After BuzzFeed UK ran what they claimed to be a scoop about Observer freelance Carole Cadwalladr, but which was clearly a hatchet job, and then declined to engage with her after she requested a series of corrections, it became all too clear that the arrival there of former Guido Fawkes teaboy Alex “Billy Liar” Wickham was not unconnected to the whole lamentable business. Now Mark di Stefano has effectively admitted it.
As Ms Cadwalladr has now told, “The piece contained multiple claims presented as facts, that I contend are provably incorrect or inaccurate. Instead of getting into a Twitter fight, I followed normal due process and wrote & asked Buzzfeed to correct … Buzzfeed has now responded to say it stands by the article and doesn’t wish to enter into correspondence on any of the points. Nobody has returned my calls”. How very Fawkes of them.
Still, what has been provided for our delectation and delight is an exchange of messages between di Stefano and Ms Cadwalladr, and it makes for fascinating, if not to say revealing reading. The messages date from early August, and here the Observer journo talks of di Stefano’s “unrelenting policing of my articles and Tweets”. Sadly, he has deleted all of those Tweets. Zelo Street readers may draw their own conclusion.
Nor did this “unrelenting policing” result in any BuzzFeed articles. But di Stefano does say in reply “I think it’s important to highlight when you and the Observer have got it wrong and in several instances needed to issue significant corrections. It’s something I would do if it were the BBC, or the Mail or the Sun”. BBC maybe, Mail and Sun - forget it.
So let’s remind Mark di Stefano of two inconvenient facts.
One, although BuzzFeed UK had previously covered the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and mentioned the Observer, until this month they had neither name checked Ms Cadwalladr, and nor had they covered any correction issued as a result of her articles.
Two, his hatchet job on Ms Cadwalladr does not cover, or indeed even mention, any of those corrections.
I’ll go further. Until late July - just before that exchange of messages - the only site relentlessly pursuing Ms Cadwalladr, including frequent claims that the Remain side cheated during the EU referendum campaign, for which they had no credible evidence (as so often) was the Fawkes blog, with Wickham in the vanguard.
And further: as she has also mentioned, BuzzFeed “was way out ahead with Vote Leave overspending. It broke the story first back in Aug 16. Not sure why no interest now”. This, too, has no connection at all with Wickham’s arrival, so there.
Small wonder she talked about BuzzFeed “lining up with Guido”. Most revealingly, di Stefano’s reply that time included this dismissive remark: “I’m not going to engage in your BuzzFeed-Guido conspiracy because I find it insulting”. Well, boo intercoursing hoo.
The “conspiracy” smear, for which di Stefano ponies up no evidence - and nor will he - is the kind of language the Fawkes rabble has used several times against Ms Cadwalladr, calling her an “Observer rent-a-conspiracy writer”. Nothing quite like just happening to use the same abuse as the site you’re insulted to be placed alongside. It’s almost as if someone was already taking their cue from The Great Guido. And I’ll go further.
Since Alex Wickham left the Fawkes blog to go to BuzzFeed, his former berth has mentioned Ms Cadwalladr only once, in a throwaway reference to an Australian trip she made recently. The series of attack pieces ended when Wickham left.
It began again after he arrived at BuzzFeed. This is, of course, a mere coincidence. So is the Fawkes-like refusal to engage over those corrections by which di Stefano laid such great store in his exchange of messages with Ms Cadwalladr.
On that note, it’s more than possible that this matter will end up with lawyers. After all, if Ms Cadwalladr’s request for corrections is a reasonable one, those corrections factual, and BuzzFeed’s article wrong to the point of defamation, then it is her only avenue for obtaining redress. There will be no shortage of lawyers willing to take the case on.
And don’t forget, BuzzFeed people, you can just dismiss what I pointed out as only another of those easily-dismissed conspiracy theories. Happy to be of assistance,
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