No newspaper does subtle not-really-racism like the Daily Mail. Only the Mail cold have stirred up the mob against Gina Miller. Only the Mail could have done the same to the Duchess of Sussex, with its talk of her relatives living in “gang-afflicted” neighbourhoods, its editor at large Piers Morgan willing to defend a description of her as “exotic”, and pundit Sarah “Vain” Vine having a front page headline “niggling feeling”.
So when that treatment of the Duchess became the subject of heated exchanges on BBC Question Time this week, the Mail was watching. Watching to see if the hated Beeb put a foot wrong. Watching to see if any of the panellists was insufficiently anti-Hal and Megs. And watching to see if there was an audience member they could monster.
Into this trap has come Rachel Boyle, the woman who gave actor Laurence Fox such a hard time. It was she who rightly called out the treatment of the Duchess as racist. And it was she who told Fox he was “a white privileged male”, which he was and is. Fox has effectively admitted this with a series of comments in the hours after the broadcast.
It may have surprised Ms Boyle to find herself featured in the Mail’s front page lead today, but she has (inadvertently) ticked several Mail boxes: she is a University lecturer (Mail hate figures), she’s from Liverpool (Mail hate figures), she is Not White (Mail not-really-hate-figures-but-nudge-and-wink-know-what-I-mean-squire), and in challenging the very white and very privileged Old Harrovian Fox clearly did not know her place.
After she Tweeted “Fell out with [Laurence Fox] (not arsed), upset a (majority white) audience (not arsed) but called the treatment of Meghan Markle what it is - ‘racism’” and “Thank you for the support Twitter … I am appalled by the argument presented to me by this man! At no point did I call him racist, I said that his viewpoint is informed by his white privileged position - and he didn’t like it”, the Mail went to work.
“MEGHAN RACE STORM ON BBC” thundered the headline. Fox had been elevated from “Laurence who?” to a “White TV star”. The supporting article dog-whistled Mail readers superbly: “his accuser, audience member and lecturer Rachel Boyle … filmed on Thursday in Liverpool, close to Edge Hill University, where Miss [!] Boyle works … Miss [!] Boyle, who has West Indian heritage … Miss [!] Boyle … a lecturer specialising in race, racism and ethnicity in education”. The social media pile-on can’t be far behind.
It’s more subtle than what was handed out to Gina Miller, and less vicious than what has been hurled at the Duchess of Sussex, but the Mail is only getting started. The paper has found someone who is Not White and who does not Know Her Place. She can’t be arsed at upsetting a majority white audience. There will be more coverage of her.
After all, their editor at large has spoken: Piers Morgan concluded “Hysterical illiberal-liberal Twitter, which is always wrong about everything, has been hammering Laurence Fox all day for his performance on Question Time. The real world cheered him on”. That’s the real white world as inhabited by Himself Personally Now.
The Daily Mail is preparing for another hatchet job. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
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