Some 46 Conservative parliamentarians have called on the Prime Minister to intervene against the ongoing advertiser “boycott” of media outlets. This is a subject dear to Guido’s heart and wallet. There is a concerted campaign by some smart people on the left to defund right-of-centre media. It first of all requires the delegitimisation of right-of-centre publications (and now broadcasters). This is why you hear the like of Owen Jones repeatedly describing the Spectator and Guido as “far right”. They cherry pick a provocative article, or below the line comment, or the late night ramblings of one presenter to paint the overall output as unacceptable and, crucially, dangerous for the brands of advertisers. They also try to frame the content as “disinformation”.
It works; Toby Young’s Daily Sceptic and the Conservative Woman website are defunded of advertising. Google, which dominates automated programmatic advertising, has effectively blacklisted their content – primarily for airing dissident views over Covid measures. Whatever your view of their content, this is unhealthy for democracy. During the pandemic, Guido’s YouTube account was locked by the algorithm when we featured content from Nadhim Zahawi – who was at the time the vaccines minister. Ditto when we featured an interview with Donald Trump by Nigel Farage where Trump disputed the presidential election outcome. Twitter deplatformed the New York Post during that same presidential election for breaking the story about Hunter Biden’s laptop. It was alleged – falsely – that it was a Russian intelligence operation. Hunter is now facing related charges evidenced by content found on the laptop. It can’t be good for democracy to have tech platforms censoring content in response to political pressure.
The Information Commissioner’s Office closed their investigation into the Department for Health CCTV leak that saw Hancock’s snog with then-aide Gina Coladangelo splashed on the front page of The Sun. The ICO announced this afternoon that their investigation had found “insufficient evidence to prosecute two people suspected of unlawfully obtaining and disclosing CCTV footage from the Department for Health and Social Care”. They shouldn’t have been investigating anyway…
“Forensic analysis revealed that the leaked images were most likely obtained by someone recording the CCTV footage screens with a mobile phone.
Six phones retrieved during the execution of search warrants did not contain the relevant CCTV footage. After taking legal advice, the ICO concluded that there was insufficient evidence to charge anyone with criminal offences under the Data Protection Act 2018.
The ICO has therefore closed its criminal investigation.”
The Sun’s Harry Cole had previously accused the ICO investigation of being a further move along the “systematic decay of freedom of the press”. All kiss, no tell…
NGN Limited, The Sun’s parent company, has filed their accounts. The highlights are:
By Guido’s calculations that means the newspaper made a loss of some £2 million before paying the legacy legal bills…
The Sun’s editor Victoria Newton has emailed staff with her take on the results:
One of the things that has been tantalising the Westminster politico-media nexus is who in the media attended a Downing Street party. James Slack, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of The Sun, was formerly Downing Street’s Director of Communications. Any coverage or lack of coverage of partygate by The Sun has therefore been seen by others through the prism of his current and previous roles. It is fair to say that Slack, for obvious reasons, has definitely held back on coming forward with the story that is the front page scoop in The Telegraph this morning…
Under the byline “Sun reporter” this is how the paper reported (online only) on one of its own this morning:
One of the parties was held for his former director of communications James Slack, while the other bid farewell to one of the PM’s personal photographers.
No10 confirmed a speech was made at the former but did not comment on the photographer’s leaving do.
A spokesperson said: “On this individual’s last day he gave a farewell speech to thank each team for the work they had done to support him, both those who had to be in the office for work and on a screen for those working from home.”
Mr Slack today said: “I wish to apologise unreservedly for the anger and hurt caused. This event should not have happened at the time that it did. I am deeply sorry, and take full responsibility.”It comes after Boris apologised on Wednesday for attending a party at No. 10 in May 2020.
Mr Slack is now Deputy Editor-in-Chief of The Sun.
The Sun of course has already been fingered for having held its own office Christmas Party during lockdown. Shame to miss this scoop though…
Newly-returned shadow frontbencher Wes Streeting has a star showing in The Sun today off the back of Labour’s new attack line that kids from the poorest parts of Britain are twice as likely to be mugged than their posher peers. This is far from a new media strategy from Streeting who has often defended speaking to The Sun in the face of virtue signalling left-wing Tweeters.
Yep. Voters read the Sun and we absolutely want to talk to them.— Wes Streeting MP (@wesstreeting) August 2, 2021
In 2016 Wes proffered a longer defence of his interactions with the paper:
“Refusing to engage with the Sun because of disagreements with their editorial positions is self-defeating: Labour won’t win elections by talking to ourselves or by ducking debates”
While Wes’s position hasn’t changed, his 2016 statement came during his pre-shadow cabinet career, and before Southside’s communications team dictated what shadow ministers say to whom. During Sir Keir’s leadership election, he proudly boasted a Liverpool audience, “I certainly won’t be giving any interviews to The Sun during the course of this campaign.” His hardline position was applauded by those in and out the room, with Ash Sarkar commending the then-frontrunner:
Exceptionally strong answer from Keir Starmer on media bias and a vow never to give an interview to The Sun.— Ash Sarkar (@AyoCaesar) January 18, 2020
Co-conspirators will have to guess whether Starmer’s previous Sun hate was playing to an audience or whether Labour’s new Sun flirting is a conscious concession to common sense. Labour’s swathe of new Blairite advisers and spinners in recent weeks will surely have changed a few attitudes…