Celebrity status is something that most who enjoy it deploy with care: it is not something to abuse, not a means to kick away the more fragile status of the less well-off, and most certainly not a vehicle for deploying falsehood and misinformation. This is the kind of idea that is proving difficult for at least one self-appointed campaigner right now.
To no surprise at all, that campaigner is Countdown numbers person Rachel Riley, who is once again drumming up business for the anonymous and unprincipled Stop Funding Fake News, a campaign which, as far as is known, is still gathering data on its supporters while not clearly complying with the provisions of data protection law.
Still, minor point, eh? Ms Riley and SFFN have ostensibly been even-handed in their approach to what they call Fake News sites, but in reality this is a vicious and baseless attempt to put operations like The Canary out of business. The Canary is not a Fake News outlet. It is regulated by IMPRESS (to whom Ms Riley has not, as yet, complained), and as Zelo Street regulars will know, clearly labels its posts as News or Opinion.
This has not stopped Ms Riley’s latest attack on the site.”Dear [The Law Society], I’m sure you’re not aware but your ads are appearing on, therefore funding a fake news website which promotes anti-Jewish racism. Please check out [SFFN] and join the many organisations who’ve blacklisted them to stop the monetisation of hate” she claimed.
But The Canary does not, repeat does not, repeat DOES NOT “promote anti-Jewish racism”. But on she went. “Here’s some more info on the kind of content [The Law Society]’s brand may be positioned next to. It’s really easy to stop your ads appearing in hateful places, The Government were the last org to do so through [SFFN] last week”.
SFFN is then quoted as claiming “We’ve been following fake news site, The Canary & its editor, Kerry-Anne Mendoza since the start of our campaign. In the last few days she has come out with some of the most frightening language we’ve ever seen from her”. What they show is Ms Mendoza expressing her opinion. What she is saying there is NOT “anti-Jewish racism”. What she IS doing is calling out the legitimising of racism.
So if Ms Riley and SFFN are pursuing those who “promote … racism”, they are going after the wrong target. Sadly, The Law Society has taken SFFN’s witch-hunt as a legitimate campaign, which Ms Riley has applauded. “Thanks brilliant! Thanks for such a speedy and solid response, all organisations should follow your lead. Well done [The Law Society]”.
The Tweeter known as The Controversialist has observed “Look at this for nasty behaviour agree or disagree [The Canary] is not some nasty antisemitic rag. Shame on places [like] the [Law Society] for such weakness”. So why is Ms Riley doing it? Simples. The Canary is perceived as being in the pro-Corbyn camp. And Ms Riley believes he’s an anti-Semite.
This belief is now leading her into forthright defamation and bullying: she’s got the means to threaten legal action, and The Canary hasn’t. What she has claimed would have mainstream media groups reaching for their lawyers, and I suspect she knows it.
Thus the abuse of celebrity status, however minor and transient. That’s not good enough.
Enjoy your visit to Zelo Street? You can help this truly independent blog carry on talking truth to power, while retaining its sense of humour, by adding to its Just Giving page at