Britain doesn’t have much in the way of a progressive mainstream media, and part of what little we do have is currently under threat. Russian businessman and current owner of the rather unpleasant London Evening Standard, Alexander Lebedev is currently in talks to buy out The Independent, which has been struggling financially for a while now.
And as if that wasn’t worrying enough, it seems that Lebedev plans to replace the Indy’s current editor Roger Alton (whose style, admittedly, hasn’t been particularly popular with many readers) with the controversial ex-editor of Radio 4’s Today programme, Rod Liddle.
If you’ve never encountered Liddle, count yourself lucky; he’s not the most pleasant of people – and he would be, in my view (and that of many others) just about the worst possible choice to edit the Indy, which is well-known for its progressive stance on many controversial issues.
Why? Well, there’s the racism for a start – and, despite the fact he seems to think he’s being clever and witty, this is racism of the most ignorant, lazy kind (as evidenced here and here). Either he really doesn’t get how offensive he’s being, or he’s attempting to be controversial for the sake of being controversial, which isn’t particularly clever, witty or grown-up either.
And then there’s the sexism, which borders on pure, spiteful misogyny most of the time, despite his frankly laughable claims of feminism. Even worse, and despite his denials, there’s the fact that it’s a matter of public record that he was cautioned for assaulting his pregnant girlfriend in 2005.
And, of course, there’s also the simple fact that, in my view, he’s just not that good a journalist – or at least not as good a journalist as he thinks he is (this piece, in which he willfully fails to get the idea of climate change, is a classic example of what I mean).
You can see why I believe that Liddle editing the Indy would just be a disaster and an insult to its readers.
And I’m not the only one.
A group has been set up on Facebook, threatening to boycott The Independent if Liddle is made editor. It describes itself as:
“An emergency response by readers to the decision to make tedious racist Rod Liddle the editor of The Independent, one of Britain’s only progressive papers”
The group has gained almost 1,300 members in its first twenty four hours of existance and is already attracting mainstream media attention as well as the very real possibility of advertisers and their much-needed cash withdrawing from the Indy.
But more members are needed to help this group make a real impact – if, like me, you object to Lebedev’s backing of Liddle, then join the group here. Tweet about it, blog about it, link to the group on your website; get the campaign out there!
UPDATE: More information on the campaign and the stir all this is causing can be found here.