The CST later admitted this. But there was no apology, no retraction. Several Twitter accounts had been needlessly defamed, and the thought entered that they may have been selected, knowing that those accused did not possess the means to fight back. So those behind 24 accounts were left to face online abuse and threats, and perhaps even being tracked down and physically attacked. The CST appeared not to care.
More than a year later, the CST’s Dave Rich is still at it, throwing around accusations on the basis of nothing at all. This time, he’s not going after 24 Twitter accounts whose owners don’t have the means to take him to the cleaners, but has raised his sights a little, attacking the Guardian for not censoring an opinion piece. You read that right.
(c) Steve Bell 2020
The piece in question was a cartoon by the legendary Steve Bell, and came in the wake of the fallout from the EHRC report into allegations of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. New leader Keir Starmer is widely believed to have been behind the decision to suspend his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn for not unequivocally approving the report’s conclusions.
As a result, Bell’s cartoon - which clearly has the words AFTER CARAVAGGIO at its right-hand side - depicts Starmer presenting the head of Corbyn, rather than John the Baptist. Suddenly, there were shouts of “Anti-Semitism”. But why? The impression was given that Bell had been accused of it before, so what the heck.
Then came a piece in the latest issue of Private Eye magazine (#1534) which suggested editor Kath Viner had cold feet over publishing, and asked Jewish voices on the paper for advice. Rich may not read the Eye, but the Jewish Chronicle lifted the content. “The fact that Kath Viner felt she needed to check this cartoon with ‘Jewish colleagues’ meant she already knew it was a problem, so she should have taken the decision herself not to publish instead of forcing that responsibility onto Jewish staff” he thundered.
She didn’t force responsibility onto anyone, but hey ho. Then came the giveaway: “unless, of course, the Guardian checks everything they publish about Jews, antisemitism, Israel etc with Jewish staff, and do the same with everything else that relates to a minority. But I doubt they do”. Rich is trying to paint the Guardian as a bad faith actor.
By doing so, he attempts to demonise the paper’s editor, perhaps to make it easier to soften her up in future. But this kind of attack ultimately turns people off, with the outbursts of indignation followed swiftly by denunciation and demands for censorship.
Also, Dave Rich might be better received if he had said sorry to the 24 Twitter account holders gratuitously and needlessly defamed last year. I’ll just leave that one there.
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