The protests and smears that have followed the reportage of Observer journalist Carole Cadwalladr’s every move recently have today fallen silent. There has been no word from mercenary hack Isabel Oakeshott, who lied so loudly and blatantly on The Andy Marr Show (tm). The perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog have not managed as much as a peep. Nor have any of the others.
Silence from the Murdoch goons at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun. Nothing from Staines’ pal Iain Dale. Nor from the appallingly pretentious Mark Wallace at Conservative Home. And no word from the motley convocation of Europhobe bigotry at Leave EU.
But there has been no silence from Ms Cadwalladr; far from it. Indeed, overnight she has brought us “Facebook suspends data firm hired by Vote Leave over alleged Cambridge Analytica ties … AggregateIQ, which played a pivotal role in the Brexit campaign, suspended after reports it may have improperly obtained user data”.
Ah, remember Aggregate IQ? The outfit that whistleblower Chris Wylie claimed was effectively the Canadian branch of Cambridge Analytica (although Aggregate IQ’s lawyers have strenuously denied this)? The firm that wasn’t tainted with CA’s wrongdoing, so it was all right for all those campaigns to have spent money with it, right?
Indeed, as Ms Cadwalladr then tells, “The company played a critical role in Britain’s European Union referendum, with a total of £3.5m being spent on its services by four different campaigns: Vote Leave, BeLeave, Veterans for Britain and Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist party”. The donation of £625,000 from Vote Leave to BeLeave, who was actually in control of that money, is another of those little side issues.
As she also notes, recently “AIQ removed a quote from Dominic Cummings, Vote Leave’s chief strategist, from the home page of its website. Previously, it had said: ‘Without a doubt, the Vote Leave campaign owes a great deal of its success to the work of AggregateIQ. We couldn’t have done it without them’”.
But dealing with AIQ was fine, because the Facebook data breach associated with CA, and all that other bad behaviour, was nothing to do with them. Well, Facebook is now concerned that AIQ and CA are indeed connected, via CA’s parent company SCL.
Hence their statement “In light of recent reports that AggregateIQ may be affiliated with SCL and may, as a result, have improperly received FB user data, we have added them to the list of entities we have suspended from our platform while we investigate … Our internal review continues, and we will cooperate fully with any investigations by regulatory authorities”. And still investigations by Ms Cadwalladr and her colleagues continue.
What is not continuing, though, is the tsunami of abuse, smears, deflection, projection, dismissal, dishonesty, and more from the Leave campaign cheerleaders. Today’s wall of silence speaks volumes. Even the previously sceptical BBC has reported the story.
As with the phone hacking scandal, there comes a point where the faux ridicule and shouts of “non-story” outlives its usefulness. We have now arrived at that point.