The more that is revealed about the Leave campaign in the 2016 EU referendum, its involvement with Cambridge Analytica, the money channelled to an obscure Canadian firm called Aggregate IQ, data breaches, busting of spending limits, and other creative behaviour, the louder the calls from some in the media to deflect, to call “non-story”, to smear as “conspiracy theories” the work of the Guardian and Observer.
Part of this gainsaying and general abusiveness can be put down to partisanship, jealousy, and some genuine scepticism, but when someone ostensibly totally unconnected to the claims being made begins to kick off, the question has to be asked as to why they are shouting so loudly. And shouting very loudly indeed this past weekend have been the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog.
On duty while his boss spends Easter doing even less than usual, Fawkes teaboy Alex “Billy Liar” Wickham has become rather over-excited at a correction published by the Observer which refers to one of Carole Cadwalladr’s articles on the CA business. “Observer Admits Cadwalladr’s Cambridge Analytica/AIQ Conspiracy Theory Is Wrong” he sniggered. But, as so often, the reality does not even begin to support the headline.
Wickham does not help his cause by following “A humiliating correction for Carole Cadwalladr in today’s Observer as her conspiracy theory that Cambridge Analytica, AggregateIQ and Vote Leave were all working together falls apart” with “Even ultra-Remainers who Guido has spoken to over the last week think Cadwalladr has lost the plot”. Guido hasn’t “spoken” to anyone. Wickham is lying. As usual.
The Observer “correction” does no more than confirm that AIQ and CA are two distinct and separate companies. Worse for the Fawkes mob, the angle Wickham has been pushing has been overtaken by events … like Ms Cadwalladr’s latest instalment for, er, the Observer, which hit the news stands before Wickham rushed out his hit piece.
Milk, no sugar, hold the smears
The article refers to the legal letter behind the correction. It “said that AggregateIQ is not a direct part and/or the Canadian branch of Cambridge Analytica and that it has not been involved in the exploitation of Facebook data or otherwise been involved in any of the allegations of wrongdoing made against Cambridge Analytica. It did not secretly and unethically coordinate with Cambridge Analytica on the EU referendum. It did not share technology with Cambridge Analytica. It never represented itself as SCL Canada”.
However, the article effectively debunks the legal letter, showing that the Observer merely played safe by issuing a correction. All this information was available before Wickham published his attack. So why did he ignore it in favour of lying and smearing?
The Fawkes blog has no obvious connection to the CA-AIQ-SCL-Leave story. Yet it has been making one hell of a lot of noise about it from the word go. It’s almost as if someone chez Fawkes has something to hide, or is shilling for someone else who does.
Whenever the Fawkes rabble shouts a little too loudly, past experience shows they are not mere disinterested bystanders. And past experience also shows they are useless at concealing their involvement - in anything. I’ll just leave that one there.