Sometimes the opposition rides to your rescue. For those in the New Media world who have long held that the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog were operating a borderline Fake News operation, feeding their readers falsehood and misinformation on a regular basis, and were effectively a propaganda site, yesterday they came galloping. The Great Guido’s brazen dishonesty was once again laid bare.
At the weekend, Staines had used the Media Guido Twitter feed to tell the world “We are looking to hire a reporter, should be savvy at video editing and an all round digital native. Must follow politics 24/7, be familiar with and share the values of our campaigning journalism. Send examples of work and a video application to firstname.lastname@example.org”. That’s “values of our campaigning journalism”, folks.
Fortunately for those unfamiliar with those “values”, yesterday brought an excellent example, one where the Fawkes interpretation of reality could be tested against that inhabited by real journalists. Proclaiming “Corbynista DEXEU Mandarin Out”, they told “Guido hears senior Dexeu mandarin Mike Hatchett is out. Hatchett joined a year ago in an eye-raising hire from Jeremy Corbyn’s office, where he was Jezza’s economics policy chief before apparently becoming ‘disillusioned’. He has now been placed on gardening leave at Dexeu. Insiders say he did not exactly wow colleagues with his expertise”.
There was more. “Hatchett previously worked at the Treasury and enjoyed a similar cushy taxpayer-funded departure there as well. Nice short-term work if you can get it” claim the Fawkes massive, before conceding “Hatchett has gone back to Labour to run policy under Andrew Fisher”. But there was a problem with this alleged report.
And that was the presence of the real story, courtesy of Paul Waugh at the HuffPost, where the headline was rather different. “David Davis’s Brexit Official ‘Poached’ By Jeremy Corbyn To Become Labour’s Policy And Research Chief … Hire of Mike Hatchett seen as 'great coup' for Opposition” they told. Bit different? Rather a lot different.
There was more. “His appointment is viewed by party insiders as ‘a real coup’, as well as an indictment on the current state of the Government’s Brexit plans … One Whitehall source said that it was highly unusual for a Government official in such a sensitive department to defect directly to the Opposition”. And more.
“The policy expert had previously worked for Corbyn as head of economic policy and his arrival at the Department for Exiting the EU (DExEU) in 2017 was seen as a blow to Labour … He has worked in the UK Permanent Representation to the EU, known as ‘UKRep’, in Brussels and is now seen as one of the party’s best assets on the detail of European policy”. The conclusion is all too obvious.
The Tories have suffered a significant loss with Hatchett’s departure. So the Fawkes rabble have tried - unsuccessfully, as so often - to spin the loss by describing him as a mere “Corbynista”, suggesting he was let go, and inventing “insiders” who were allegedly unimpressed with him. This is not “campaigning journalism”. It’s rank propagandising.
To paraphrase John McDonnell, you can be a journalist. Or you can work for Guido Fawkes. But you can’t do both. Another fine mess, once again.