The Times’ ‘hipster fascists’ article shows the media is still being duped by the far-right

The Times logo over a Generation Identity banner
John Shafthauer

On Sunday 20 May, Rupert Murdoch’s Sunday Times tweeted a link to an article on young British fascists. The tweet drew such a negative response it was deleted.

Although the tweet didn’t give a complete picture of the article itself, it has drawn attention to wider problems at the Times.

Window dressing

People were quick to point out the issues with the tweet:

But there is a difference between the tweet and the article, as the author has been pointing out online:

The tweet read:

Middle class and well-spoken, dressed in skinny jeans and New Balance trainers – meet the hipster fascists breathing new life into the British far-right.

But the opening of Gilligan’s article [paywall] reads quite differently, as much of it is taken from quotes:

A 23-year-old City banker leads a movement of young “hipster fascists”, which is “breathing new life” into the British far-right, according to anti-racism campaigners. Middle class and well-spoken, dressed in skinny jeans and New Balance trainers rather than bomber jackets and boots, members of Generation Identity (GI) are accused of using slick branding and coded language to “normalise” extremist views.

Editorial

Journalists working in the mainstream media often don’t have any say on how their work is published and promoted. As such, Gilligan has some right to be angry, but his anger should be directed at the Times.

It’s well known that social media links and headlines are read far more [paywall] than the stories they’re promoting. It’s also far from the first time an outlet has been accused of ‘normalising’ modern fascists. There have been muliple articles detailing this in recent years. And professional editors at the Times should be aware of the far right using image as a ‘propaganda tool‘:

The problem goes beyond social media too. This was the print edition:

The problems with the article also run deeper. And the Times can’t escape its own track record when it comes to how people engage with its articles.

Reading between the lines

One thing people are pointing to is the obvious class issue (the following tweet also references an article from the Mail):

The quoted comments from Hope Not Hate don’t really help here [paywall]:

it’s also in a sense about the quality of them. The older traditional lot are seeing them breathe new life into the movement. We haven’t seen someone like [Dupré] in a while . . . a young, articulate, normal-looking far-right activist who works at a bank like Standard Chartered.

Yet Gilligan does nothing to point out the problem with this language. Expressing shock when middle class people are bigoted is dishonest. The “hipster fascists” are not exceptional in many of their beliefs. Just look at some of the politicians in UKIP or the Conservatives.

The Times also published a recent article titled:

Islamophobia is a fiction to shut down debate

This is a popular argument among the far right. The Times has also fallen in with the right in its demonisation of trans people. And Gilligan is one of the journalists there who has published multiple, non-favourable articles on the subject – some of which turned out to be untrue.

Do better

The Times can’t publish articles denying Islamophobia and bashing trans people and expect to escape scrutiny on how it covers fascists. Gilligan’s article wasn’t what the tweet suggested, but that doesn’t mean it was without fault. The media need to do a better job reporting on the far right. Especially when they’re more likely to call out the targets of bigotry than the bigots themselves.

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Featured image via Pulek1 – Wikimedia

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