Not a week goes by without far-right foghorn amplifier GB News being in some sort of hot water. Now, after station bosses suspended two presenters for misogyny, broadcasting watchdog Ofcom is investigating.
Ofcom also recently ruled against the channel for having two Conservative MPs interview a third Tory on their show. GB News‘ response? To laugh in the regulator’s face with yet another display of Conservative Party PR between the Tory chair ’30p Lee’ Anderson and home secretary Suella Braverman – because it knows it will get away with it.
Laurence Fox: how could this possibly happen?
As BBC News reported, GB News has once again caused uproar due to its presenters’ actions:
Dan Wootton has been suspended from GB News following comments made on his show by Laurence Fox, who asked what “self-respecting man” would “climb into bed” with reporter Ava Evans.
The broadcaster had earlier suspended Fox for his remarks about PoliticsJOE’s Evans during a live show.
Fox’s comments were in response to assertions Evans made about men’s mental health during the BBC Politics Live show on Monday 25 September. Whilst Fox initially said that he stood “by every word of what I said”, he later caved and joined Wooton in apologising for their misogyny.
Meanwhile, Evans told PoliticsJOE:
For a long time that man [Fox] has said some pretty despicable things about women. I mean there’s the comments about asking a fellow journalist what colour knickers she’s wearing, or there’s another commentator where he put out a tweet being like ‘oh god you wouldn’t want to be her girlfriend’ [sic] or whatever…
I just think it speaks to a wider power dynamic that is falling away now but definitely used to be there in the last few years. It’s like an antiquated practice of not being able to properly challenge a woman on her words and so just going for her level of attractiveness, or her ‘shagability’.
GB News‘ boss has condemned both presenters. Of course, most people know Fox is a dickhead. However, Wooton also has a history of rampant misogyny:
Before rolling out a red carpet of sympathy for Dan Wootton for losing his job at The Daily Mail, with his GB News job hanging on by a thread, consider the effects his relentless smear campaign against Meghan Markle has had on The Duchess.
This video is made up of clips from his… pic.twitter.com/UkInkPDbZw
— GB News Spin Room (@GBNewsSpin) September 28, 2023
There’s also the not-so small matter of the recent Byline Times investigation into him over sexual abuse allegations:
And if you’d like to read the Byline Times investigation I was referring to (the one the BBC presenter didn’t want me to mention) here it is…. Worth noting that Dan Wooton denies all the allegations.https://t.co/LHSdswS1hU
— JOHN NICOLSON M.P. (@MrJohnNicolson) September 28, 2023
So, as one person asked on X:
How could this possibly happen inquires channel that hired two appalling twats and put them on live TV together? https://t.co/fZCzPewSFM
— Malcolm V Tucker 🏴☠️🇺🇦 (@Tucker5law) September 27, 2023
Of course, Fox and Wooton’s actions come against a backdrop of controversy for GB News.
Ofcom: if at first you don’t succeed…
As the Canary previously reported, the regulator recently ruled against GB News over two Tory MPs interviewing Tory chancellor Jeremy Hunt on the channel. As we previously wrote, Ofcom said GB News breached part of its code regarding broadcasters presenting a wide range of opinions:
That is: Tories were interviewing a Tory, and offering no alternative views.
You know it’s bad when even Tory MPs are distancing themselves from GB News – or rather, pretending to – even after appearing repeatedly on the channel. Thank goodness for X community notes:
"I don't go on any of their shows"
— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) September 27, 2023
But while Ofcom has ruled against GB News (and likely will in the case of Fox and Wooton), the regulator is still not addressing the elephant in the room.
That elephant is nicely summed up by the following GB News show:
7pm tomorrow night 🖥📺 pic.twitter.com/rvtIBeUySD
— Lee Anderson MP (@LeeAndersonMP_) September 28, 2023
Once again, people are outraged and calling for the regulator to act. However, Ofcom only actually ruled against GB News for failing to air alternative views. It didn’t rule against Tory MPs interviewing Tory MPs – despite what high-profile people like Carol Vorderman on X are saying:
This is NOT permitted by @ofcom regulation.
Lee Anderson (deputy Tory chair) interviewing Suella Braverman (Home Secretary) on GB News
Time to complain before broadcast & RT? https://t.co/ZKG30FZ8Za
Lee Anderson Show – proposed broadcast
GB News… https://t.co/sPDC9XYt6w
— Carol Vorderman (@carolvorders) September 28, 2023
The ‘get out of broadcasting jail free card’ for GB News is that when these Tories interview other Tories, it’s classed as current affairs, not news (according to Ofcom, anyway). Therefore, they’re not breaching any rules. As some corporate journalists have pointed out, it’s almost like GB News is now staging the Braverman interview to purposefully taunt Ofcom:
The deputy chair of the Conservative Party is interviewing the Conservative Home Secretary on his TV show, and calling it a scoop.
GB News are now just laughing in the face of the toothless waste of space that is Ofcom. https://t.co/Uat9AngFba
— Owen Jones (@OwenJones84) September 28, 2023
Or it’s just doing it for the clicks:
“It’s manufactured outrage – because outrage, as we know, is how you monetise.”
As GB News find themselves being investigated by Ofcom – The News Agents ask if that's exactly what they want.
— The News Agents (@TheNewsAgents) September 27, 2023
Herein lies the problem.
GB News: it’s not its right-wing views that are the problem
If GB News wants to be a right-wing news channel, that’s up to it. The broadcaster allowing far-right hate-peddlers like Fox to spout what probably constitutes hate speech live on air is clearly unacceptable – and Ofcom should act. However, the regulator acting over the channel not presenting a balance of opinions is really neither here nor there, when it doesn’t address that elephant in the room.
The channel exists to act as a PR service for the hard-right wing of the Tory Party. The things it presents as current affairs are simply Conservative Party political broadcasts. Yet due to Ofcom’s own preposterously complex rules, the channel can get away with it.
We already have a broadcaster acting as a mouthpiece for the state (the BBC), thanks very much. The UK certainly doesn’t need the dystopian, Orwellian nightmare that is GB News acting as a marketing agency for the Tories. Yet Ofcom seems incapable of acting on this. Until it does, everything else is tokenistic – and the channel will continue to get away with it.
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