Those who look in regularly on Zelo Street will need no introduction to Alex “Billy Liar” Wickham, teaboy to the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines at the Guido Fawkes blog. His ability to talk well, but lie badly, has been honed over a career to which no glory, and indeed no commendation, can be attached. He has taken smears and dishonesty to a new low. And in the messed-up nature of today’s media class, that earns him a promotion.
Milk, no sugar, hold the smears
No, I kid you not: Wickham is leaving the empire of The Great Guido to join BuzzFeed News, a move which, once again showing how the media establishment rewards liars and smear artistes, has seen the supposedly reputable Sebastian Payne of the FT enthusing “Super congratulations to [Alex Wickham] who is joining @BuzzFeedUKPol as senior political corrospondent [sic]. Great hire, great journalist, great person”.
Wickham is not, and never will be, a journalist. Nor will he ever be a “great person”, unless the competition is restricted to those of similarly absent principle. And what BuzzFeed are buying in to is a track record which would put any real journalist to shame.
That track record includes the Brooks Newmark sting, where Wickham gave the game away by shooting his mouth off about the story before even the two Sunday Mirror staffers whose name appeared on the article’s by-line. Zelo Street was proved right when Steve Hewlett named Wickham on BBC Newsnight.
The Fawkes rabble had been targeting Tory MPs, probably out of spite against them. They hawked their “story”, such as it was, to the Sun on Sunday and Mail on Sunday, both of which declined to get involved. The Sunday Mirror spent months living it down; it seems The Great Guido had misled the Mirror people, who should have seen him coming.
Wickham then used his alleged journalistic skills - no, don’t laugh - to procure a ticket via EventBrite for a Hacked Off lobby event at the House of Commons. He was rumbled and confronted over his real-time smears and dishonesty. He left the event early, and covered his tracks the only way he knows how - by lying about it.
Then it was on to the 2016 London Mayoral election campaign, where Wickham lied about Sadiq Khan, joining in the attempts to smear the Labour challenger as some kind of Islamic extremist. His claims on who Khan “shared a platform with” were typical.
That, though, was a mere taster for his attacks later on Kensington’s Labour MP Emma Dent Coad, who he directly called a racist, on the basis of, well, not enough evidence to stand up his claim. But the right-leaning press, especially that run out of the Baby Shard bunker, which which the Fawkes blog has a close relationship, lapped it up.
And an endorsement of anti-Semitism, too. Stay classy, BuzzFeed
And Wickham’s grating hypocrisy on anti-Semitism is well-known: he’s been all too ready to lay into anything he can pin on the Labour Party, yet he was equally happy to embrace former Fawkes sketch writer Simon Carr, who authored two viciously anti-Semitic attacks on then Labour leader Ed Miliband. So he’s a hypocrite as well as a liar.
That is how messed up the media establishment has become, when that kind of track record brings not merely acceptance, but career advancement. Not a good look, people.