Vine I will leave to others to decide.
And she should stop blaming Twitter – she, after all, is part of that conversation.