Zelo Street regulars will be familiar with the modus operandi of Murdoch-bankrolled right-wing website Heat Street, the domain of (thankfully) former Tory MP Louise Mensch. This is not a site known for factual accuracy: it is a site that peddles falsehood and misinformation on a regular basis. Its latest excursion across the dishonesty line was made yesterday by Ms Mensch herself, and an “exclusive” claimed for it.
The article, “France ‘suppressed reports of gruesome torture’ at Bataclan Massacre”, tells “A French government committee has heard testimony, suppressed by the French government at the time and not published online until this week, that the killers in the Bataclan appear to have tortured their victims on the second floor of the club”. But nothing has been suppressed, and there is no evidence of torture.
But this is an area where Ms Mensch, who wrote this particular article, has displayed her prejudices against followers of The Prophet, reporting “According to this testimony, Wahhabist killers reportedly gouged out eyes, castrated victims, and shoved their testicles in their mouths. They may also have disemboweled some poor souls. Women were reportedly stabbed in the genitals – and the torture was, victims told police, filmed for Daesh or Islamic State propaganda”. Wahhabists are a favourite Mensch villain.
And, although the piece mentions that the claims have been dismissed as a rumour, it closes with “The news follows reports that German police sat on the huge number of sexual assaults committed by Islamist migrants in Cologne, which a secret report estimated at thousands, not hundreds. Heat Street will continue to report”.
It’s more of those Scary Muslims (tm)! There are migrants! They are coming over here and attacking us! Ms Mensch’s copy is constructed in order to tell readers what to think, and judging by the incendiary nature of many comments - Heat Street has, at long last, began to allow these - those readers are thinking what she wants them to .
However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, rumours are all that these claims are. As Snopes has pointed out, this story only came out after the Nice attack, giving the air of Muslim-bashing opportunism. The report referenced by Ms Mensch had not been suppressed, and investigators had debunked the torture rumours.
As to the idea that there had been a cover-up, Snopes made this conclusion: “the post-Bastille Day attack rumor operated on the assumption such a coverup was even possible. By all accounts, 89 people died at the Bataclan on 13 November 2015, while another 200 were wounded but survived, and many more escaped unscathed. Contemporaneous reports estimated that 1,000 people were in attendance at the Bataclan on 13 November 2015 with 700 of them were physically unharmed. Had the French government opted to cover up acts of torture and emasculation at the venue, there was nothing stopping the vast majority of surviving witnesses from sharing their stories. None did”.
The Heat Street piece has prompted similarly-framed articles at Mail Online and the website of Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse). But Louise Mensch was not only wrong, she was misleading in a malicious and dishonest manner in order to whip up hatred over acts that did not take place. Her wilfulness is becoming worrying, and it is high time that this little Wild West Show was brought to an end.