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Tuesday 5 May 2020

Mark Di Stefano - Mail Own Goal

One eyebrow-raising aspect of Mark Di Stefano’s departure last week from his berth at the Financial Times was the number of left-leaning and/or new media names who responded to his Tweet announcing his departure with good wishes, and no apparent thought for the inconvenient fact that he had been caught, effectively, with his hand in the till. It was not missed by those at the Daily Mail. They had been presented with an open goal.
So it was that Richard Pendlebury - another name seen only on the by-lines of the crudest hatchet jobs - told readers about the “Hypocrisy of media luvvies and FT reporter who turned his paper pink with shame”. The iron law of press Omertà and the commandment “Dog doesn’t eat dog” may be suspended when it’s a combination of the FT (not regulated by non-regulator IPSO), the hated BBC, and a sundry convocation of Rotten Lefties™.

Here, he laid into Newsnight host Emily Maitlis, Owen Jones, Ash Sarkar of Novara Media, Paul Lewis, Pippa Crerar (yes, the same one who edited the Evening Standard when it promoted the Mayoral campaign of Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson) and Ben McOwen Wilson of YouTube. At this point, Pendlebury was batting on a reasonably steady track. But then it all went wrong. And it went wrong because of his, and his paper’s, actions.
So eager was he to lay into as many new media names as possible that he included Peter Jukes of Byline Media. But Jukes’ sympathy for Di Stefano evaporated when he realised what else the now former FT man had been up to. Moreover, Jukes’ retraction is threaded directly under his first Tweet. So Pendlebury was being wilfully selective.

Having shown that he was picking and choosing his targets, any cursory analysis of Di Stefano’s Tweet replies shows several Old Media names, including freelances and even someone from the Express. Then Guy Adams, another Mail smear merchant, decided to use Pendlebury’s article to go after campaign group Hacked Off.
Former Hacked Off joint director Evan Harris responded to Adams, who whined “Evan, if a popular newspaper had done this, you'd have been on about it non stop for the last week”. Harris pointed out to him “Let's consider the *facts* (look it up), shall we, Guy? FT: One reporter. 2 instances. Victims - newspapers. Discovered. Culprit gone. Tabloid hacking scandal: Dozens of executives. 1000s of cases. Victims - inc families of dead children. Covered up for years. Culprits promoted”. Meanwhile, a dead giveaway emerged.

Why had Guy Adams not just posted a link to Pendlebury’s story? Instead, he used screen shots of the print edition. Ah well. That was the problem. The Daily Mail had such faith in the article that it was not put online. The Pressreader site has the text and photos, but they have had to get this from the Scottish edition of the paper.
The original driver for Pendlebury’s story - and it is something that concerns me, too - was that several people had expressed sympathy for Di Stefano, despite his having committed a potentially criminal act. Moreover, it exposed the extent to which some of those named have become captured by the press establishment. But as soon as he went after Jukes, just so he could have a swipe at Byline’s funders, the whole thing unravelled.

A witless hack was presented with an open goal. Instead, he and his paper conspired to about turn and end up putting in their own net. New technology baffles tired old hacks.
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