The perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog were tempting fate yesterday when they snarked about new intake Labour MP Laura Pidcock that “[she] has also given an interview to the fake news site Skwawkbox today, legitimising their deliberate untruths and bogus reporting”. The Great Guido knows all about deliberate untruths, bogus reporting and Fake News, because he peddles rather a lot of it.
And observers did not have to wait long for the Fawkes massive to open mouth and insert collective boot: this morning, they posted “Mystery Of Owen’s Missing £13,000 Of Crowdfunding”. They do like a crowdfunding smear at Fawkes Towers. So who was the target? “Owen Jones launched a crowdfunding campaign during the general election … The Crowdpac page used to solicit donations records that a healthy £28,258 was raised”.
Yes? Yes yes? Yes yes yes? “The clear impression from that page and the accompanying video is that the cash was to be urgently put towards the campaign … So imagine Guido’s surprise to see that Labour MPs received only £15,000 from Owen’s Stop a Tory Landslide Fund during the second quarter of the year … What happened to the remaining £13,258?”
And then comes the nudge-and-wink smear: “Political donations are so closely monitored that there must be an innocent explanation for this. Maybe the missing money is yet to be donated, being held back for the next election … Or maybe the crowdfunding page is overstating the actual amount raised. Perhaps Owen can help clear it up”.
Perhaps The Great Guido could have bothered himself checking first? After all, he is supposed to be A Real Journalist (no, don’t laugh). The deliberate smear provoked a furious response from Jones, who the Fawkes folks dislike intensely because he gets on telly and they don’t, and also gets taken seriously (and they certainly don’t).
“Why didn't you get in touch with my first before writing an inaccurate blog which triggers a load of defamatory innuendo?” he demanded, but probably knows the answer anyway. Too much like hard work. When the Fawkes Twitter feed snapped back “Do you have a breakdown of spending?”, Tim de Gier pointed out their responsibilities: “That's a question you should ask before publishing”. Dead right it is.
Others passed severely adverse comment on The Great Guido. “You're really expecting @GuidoFawkes to be anything other than despicable and dishonest?” asked Evan O’Connell, while Matthew Booth observed “So you have absolutely no evidence of wrongdoing. Just an attempt to smear an opponent by implying that he's stolen >£13k”.
It got worse: after Jones mused “I'll be seeking legal advice to ascertain whether what you have written is defamatory”, the Fawkes Twitter at first claimed “It isn’t”, before adding “UPDATE: Guido is happy to report that Owen says ‘The rest was donated to the campaigns, not CLPs, of Clive Lewis and Rosena Allin-Khan, who’ve declared on Register of Members’ Interests’”, although he probably didn’t bother to double check.
What was that about Fake News, deliberate untruths and bogus reporting? Another fine mess, once again.