Waiting for your case to be called, Andy?
The first crack to appear in the dam came with the admission by the paper that the claim “Byline.com’s other main funders [include] Jae-woong Lee, a South Korean billionaire who is the father of the site’s founder, Seung-yoon Lee” was, as I said last Sunday, wrong. There are millions of South Koreans with the surname Lee. The Tel has now amended the online copy of the article to remove the claim.
This, it was claimed, in correspondence seen by Zelo Street, was “not a significant inaccuracy in context”, which was changed “as a gesture of goodwill”. Wrong. It was a highly significant inaccuracy, which demonstrated that Gilligan’s research is as deficient as it was the day he dropped the BBC in the mire over the Iraq war dossier.
It got worse: the Tel’s article, in discussing Eric X Li, one of Byline’s backers, whom the paper for some reason called just “Eric Li”. asserted “Until 2014 Mr Li wrote regularly for The 4th Media, a website promoting anti-Western conspiracy theories and supporting authoritarian regimes”. There is one teensy problem with that claim: Eric X Li has never written for The 4th Media. That site aggregates its content from other online sources.
This is very important for two reasons: one, it again confirms the inadequacy of Gilligan’s research, and two, the linking of Eric X Li to The 4th Media has been used elsewhere to make highly damaging claims about Byline. The Tel has also back-pedalled on this one, amending its copy to “Articles by Mr Li are published on 4th Media, a website promoting anti-Western conspiracy theories and supporting authoritarian regimes”, spinning this away as having “minorly amended our article for clarity”.
The Tel has, thus far, not received a complaint from Eric X Li. He may, of course, not be aware of the article, having better things to do than pay attention to The Great Gilligan. And there was more bad news for the paper during the week, as the Mail conceded “Articles on April 14 and 15 … said that online magazine Byline had received money from campaign group Hacked Off … We are happy to clarify that, while Hacked Off directors have helped to fund articles there (including one of the key articles about the Whittingdale story) - and while Hacked Off has previously funded Byline adviser and writer Peter Jukes - Hacked Off has not provided direct funding for the site”.
The Tel is still holding to its claim that “Max Mosley, a major donor to Hacked Off, has also funded byline.com”. He has not. Mosley has helped to fund someone writing for the platform. But the Mail has effectively scuppered this defence.
It would save the Tel a lot of trouble to just admit the article is a pack of lies. Because it is.