Whenever someone well known comes out as gay, after the acceptance, the thought inevitably enters that they may have jumped before being pushed, that one or more organs of our free and fearless press may have been about to “out” them anyway. And when it comes to outing those who have not yet come out as gay, one newspaper has a special place somewhere between the gutter and the sewer.
Oh hang on, is that a Sun reporter over there?
To no surprise at all, that newspaper is the Murdoch Sun, where, it seems, very little in the way of Sleb tittle-tattle is off limits. Driving much of that part of the paper’s output is the deeply unpleasant Dan Wootton, a self-promoting creep of no known principle. Which brings us to the recent admission of Phillip Schofield, nowadays a regular presenter on ITV’s This Morning, that he was gay. Did he make that admission of his own accord?
Well, he did, but the further question concerns the possibility that the press was about to “out” him. Suspicion has inevitably fallen on the Super Soaraway Currant Bun, after many noticed that back in December, the paper had run a series of particularly nasty attack pieces featuring Schofield, not least “Phillip Schofield sparks civil war at This Morning after relationship with Holly becomes strained & Ruth makes complaint” on December 6.
The author? Yes, it was Dan Wootton. We read that a series of presenters was “unhappy about the host’s attitude” (attitude - geddit?!?). Also, “The Sun can reveal his professional relationship with close friend Holly Willoughby has become strained in recent months”. Backed up by “An ITV source” and “A former colleague”. And Ruth [Langsford] is alleged to have complained because … Schofield once interrupted her on air.
What's Dan's involvement with this story?
But do go on. “Amanda Holden is the only star who has attacked Phillip publicly. She confronted him in the This Morning studio after he blocked her filling in for Holly when she presented I’m A Celebrity last year”. Except that’s not quite true, is it, Dan? The Sun article admits that: “AMANDA Holden clashed with Phillip Schofield after she believed he got her axed from This Morning”. “She believed” is upgraded to “he blocked her”.
This was then followed by “THIS Morning fans claimed Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield were ‘trying too hard’ to look like they were getting on during today’s show after their tense relationship was revealed”. A desperate trawl of social media. Then came “HOLLY Willoughby struggled to compose herself at the press launch of Dancing On Ice amid reports of a feud between herself and Phillip Schofield”. No evidence provided.
The knocking copy started up again just four days before Schofield made his live-on-air admission that he was gay. Now, all of this may be entirely coincidental, but right now, my Occam’s Razor is pointing at the December hit pieces showing every sign of being a deliberate softening-up exercise. The thought occurs that someone at the Sun knew, and maybe, ultimately, Schofield knew they knew. So he took matters into his own hands.
If that was the case, it would not be the first time the Sun had dabbled in “outing”. And it shows that when it comes to the commercial interest, nothing sells like the prurient interest. More than half a century after homosexuality was decriminalised, our free and fearless press likes nothing more than to do a little celebrity outing.
Which also includes plenty of falsehood and misinformation. No change there, then.
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