HART Anti-Covid Vaccination Activist Amplifies “Covid Agenda is Jewish” Flyer

Unsurprisingly, the failed prophecy of mass vaccination harm has failed to shake the faith of many believers. As noted previously, one common cognitive strategy is to claim that the prophecy is coming to pass, but that only the discerning are aware of it: for example, sudden deaths or stories in the media about heart disease are evidence of vaccination harm; even cancer is actually a new phenomenon called “turbo cancer“, again supposedly attributable to  the vaccine to those in the know (1). Another strategy is to seek collective affirmation within the conspiracy milieu, embracing other outlandish pseudo-interpretations of events and phenomena.

And, of course, there is also increasing extremism. Thus yesterday Dr David Cartland of the anti-Covid vax group HART (previously noted here) posted a screenshot of a flyer bearing the message that “Every Single Aspect of the Covid Agenda is Jewish”, and alleging some sort of collusion between Jews with senior positions in the CDC, Jews heading pharmaceutical groups, and the World Economic Forum (here with the bonus false claim that Klaus Schwab is Jewish) A QR link promises to show “Jews celebrating their role in Covid”, and readers are invited to visit the website of “GoyimTV”, which carries the kind of material that you would expect and which has a logo of a “G” styled to look like a Nazi swastika.

Cartland posted the image alongside the message “Reposting is not endorsement”. But what then is it? He doesn’t offer up any criticism or critique – and the context suggests that Cartland believes the flyer makes a reasonable point that tends to support his Covid anti-vax conspiracism, rather that is it self-evidently foul. In response to one critic, his reply was “these are confirmed facts and leaving it to people to decide their own conclusions” – but why doesn’t he tell us what his own conclusions are? He’s now deleted the post (I saw it before it disappeared, and it’s still in Google cache) after receiving criticism, but he hasn’t offered any explanation. As such, we should infer that this is a strategic deletion, rather than a change of heart.

The anti-vax conspiracy milieu appears to be taking a dark turn.

(Image via @Drcharliefraud)

Note

1. The notion that vaccination is responsible for excess deaths was recently the focus of a GB News discussion between Nigel Farage and Angus Dalgleish (previously discussed here in relation to lab-leak claims).

A Note on Derek Draper and Covid Conspiracism

From the Daily Express:

Derek Draper death conspiracy slammed by Michael Rosen who shared ward with Kate’s husband

…Michael, 77, who was in intensive care for seven weeks alongside Derek, has hit out about the conspiracy around Kate [Garraway]‘s husband’s death cause, writing on X, formerly known as Twitter: “Anti-vax people are trying to blame Derek Draper’s sad death on vaccines. DD got ill at the same time as me and was in the same intensive care ward as me. It was all before the Covid vaccine was invented: March 2020.”

In a statement shared exclusively to Express.co.uk, the author said… “I think Kate had done a brave and important thing to have shown us what happened as it shines a light on the kinds of things that have happened to thousands of others across the country.”

It’s nice to see the Daily Express attempting to put the record straight on matter of public interest for a change, although disinformation about Derek Draper’s timeline is just one example of what antivaxxers and Covid-sceptics are saying about his death. Trolling posts on Twitter allege that Draper either died of something else or even faked his death; there have also been vicious comments aimed at his widow, complaining about how she kept her husband’s illness in the public eye for so long.

Draper’s illness was an ongoing reminder of just how dangerous Covid-19 could be before vaccines were developed, and of how long-term damage caused by the disease in 2020 might be affecting public health today, contributing to the excess deaths that antivaxxers claim are the hidden confirmation of their failed prophecy of mass vaccination mortality. As such, his story must be either discredited or rewritten. Those contributing to the effort include Jacqui Deevoy, formerly a mainstream journalist who has since invested in ghoulish conspiracy theories about the death of Nicola Bulley, and, unexpectedly, the wife of disgraced ex-MP Patrick Mercer, who accused Garraway of having “turned the poor man’s plight into a circus”.

The Express article also notes that Rosen himself has ongoing health issues:

In an update about his health, the author said he is now “mostly fine” but has long-lasting damage such as little sight in his left eye, a lack of hearing in his left ear as well as barely having any feeling left in his toes.

Back in August, Rosen was derided for talking about his experiences by the writer Victoria Freeman and by Lord Ian Austin. Freeman’s position while that it was “distasteful” for Rosen to talk about his survival when others had died, while Austin sarcastically suggested that “he just doesn’t like to talk about himself”. I thought at the time that that these lines of attack – based on personal dislike of Rosen for his political views on unrelated matters – were strained and undignified. Now we have an example of why telling a Covid survivor to stop going on about it is also wrongheaded.

UPDATE (February 2024): A late addition from perennial attention-seeker Katie Hopkins, who has produced a mocking video in which she repeatedy describes Draper as “dead Derek” and describes his funeral as a “fucking spectacle” that “we’re laughing at”. She explains:

money went into dead Derek in order to scare people from long Covid in order to promote the vaccine, and my personal opinion is that Kate Garraway was in on that.

SatanCon and Goblins: BBC Targeted in Satanic Panics

On GB News, Darren Grimes presents a boilerplate rant against the BBC; among the various reheated and endlessly recylced talking points (H/T Reuben Willmott):

…they’ve been accused of painting illegal immigration in a sympathetic light, and even discussing things like Satanism, of all things.

Here Grimes is referring specifically to an article that appeared in on the BBC News website in May about the Satanic Temple’s SatanCon in Boston the previous month. GB News capitalised this at the time, running a poll:

A study finds people living in the UK are among the least religious.

In the same week, the BBC published an article titled “The Satanic Temple: Think you know about Satanists? Maybe you don’t.” Have we lost our faith, or is there a godless agenda being pushed by sinister forces?

The wording was ambiguous: is the popularity of the Satanic Temple simply an alleged symptom of “a godless agenda being pushed by sinister forces”, or is the group in fact itself one of these “sinister forces”? The latter idea, of course, conflates the provocative and satirical anti-religion of the Satanic Temple with popular beliefs about people supposedly dedicating themselves in secret to the pursuit of wickedness, up to and including sexual abuse and even murder – the tropes of the Satanic Panic. Or was the BBC itself is the target here? That would appear to be what Grimes would like us to infer. Presumably, his view is that the BBC ought not to have reported on SatanCon, or else ought to have written something denouncing it.

The idea that the BBC is promoting Satanism is also currently being spread among new right influencers on account of the “Goblin Song”, a humorous musical number that appeared in Doctor Who on Christmas Day. Goblins sing about their plans to eat a kidnapped baby (who is rescued from a conveyor belt leading to the maw of the Goblin King by the Doctor and his new companion Ruby), with lyrics that include “Baby blood and baby bones / Baby butter for the baby scones”. According to the Reverend Daniel French:

There is a fantastical glorification of flesh eating that seems like moronic innuendo of Christianity. There is something about the lyrics which is just too coincidental. Did you see the Jordan Peterson and Jim Caviezel interview where they discussed how actors who play very dark antagonists (ie the Joker) have to be careful for their soul?

French was billed a “noted podcaster, commentator and writer” at May’s National Conservativism conference, where he delivered content “on behalf of Rod Dreher”; in June, he appeared as one of NTD’s “British Thought Leaders” (a title I blogged here). His comment was posted in response to another vicar, Jamie Franklin, who had expressed the view that the song is “disgusting” and that “the people who wrote it are sick”. Franklin, who calls himself a “based vicar”, is another podcasting cleric. John Bye notes that he is “a member of covid misinformation group HART”, and draws attention to a podcast from a year ago in which Franklin interviewed Andrew Bridgen MP; Bridgen reportedly used the opportunity to make “more wild accusations, including that Pfizer deliberately designed their vaccine to damage our immune systems and that the media is engaged in a smear campaign against him!”

John also notes that the Goblin Song has upset anti-vax activist Mark Sexton, who has urged people to “complaint to the BBC for child sacrifice”. Of course, Satanic conspiracism has an affinity with Covid conspiracism, as shown for example by Michael Yeadon.

New Tang Dynasty “British Thought Leaders”

From a blurb on a YouTube channel titled “British Thought Leaders”:

NTD’s Lee Hall sits down with Conservative Member of Parliament Danny Kruger to discuss his latest book ‘Covenant: The New Politics of Home, Neighbourhood and Nation’.

Danny talks about restoring the virtues that he says are important in society for making good people, a good nation and a good life.

He talks about the harm done by the sexual revolution and the Western deathwish. And reflects on rebuilding trust between politicians and the people that was damaged by COVID lockdowns.

Kruger’s NTD interview is not the most recent – that honour goes to Lembit Öpik  – but it came to wider attention on Twitter a couple of days ago [1], provoking scoffing at the “Thought Leader” title.

NTD stands for “New Tang Dynasty”, which unsurprisingly signals that we are in Falun Gong territory. As noted by Brandy Zadrozny and Ben Collins for NBC News back in 2019:

The Epoch Times, digital production company NTD and the heavily advertised dance troupe Shen Yun make up the nonprofit network that [founder and leader of Falun Gong Li Hongzhi] calls “our media.” Financial documents paint a complicated picture of more than a dozen technically separate organizations that appear to share missions, money and executives.

Further:

One… show is “Edge of Wonder,” a verified YouTube channel that releases new NTD-produced videos twice every week and now has more than 33 million views. In addition to claims that alien abductions are real and the drug epidemic was engineered by the “deep state,” the channel pushes the QAnon conspiracy theory, which falsely posits that the same “Spygate” cabal is a front for a global pedophile ring being taken down by Trump.

One QAnon video, titled “#QANON – 7 facts the MEDIA (MSM) Won’t Admit” has almost 1 million views on YouTube. Other videos in the channel’s QAnon playlist, which include videos about 9/11 conspiracy theories and one titled “13 BLOODLINES & their Diabolical End Game,” gained hundreds of thousands of views each.

We’ve known for years that it’s fairly easy to get a politician or public figure to talk into a television camera, but was Kruger aware of this context?

He’s not alone, though: there are currently 85 “British Thought Leader” videos available, plus one that for some reason is unavailable and “hidden”. Other interviees include Leilani Dowding (“Lockdowns, Gender Politics and the WEF”), Giles Udy (“The British Labour Party, Communism & the Gulag”), David Kurten (“The Fightback against Cultural Marxism”), Lois Perry (“Exposing the Green Agenda”) and Claire Fox (“The Age of Dangerous Ideas”), as well as politicians such as Ian Paisley Jr (“In a Crisis, People Turn to Faith Not Government”), Shaun Bailey (“Tackling London’s Problems”), Lord Moylan (“Will Britian Lose WhatsApp?”) and Graham Brady (“Governments Crossed the Line During Lockdowns”).

There are also some lesser-known figures whose path to the interview chair we can only guess at – with public figures NTD clearly gets more out of the association than do their subjects, but in some cases I suspect interviewees used networks to put themselves forward. One surprising inclusion is Bill Browder (“Putin’s Public Enemy Number One”).

Plus of course there is a comparable collection of Epoch TimesAmerican Thought Leaders“, with more focus on politicians talking about the CCP, but also input from prominent Covid misinformation peddlers such as Robert Malone and Peter McCullough.

Note

1. The occasion was discussion of Kruger’s role as co-chair of the “New Conservatives” grouping. Kruger is involved in various conservative networks: in May, for instance, he was part of the National Conservativism Conference (NATCON 2023); he is also an Advisory Board member for a group called the Alliance for Responsible Citizenship, which held its own conference in London at the end of October; as described by Graham Readfearn in the Guardian, ARC is “a sort of quasi-thinktank fronted by the controversial Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson”.

Notes on the Conspiracy Crowd and Gaza

Back in October, American “intellectual dark web” pontificator Bret Weinstein lamented that Israel’s response to the Hamas massacre in southern Israel had the effect of being a “coalition dicer-slicer”, working to “divide and conquer in an information landscape”. By this, he meant that the political influencer networks that had developed out of Covid conspiracism risked falling apart over differing interpretations of the subsequent Gaza conflict. He didn’t go so far as to suggest that the conflict had been created for this purpose, although his cautious phrasing “this turn of events… whatever their nature, let’s say that they’re perfectly organic” did not rule out the idea.

In the UK, conspiracy influencers have attempted to navigate and take advantage of the issue in various ways. Laurence Fox’s Reclaim Party has characterised pro-Palestine marches in London as a failure of integration and as a conspiracy against Britain, particularly when one march took place on the afternoon of Saturday 11 November. Reclaim Party MP Andrew Bridgen issued a statement falsely describing the protestors as “protestors against the Remembrance service” and wildly alleged that they were “seeking to occupy Whitehall overnight” (1). However, more recently Bridgen has endorsed a statement put out by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò alleging that Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislane were Mossad agents who sexually compromised world leaders, which is why politicians “do not dare to breathe a word against the massacres of civilians in the Gaza Strip” (2). In contrast, party ideologue Calvin Robinson has attempted to hedge in a different way, pointedly stating that “I haven’t made any pronouncements on Israel vs Palestine” – unlike in the case of Ukraine, where he happily endorsed claims that the conflict was some sort of media spectacle and that political support for Ukraine can be explained in terms of finanical corruption.

Meanwhile, there are no surprises from David Icke, who refers gratuitiously to the “Sabbatian Cult-controlled Israel government” and claims that it and Hamas both “answer to the Global Cult”. The need for a populist conspiracy angle is also evident from Maajid Nawaz, who describes Netanyahu as a “globalist traitor” and speculates that “Netanyahu probably BOUGHT Musk with the promise of WEF smart-city reconstruction military contracts in Gaza”.

Conspiracy influencer James Melville‘s angle is that the conflict is about “oil and gas reserves”, and he recently endorsed a crude statement, as expressed by someone in his social circle, that framed Israel’s actions in Gaza in terms of “genocidal maniacs & their cucked bootlickers”. Support for pro-Palestine marches has been expressed by Niall McCrae of TCW and the Covid anti-vax Workers of England Union, in conversation with Patrick Henningsen.

UPDATE: The anti-vax conspiracy cartoonist Bob Moran has posted online a prurient cartoon of various targets in a Roman bath scene, in which the water is replaced with blood; the tableau includes a figure supposed to be the conservative polemicist Douglas Murray (identified by the “Press” flak jacket he has been wearing recently while reporting from Gaza), in an intimate pose with Jordan Peterson. Netanyahu is depicted in a sexual scene with a masked figure representing Hamas.

Notes

1. Bridgen’s claims extrapolated from government and tabloid rhetoric: the populist then home secretary Suella Braverman described the protests as “hate marches” and whipped up a bogus threat to the Centotaph, while Rishi Sunak said that to protest on 11 November was inherently “disrespectual” – a position he later implicitly backed down from when he acknowledged “those who have chosen to express their views peacefully” at the National March for Palestine.

2. This endorsement (“The brave Archbishop Vigano speaks out again at personal risk to himself, people should listen”) may also be of interest to Matt Hancock, who is currently being sued for libel by Bridgen after stating that Bridgen has been spouting “anti-Semitic, anti-vax, anti-scientific conspiracy theories”.

Notes on “The Movement”

From Glen Owen at the Daily Mail, a few weeks ago:

Boris Johnson was ousted by a cabal that has been controlling the Tory leadership for two decades, according to an explosive book.

In The Plot: The Political Assassination of Boris Johnson, Nadine Dorries identifies Michael Gove, Dominic Cummings and a powerful adviser called Dougie Smith as members of ‘the movement’.

…The book claims that the origins of ‘the movement’ can be traced back to Mr Smith’s days in the Federation of Conservative Students, more than three decades ago.

Given that Owen is the paper’s political editor, it is odd that this is written up as if “the Movement” had never been heard of before, despite references in the public domain going back decades. For instance, here is Norman Tebbit’s Wikipedia entry:

In August 2002, Tebbit called on the then leader of the Conservatives, Iain Duncan Smith, to “clear out” Conservative Central Office of “squabbling children” who were involved with infighting within the Party. He named Mark MacGregor, a former leader of the Federation of Conservative Students which Tebbit disbanded for “loony Right libertarian politics”, as one of them. Then, in October the same year, Tebbit accused a group of Conservative “modernisers” called “The Movement” of trying to get him expelled from the Party. Tebbit said that The Movement consisted of a “loose” grouping of thirteen members who had previously supported Kenneth Clarke and Michael Portillo for Party leader. Duncan Smith subsequently denied that Tebbit would ever be expelled and Thatcher publicly said she was “appalled” at attempts to have Tebbit expelled and telephoned him to say that she was “four square behind him”.

Tebbit’s 2002 complaint came three years after he Sunday Mirror ran an article by Danny Buckland titled “Politically Incorrect: Portillo’s Step from the Closet was too Sudden a Movement” (12 September 1999). According to Buckland:

WHEN Michael Portillo outed himself about his gay days at Cambridge, the most anxious people around were from a spooky group who call themselves “The Movement”.

This highly-secret right-wing cabal have spent the past 12 years plotting for the day when their hero could enter the doors of 10 Downing Street and rule the world.

They are the Tory equivalent of Labour’s Militant Tendency in the Eighties, squirreling their way into local party organisations to ensure the selection of Portillista MPs who will back their man when it’s time for a change of leader.

These tactics – known to all fans of Leon Trotsky as “entryist” – have been employed at every level of the party. Several newspapers have even been infiltrated by men who have risen to senior posts.

The Sunday Telegraph provided a bit more context in October 2002:

In fact, the “Movement” is nothing more than a nickname adopted with a dash of irony by young Tories of the 1990s who were devoted to keeping the spirit of Thatcherism alive in the leadership ambitions of Michael Portillo. “It was not like the Freemasons, more like a cafe – people came and went,” one member said.

Members of the set included Douglas Smith, a former member of the now-defunct Federation of Conservative of Students and Mr MacGregor, the party’s current chief executive. There is no suggestion, of course, that either of these men was directly responsible for last week’s briefing. But it is unlikely that any of them will have felt much sympathy for Lord Tebbit.

“If we saw each other in a room, we knew who we were,” said another of the group. “The ironic thing is that Tebbit would have been a hero of the Movement in 1990s when the objective was to keep Thatcherism alive against wobbly John Major. It has turned against Tebbit because it has now focused on the need for modernisation, which he opposes.

In the same month, an attempt to project “the Movement” back into the 1980s was made by the late Mike Keith-Smith, in a strange letter to the Independent (18 October 2002: “Hard-Right Tory Leaders are Masquerading as Lefty Liberals”):

The Movement originated with the far-right elements who took over first the Federation of Conservative Students, and then the Young Conservatives during the 1980s. Now that many of its adherents are MPs and senior party officials, the Movement has cynically tacked to the left of the Tory spectrum and collected a smattering of “wet” dupes to provide window dressing.

…As a trusted Movement contact and a senior member of the hard- right Monday Club, I was repeatedly asked to help organise the disruption of CND peace protests, particularly those headed by Bruce Kent, a Movement hate figure. I ceased my support for these tactics after Movement thugs hit the headlines by spearheading a disgraceful violent night assault on peaceful CND protesters camping on Brighton beach during the Tory conference.

Keith-Smith was associated with a rival right-wing strand sympathetic to Tebbit, and by this time was in UKIP. The second paragraph above appears to allude to a split between so-called “authoritarians” and “libertarians” in 1980s Tory right (blogged here), but it is unlikely that the term “the Movement” was then in use.

A further reference to “the Movement” appeared in May 2010, on a one-post blog that published an obituary of Robert Chambers, an FCS activist who had died early, written by his widow:

If I have to explain the movement and FCS to you then you weren’t in it and wouldn’t understand. For those that were… remember the days as the Leicester loonies, Loughborough Conference, being Party Reptiles and Shirley Stotter banning us from attending conference, the closure of FCS, the Leicester loonies reunions and those mad mad three years…oh my when we were young we thought we were going to rule the world – and we could have done….

The same article recalls:

He had not long moved down to London when he met me at the Conservative Party Conference in 1984/5 in Blackpool. We fell in love quickly and I moved in with him, Dougie Smith and Rob Clarkson at the squat/flat in Battersea…

Smith may not now “rule the world”, but according to The Plot he is the secret power behind the throne in Downing Street. The book distinguishes between Smith and a shadowy figure Dorries calls “Dr No”, but an éxpose that fails to name a central figure in the conspiracy makes no sense. It is far more reasonable to suppose that “Dr No” is a device which allowed the author to include allegations that lawyers felt were too risky to be attributed (1).

These old claims about “the Movement” appear to have been reheated in the service of a new round of the same right-wing factionalism that inspired Keith-Smith’s letter more than twenty years ago. Earlier this year saw the launch of the Conservative Democratic Organisation, headed by Lord Cruddas (blogged here). The CDO has been described as a “party within a party”, and is thought to be attempting to control the selection of party candidates at a local level. However, according to The Plot, as reported by Owen, “Mr Smith has controlled the selection of Tory MPs since 2017, with candidates forced to ‘sell their soul’ to him”. Dorries is also with the CDO; it appears, then, that Smith has been targeted because he is an obstacle to Cruddas’s ambitions.

Note

1. Partridge-like, the book contains numerous James Bond references. In this context, though, “Dr No” doesn’t really make sense – the shadowy mastermind in the Bond universe of course is Blofeld. However, this created a problem: Dorries’s literary agent is named Piers Blofeld.

Some Notes on Dan Wootton, the Media and the Police

From the Independent in August:

Mail Online has suspended Dan Wootton’s column while allegations he used a pseudonym and offered colleagues money for sexual images are investigated… Wootton has denied any criminal wrongdoing, although he has admitted to “errors of judgment in the past”.

…Contacted by The Independent following the publication of the Byline Times report, Scotland Yard said: “In June 2023, the Metropolitan Police was contacted with regards to allegations of sexual offences committed by a man.

“Officers are assessing information to establish whether any criminal offence has taken place. There is no police investigation at this time.”

I discussed the matter previously here.

While the quote from police is newsworthy, in terms of the presumption of innocence it is superfluous: even in cases where there is a police investigation (unlike as reported above), it is for the courts to determine whether someone is guilty of a crime – an innocent person may become the subject of a police investigation due to a mistaken or malicious complainant, due to police corruption, or simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. No-one should infer likelihood of guilt from the mere fact of police interest.

This seems, though, to be a difficult lesson for the media and the public to take on board: one recalls the infamous monstering of Chris Jeffries, or how in late 2018 an innocent couple living near Gatwick found themselves on the front cover of the Mail on Sunday alongside the accusatory headline “Are These the Morons who Ruined Christmas?” after they were arrested on the mistaken suspicion of disrupting the airport with a drone.

Last year, however, the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Bloomberg LP v ZXC that, to quote a legal discussion here, “a person under a criminal investigation has a reasonable expectation of privacy in respect of information relating to that investigation”. This recognises the reality of possible unfair damage to reputation that may arise from being under police investigation. It should be noted, though, that this is simply “a legitimate starting point”: according to the same summary, the burden “rests on the claimant both to set out and to prove the circumstances establishing that there was objectively a reasonable expectation of privacy”, and the judgment “is not authority for the proposition that the press may never publish that an individual is under investigation”.

Of course, although an investigation does not imply guilt, some people may draw inferences about whether there are questions to answer based on police interest or lack thereof. This perhaps should be discouraged, but in some cases a person who is accused of something may themselves make it an issue in appealing for support. Dan Wootton decided it was relevant in his response to the allegations as published on a crowdfunding website:

We must fight back against the current state of social media, where any allegation can be made in an attempt to get someone on the right cancelled and it is impossible to defend yourself. This is even the case where they have claimed that I have engaged in criminal activity when I have never been arrested, interviewed or charged in respect of any of the allegations against me.

Wootton’s crowdfunder was set up with the assistance of Laurence Fox’s Bad Law Project, and it was taken down a few days ago. This was around the same time that Fox criticised Wootton for disloyalty over the Ava Evans controversy, although he now says that they are still in daily contact (5.41 here). As such, the reason for the removal is unexplained.

The news cycle has since moved on from the question of whether Wootton solicited images, but he has he remained in the news for other reasons, such as his recent suspension from GB News and firing by the Daily Mail. There is also an intriguing story in Press Gazette about how “The Guardian, Mirror, various other Reach sites and Newsquest’s The National have all removed stories after a legal warning made by a lawyer acting for Dan Wootton”.

Notes on Laurence Fox, Dan Wootton and Some Media Reactions

The Guardian reports on a statement from Laurence Fox, suspended from GB News after an appearance on Dan Wootton Tonight during which he disparaged joutnalist Ava Evans in crudely abusive sexual terms on live television:

In Thursday’s 15-minute video on X, Fox accused Evans of having a “dislike of men in general” and said he was angry with her about comments she had made during a BBC debate on male suicide, but apologised for “demeaning her”.

He said: “If I was going to be sensible and I could replay it, I would say: ‘Any self-respecting man in 2023 would probably be well advised to avoid a woman who possessed that worldview because she would probably cause him nothing but harm.’

“But what I did say was, you know: ‘I wouldn’t shag that,’ and all that sort of stuff, which is not right. It’s demeaning to her, to Ava, so I’m sorry for demeaning you in that way, however angry I am with you still for doing that, and it demeans me because it’s not representative of who I am.”

Apologising for making belligerent and provocative comments when that’s his whole brand is liable to be detrimental to Fox’s future – the case of Milo Yiannopoulos comes to mind.

It is also notable that he downplays what “all that sort of stuff” actually entailed. Here’s a transcript:

“…Show me a single self-respecting man that would like to climb into bed with that woman – ever – who wasn’t an incel, a cucked little incel.

“That little woman has been spoon fed oppression day after day after day, starting with the lie of the gender wage gap… Who’d want to shag that?”

Some earlier reports (including in the Guardian) unaccountably overlooked the word “cucked”, a term that denotes not just a cuckold in the ordinary sense, but a man who acquiesces in his wife’s adultery due to sexual inadequacy and a general inability to embody proper masculine attributes (as a term of disparagement against men, this also makes a mockery of Fox’s supposed concern about male suicide rates). As controversy grew on social media, Fox goaded critics by Tweeting about “the feminisation of men”. Meanwhile, GB News, likely out of fear of Ofcom censure, apologised for the broadcast.

Some of the responses to the incident are worth noting. The Daily Telegraph, which did so much to establish Fox’s reputation as a supposedly serious commentator, originally ran with the headline “GB News apologies after Laurence Fox calls reporter a ‘little woman'”, with a subheading that referred to a “series of remarks about Ava Evans”. This absurd demonstration of obtuseness was later superseded with “Laurence Fox refuses to apologise to ‘mob’ after GB News suspension”, followed by a reference to a “series of personal remarks about Ava Evans”.

Meanwhile, some of Fox’s supporters went through Ava Evans’s social media history looking for “gotchas”, and compiled a handful of old Tweets in which she had used the word “shag” into a screenshot that was then promoted by Fox himself as evidence of a double standard. In a couple of cases her Tweets were replies to other users in which she said that she wouldn’t shag them, but the original context of casual banter rather than a vicious attack was not provided. Anyone can see for themselves here and here. The false equivalence was too much for Dominique Samuels, a former GB News commentator who says she has changed her perspective after “going to the Netherlands and taking plant medicine”:

The ‘anti-woke’ political space has become so ridiculous that people honestly can’t see the difference between a detailed and hate-filled diatribe on national TV about having sex with a woman based on her political views, and a common turn of phrase used online.

Also attempting to shift the focus onto Evans’s past comments was one Connor Tomlinson, who in debate with Moya Lothian-McLean on Sky TV asserted that

Ava said women should be able to weaponise false rape allegations in order to keep men afraid of actually committing sexual assault.

Evans subsequently interpreted this to mean that she was now being accused of eoncouraging women to “file false rape allegations”, a reading which Tomlinson found objectionable. But Evans had never said anything about “weaponising” false allegations, and Tomlinson’s clarification Tweet was a tacit admission of this. Instead, he explained:

…when Isabel Oakeshott raised that concern about a young boy’s “life being ruined” with a false accusation, you said, “I like that terror. I like that. I think men should be frightened…

You stated on Piers Morgan, a year ago, that you endorsed the #MeToo paradigm which resulted in some women (Amber Heard, for example) making false accusations and destroy the lives of men, because you assessed, on the whole, that a culture of fear of these accusations was a benefit by keeping women safe.

“Weaponise false allegations” is a tenuous extroplation, and giving the impression that the phrase was a direct quote was misleading. Evans did not recognise the view attributed to her, and as such her “file false rape allegations” interpretation was reasonable (and likely to be how many viewers would have understood it). (1)

As well as the responses it’s also worth noting some non-responses within the populist conspiracy crowd. Various influencers and their associates who don’t want to defend Fox but who don’t want to burn bridges either have suddenly discovered the virtue of not expressing an opinion about everything: James Melville sniffs that “the media bubble squabbling on things that don’t matter is so tedious”.

Fox and Dan Wootton

Fox’s statement is also notable for his bitter comments about Dan Wootton, who joined GB News in issuing his own apology for the segment despite having privately messaged Fox with laughing emojis. Fox revealed that following allegations about Wootton in Byline Times (discussed here), he had given Wootton moral support every day for weeks and had provided him with “full access to free legal services” via his Bad Law Project (previously described here).  Fox added that “we” (presumably meaning the group) had organised his fundraiser, which has now not-so-mysteriously disappeared.

Wootton’s apology didn’t save him from also being suspended from GB News, and Pop Bitch carries the claim that he not only failed to respond to Fox appropriately at the time but also ignored direct instructions coming into his ear-piece. He has also now been dropped as columnist for the Daily Mail – the paper’s owners refer to “events this week”, which dodges the issue of what their ongoing investigation into older allegations may have found.

UPDATE: Fox subsequently appeared on a podcast hosted by Andrew Tate, during which he gave an aggrieved account of the incident with Ava Evans and complained more broadly about gender roles and relations in modern sociey (including his own circumstances as a divorced father). As for his apology to Evans:

When I said to her I’m sorry for, I demean myself by speaking to you in that manner – even though it was funny, fuck it, why not? – she said I cannot accept your apology.

Tate, as is well known, is currently under police investigation in Romania on allegations of rape and the sexual exploitation of women; he claims that he is innocent, and is being framed by “the Matrix”. Fox is sympathetic to this explanation, just as he has expressed scepticism about the allegations against Russell Brand. However, even leaving aside the criminal charges, there is no argument over Tate’s history of unambiguous and coarsely expressed misogyny. He openly boasts about using predatory seduction techniques to recruit women into webcam work, and he has even filmed himself engaging in sadistic sexual role-play.

Despite all this, Tate enjoys links with prominent US conservatives, and he has made appearances on GB News. There has, though, been one dissenting conservative voice in the UK, warning that “enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend” and objecting to Tate receiving “reputation management” from the likes of Candace Owens. That caution and complaint come from none other than Fox’s close associate Calvin Robinson.

Note

(1) Tomlinson’s main platform is Carl Benjamin’s anti-feminist Lotus Eaters podcast – back in March he used the show to interview Fox’s close associate Calvin Robinson on the subject of “how to fix modern women”. Robinson is ordained as a deacon in a fringe off-shoot of the Church of England; he recently made an appearance on Fox News on the subject of how Christians cannot hold progressive views, as a result of which he received an endorsement from Franklin Graham.

A Note on Russell Brand and “Innocent Until Proven Guilty”

At the Spectator, Sam Leith notes support for Russell Brand from among the “alternative news” influencer crowd (links added):

Elon Musk and Jordan Peterson; Roger Stone, Alex Jones and Tucker Carlson; GB News’s Calvin Robinson (‘What is their motivation?’) and Bev Turner (‘This proves you are winning. You’re a hero’); George Galloway (‘I’m no Sherlock Holmes, but I smell a giant RAT); even the Telegraph‘s Allison Pearson, before the reports were aired or published, mused that ‘my first reaction is to wonder why They [sic] are trying to silence the person’. Laurence Fox, grotesquely, quoted Pastor Niemoller.

In some cases, it is not clear whether the commentators believe that Brand has been falsely accused, or just that he has been singled out unfairly. Several of the above have histories of making lurid allegations against others without much concern for due diligence – Musk infamously once called someone “pedo guy” in a fit of pique and more recently forced Twitter’s former head of site integrity go into hiding, while just a few days ago Carlson (who claims Brand has been targeted due to his views on drug companies and Ukraine) conducted a risible softball interview with the discredited figure of Larry Sinclair.

Leith also addresses how the principle of “innocent until proven guilty” is currently being bandied about “as if criminal conviction was now the minimum standard of verification for a newspaper investigation”. Certainly, in some cases (such as that of Calvin Robinson) the phrase seems to be a mantra deployed to dodge any need to engage with the story. However, some warnings about “trial by media” are more general and principled – particularly vocal on this point is Harvey Proctor, who was vilified based on a ludicrous and incompetent police investigation triggered by the liar and hoaxer Carl Beech.

The problem with “innocent until proven guilty”, though, is that it does not reflect how we assess what may or may not be pertinent information in everyday life, rather than when following the narrow epistemological principles imposed on juries. Even in law, the civil standard of a finding is “balance of probability” rather than absolute proof. We can all think of cases where an acquittal in a criminal case was more a matter of doubt rather than exoneration. Of course, it is important to be especially careful and fair-minded in relation to sexual allegations, due to the special circumstances of accusers whose identity is protected and the exceptional stigma that is attached to such crimes – but that doesn’t mean we can’t ever form a view about a particular situation.

In the case of Russell Brand, one accuser made a statement at a rape crisis centre the day after the alleged encounter occured in 2012, and she has what appears to be a text message from him in which he apologises for what occurred. It is reasonable to regard this as a case to answer, and then to draw adverse inferences if a credible answer is not forthcoming. We may then draw futher inferences about the likelihood of other allegations that can probably never be proven in court either way, such as that during one consensual sexual encounter he forced his alleged partner (a 16-year-old girl) to perform a sexual act against her will.

As regards the allegation of “grooming” a 16-year-old, this is not actually illegal unless and abuse of authority is involved, and so the issue of a criminal standard of proof doesn’t even apply – but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have reputational ramifications.

UPDATE: Laurence Fox has expressed the view that Brand must be innocent based on supposed statistical probability: “If Russell Brand has shagged over a thousand women, one would expect more than a 0.4% allegation rate.”

BBC Critics Seize on Disinformation Correspondent’s 2018 CV Embellishment

From the New European‘s “Mandrake” media column:

We all make mistakes when we are young, and sometimes they grow in irony as time passes. Case in point: Marianna Spring, the BBC’s disinformation correspondent who, I can reveal today, was once caught red-handed lying in her CV to win a job.

…Five years ago, in 2018, Spring was looking for work as a Moscow stringer for US-based news site Coda Story. In her application to editor-in-chief Natalia Antelava, she included a CV in which claimed to have worked alongside BBC correspondent Sarah Rainsford on the corporation’s coverage of the football World Cup held in Russia… A simple check by Antelava with Rainsford resulted in the latter admonishing Spring for the embellishment in her CV. A grovelling email apology from Spring to Antelava followed…

The disappointing indiscretion has been seized on with glee by critics of the BBC, including the conspiracy crowd and the anti-NATO left (“a criminal offence”, crows Kit Klarenberg, ludicrously [1]). Some headlines, such as the Telegraph‘s “Marianna Spring: BBC disinformation reporter ‘lied on her CV'” give the false impression that the story relates to her current position. On Twitter (sorry, “X”), Christian Christensen describes the social media reaction as “bro-schadenfreude”.

There is some surprise that the story appeared first in the New European. The column is anonymous, and the flow of information remains opaque. Perhaps it simply found its way there due to chance connections between journalists, but there might be something else going on: someone with a grievance who didn’t want to take their story to predictable anti-BBC news outlets; or possibily even a “friendly” leak to the weekly as news management to pre-empt some more vitriolic anti-BBC source.

Note

1. Klarenberg published a supposed “investigation” of Spring in Grayzone in June, in which he suggested that the lack of anything interesting in her past must be evidence of a cover-up and noted darkly that she had studied at Pembroke College “during the period when disgraced former MI6 chief Richard Dearlove served as its master”. Given Dearlove’s retirement role as a buffoonish opinionator for the Telegraph, the hint of some “intelligence” link between the two is incoherent.