After Trump retweeted a comment from the far-right group, the media on both sides of the pond scrambled to, apparently, give them as much airtime as possibleby Steve Bloomfield / November 30, 2017 / Leave a comment
When the Norwegian far-right terrorist Anders Behring Breivik appeared in court after killing 77 people in 2011 he gave a Nazi salute. It was a dramatic moment which led news bulletins around the world and was plastered across front pages. Which was exactly what Breivik wanted. When Osama Bin Laden released a speech on the eve of the 2004 US presidential election, warning he would strike the US again and criticising President George W Bush’s response to 9/11, it dominated the final days of the campaign. Which was exactly what Bin Laden wanted.
If the leaders of the tiny neo-Nazi party, Britain First, could have designed their perfect press moment following US president Donald Trump’s decision to retweet the videos that even they admit are “hate messages,” what would have it have looked like?
Perhaps it would have included television interviews. Maybe they would have hoped for a profile on the front page of the New York Times. They would also want media organisations to focus on the videos themselves, hopefully replaying clips of them. It would be helpful if Sky News could host a debate involving a right-wing commentator who managed to move the discussion onto the issue of “radical Islamism.” The pipe-dream that Radio 4’s Today would hand over its prestigious 8.10am slot to far-right agitator Ann Coulter would probably be dismissed as too far-fetched.
What happens next? If there is another terror attack in a few months will the Trump-approved Jayda Fransen be wheeled out to give her “controversial take”? Will she start being quoted in the Daily Express whenever there is a negative story about the perceived “threat” of Islam—you know, the “halal meat in primary schools,” “the council’s banned Christmas” sort of story? In a year’s time will she be given her own show on LBC because, you see, we’ve got James O’Brien and it’s important to have a balance?
So, how should we deal with this? Firstly, by not inviting fascists on to the airwaves. This is what they want. This is how they reach a new audience. Don’t let them. Don’t convince yourself that it’s only fair to have “both sides” of the debate. There is no debate to be had. They are fascists.
Nor should you kid yourself that your superb interviewing skills…