“Will Lloyd from the New Statesman has asked for an interview. Good faith actor?” I texted a friend. “Err, not really” came the instant reply.
“Rather appropriate that he finds himself at the New Statesman,” I thought to myself, a publication which famously lied about Sir Roger Scruton not long before his death, eventually being forced to apologise. Tellingly, the man who did the lying, George Eaton, remains a Senior Editor at the publication.
But, having tweeted only days earlier that I had received no media invitations from left-leaning media following my viral speech at the Oxford Union, I did not want to give the New Statesman the satisfaction of claiming that I had turned them down.
And so it was that a few days later a jittery young man walked into the TRIGGERnometry studio. Having dispensed a series of over-enthusiastic handshakes to everyone in attendance, Mr Lloyd commenced our interview.
What happened next was described with tremendous flair and extraordinary dishonesty by Mr Lloyd in his subsequent piece which opened with the ridiculous claim that I threatened him that he should not misrepresent me “because it would be very bad for him”.
As Mr Lloyd points out in his article, I’m a man of many flaws: “pint-sized”, “wet-eyed” and, worst of all, a steak-eater. But stupidity has never been one of these flaws and the idea that I would threaten a journalist whose only achievement so far is acquiring a reputation for duplicity is silly.
Indeed, when I challenged Mr Lloyd to provide evidence of this “quote” he explained that I said it “after he had turned the recorder off”. He was unable to provide an explanation as to why, having failed to record it, he was the only one out of the 5 people in the room who “heard” me say this. Eventually, Mr Lloyd agreed to remove this made-up quote.
I did not say it would be very bad for Mr Lloyd to misrepresent me, not least because I have absolutely no reason to believe that lying about me would be bad for him. Given where he works I expect to see him promoted in short order.
The article contained a large number of other inaccuracies designed, presumably, to make me look arrogant, pompous and messianic. Why he felt misquoting me was necessary to achieve this is beyond me - not even my best friends would list modesty and humility as strengths. Following my complaint, the New Statesman has removed these made-up quotes as well.
For instance, the article claimed I said the number of views for my speech was “beyond measurement” when what I actually said was that it’s impossible to measure how many times a video is seen once it goes into private WhatsApp groups and Telegram channels.
Readers will undoubtedly be stunned to hear that despite having to remove numerous made-up quotes and misrepresentations, neither Mr Lloyd nor the New Statesman have apologised or, indeed, altered the rest of the article which relied so heavily on these fabrications.
In any case, as someone who, contrary to Mr Lloyd’s claims, actually believes in free speech, I think the answer to bad speech is more speech. I have no wish to sue Mr Lloyd or his employer for their lies about me - instead I will enjoy from a safe distance the continuing self-immolation of the mainstream media as a trustworthy source of information. It creates a nice vacuum (or “little Kingdom” in Mr Lloyd’s words) for those of us who believe in genuine dialogue, honest conversation and seeking the answers to some of the biggest challenges facing humanity.
What’s more, a hit piece from a mainstream media outlet is rather a status symbol in my line of work. “You’ve arrived,” a friend helpfully explained. Indeed I have - following the viral speech at the Oxford Union, a second appearance on BBC Question Time and now this hit piece, I reflect on the last couple of weeks with tremendous satisfaction. And a lesson or two learned along the way - I will continue to engage with people from all over the political spectrum in good faith, but I’ll be recording the interviews myself going forward.
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Recording from your end is a great idea
Always record your interactions with journalists, and put the recording device ostentatiously in the middle of the table. Decline any invitations to 'cease recording for a moment' or for and 'off the record question'.
Do not trust these snakes, they get money and XP from damaging you. The more damage the more XP.
Assume every journalist is there to do a hatchet job on you, misquote you and try to make you look stupid, racist, misogynist and the modern day incarnation of Hitler and David Duke's love child.
Advice from my Tory MP.
And especially do not trust the BBC or Sky.