tearing up the astroturf

Tim Ireland of Bloggerheads has a hell of a story. Now, I’ve not always been totally convinced by Tim; he spends an inordinate amount of time pursuing minor politicos for breaches of netiquette I think I’d just forget. But two of the crucial principles of journalism can be summed up as the clam ethic – once you get hold of a story, clamp down and never let go – and the Take That principle – never forget. They always want you to forget.

So, the Sun ran a patently ridiculous story that jihadis on the interwebs were threatening Alan Sugar. Apparently they imagined that he had to be in the story because otherwise the public wouldn’t grip it; I would have thought that a nontrivial percentage of the population would have been delighted. Hey, I grew up with an Amstrad PCW. But the Sugar element was the crucial break point, because it was this bit that was reliant on their source, who turned out to be a self-made spy called Glen Jenvey, who turns up all over the place in moderately well-funded “anti-terrorist” astroturf exercises.

And so on, and so on, until he demonstrated that Jenvey was a) the author of the threats, not just a reporter on them, b) using Patrick Mercer MP (for it is he) to lend weight to his nonsense, and the British Ambassador to Afghanistan’s brother too, and c) the sort of shameful arse who throws around accusations of paedophilia. Richard Bartholomew has been doing good work on this too.

It’s a very good question just how many terrorism stories (especially ones that have the “Internet” flag set – it means “stuff I don’t understand” to a lot of editors) are the work of these people, whether the upscale, Decent version or Jenvey’s Comedy Gladio.

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