Damian Collins’ Fake News Jolly To US Costing Taxpayer £30,000+

An MPs’ jolly to Washington DC and New York this week to probe ‘fake news’ will cost the taxpayer more than £30,000, according to estimates obtained by Guido. This website understands jet-setting MPs on the DCMS Select Committee trip have already left the country, despite the main evidence session not taking place until Thursday, when evidence will be taken from tech bosses on a visit to George Washington University, Washington DC. The Committee has already heard evidence from representatives of tech companies in Britain. They do have London offices…

Arrangements for these kind of jaunts are made through Commons Liaison Committee. According to an estimate provided to Guido this afternoon:

  • Fights of 3 to 10 hours in length during the day should be in premium economy class. Ministers’ private offices also have a deal with BA, so one assumes this is extended to members for committee travel. Flights longer than 3 hours overnight (which would be from Dulles) can be taken in business. But assuming they don’t take business, and looking 1 month ahead, then premium economy from LHR to JFK and then Dulles to LHR between 5th and 9th March for 9 people (8 committee members, 1 clerk) would come to £23,543.19.
  • Hotels in Manhattan for 2 nights and then DC would come to £5,226.68. This is 2 nights at the Row NYC (4-star, Midtown Manhattan) at £2,130.68 and 2 nights at the State Plaza Hotel (3 star, very near George Washington University) which came to £3,096, both for 9 separate rooms.
  • Assuming a food allowance of £50 per person per day, so £2,250.
  • Amtrak from New York to DC would cost £603.27.
  • This gives a total of £31,623.14.

Peeved parliamentarians say attention seeking remainer DCMS committee chair Damian Collins is using the trip to bolster his personal reputation. Enquiries to the DCMS Select Committee did not yield an exact figure for the cost of the trip.

A Taxpayers’ Alliance spokesman told Guido:

“I’m not sure taxpayers will be too proud that their hard-earned cash will be splashed on an all-expenses-paid trip for politicians to lecture journalists on ‘fake news’. It’s even less impressive that they are refusing to disclose the cost of this jaunt to Washington D.C.- it’s almost as if they are worried about the reaction of this egregious use of our money. In the future, our elected servants should worry more about how they spend our money and less about lectures with foreign media.”

Just download Skype?

No, Andrea Jenkyns and Jack Lopresti Have Not Called Their Baby Brexit

Classic clickbait from the Sun online team this morning, claiming Tory MPs Andrea Jenkyns and Jack Lopresti have named their baby ‘Brexit Clifford’. Click on the link and you see he is actually just called Clifford. Not that that’s stopping Remainers take the mickey.

Labour Peddle More Animal Sentience Fake News

Labour are clearly taking fake news lessons from the Indy’s infamous viral story about the Tories and animal sentience. Their response to Michael Gove’s new Animal Welfare Bill this morning claims it is not “equivalent to current EU standards” and “does not appear to cover wild animals – giving this Tory Government freedom to pursue their pro-fox hunting agenda across England”. This is unmitigated BS from shadow Defra spokesman Sue Hayman…

First, Gove’s bill objectively goes further than the existing EU standards on animal sentience. The EU legislation only recognises animal sentience in EU-related policy in six areas – agriculture, fisheries, transport, internal market, research and technological development and space policies. The new Defra bill applies to all domestic policy, not simply repatriated EU policy, in all areas, not merely the six covered by the EU. By any fair reading, the new bill goes significantly further than current EU standards…

As for Hayman’s claim that the sentience measure does not cover wild animals, this is literally fake news – it does. The fox hunting jibe is also rubbish, the hunting ban ain’t going to be repealed. Labour saw how mega-viral the Indy fake news story went, Sue Hayman’s response today is another cynical attempt to spread post-truth nonsense…

And a special mention for the Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland, who says there is “no need to leave the EU” to secure higher animal welfare standards. Actually we do have to leave the EU to ban live animal exports and products that don’t meet our welfare standards. Jonathan is big on calling out fake news and post-truth politics so sure he will want to correct his tweet…

Indy Retracts Animal Sentience Story

The Independent has retracted its story claiming that “the Tories have rejected all scientists and voted that animals don’t feel pain” and admitted that it circulated false information to potentially millions of people. In a clarification published last night, the Indy says its report “was not right”:

“Put simply, what happened is this: MPs did not vote that animals are not sentient creatures…

Campaigners – and some news coverage – initially said that the Government had voted against recognising sentience. The Independent was among publishers that reported the story in that way. But it became clear that this claim was not right, even though it had been interpreted by some campaigners in that way. (The Independent updated its coverage to ensure it was accurate).”

The original Indy story was shared thousands of times and was a key factor in half a million people signing a petition repeating the claim. Stories about the Tories and animal sentience were viewed by 2 million people this week. Doubt the Indy’s retraction will be seen by a tenth of that.

Ben Fogle Sorry For Sharing Animal Sentience Fake News Story

Fair play to Ben Fogle, who tells Guido “I am happy to apologise and add clarity” after he tweeted the viral fake news story on animal sentience to his 336,000 followers. Sue Perkins, Rachel Riley, Caroline Lucas and the RSPCA have been less willing to admit they were wrong…

Viral Animal Sentience Fake News Story Seen By 2 Million People

This week a number of stories claiming the Tories had voted that animals are not sentient beings went mega-viral. An article on the Independent website – shared thousands of times on social media – reported “The Tories have rejected all scientists and voted that animals don’t feel pain”. The Evening Standard claimed they “just voted that animals cannot feel pain or emotions”. The Indy, which has truly become one of the most downmarket trash clickbait websites around, even named and shamed the Tory MPs “who voted legislation on animals feeling pain and emotion”. These attacks were tweeted out by celebrities like Ben Fogle and Sue Perkins, politicians including Caroline Lucas and failed LibDem MP Sarah Olney, and petitions were signed by hundreds of thousands of unwitting animal lovers. The stats are huge:

  • Analysis shows 2 million people have seen articles and tweets about the Tories voting against animal sentience
  • 155,157 signed a Change.org petition repeating the claim
  • 263,476 signed another petition on 38 Degrees
  • 43,081 signed a third petition on ThePetitionSite
  • Nearly 30,000 have signed smaller petitions (that’s almost 500,000 overall)
  • Sue Perkins shared it with her 1 million followers
  • Rachel Riley shared it with her 510,000 followers
  • Ben Fogle shared it with his 336,000 followers
  • Caroline Lucas shared it with her 276,000 followers
  • The RSPCA tweeted it out to their 248,000 followers

Just one problem. It is fake news…

During last Wednesday’s debate, Tory MPs repeatedly explained that the government already recognised animal sentience and that the amendment was flawed. Read it here in Hansard – Tory MP after Tory MP stood up and agreed that animals are sentient. No MPs argued against animal sentience. It is just not true to say, as the Indy did, that “The Tories have rejected all scientists and voted that animals don’t feel pain”. Anyone who has seen the Environment Secretary with his Bichon Frise Snowy, or indeed the hedgehog above, knows these viral articles are fake news. This made up story, circulated by the Tories’ opponents for solely cynical reasons, is cutting through to animal lovers who think they can trust things they believe on the Independent website. This morning Michael Gove categorically committed the government to animal sentience once and for all. He couldn’t be clearer:

“This government will ensure that any necessary changes required to UK law are made in a rigorous and comprehensive way to ensure animal sentience is recognised after we leave the EU.”

Will that go as viral as the fake news BS that hoodwinked thousands in the last week?

BBC News at Ten Promotes Fake News Site Skwawkbox

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?

Trickett Tweets Fake News

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…

Fake News Foe Barry Gardiner’s Fake Review For His Wife

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 “gardsmithcb@aol.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 “gardsmithcb@aol.com“‘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…

Lying Lib Dems Peddle Fake News

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.

Isabel Oakeshott: Wikipedia is Hotbed of Fake News

Wales was no match for Isabel…

Clive Lewis Slammed by Pollsters ICM for Spreading Fake News

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:

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…

Corbynista Site Skwawkbox Publishes Fake News

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…

James O’Brien Gets Schooled on Trump and Fake News

O’Brien comes over as Trumpian, she comes over as calm and rational.

She schools him on good journalism…

Rudd: Fake News Being Spread About Child Refugee Settlement

Rayner Slams “Totally Untrue” Rumours Peddled By Labour Election Chief

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

Guido’s Guide to News, Fake & Otherwise

“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.”

Propaganda / Spin: one sided information. Advertising is a form of propaganda, political communication is invariably propaganda. Example: “24 hours to save the NHS“, “24 hours to save the pound.”

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.”

Corbyn Tells BBC: You Are Reporting Fake News

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!

Corbyn’s Alternative Facts on Thatcher and Apartheid

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 Editor-in-Chief “Doubts the Allegations”

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.

[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

John McDonnell does a funny:

“I’m told there are a group of KGB colonels who are suing The Sun for associating themselves with us.”

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