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Wednesday 12 June 2013

Murdoch Assists EDL

One group which has sought to make capital out of the Woolwich killing is the English Defence League (EDL), and its leader Tommy Robinson attempted to enter the USA recently in order to garner support there. Sadly, the sole tangible result from his endeavour was a ten month prison sentence for using a false passport to get on the plane at Heathrow.
But now, Robinson (real name Stephen Lennon) has discovered a much more reliable way of spreading his message Stateside, thanks to the munificence of Rupert Murdoch. He got himself an interview on Bill O’Reilly’s show, the top rated hour on Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse) and has now secured the endorsement of Fox News Radio host Brian Kilmeade.

Kilmeade, of course, is not just a radio presenter: he co-hosts the Fox News morning “opinion” show Fox And Friends, being part of the first choice sofa team along with Gretchen Carlson and Steve Doocy. He is therefore not just another shock jock. So when Kilmeade told Robinson “It’s great what you’re doing” and followed that with “We got your back”, this was a worrying development.

For starters, this legitimises the EDL among the right-leaning part of the American mainstream. Anyone unsure on this point need look no further than the Daily Caller, which enthused “I hope Robinson makes the transition from street-protest leader to TV pundit, because I think he’s much more effective when he’s laying out his case like this, calmly and plainly”.

This was not the only endorsement: Pamela Geller featured Robinson’s interview with Bill-O on her Atlas Shrugs blog (yes, I know, Ayn Rand was a role model to absolutely nobody), telling readers that the EDL chief had “schooled” Fox’ main man. Geller is notorious for her Muslim bashing stance, and has embraced a number of conspiracy theories over the years.

And one man’s empire is facilitating all of this free publicity, and that man is Rupert Murdoch. As his interview on Fox News with Stuart Varney showed, when Rupe decides something is or is not going to be aired on that network, its hosts do as they are told. He could stop the EDL publicity stone dead. He has not done so. Why that is I will leave to others to figure out.

But if that publicity continues, the only conclusion that can be drawn is that Murdoch has some sympathy for Robinson and his organisation – enough to let him sound off on his network and have his hosts encourage the EDL leader.

And that, in the current climate, is disturbingly unhelpful. It’s not good enough.


Anonymous said...


BBC had him on too?

Tim Fenton said...

There's a difference between interviewing someone and openly encouraging them, which is what Kilmeade has done.