Amol Rajan, now media editor for the BBC, has passed before my inspection on several occasions in the past, most notably when he was the last editor of the Independent to see the title published as a real newspaper. Zelo Street regulars may recall his exhibition of rank cowardice over the John Whittingdale story: Rajan was going to publish before he was apparently leant on by the likes of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre.
As Jim Cusick told later, the Indy was going to publish the Whittingdale story, focusing on the reluctance of other papers to run it, but “as the investigation advanced nearer to publication, with the paper’s lawyers backing the investigation’s focus on a wider political and commercial cover-up rather than just the detail of Mr Whittingdale’s personal liaisons with a prostitute, it became clear the editor, Amol Rajan, had a problem”.
Rajan ultimately went along with the rest of Fleet Street, effectively protecting Whitto who had declined to activate Section 40 of the Crime And Courts Act - just as the press wanted. They held back the incriminating material; he did their bidding. Rajan was complicit.
Then, when confirmed as BBC media editor, Rajan did his first “proper report” on … yes, Section 40 of the Crime And Courts Act. And here again he chickened out: while he did interview Max Mosley, my information is that Rajan did not ask campaigning group Hacked Off to set up an interview with one or more victims of press abuse. As with the press, the Beeb was not bothering with the little people who the press dumps on.
And so we come to the here and now, with Rajan once again coming over all Press Establishment as he gives rather too much attention - as in, anything more than zero would be too much - to the activities of the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, a borderline Fake News operation.
“Rumours of the death of @guidofawkes have been greatly exaggerated, to paraphrase a misquotation of Mark Twain's. I hear he's hired 2 veterans of Vote Leave - @hughrbennett + @tomhfh. They replace @wikiguido + @rosskempsell who have gone to BuzzFeed and TalkRadio respectively” he gushed approvingly. And there was more.
“@hughrbennett, currently Dep Ed of Brexit Central, to be News Editor. @tomhfh, fresh out of Durham, to be on viral video duty. Brexiters in Fleet St/Westminster feel they may be losing friends in the media, esp if the Mail's stance softens post-Dacre. That could help Guido”. Bennett was formerly at Vote Leave, but Rajan for some reason misses this. Why does this matter? VL was found to have broken the law during the EU referendum.
But do go on. “Wickham and Kempsell both got offers they couldn't refuse around the same time. Guido - real name Paul Staines - has provided something of a training ground for mischievous hacks. Other alumnus is @MrHarryCole, now at The Sun”. Cole’s record is one of bullying, smears, falsehood and misinformation. His first Sun front page - “COURT JEZTER” - was a pack of lies. Yet here is the BBC media editor promoting him.
The Fawkes blog is not something on which to breathlessly report. It is the site that led the tabloid press astray with the totally untrue “Corbyn Stasi file” story. It was revealed by Zelo Street recently to have spun a totally false claim about Andy Burnham in the run-up to the Greater Manchester Mayoral election. And there was more in the same vein.
Claims about independent press regulator IMPRESS (and Mosley) were totally untrue. A post from the run-up to the 2016 London Mayoral election about Sadiq Khan was mostly untrue. Claims about Israel and settlements in the West Bank were significantly untrue. There was significant dishonesty over the Brooks Newmark sting.
The Fawkes blog loves to scream about Labour and alleged anti-Semitism. But The Great Guido has significant previous for dabbling in that subject area, especially when Ed Miliband was Labour leader (see HERE). Hypocrisy comes at standard chez Fawkes.
And this matters. It matters because, without wanting to go all Neil Kinnock, a BBC editor - a BBC editor - is promoting an infamous borderline Fake News operation. Moreover, the quality (ho ho ho) of the Fawkes reportage is unlikely to improve any time soon - as Sol Hughes has pointed out, “Tom Harwood, new Guido ‘reporter’ was one of the many who promoted the completely untrue story that there was a ‘Stasi File’ on Corbyn , which Labour was keeping secret, and also that the ludicrous fantasies of a Czech ex spy who claimed he ran Live Aid were true”. Both Staines’ new hires have previous.
If it were a case of events at The Canary, Novara Media, Evolve Politics, Skwawkbox, or indeed here on Zelo Street, the BBC would not report it. If they did, there would be a chorus of disapproval from the Press Establishment, calls of “Fake News”, “Conspiracy Site”, “They got something wrong once”, and so on. Yet The Great Guido is pumping out borderline Fake News each and every weekday - and gets the red carpet treatment.
Anyone needing to know what is wrong within the media class and its hermetically sealed bubble need look no further than Amol Rajan’s promotion of the Fawkes blog.
People want to be able to trust the BBC. That ain’t happening. I’ll just leave that one there.