the world’s worst columnist
According to Donald Trump, the Daily Mail writer Katie Hopkins is a ‘respected columnist’. According to Katie Hopkins herself, meanwhile, she is nothing less than a ‘conduit for truth.’
And if truth were a river of poo, she’d be right. As it is, the sewerage and inaccuracies that flow from her mouth have an awkward habit of being proven, well, untrue.
In March 2017, the cook and blogger Jack Monroe won £24,000 damages (with more than £100,000 in legal expenses also added to the bill) after being incorrectly accused by Hopkins of vandalising a war memorial. A few months earlier, in December 2016, the Daily Mail also had to pay out £150,000 after Hopkins falsely accused a British Muslim family of extremism. She said that two brothers who were stopped on the way to Disneyland with their children had links to Al Qaeda and that US authorities were right to stop them. She said they weren’t on their way to Disneyland – that this was a lie – and that one of the brothers had also set up a Facebook page full of extremist material. In all of these things her conduit was cloacal.
As well as the damages, Hopkins and the Mail were asked to make an apology to the aggrieved family. Katie made hers on Twitter at 2 am. Perhaps she did it when everyone was sleeping because she was embarrassed? No, not by the inaccurate accusation. But because back in 2015, at a church conference in London she’d roundly declared: ‘I have never apologised for anything I’ve said. I find it very disappointing when people apologise. You should have the positive moral attitude to stand by what you say.’
At the same meeting, she’d appealed to the religious in the crowd by explaining, ‘I am the Jesus of the outspoken. Jesus had his followers – I have 600,000 followers on Twitter. It’s about leading the way – I am the new Jesus.’
This remarkable speech was something of a high-water mark for the outspoken Brexit campaigner’s effluence. Other doozies included:
‘I don’t see how I’ve incited hatred. I point out solutions – send gunboats to the Med, blow up the boats, keep people on shore, look after people in situ.’
‘I don’t believe in food banks at all ... I don’t believe we are all equal. It’s fundamentally stupid if you can’t afford to feed your family but you have an iPhone 6. All the kids on free school meals have iPhones.’
She also explained that she was intending to write a new Christmas book called The Bible, apparently innocent of the fact that there was another Christmas-themed book with the same title. Alas, little has been heard of her religious masterpiece since. But we’ve heard plenty from Katie Hopkins. She has become a mirror of our times: someone who first rose to fame from being rude to people on a reality TV programme called The Apprentice, and has since parlayed that infamy into ever more influence and cash. She’s called for the peers in the British House of Lords to be gassed. She’s said she’d like to see euthanasia-vans – a bit like ‘ice-cream vans’ going around dealing with the fact that ‘we just have far too many old people’. She’s said that ‘being depressed’ is ‘a fashionable thing to be’. She’s also told viewers of ITV’s This Morning that she doesn’t like her children to play with children with ‘lower-class’ names like Charmaine, Chantelle or Tyler.
All of which sounds like so much liberal-baiting nonsense. It’s easy to dismiss her as a professional troll who hates for cash. It’s fun too. Swatting the ‘queen of mean’ has become a kind of national sport on Twitter in the UK. But the trouble is that Hopkins can’t be so easily ignored and dismissed. The fact that she spreads her dung on national television and in widely read newspapers isn’t just a symptom of the moral decay eating at the heart of the country – it’s a contributory factor. Every time Katie Hopkins says something awful, she moves the boundaries on what people are used to seeing and prepared to accept. She’s also shown that you can get paid to move those perceptions. She’s made cruelty into a profitable sport. And she’s hurt a lot of people in the process. Never more so than when she wrote that she didn’t care about migrants dying on the sea. ‘Make no mistake,’ she said, ‘these migrants are like cockroaches. They might look a bit “Bob Geldof’s Ethiopia circa 1984”, but they are built to survive a nuclear bomb.’
Cockroach was a term used both by the Nazis and in the Rwandan genocide. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein responded: ‘This type of language is clearly in inflammatory and unacceptable, especially in a national newspaper.’
It was only a few months later that Trump was praising Hopkins as a respected columnist, and thanking her for her ‘powerful writing’ on the UK’s ‘Muslim problem’. Hopkins was so delighted that she said she’d move over to the USA if Trump won the election.
This too, alas, turned out to be untrue.
[This is a sample from Enemies Of The People. I wrote it before she started shitting on about the horrors in Manchester, but it seemed worth sharing now. TL;DR, she isn't very nice: it would be nice to be able to ignore her... but we have to be aware of the way she helps shift debate in a very unpleasant direction. And fight it.]