A new campaigning website has recently appeared, called Stop Funding Fake News. It claims to be inspired by Sleeping Giants in the USA, but those who contribute to it remain anonymous. It is also supported very enthusiastically by Countdown numbers person Rachel Riley, whose antipathy for anyone and anything she can link to the Labour Party leadership - as she mistakenly accuses it of being anti-Semitic - is well known.
So it should come as not surprise that the SFFN website shows, as examples of what it alleged to be Fake News, not only Arron Banks’ Westmonster site, and Politicalite, which backs the likes of Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson, but also The Canary and Evolve Politics. Which are both Impress regulated.
SFFN - anonymous but not impartial?
Thus the problem with what SFFN, cheered on by Ms Riley and others, are doing. Trying to damage regulated media outlets at the behest of those who disagree with opinions posted there is entering dangerous territory. So what is Ms Riley’s justification for going after sites like Evolve Politics and The Canary? Let’s read her own words on this.
“The Canary has been accused of running sexist hate campaigns against women, regularly defends antisemites, says it’s not antisemitic to compare Israel to Nazi Germany and posts fake news click-bait headlines to drive revenue”. Rachel, every media outlet uses click-bait. Also note “accused of”. But OK, let’s hear her on Evolve Politics.
“And also on Evolve Politics, who suggest Israel is linked to ISIS, and post wildly offensive things like this about Auschwitz and 9/11”. Suggesting? Also, what was that about the freedom to sometimes cause offence? That wouldn’t move the Sun or Mail. Fair points, though, so let us look at The Canary, for example.
This website specifically differentiates its posts, unlike most newspaper sites, which Ms Riley is not (yet?) targeting. Items are clearly marked “News”, “Opinion”, “Analysis” and so on. If she, and SFFN, are targeting The Canary based on their dislike of items not categorised as “News”, they are being seriously disingenuous.
Indeed, the SFFN Twitter feed is confused on the issue, asserting “Who runs The Canary? Its editor & founder is Kerry-Anne Mendoza, a former banker who switched career paths to instead spread fake news, produce clickbait and defend antisemites”. Citation for that? SFFN is not an issue-based campaign, it’s a broad brush smearing operation.
Zelo Street holds no brief for The Canary or Evolve Politics. But there are no grounds for calling them out as Fake News outlets on the basis of opinion pieces. SFFN and its supporters should be running on facts, not opinions. Moreover, it appears that SFFN has made no effort (yet) to contact Impress to register its complaints (the situation in the USA, and with outlets like Westmonster and Politicalite, is that they are totally unregulated, and so that route is not available to complainants). Why not?
Attempting to defund media outlets because of personal dislike, or because they publish opinions that some may find offensive, smacks of narrow spitefulness. It increases the suspicion that Stop Funding Fake News is not as impartial as it would have us believe.
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