It is with that in mind that a story splashed across yesterday’s front page should be considered: headlined “Iran ‘meddling in Scots election’”, it cites a report from a so-called “think tank” suggesting that the dastardly Iranians are active on social media platforms, posing as independence supporters. But here a problem enters.
The “think tank” is the Henry Jackson Society, and the Times does not interrogate or otherwise verify that source. The HJS was the single source that the Telegraph’s supposed expert on matters Royal, Camilla Tominey, used to smear the Duchess of Sussex by linking the Grenfell Cook Book to ISIS, or whatever they’re called this week.
Back in 2012, I noted that Marko Attila Hoare, who had left the HJS after serving that organisation in a senior capacity for the previous seven years, had concluded that it had become “a mere caricature of its former self”. It was “No longer ... a centrist, bipartisan think-tank”, having “become an abrasively right-wing forum with an anti-Muslim tinge”.
And so, surprise surprise, along comes the HJS to tell anyone gullible enough to listen that the Scary Muslims™ are interfering the Scottish elections. Anyone with brain plugged in and a hole in their backside should have got a reliable second source for that claim, but the Murdoch press did not. And Katherine O’Donnell, a former Times Scotland night editor, had rather more to say about the article and its single source (Thread HERE).
She notes that “the source for the Times’ story is a report by an academic whose comments about race have been disowned by his university and who, coincidentally … has written for the right-wing magazine Spiked … Henry Jackson Society members past and present have links to the US far-right and to Trump and to anti-Islamic and white supremacy individuals and groups, including Steve Bannon and Breitbart, the Gatestone Institute and the Mercers”. And her conclusion?
“This central claim made by [Paul] Stott MAY BE TRUE and we know that the Iranian government is deeply unpleasant. But even so, we still have no idea from the Times report whether readers should pinch the nose before ingesting the HJS report due to the possibility it may be … a) an exaggeration by right-wingers with the intention of casting shade on the forthcoming Scottish election and thereby the legitimacy of its winners, b) a real and substantial threat to democracy or c) the punchline of a laughably incompetent plot? … By any measure this is not good journalism”.
But the article does serve one important purpose: it tells us that the Murdoch mafiosi do not approve of Scottish independence. That, after all, would mean Scotland moving to rejoin the European Union. And the Murdochs, having had Scotland and the EU torn apart from one another, is not about to let them come back together without a fight.
“What a mess The Times has become” laments Ms O’Donnell. But a mess with a purpose.
Enjoy your visit to Zelo Street? You can help this truly independent blog carry on talking truth to power, while retaining its sense of humour, by adding to its Just Giving page at