media

How to Tie a Knot in the Left’s Forked Tongue

When Sir Roger Scruton sat down for a chat with New Statesman deputy editor George Eaton he was fully aware his interlocutor was a man of the Left, yet he would have entered the encounter in the belief that, their differing politics aside, his words would be reproduced with fidelity. They weren’t, which goes to show that even the smartest amongst us can fall victim to his or her own decency. Sir Roger is an honourable man and his mistake, one many conservatives make when dealing with the agents and operatives of the Left, was to assume Eaton likewise honest. He isn’t or anything like it, as is undeniable now that a transcript and audio file of their conversation has seen the light of day.

For those who haven’t been following the Left’s latest and typically multi-stage exercise in character assassination, Eaton bid Sir Roger adieu, went straight to his keyboard and wrote up a tall story replete with misquotations, out-of-context responses and, there is no other word for it, vile and filthy lies.

That was Stage One.

Stage Two saw Eaton take to social media, where he whipped the trolls who infest that medium into a blood frenzy — never difficult when the quarry is a conservative. Sir Roger was a racist, a homophobe, an enemy of Jews and Muslims alike and pretty much the all-round rotter, or so Eaton asserted.

Then came Stage Three, when the serried voices of the Left’s online echo chamber demanded the government of Theresa May fire one of the world’s great thinkers (his collection of short stories is reviewed in April’s Quadrant) from any and every official post to which he might have been appointed. It took just six hours before a spineless minister booted Sir Roger from a panel devoted to the promotion of architecture less ugly than a central planner’s brutalism or the look-at-me featurism that is your modern bureaucrat’s other notion of beauty. (Visitors to Melbourne can observe the tertiary symptoms of this condition on the short stroll from the pig’s breakfast eyesore of Federation Square to the windowless National Gallery Victoria’s bluff-walled stone fortress.)

Eaton’s lies had claimed their scalp and he celebrated by releasing a twittered photo of himself swigging champagne from the bottle. The caption: “The feeling when you get right-wing racist and homophobe Roger Scruton fired as a Tory government adviser.” Few sultans have ever been so pleasured by their harems than was Eaton’s ego by the accolades of congratulation from his online admirers.

And there matters might have rested except, unusually, there has now been a Stage Four. It hasn’t gone to Eaton’s advantage.

According to reports out of London — the Evening Standard‘s is typical — the ink-stained scoundrel has been asked “not to come into the office” while the New Statesman conducts an internal inquiry. What prompted this move further testifies to the mutable ethics of the Left, as no action was taken until a tape of the Eaton-Scruton conversation, which the New Statesman had point-blank refused to release,  found its way into the hands of Douglas Murray and became the subject of the UK Spectator‘s latest cover story. The Evening Standard reports that a second investigation is also underway in an attempt to learn how, contrary to the Left’s standard operating procedure, the truth somehow got out.

That transcript, handily linked to a segmented audio file, can be read and heard here. Any conservative who deals with the modern press would be well advised to make a study of the questions and responses. The oleaginous Eaton is subdued and polite when putting his questions, never arguing the toss and most often capping Sir Roger’s answers with nothing more indicative of his devious intent than a series of bland ‘Hmmm’s.

What to take from this episode, other than the obvious and garden-variety counsel that the conservative who meets the modern press in the belief that a respect for truth, fact and decency is mutual will likely be gravely disappointed? In Sir Roger’s case, the shattering of this trust must have been even more hurtful, as he once served as the New Statesman‘s wine writer and would have presumed a certain degree of collegial respect.

If one accepts this episode as the latest example of the Left lying at every possible opportunity, then there is a practical lesson to be gleaned: record the encounter and make it available via the web even before your interviewer has published whatever defamatory bilge is in the works. The original is there for all to examine, an irrefutable yardstick by which any subsequent defamations can be judged.

The same principle should apply to all questions from reporters. Demand that they be submitted in writing and then, rather than allowing oneself to be verballed, questions and responses should also be posted online. If the reporter’s questions presage an apparent scoop of the ‘gotcha’ variety, which was definitely the case with Eaton’s quizzing of Sir Roger, publishing online will confer the additional advantage of ruining that scoop by alerting rival hacks far and wide.

It is sad that it has come to this, but this is the world the Left has wrought. As devious activism’s patron saint, Saul Alinsky, wrote in his Rules for Radicals, make your opponents live by their own prescribed standards of conduct. The Left has few, as George Eaton demonstrated, but such as there are can be turned against them if, and only if, conservatives accept that they are the one remaining minority open to bigotry and slander. That, and a willingness to fight.

Roger Franklin is the editor of Quadrant Online

9 comments
  • Roger Franklin

    Reader Rod From The Bush is having trouble with his computer so has written via email instead:

    About 30 years ago, when I worked in the public service, I was sent to a media training course. The idea was to counteract some of the naivity my colleagues and I displayed in the face of devious journalists. One of the things I well remember was this advice: if you are asked to do an interview on 4 Corners or 60 Minutes, you must assume they are going to try to destroy or discredit you. The best strategy is not to do the interview at all. But if you cannot get out of it, you must ensure the entire interview is recorded by a colleague, preferably on video tape, and the journalist must be aware that this is being done. As the Roger Scruton debacle demonstrates, this precaution still applies today and, regretfully, not just in the case of 4 Corners or 60 Minutes. Rod from The Bush

  • Tony Tea

    What gets me is the idea that so many people exist who basically want to cut people down, and that these people get their jollies from it. Not to mention, parade themselves as bastions of honour. Surely they are no better than the slimey hacks often alleged to exist in the Red Tops. What’s the bet that in the case of Eaton/Scruton (and Jefferies/Yemini) we never hear from the self-righteous who complained about the schemes that sunk the News of the Screws.

  • en passant

    Scruton MUST sue as it has affected his reputation, cost him a ‘plum’ job and future prospects. If he sends them to the wall and Eaton becomes a foreign correspondent in Iran or Bikini Atoll, so much the better

  • SB

    Only two things continue to surprise me:
    1. How naive conservatives are;
    2. How utterly devoid of principles pretend-conservatives are in their pursuit of their own interests.

    In regard to the latter, which do you think is the more evil: the hate-driven leftist who openly and unapologetically pursues his or her destructive agenda, or the pretend-conservative who, despite knowing full well that his or her constituency believes in a principled, just, ordered society, will do or say whatever it takes to advance his or her own interests?

    No matter what the cost, conservatives in the West have to go against their instincts and bring down the establishment conservatives in the hope that something emerges that will save us from the ‘soft authoritarianism’ that governments now impose on us.

  • talldad

    Having been done over by a Melbourne equivalent of 60 Minutes / Four Corners (over 10 years ago), I define any contact with the mainstream of media hacks as an engagement of war.

    I heartily, if sadly, endorse the comments of Rod from the bush and the advice he received.

  • wayne.cooper

    Say what you like about the late Harry M Miller, but he had a strong piece of advice to his clients. “Never trust the ABC, because they cannot be controlled.” If Harry had a client being “done” by 60 mins or A Current Affair, he could contact the producer to say that if there were anything untoward, unfair, or distorted in the broadcast, he would not hesitate to get his other clients to boycott not only the show but also every magazine attached to the media empire associated with the relevant channel. But the ABC and SBS were not susceptible to being kept honest in this way, which remains a serious problem.

  • SB

    The take of the Daily Mail’s ever-amusing Peter Hitchens on the Roger Scruton interview:
    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-6967777/PETER-HITCHENS-Yes-Miss-Greta-Thunberg-16-knew-too.html

    I particularly like this bit:

    “The case of Sir Roger Scruton, a guileless academic driven from public life by the twisting of his words and the howling of the electronic mob, is a warning to us all of a fast-approaching future.
    The Left will win in the end because it recognises no limit on how wicked it can be to get its way. It will also win because the ‘Conservative’ Party is a rabble of cowards, which is so afraid of the Left it runs away from a fight before it has even been attacked.”

    The piece on Scruton is the second story in the article, the first being an equally amusing piece on the climate girl.

  • Simon Morgan

    I wonder if this wretched man’s next twitter feed will be of him wearing a dunce’s cap and reading something along the lines of :

    ‘The feeling you get when you’ve been found out to be a grotesque liar’

    No, silly of me. The Left consider any lie to be acceptable as long as they are in a ‘good’ cause.

  • SB

    Facebook and Instagram ban Paul Joseph Watson:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMqlfwV4BA8

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