Is BuzzFeed the new Breitbart? The site’s choice of new political correspondent suggests it might be.

Alex Wickham and the Buzzfeed, Breitbart and Guido Fawkes logos

On 3 July, BuzzFeed UK announced that its new senior political correspondent is former Breitbart contributor and Guido Fawkes news editor Alex Wickham:

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A step in the wrong direction

A spokesperson for BuzzFeed UK stated Wickham will bring a:

proven track record of getting agenda-setting scoops to BuzzFeed.

BuzzFeed UK‘s head of news Stuart Millar, meanwhile, was over the moon at the appointment:

But author and journalist Peter Jukes was not feeling so positive:

Others also share his concerns:

Chequered past

One Twitter user predicted a tough time ahead for BuzzFeed UK‘s editors:

The highlights include Wickham approaching Tory MPs on Twitter in disguise, in a bid to entrap them into a ‘sexting’ scandal:

And Guido Fawkes has made its name by spouting sensationalist right-wing stories which don’t always turn out to be true, with Wickham at the heart of it.

In February 2018, Wickham tweeted:

Wickham based these accusations on a Guido Fawkes article. But the organisation that keeps Stasi records has since announced that there is no file on Jeremy Corbyn:

And this was not the first time Wickham had put smearing Corbyn ahead of the truth:

Guido Fawkes broke the sensational scoop that Corbyn attended a Seder feast hosted by a Jewish group in his constituency. If these are the kind of “agenda-setting” scoops Wickham is going to bring to BuzzFeed UK, then look forward to other ‘obvious’ headlines such as ‘couple gets married’ or ‘dog poos outside’.

Enemies to friends

Even without Wickham’s chequered past, BuzzFeed UK‘s appointment is odd – as the two have not always seen eye to eye.

Responding to the news that BuzzFeed UK‘s former political editor Jim Waterson was leaving for the Guardian, Guido Fawkes published a frankly insulting article ridiculing the candidates in line to replace him. It described the job as:

a sweet gig: you get free pizza and beer on Fridays and only have to file once every couple of weeks.

It then criticised the internal candidates, including Emily Ashton and Alex Spence – who will be Wickham’s new colleagues. I wonder if the beers will be flowing on Friday?

Stinks of desperation

At the risk of sounding like Donald Trump, BuzzFeed UK is struggling. It reported a £3.3m loss in 2017, leading to a host of redundancies. Therefore, Wickham’s appointment represents a new start for the website. Yet it stinks of desperation:

Putting Wickham’s supposed ‘access’ above insignificant qualities like being principled:

It seems like this is BuzzFeed UK‘s last-ditch attempt to get in with the big boys:

Worrying

Wickham’s appointment could lead to many turning their back on BuzzFeed UK:

It represents a well-trodden route from right-wing fringe to mainstream journalist:

https://twitter.com/lowenergylaura/status/1014095404399579137

Waterson actually started out as an intern at Guido Fawkes before eventually moving to BuzzFeed UK from City AM. He is now media editor at the Guardian. It’s worrying that Wickham could conceivably follow this same path.

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Featured image via liarpoliticians2/YouTube MSNBC/YouTube and PaulStaines/YouTube.

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