The BBC’s flagship politics and current affairs panel show Question Time has decided to extend an invitation to Kerry-Anne Mendoza, founder and editor of website The Canary; she will appear on the edition to be broadcast later this evening. This has not merely been an opportunity to broaden the range of panellists, but a superb way of exposing the prejudices and phobias of the Pundit Establishment and their hangers-on.
Hardly had Ms Mendoza’s presence been advertised than an audible undercurrent of low moaning could be detected, building overnight and during today into what passes in the world of the Pundit Establishment for a crescendo. The Canary? How could they? Rather like Edith Evans disapproving of the waiter who broke wind whilst serving, that Establishment has agreed this act has lowered the tone quite appallingly.
The sniffiness was typified by Christian May, bafflingly gifted the editor’s chair at free sheet City AM, who reacted as if he had just trodden in a particularly large dog turd: “Editor of alt-left Corbyn fan-blog/conspiracy site, The Canary, will be on the Question Time panel tomorrow night”. Conspiracy site. Fan blog.
Alex “Billy Liar” Wickham, newly anointed teaboy to the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines at the Guido Fawkes blog, not at all put out at being passed over you understand, whined “Skwawkbox on the News at Ten. The Canary on Question Time. Insane Cambridge Analytica conspiracy theory on Newsnight. Fun times at the BBC”. The Cambridge Analytica story wasn’t a conspiracy theory, Alex. Oh what a giveaway!
James Ball of BuzzFeed also aligned himself with the Establishment: “The BBC's masochism for people who peddle conspiracy theories (and spark hatemobs against their staff) is bizarre”. James Bloodworth ditto: “Possibly the Beeb's lowest point since Robbie Travers was invited on to the Victoria Derbyshire show to talk military strategy in Syria”.
Mark Wallace of Conservative Home was aghast, asking simply “Why?” When asked in reply “Why not?” he spluttered “Because it's a source of bonkers conspiracy nonsense … It's proven fact”. Wallace was at the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance when they peddled the totally untrue “Taxpayer Funded Lobbying” nonsense, as well as the equally untrue assertion that speed cameras resulted in more road deaths and injuries.
But for some reason those were not “conspiracy theories”. Nor did any of these august beings have trouble with Question Time appearances by James “saviour of Western civilisation” Delingpole of fake news purveyors Breitbart, or the tedious whataboutery of Conservative Woman’s Laura Perrins, or whopper-teller Nigel “Thirsty” Farage, or any pundit from the Mail, Sun, Express or any other paper known for printing lies.
As my friend Sunny Hundal put it, “I don't understand this hostility. The BBC regularly invites on people who are far, far worse. The Canary makes mistakes, but who doesn’t?”
More like The Canary is not part of the media establishment, and its editor in turn not part of the Pundit Establishment. But good to see them all have a fit of the vapours when the BBC actually invites someone from outside their hermetically sealed bubble.