The BBC has taken the inexplicable decision of promoting fake news site Skwawkbox on the News at Ten. Skwawkbox is not simply a left-wing or Corbynista news site. It deliberately peddles knowing untruths with the aim of going viral and misleading its audience – it is the definition of fake news. The BBC gave Skwawkbox’s lone author anonymity – Guido can tell you he is a far-left conspiracy theorist called Steve Walker. What on earth is the BBC’s media editor Amol Rajan thinking giving this nutter the platform of the News at Ten?
Labour Shadow Cabinet member and top Corbynista Jon Trickett excelled himself this morning by retweeting a patently fake BBC News graphic which falsely claimed Theresa May sought to release Ian Brady. Goes without saying the graphic is not a real BBC story. Sad…
Corbynista Barry Gardiner has been busy bashing the mainstream media for dealing in ‘fake news’ and spin. But it looks like Barry knows a thing or too about faking-up some positive coverage. The Amazon page for his wife Caroline Smith’s book Thistles of the Hesperides carries a review posted by “email@example.com“. The unnamed reviewer’s take on the poetry collection heaps praise on Mrs Barry Gardiner:
“Why can’t more poets write like Caroline Smith? There is strength and intelligence in every word. I heard her talk about this book on BBC Radio 3 and she just hooked me. It is about the grinding reality of life on a Scottish council housing estate where she lived. Yet she transforms it, making it beautiful, funny, uplifting and tragically moving in turn by interweaving the mythical stories of ancient Greece. The fit is astounding. This is writing that is passionate and politically committed as well as deeply personal: but personal in a way that reveals to us our own humanity. Think Douglas Dunn at his best or Seamus Heaney, but with the long narrative eye of Browning.”
Clicking through to “firstname.lastname@example.org“‘s profile reveals a wishlist in the name of “Barry Gardiner”, who is based “just south of Watford” (Gardiner’s constituency is Brent North). Did Barry compare his wife and office manager to the Nobel Prize for Literature winning Seamus Heaney? Labour’s fake news basher giving a fake review to his wife…
The LibDems are widely regarded as the dirtiest campaigners in British politics, stooping to lows well beneath their Tory and Labour rivals. This takes the biscuit even by their standards. In Wimbledon and Raynes Park the LibDems have produced a fake newspaper with the aim of deceiving voters into believing they are reading neutral coverage about their candidate. There is no imprint on the front page, the imprint at the bottom of the back page is not visible to the naked eye. This really is quite something – it includes a finance ‘column’ by a ‘finance editor’ called Phil Ling. This is a straight lie. Phil Ling is not a ‘finance editor’, he was the 2015 LibDem candidate down the road in Tooting.
The LibDems are doing this – deliberately misleading and lying to voters – around the country. Here is Sarah Olney’s fake newspaper in Richmond. It has a tiny imprint that many won’t be able to read. It includes a “special report” purporting to be written by a journalist. This is a lie – it is campaign literature written by a spinner in LibDem HQ. There has been a lot of hand-wringing recently about parties paying for adverts in local newspapers. This from the LibDems is a hundred times worse.
Wales was no match for Isabel…
— Clive Lewis MP (@labourlewis) 25 April 2017
Clive Lewis has been slammed by pollsters ICM for spreading a fake news graphic showing a purported Labour lead in his Norwich South constituency. After realising the research firm’s name had been appended to the graph which shows Labour on 36% and the Tories on 28%, ICM’s Martin Boon slapped Lewis down in public:
— Martin Boon (@martinboon) 26 April 2017
Arguably Lewis has fallen foul of Section 106 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 in claiming false polling results for other candidates. Under the Act it’s an illegal practice to make a false statement about a rival candidate “for the purpose of affecting the return of any candidate at the election”. Lewis is yet to withdraw the tweet…
In recent weeks a new Corbynista site called Skwawkbox has emerged. It is essentially a poundshop Canary, running conspiracy theories in support of Jez and attacking his enemies. Labour moderates have dubbed it “the hard-left Breitbart”. Last night Skwawkbox published an “exclusive“, claiming to have obtained a “secret Treasury memo” which “proved” Corbyn’s poor poll results are a “construct”. The story claimed private polling showed Labour and their leader were in fact more popular than the Tories and Theresa May:
The blogpost said: “This is by a distance the biggest article Skwawkbox has ever published”. It was tweeted by dozens of Corbynistas including ex-MP Chris Williamson.
As anyone but a mad far-left conspiracy theorist would have immediately recognised, the “secret Treasury memo” was not real, the story was complete fake news. The post has been updated this morning with the words: “Further information suggests it was a hoax by someone at the Treasury, for reasons unknown”. Obviously it was not “by someone at the Treasury”, they have better things to do than read Corbynista sites. It speaks for the quality of the people who run Skwawkbox that they believed a Treasury memo might reveal polling showing Labour ahead of the Tories. Skwawkbox is fake news, even the Canary would be embarrassed by this one…
O’Brien comes over as Trumpian, she comes over as calm and rational.
She schools him on good journalism…
Top Corbynista Angela Rayner is upset with irresponsible politicians who have been peddling “rumours” that Tameside hospital in her constituency faces downgrade. Rayner has reassured her constituents the stories are “totally untrue”.
What kind of person would peddle such false speculation?
Much of the furore seems to have emanated from a press release fired off last week by Labour’s new national elections organiser Andrew Gwynne:
“Speculation is rising Tameside Hospital’s Accident and Emergency Unit could join 23 other A&E units across the country that have been identified for a possible downgrade or closure… I am extremely concerned… I’ll be speaking to the Chief Executive of Tameside Hospital”
Was Rayner’s tweet was aimed at her party’s election chief? When telling the truth to your constituents gets in the way of your colleagues’ shameless electioneering…
H/T Jen Williams
— Fight for the Future (@fightfortheftr) February 13, 2017
“Fake News” is the politico-media panic of the moment, blamed by Hillary supporters for the triumph of Trump. On social media the charge of “fake news” is levelled against any report the accuser disagrees with. That definition is useless and we need to better categorise political news terms. Below is Guido’s Guide to News…
Disinformation: false information which is intended to mislead, especially propaganda issued by a government organisation to a rival power or the media. Example: “Dossier reveals Saddam Hussein’s armoury of chemical weapons is on standby for use within 45 minutes.”
White propaganda: for the most part, truthful with factual elements, although not always the whole truth. Example: The BBC World Service’s Russian TV channel.
Grey propaganda: propaganda that seems like it’s presenting legitimate arguments with no agenda behind them, but often ultimately untrue. Example: “IMF says Brexit uncertainty would trigger UK recession” analysis that turned out to be propaganda based on the worst case scenarios of economists.
Black propaganda: information put out by an opposing government or institution and made to look as though it came from a friendly source. Example: the Zinoviev letter was a front page splash in the Daily Mail 4 days before the 1924 election, British security services faked a letter from Soviet official Grigory Zinoviev which damaged the Labour Party.
Fake news: news that is produced to either generate clicks and advertising revenue or to either enhance or discredit or boost a politician, policy or organisation. Ranging from hoaxes to lies. The originator of “fake news” knowingly produces it with the objective in mind. Example: Russian state-backed Sputnik News.
Alternative facts: untruths. Example: Sean Spicer on Trump’s inauguration crowd size, The Canary’s Portland conspiracy theory.
News with views: news that mixes reporting of facts and events with an underlying slant, often ideological. Example: “Keith Vaz Is Not a Fit and Proper Person.”
Objective news: this is the legally required output of the BBC and broadcasters in the UK. Supposedly balanced with both sides of an argument being presented to the viewer. This obviously raises the question of how you balance truth and falsehood or the political extremes against the mainstream. Example: supporters of monarchal absolutism never get a fair break on the BBC, do they?
Subjective news: what broadcasters and broadsheets actually produce even if they claim to produce objective news. Example: BBC report in 2005 “Himalayan glaciers ‘melting fast’ says study“. A decade later it turned out they meant by 2350 not 2035.
Infotainment: most popular news about pop and soap stars, celebrities falls into this category. Politics is often described as showbiz for ugly people, which leads to infotainment reports. Largely harmless fun for readers. Example: Tory MP Shows His Cock to Kids.
There will be no technological solution to the age old issues of fake news and propaganda. Ed Snowden is right. Readers need to use their critical faculties, which by and large they do. “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”
BBC: We want to avoid reporting fake news, so please clarify something for us.
Corbyn: I’m really surprised the BBC is reporting fake news. pic.twitter.com/lsYGGdb7y4
— Jamie McConkey (@JamieMcConkey) February 9, 2017
BBC: I’m aware of the issue of fake news at the moment.
JC: There’s a lot of it about.
BBC: Well, there’s a story going about that you’ve set a date for when you’re gonna quit as Labour leader.
JC: That’s on IMadeItUpYesterday.com.
BBC: Is there absolutely no truth in that?
JC: Absolute nonsense.
BBC: So your future as Labour leader is absolutely intact? You’ve not considered whether you as leader are damaging the party?
JC: I’m really surprised the BBC is reporting fake news. There is no news.
The Trumpian rebrand continues, bigly!
Jeremy Corbyn has written to Theresa May claiming Margaret Thatcher “supported Apartheid”. He’s tweeted the same:
A demonstrably untrue statement straight out of the Trumpian playbook that the Labour leader is currently copying. Nelson Mandela praised Thatcher’s role in helping to end Apartheid, famously saying:
“She is an enemy of Apartheid. We have much to thank her for.”
Amhed Kathadra, one of Mandela’s closest friends, said Thatcher was instrumental in ending Apartheid:
“Her word did count – I’m sure of it… Mrs Thatcher wasn’t one of our oppressors.”
F W de Klerk said of Thatcher’s contribution to the end of Apartheid:
“She exerted more influence on what happened in South Africa than any other political leader”
Robin Renwick, Britain’s former ambassador to South Africa, has written at length about how Thatcher secretly campaigned to end Apartheid. He says Thatcher told P W Botha “very firmly” to end Apartheid and “exploded” at the South African ambassador, telling him “Apartheid must go”. Renwick says the claim Thatcher supported Apartheid is a “myth“. Fake news from Jez…
BuzzFeed have stuck their neck out publishing what they admit are unverified allegations about Trump in Russia. Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith emailed staff to explain this extra-ordinary departure from the usual journalistic norms:
From: Ben Smith
As you have probably seen. this evening we published a secret dossier making explosive and unveriﬁed allegations about Donald Trump and Russia. I wanted to brieﬂy explain to you how we made the decision to publish it.
We published the dossier, which Ken Bensinger obtained through his characteristically ferocious reporting, so that, as we wrote, “Americans can make up their own minds about allegations about the president-elect that have circulated at the highest levels of the US government.”
Our presumption is to be transparent in our journalism and to share what we have with our readers. We have always erred on the side of publishing. In this case, the document was in wide circulation at the highest levels of American government and media. It seems to lie behind a set of vague allegations from the Senate Majority Leader to the director of the FBI and a report that intelligence agencies have delivered to the president and president-elect.
As we noted in our story, there is serious reason to doubt the allegations. We have been chasing speciﬁc claims in this document for weeks, and will continue to.
Publishing this document was not an easy or simple call, and people of good will may disagree with our choice. But publishing this dossier reﬂects how we see the job of reporters in 2017.
Ben actually disses his own story, which they have been unable to stand up. Would the New York Times have published this – no. Would Guido have published it? Possibly, if we thought the source was credible enough. Imagine if we published a story about a union leader consorting with a prostitute based on widely circulating rumours and off the record briefings, naming no names and getting no affidavits or pictures. Would that be credible?
Trying to rack my brains for something I once wrote about the Donald. Have to do it manually in the cuts archive as you can’t find anything on the bloody Times website. Who says staying awake in semi-darkness attempting repetitive hand movements is a waste of time? Eventually I get lucky: “If Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her,” and her response: “If he wasn’t my father I’d spray him with mace.”
Pretty pleased nobody spotted that quote during the entire election campaign. I beat the entire US media – they must be collectively distracted by the intensity of reporting on @realDonaldTrump’s Twitter account.
I tweet out my scoop: “Why does the world recall Trump saying “if she wasn’t my daughter, I’d be dating her” but not Ivanka’s reply?” Everybody’s re-tweeting it. What a story! 500 re-tweets already…
My find has already been followed up by the Telegraph, Independent, Express, Chicago Tribune, The Hill and The New York Daily News. None of them credit me. Better send another tweet reminding everyone who was responsible.
Slight pang of doubt though. Why did no one recall Ivanka’s reply? I wonder how not one member of the whole US media had unearthed such a great quote. Notable lack of people saying, “oh, I came across that already”. Ah well, look at those re-tweets…
Friday 25th – Evening
Oh no. Oh no oh no oh no. Someone has traced the quote back to a joke told by a comedian in 2006. Ivanka didn’t say it at all. And my accidental lie has gone halfway round the world. So this is what they mean by all that ‘fake news’ going round.
I’m going viral again. But in a bad way.
*according to Guido.
The New European has big feature trailed on their front page today on how Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond “built the Brexit juggernaut” and are are “UKIP on Tour” . There’s only one problem. The ex-Top Gear team backed Remain:
The sacked ex-Mirror columnist Kevin O’Sullivan only mentions this in passing 86 lines after he confidently wrote: “For them, Brexit isn’t a political decision, it’s a way of life.” Fake news headlines…