Media commentator Roy Greenslade said of the serially clueless Tim Montgomerie “you have to admire the man for rising from nowhere to become a media ‘star.’ Then again, you have to wonder at journalists for giving him so much unwarranted attention”. Some of those who gave Monty so much of that attention might soon be regretting their decisions - including, whisper it quietly, Environment Secretary Michael “Oiky” Gove.
Still clueless after all these years
Monty launched UnHerd earlier this year. It claims not to follow the pack, yet employs the dubious talents of many in the Press and Pundit Establishment - in other words, that same pack that UnHerd claims not to follow. The advantage it holds over a complete waste of time and money is therefore a slender one. The reality is that this is just another dubious convocation of right-wingers indulging in kicking the Rotten Lefties (tm).
Also involved - Doug Murray The K
Sadly, that pack instinct has lulled Monty into a false sense of security: everyone says he is wonderful, so he appears to assume he can do no wrong. Thus he seized on a Tweet by freelance and left-leaning journalist Abi Wilkinson, who had mused “I'm not about to defend Stalin, but there's a difference between an *ideology* that's genocidal and one that's based on idea of equality”. This is not a difficult idea to grasp.
Well, unless you’re a Very Important Media Figure like Monty, that is. “The twenty million people killed under Stalin will find this of huge comfort” he thundered, having either not read and understood what Ms Wilkinson had said, or deciding to take no notice of it. Then this week he doubled down. “Anyone who wrote ‘I'm not about to defend Hitler, but…' would be rightly rebuked. Anyone who writes ‘I'm not about to defend Stalin, but…' deserves little better”. And the significance of this revisiting?
UnHerd has published a podcast, using the name recognition of Anne Applebaum to generate interest. But hosting has been notorious Islamophobic bigot Doug Murray The K, who has decided to insert a smear of Ms Wilkinson into proceedings. “Excuses are often made for the crimes of Stalin. And for Exhibit A in that sloppy thinking, there’s The Guardian’s Abi Wilkinson” he sneers. Bonus point for kicking the Guardian there.
The only problem here is that Ms Wilkinson has at no point excused the crimes of Stalin. As a result, she first requested the right of reply at UnHerd, adding “This is really the least you can do considering you've libelled me and refuse to apologise for it or edit your libellous article”. But only after the prospect of legal action was raised did Monty bleat “You don't have any grounds to sue Abi” and offer the right of reply.
That has cut no ice with Ms Wilkinson, who informed him “Everyone who's read it can see it's defamatory. Retract or I'm going to have to consult a lawyer properly. Had informal advice already”. But in the meantime, Gove had blundered into the room and asserted “Another fascinating piece from the increasingly impressive @unherd”. Not only sharing a blatant libel, but praising and otherwise endorsing it. Oh dear!
Abi Wilkinson should take this clueless buffoon to the cleaners. The libel is so clear, it leaps off the page at the reader. Montgomerie, Murray and now Gove need to retract and apologise right now. But they aren’t big enough. So get the popcorn in.