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Saturday, 10 April 2021

So Farewell Then Quilliam Foundation

While many in and around our free and fearless press had their attention diverted elsewhere, yesterday was an ideal time to bury bad, or merely inconvenient, news. And so it came to pass that Maajid Nawaz, still on the LBC roster of hosts, chose this moment to tell the world that the Quilliam Foundation was to close its doors for the last time.

Not only that, Nawaz, or someone on his behalf, has deleted almost all the contents of his Twitter feed, with one of the few items remaining telling “Due to the hardship of maintaining a non-profit during Covid lockdowns, we took the tough decision to close Quilliam down for good. This was finalised today. A huge thank you to all those who supported us over the years. We are now looking forward to a new post-covid future”.

On top of that, he later added “Due to the sad news today, I won’t be on [LBC] tomorrow. Instead, and understandably, they’ll be hosting wall to wall royal coverage, with presenters who know their royal beat”. But questions were already being asked as to how an organisation into which so much money had been poured was now apparently skint.

Deletion appears to be the name of the game, as Sunder Katwala observed: “Quilliam has immediately removed its website, deleted its Twitter feed and Facebook account. Mr Nawaz has deleted all of his past tweets too from his personal account. I do not know if the board made plans to make any resources, reports or past work accessible in any other forum”. It was all very sudden. Mehdi Hasan, meanwhile, had questions.

Question 1: where did the 3 million dollars or so that the SPLC in 2018 paid Quilliam and Nawaz go? Question 2: why has Nawaz deleted all his tweets including his recent series of tweets and retweets flirting with QAnon-style, pro-Trump election conspiracies?” It was, apparently, well north of $3 million. And it wasn’t the only monetary input.

Nafeez Ahmed asserted in a Byline Times article that “for most of the past decade, the Quilliam Foundation has been supported by pro-Trump Republican donors through whom it has received some $3 million of ‘dark money’”. Another $3 million! Also, a Quilliam staffer had signed a statement published by the far-right Gatestone Institute.

Meanwhile, Sajda Mughal had another question, on the subject of all those deletions. “Could this be down to the Dominion Voting Systems $1.3 billion law suit against those who disseminated false claims about the November 2020 presidential election being rigged?” Well, this blog has screen shotted a fair bit of Nawaz’ Twitter output, while Katwala has captured rather a lot more. It may be nothing; we will see.

And not everyone was sad to see Quilliam go. Ella Cockbain, who you can tell as she’s a doctor, reminded us “Shame these quacks never had the integrity to retract their abysmal ‘grooming gangs report’”. Talking of those who loved to quote from that - now discredited - work, Moazzam Begg had one lasting impression of Quilliam to share with us.

On this historic day, as we commemorate [the] demise of … the Quilliam Foundation, let’s recall the crowning achievement of this ‘counter extremism’ organisation. They put Tommy Robinson through their deradicalisation programme - and he came out even worse”.

Where did the money go? Why the sudden shut down? The questions won’t stop coming.

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Friday, 9 April 2021

Phil Brown Bread - Let’s Blame Meg

So Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and Royal spouse, has passed just short of his hundredth birthday. A life notable as much for what it tells us of the retreat from monarchy across much of Europe, as the inevitable talk of duty and devotion, Philip was one of the now few survivors of those who served in World War 2.

Brian Kilmeade - with North and South flapping away

Sadly for the Royals, though, much of the talk today is not that Phil The Greek, as he was more often known (despite having to leave the country at rather a young age), had a decent innings, but is being taken up by self-appointed pundits not only making it all about Themselves Personally Now, but also trying to make it about the Duchess of Sussex.

After all, many in our free and fearless press used Phil being in hospital as a reason why Haz and Meg’s interview with Oprah should not have been aired. It was inevitable, with the certainty of night following day, that some of them would blame her for his demise.

Brutus Moriartus, this man is a bit of a crawler

Fortunately, former Screws and Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan was not one of them - well, not yet, anyway. He was merely pitching for a brown nose award. “RIP Prince Philip, 99. A truly great Briton who dedicated his life to selfless public duty & was an absolute rock of devoted support to Her Majesty, The Queen, as the longest-serving royal consort to any British sovereign. A very sad day for our country. Thank you, Sir”. Pass the sick bucket.

Mail Online, though, where Morgan is an “editor at large”, was already shaping up to kick the Sussexes, starting with “Will Harry and Meghan go back to the UK after Prince Philip's death?” and moving right along through “Prince Harry is coming back to the UK for Prince Philip’s funeral – but will Meghan?” to get rather adjacent to blaming Meg for it all.

How Prince Philip's last 12 months were marred by bitter fallout from Harry and Meghan's decision to quit 'the firm’”. Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, who you can tell as she’s a doctor, tried to get the more partisan to desist: “the haters out with sharp knives. Prince Phillip died from old age not by #HarryandMeghan. Just stop the nonsense - ENOUGH. You can wish him #RIP, support #Meghan from blood hungry media & haters and still hold Monarchy accountable when wrong. It really isn't difficult”. But she was too late.

That was because the rodent-faced Brian Kilmeade, a breakfast show host at Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse), who knows that he works for anti-Royalist Rupert Murdoch but also knows how to chase ratings, went there and blamed the Sussexes.

As Bobby Lewis observed, “Brian Kilmeade connects the death of 99-year-old Prince Philip to Meghan Markle & Prince Harry's Oprah interview: ‘If you factor in this, there are reports that he was enraged after the interview ... Here he is trying to recover, and then he gets hit with that’”. What reports would those be, O Not So Wise One?

But Kilmeade and his fellow FNC hosts know full well how the media works, and especially our free and fearless press. That was the green light for a campaign of blame: that Meg is heavily pregnant with her second child is not allowed to enter. They have already decided that She Done It, that she is fair game, and in any case they don’t care what she thinks.

The media is crap on both sides of the North Atlantic. But you knew that anyway.

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Piers Morgan Endorses White Supremacist

Former Screws and Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan chose to “break his silence” over his departure from ITV breakfast offering Good Morning Britain in a variety of ways, not least using the platform given him by Mail Online. But it is his choice of broadcast interviewer - Tucker Carlson - which is now coming under scrutiny, and attracting adverse comment.

And what's more, Ron

Carlson is one of the top rated hosts at Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse), and it was on FNC that Morgan appeared. This was not an isolated occurrence, as a quick perusal of Morgan’s Twitter back catalogue shows. He’s been a guest on Tucker Carlson Tonight, by his own admission, on several occasions since 2017.

Tucker Carlson - White Replacement Theory advocate

Why this matters, not just to Morgan but also Mail Online and GMB, is that Carlson is not merely a disinterested onlooker: he espouses a set of views that put him not just out there on the right, but into white supremacist, and indeed neo-Nazi territory.

This is part of what Carlson said on FNC yesterday, in what Nikki McCann Ramírez of Media Matters For America called a “passionate defense of ‘white replacement’ theory”: “I know that the left and all the little gatekeepers on Twitter become literally hysterical if you use the term ‘replacement’, if you suggest the Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate … with new people, more obedient voters, from the Third World”.

You read that right. And there is more. “They become hysterical, but that’s what’s happening, actually. Let’s just say it, that’s true … On the most basic level, it’s a voting rights question. In a democracy, one person equals one vote. If you change the population, you dilute the political power of the people who live there [!]”. And more.

So every time they import a new voter, I become disenfranchised as a current voter. Everyone wants to make a racial issue out of it … no, this is a voting rights question. I have less political power because they’re importing a brand new electorate. Why should I sit back and take that? The power that I have as an American, guaranteed at birth, one man one vote, they’re diluting it. No, they’re not allowed to to that”. Incitement, too.

The Sleeping Giants Twitter feed mused “Not even sure what to say anymore. This week, Carlson trashed diversity programs, defended insurrectionists and now white replacement theory and not one Fox advertiser nor cable distributor will say or do a thing. What a depressing state of affairs". Mehdi Hasan also watched Carlson’s rant.

I’ve watched this a few times now and it’s sickening. The banality of white supremacy, if you will. And imagine saying this far right stuff on...Holocaust Memorial Day (!)”. Michael Edison Hayden of the Southern Poverty Law Center reminded us “What Tucker Carlson says here about whites being replaced by the ‘Third World’ lines up with what the New Zealand terrorist wrote in his 2019 manifesto. Society condemned that document and pushed it off the web. This we feed to millions every night”. Sadly, this is spot on.

It is yet another manifestation of the Murdoch mafiosi. Moreover, as Emma Kennedy pointed out, “Reminder: this is the man Piers Morgan chose to give an interview to”.

That is who Morgan is happy to endorse. A white supremacist. Principles? Morals?

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Thursday, 8 April 2021

Northern Ireland - Bozo Lies Meet Reality

Thus far, alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson has managed to bluff and lie his way through Brexit, aided and abetted by his fellow Tories, and a largely sympathetic, not to say sycophantic, media. All that is bad about wrenching the UK away from the European Union is someone else’s fault. Hurrah for Bozo!

((c) Reuters)

But now, reality has arrived, a reality that was predicted, but dismissed at the time as just another manifestation of Project Fear. Northern Ireland - a problem that took better minds than Bozo’s many years to adequately address - has begun to unravel.

Brexit was predicted to be, at the very least, problematic for the Six Counties. The Good Friday accords were, effectively, predicated on both the UK and Irish Republic remaining in the EU. Theresa May’s fix was the so-called Backstop. The alternative was a customs border down the Irish Sea, which she said no UK Prime Minister would countenance.

Bozo flounced out over the issue, succeeded Ms May, and did exactly that. As usual, he just bluffed his way through it, claiming to business leaders and sceptical politicians on the island of Ireland that there would be no danger to the GFA. Again, he lied. Yesterday evening, that enduring symbol of The Troubles, a burnt-out bus, returned to the news as Loyalist areas, and then Nationalist areas in response, turned to violence.

Patrick Kielty - predicted it all over two years ago

It was all predicted, and addressed directly to Bozo, by presenter Patrick Kielty, whose own father was shot dead by a Unionist terrorist. “Northern Ireland is made up of a majority of Unionists … and, believe it or not, a rather large minority of Nationalists … For over 30 years we killed each other … The Good Friday Agreement ended that violence”. How?

Unionists were guaranteed that Northern Ireland would be part of the UK until the majority voted otherwise … The Irish was border was removed and the island linked so Nationalists could pretend they were already living in a United Ireland … Some of these Nationalists then accepted being part of the UK as their day to day lives were essentially Irish … This cunning plan was sold to us on the basis that we were all part of the EU”. There was more.

Thanks to your glorious Brexit vision Northern Ireland will become more divided as some form of economic border checks will become part of daily lives … If those checks take place between NI and Ireland, the Nationalists who were once happy being part of the UK will change their mind … If they take place in the Irish Sea some Unionists will be livid. However they'll still support being part of the UK”. The latter is now happening.

Can't lie your way out of this one, matey

Kielty’s conclusion? “Your Brexit lies have opened a Pandora’s box for Northern Ireland … a border poll is now inevitable thanks to your monumental ignorance … By the time the penny drops that you can’t preserve the Union you want without the one you don’t, it will be too late … If there’s any justice all this will come to pass when you're Prime Minister so you can finally swim in the constitutional sewage you've created”. Which it has done.

Yesterday evening Bozo Tweeted “I am deeply concerned by the scenes of violence in Northern Ireland, especially attacks on PSNI who are protecting the public and businesses, attacks on a bus driver and the assault of a journalist. The way to resolve differences is through dialogue, not violence or criminality”. But he was already too late.

The dialogue of which he speaks did not happen at the time it needed to: he shafted the Unionists at Westminster, that mainly being the DUP nowadays, doing his usual act of lying his way from one problem to the next without giving a crap about the consequences. Talking, negotiation, discussion, brokering compromise - that is not the Bozo way.

Yesterday evening it was a bus burning; tomorrow, who knows? It took the efforts of Northern Irish politicians, both Nationalist and Unionist, along with John Major, Tony Blair, and successive administrations in Dublin, so many years to engineer the delicate compromise that ended The Troubles. Bozo has ripped it all apart in a few months.

His pals in the press will blame Dublin and the EU. The BBC will try and play it down. Ardent Brexiteers will blame Bitter Remoaners. None of those who so ardently promoted Brexit will own up, and taking responsibility will be totally out of the question.

But it’s not possible to propagandise your way out of this one. This time, Bozo is bust.

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Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Laurence Fox Lawsuit Gets Expensive

He may be attracting favourable publicity to his bid to become London Mayor - a campaign which will, with the certainty of night following day, develop not necessarily to his advantage - but former minor thesp Laurence Fox has already made one seriously unwise judgment, and a potentially ruinously expensive one.

Lozza could soon be a big loser

Last October, after Fox had gone off the end of the pier in no style at all at supermarket giant Sainsbury’s, when the latter had committed the heinous crime of advertising their commitment to being inclusive and non-discriminatory, he attracted severely adverse comment from a number of individuals. His response was to smear three of them as paedophiles. As a result, two of the three instructed lawyers.

As Zelo Street pointed out at the time, “After Simon Blake [of Stonewall] passed adverse comment on his actions, he snapped back ‘Pretty rich coming from a paedophile’. A Tweeter backing Black Lives Matter [Crystal from Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK] called him a snowflake as well as a racist, which resulted in the response ‘Says the paedophile’”.

Both those individuals then instructed Mark Lewis of Patron Law to pursue claims for defamation. Also, actress Nicola Thorp concluded that Fox was “unequivocally, publicly and undeniably a racist”, to which Lozza responded “Any company giving future employment to Nicola Thorpe [sic] or providing her with a platform does so with the complete knowledge that she is unequivocally, publicly and undeniably a paedophile”.

Moreover, Fox was warned by the Secret Barrister what the possible consequences of his accusations could involve. Worse, Fox’s smear of Blake and Crystal resulted in pile-ons from The Great Man’s followers, which will be an aggravating factor in any action. Now has come news not only that Ms Thorp has joined the action, but that the lawsuit has proceeded as far as the High Court, where the claims were filed earlier this month.

Mark Lewis - he won't lose this one

Why has it taken almost seven months for the lawsuits to proceed? Simples. Fox will almost certainly have been given the chance to make a suitable apology and pay a sum in damages, along with Lewis’ costs. That the actions have proceeded this far suggests he has declined to do that, or has declined to make the apology demanded of him.

If that is the case, Fox has been unwise in the extreme. Now that a defamation action has been filed at the High Court, the cost to him is likely to be in the hundreds of thousands of pounds, rather than a few tens. There’s no chance of his pretending he didn’t make the “paedophile” smears - they’ve all been screen shotted and saved.

And if Lewis, who is most likely taking the instructions on a no-win, no-fee basis, has succeeded in getting insurance cover for his latest trio of clients, that too will point to Fox having to pay up. And the later the paying up occurs, the more expensive it gets.

Laurence Fox is going to discover that his freedom of speech remains unconstrained. His problem is that he does not have freedom from its consequences. He might usefully consider what happened to pro-am motormouth Katie Hopkins. Say sorry, Lozza.

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Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Piers Morgan’s US Popularity ISN’T

In the topsy-turvy world of London-centric media, former Screws and Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan has had little difficulty in failing upwards. Sacked from the Mirror, he reinvented himself as a TV personality. After his failure to capture hearts and minds Stateside at CNN, he was gifted a well-remunerated berth at ITV Good Morning Britain.

And what's more, Ron ...

All this with no discernible talent, save that he knows, or claims to know, people who are famous, is able to shoot off his North and South about this ad infinitum, and indeed ad nauseam, while many were unaware what the real movers and shakers thought of him.

Not any more. After Morgan recorded an interview with Tucker Carlson for Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse), and Tweeted it out to his followers, author, journalist and producer David Simon (think The Wire, among others) indicated his displeasure. “In an ocean of talking-head sewage, what are the chances that the two most pouty and puckered assholes in broadcast television would ever swim through the brown, find each other, and discuss the events of the day?” Real mover and shaker speaks. Hello Piers.

What say The Great Man? “Talking of sewage, Dave... you were all over me like a sycophantic chap rash when I interviewed you. Yet now you play the vicious horrible illiberal liberal to appease your vile woke base. All a bit sh*t really. But on a positive note, I loved The Wire”. Piers says it’s “my pal Dave”! Except Simon didn’t see it that way.

You met me once, on a stage at Cannes with Richard Plepler & Aaron Sorkin on a panel I attended at the request of HBO. 1) Didn’t know you from a fart in high wind. 2) Was polite to said fart at Richard’s request as that man was a Medici to me. Now go lick some racist royalty”. BOOM! OUCH!! Come on Piers, let’s have a bit of the old wit!

Aaron was a class act. You.... not so much. Probably explains why The West Wing is so much better than The Wire”. Suddenly, he doesn’t love The Wire. Simon, meanwhile, didn’t much love him, either. “Sorkin is swell and has gigs. I’m still working for Time Warner after a quarter century. You’re unemployed and if it was a Tijuana cathouse and you had a fistful of fifties, you still couldn’t get laid at TW or anywhere else over here. Not after that pratfall you did at CNN”. Double OUCH! And thus the reality of Morgan’s Stateside popularity.

Many would by now have taken the hint. But Morgan’s ego would not allow him to do the sensible thing and retire from the field of battle. It was just a scratch! “Yet oddly, despite your stupendous ego, I have 26 times as many followers as you! You’re a great writer but a repulsive human being. Aaron’s a better writer and a great guy. Be more like Aaron”.

Yes, his was bigger than Simon’s. Possibly because David Simon is more concerned with actually doing the writing, development, producing and show running than talking about Himself Personally Now. And Morgan’s humiliation was not yet over, as historian Kevin Kruse had a question The Great Man did not want to answer. “Did the phone-hacking aspect of The Wire hit too close to home for you?” Another OUCH! What say Piers now?

Less than an hour later, Kruse mused “I guess that’s a ‘yes’?” after Morgan, who isn’t a snowflake, honestly, threw another mardy strop and blocked him.

When it comes to real US celebrity, Piers Morgan can’t catch a cold. Sad, really.

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