I WONDER when George Eaton decided he wanted to be a journalist? I also wonder what were his reasons? Finally I wonder if, as he slogged all the way to the New Statesman, he thought, ‘One day I will take down a 75-year-old conservative philosopher via Twitter’? That’s why I want to be a journalist, thought young George, to destroy a man’s reputation by tweet.
I have listened to Roger Scruton in his podcast with Toby Young about the affair, and Douglas Murray explains how things played out in the taped interview here. https://www.spectator.co.uk/2019/04/the-scruton-tapes-an-anatomy-of-a-modern-hit-job/
What is clear is that Eaton manipulated the quotes into a tweet knowing the Twitter storm he would create. He was joyous, literally joyous, when a few hours later Scruton was fired from his position on a quango hardly anyone has ever heard of after two Conservative MPs, Tom Tugendhat and Johnny Mercer, threw him under the bus.
The moral cowardice of those MPs is clear. The behaviour of James Brokenshire, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government who fired Scruton, was disgraceful. According to Scruton, Brokenshire never told him of his firing – he seems to have found out via media. So Brokenshire did not even abide by the rules of basic natural justice in giving a Scruton a right of reply or any type of defence. Obviously, all three MPs in their rush to judgment in the eagerness to condemn are a disgrace to conservatism.
Eaton is a disgrace to journalism. What really gets to me is first how unfair this fight is and second just how nasty the Left can be. Never, dear reader, ever underestimate the nastiness of the Left.
I believe Scruton’s age is important here. Sir Roger Scruton is 75. We have met a few times and he is an old-fashioned gentlemen. He attended that interview with George Eaton in good faith. Eaton, however, was sharpening his knife. Sir Roger never stood a chance.
Scruton, perhaps because of his age, perhaps because he is a philosopher, also fatally underestimates the power of Twitter. Yes, we all seem to hate Twitter, and ironically those who use it the most hate it the most, but we use it because we know how it operates.
We know how Twitter can end a person’s career within hours. Sir Roger is not on Twitter in the normal sense – there are a few accounts that use his name but I don’t think he sits at his computer tweeting his thoughts or reactions to the latest story every day. Therefore, should you become the story, should you become the victim of the Twitter hate mob, you cannot defend yourself. Sir Roger was dead in the water the minute he agreed to give that interview to young George Eaton.
Eaton conducts this interview with Scruton, attempting to get some gotcha quotes, and when these fail to appear he tweets out some heavily manipulated lines anyway. The Twitter mob instantly goes a-hunting and journalists at Buzzfeed search for a resignation quote which Tom Tugendhat MP promptly gives. The frenzy continues and the other coward Brokenshire fires Scruton from his position. All of this happens, I believe, without Scruton knowing, because he is of a different generation, he doesn’t understand how Twitter works and he not even on Twitter to defend himself. This, in sum, makes it an unfair fight.
George Eaton destroyed Sir Roger not because he is running for Prime Minister, nor is he a minister, or even an MP but because he is a conservative sitting on a quango. Sir Roger is a conservative, so that is good enough for Eaton. This, to Eaton, counts as journalism.
This is what the Left do: they destroy those who can rarely defend themselves. Perhaps you are an American judge of at least 20 years standing – that doesn’t matter. If the Left have to call you a gang rapist for political expediency, they will.
Maybe you are just some 17-year-old Catholic school kid wearing the wrong hat; again this doesn’t matter to the Left. If it fits the narrative they will attempt to destroy your life and career before it has even begun.
Or maybe you are a 75-year-old conservative philosopher on a quango whom the Left has wanted to take down for months. Again, the Left will attempt to destroy you if it suits them. They are all unfair fights for different reasons but it doesn’t matter. Needs must.
To the Left, these character assassinations are not even personal. A scalp is a scalp, a kill is a kill, and people are disposable in the great game of politics. But it certainly is personal to those on the receiving end. It is personal to be accused of being anti-Semitic or a racist or a fascist and all the other names the Left will call you if you disagree with them on policy. You are just a conservative – you don’t count and neither do values such as truth, justice or basic elements of fair play and decency.
Are there decent journalists on the Left? Of course – I’ve met many of them in a green room. But the next time the New Statesman tries to take the high road and denounces ‘our divided politics’ or talks about truth, morality or just common decency, remember what they did to Sir Roger Scruton. Remember the 32-year-old George Eaton’s destruction of Scruton and tell them they can take the low road to hell.