The stream of complaints from those out there on the right about media coverage of anything Brexit related continues unabated, despite most of the press giving their readers a relentless anti-EU message - to the point of not telling them what is actually going on. The problem for the Brexiteers is the broadcasters, who are duty bound to allow reality to intervene. So they are the latest target for the attack dogs.
Would you buy a used dataset from HIM?
And no-one does crude attack doggery better, or indeed more dishonestly, than the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, for whom newly anointed teaboy Alex “Billy Liar” Wickham has gone after ITV’s Robert Peston, the Beeb’s Nick Robinson, and Sky News man Faisal Islam. All are charged with exhibiting an excess of negativity on the subject of Brexit. And Wickham has the data to back this up.
Or so he claims to have. Under the headline “Brexit Twitter Sentiment Analysis: Peston 82% Negative”, readers are told “Data Guido has been hidden away in a dark room, crunching the numbers to see whether our top broadcast journalists really are impartial on Brexit”. After damning Peston, Wickham tells “Not much of a surprise given Pesto is best friends with Remain campaign supremo Roland Rudd”. And there was more.
The BBC was also condemned, under the headline “Brexit Twitter Sentiment Analysis: Robbo Not Neutral”. Then came the turn of Sky News, with “Brexit Twitter Sentiment Analysis: Faisal’s 683 Negative Tweets Since Referendum”. This had the additional benefit of kicking Channel 4 News, for whom Faisal Islam worked before his Sky News move.
But, as Captain Blackadder might have observed, there was only one thing wrong with this idea - it was bollocks. The sample Twitter output from Robinson and Islam tells you why. So let’s take this nice and slowly, so the Fawkes folks can keep up.
What the Nick Robinson and Faisal Islam Twitter samples show is either relaying news, or teasing upcoming coverage. To claim it is “negative” is an expression of opinion, not one of fact.
There is no link to the underlying dataset, and without one, Wickham’s conclusions are meaningless. He is, after all, a known and practised liar.
Also, if the news shows a negative aspect to any story, it is not the function of news reporters to deceptively report it in order to shield their audience from reality.
Without independent verification, the Fawkes analysis is worthless.
Sadly, though, some are taken in by this drivel, notably the serially clueless Tim Montgomerie, and former UKIP Oberscheissenführer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage. But Farage also quotes the batshit conspiracy site InfoWars as an authoritative source, which tells you the kind of company in which The Great Guido finds himself.
What is worse is that the EU-bashing press will take its cue from this cod “analysis” and go after broadcasters in order to undermine them. The Fawkes rabble want nothing more than to start a witch-hunt, and their press handlers will lap this up. Joseph McCarthy died more than 60 years ago. Sadly, his methods have long outlived him.