Joe McCarthy - before the fall
Thus the parallel between McCarthy and the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines, who has for some years hidden behind the alias of Guido Fawkes. Staines’ thirst, and the misadventures arising therefrom, are the stuff of Westminster legend, with a string of convictions, including two drink-driving bans, as part of his personal collateral damage.
The further parallel is that Staines and his rabble at the Fawkes blog are indulging in tactics that Joe McCarthy would have readily recognised, and of which he would have heartily approved: demonising others on the basis of political preference. The Fawkes massive’s objective is to frighten broadcasters into shunning those thus demonised. So it is that The Great Guido seeks to bring the blacklist of 1950s USA to the UK.
And the prime target of the campaign, creatively titled “Expert Activist”, is the BBC, with the prime mover from the Fawkes side being replacement teaboy Tom Harwood, the lockdown busting creep who has no expertise in any specialist subject, save to shoot his mouth off while he reels off his approved right-wing activist talking points.
The campaign had its failures, most notably an attempt to get the BBC to fire Rianna Croxford, who The Great Guido smeared as a “Corbynista Correspondent”. This effort was so successful that not only is Ms Croxford still at the BBC, she won the Press Gazette “New Journalist of the year 2020”, and has been nominated in the category “Young talent of the year” for the Royal Television Society Awards 2021.
Paul Staines - before being ejected for drunkenness
There was rather less blowback when going after those without the means to fight back, as with two young Mums smeared last August when they expressed concern over returning their children to school. “Yet More BBC Secret Activists” was the Fawkes headline, the two women concerned having committed the heinous sin of being Labour Party members. In true McCarthyite tradition, this was duly inflated into “Far Left Fanatics”.
The idea of inflating political allegiance in order to frighten readers, kick the BBC, and suck up to the right-leaning part of our free and fearless press was once more on view when Chris Dyson, a head teacher in Leeds, was denounced with “BBC’s Anti-Government Head Teacher Is Burgon Loyalist”. Not just a Rotten Leftie, but someone supporting a really rotten leftie. One who took their pals at the Murdoch Sun to the cleaners for libel.
Whether those smeared were knowledgeable in the subject areas under discussion is not allowed to enter: this is just a crude attempt to blacklist by the back door, to set the right-wing press on broadcasters, and thus erode their credibility - just at the point where two right-leaning “News channels” are poised to enter the fray. What a coincidence!
So we saw the Beeb once again smeared, with “BBC’s ‘Independent Expert’ Is Iranian Regime Advocate”, the New Year bringing “GMB’s Worried Nurse Was Socialist Worker Supporter”, this time kicking ITV’s breakfast offering, before last week the whole thing became a parody of itself, with another crude and pejorative BBC attack.
What time is it Eccles?
Readers were told of “Professor Christina Pagel, Professor of Operational Research at UCL. She was introduced as such rather than as a Labour member and supporter”. She was denounced as “hysterical”, “fanatical”, “passionately anti-Boris”, and a “hardline centrist”. The Independent SAGE was also smeared as “phoney” (no citation).Also, she had campaigned for Remain, which, it appears, is also a reason for blacklisting.
And such is the confidence that the Fawkes rabble has in its campaign that the latest smear, against Rachel Clarke, who is denounced as a “fanatical anti-Tory campaigner”, and falsely accused of promoting a conspiracy theory, has been adorned with Harwood’s face below the title “Guido’s ‘Activist Experts’ Transparency Campaign”.
Go on, I’m all ears. “Guido has for 2 years now been running an ongoing series highlighting ‘Activist Experts’. People from all ends of the spectrum with a history of political activism who are presented as neutral actors on broadcast media. As Guido has explained before, broadcasters have a duty to highlight the political affiliation of activists on TV”. Who decides if they’re activists? But you know the answer.
You also know that “all ends of the spectrum” is bunk. This is just another excuse to go after anyone on the left, anyone dissenting from the Government line, anyone who is insufficiently pro-Brexit, and, indeed, anyone using specialist knowledge, presently about the Covid-19 pandemic, but in the future - conceivably on any subject.
“Guido doesn’t think people like Rachel Clarke should not be on TV - far from it” sneers Harwood. But the message is clear: broadcasters, especially the BBC, are to be browbeaten into submission, frightened to invite anyone on who knows their subject for fear of the new McCarthyism. Thus all would be clear for right-wing think tankers, the inhabitants from the planet Spiked, and those proclaiming FREEZE PEACH.
Just in time for those new right-leaning broadcasters to select experts whose views meet with their approval. It’s all so very neat. So neat that it’s been rumbled.
Joe McCarthy was ultimately shunned by his peers. A reminder there for Paul Staines.
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