The Tainted Rial

A couple of weeks ago, Sunny Hundal sparked off a bit of a comments box ruck at Liberal Conspiracy by accusing Evening Standard journalist, Andrew Gilligan, of hypocrisy over his part in the Standard’s vituperative campaign against Ken Livingstone in the run in to the recent mayoral election.

Towards the end of his article, Sunny managed to drop what was, for many people, something of a bombshell:

If smear by association is legitimate, then what about this?

Not many know that Andrew Gilligan is a regular host at the Iranian television channel Press TV. Let that sink in for a bit. Press TV is funded by the Iranian government because it wants to create a global alternative to CNN.

Let me put it in other words. Part of Andrew Gilligan’s salary is paid (indirectly) by the very anti-semitic and homophobic Iranian government. I’m assuming he still works for them. But he definitely did at one point. You can see his name listed on their website.

Checking back on the same link today shows that Gilligan is seemingly still the host of ‘Forum’, which is described as a Question Time-style panel show.

The discussion at LibCon was noticeably enlivened by Gilligan appearing in ‘person’ to defend himself, although on the question of his relationship with Press TV he appeared to have little or nothing to say. Its just another job to Gilligan, I suppose, even if it transpires that his employer is not only financed by the heavily anti-Semitic Iranian regime but directly involved in promoting holocaust denial:

Small world, eh?

It’s only a month or so ago that Nick Kollerstrom was outed as a holocaust denier by Blairwatch, and he’s already become a bit of a draw on the celebrity holocaust denial circuit. I dare it won’t be too long before it’ll tea with Ahmedinajad, especially when you consider Press TV’s take on UCL’s decision to pull he plug on his honorary position:

The West punishes people for their scientific research on Holocaust but the same western countries allow insults to prophets and religious beliefs…

Now maybe, just maybe, Gilligan might be able to turn a blind eye to where his pay check is coming from and retain some measure of personal credibility, but when his employer starts openly peddling Kollerstrom’s ‘revisionist’ crap, which you may recall is based entire on the discredited work of a veritable who’s who of Holocaust denial all of who are known Nazi apologists with links to Neo-Nazi groups, then you have to wonder whether a journalist with any sense of personal integrity might not resign from the station with immediate effect.

All of which suggests that it will be interesting to see what Gilligan does next.

  • No thanks, I don’t want to be hounded out of my job

    Press TV appears to be saying that our attitude is inconsistent, in that we deny free speech to Holocaust deniers, but defend the free speech of those who indulge in religious bigotry (even if it’s thinly-disguised racism). Don’t they have a point?

  • No, because Kollerstrom hasn’t been denied free speech, he’s had an honorary academic position withdrawn because of his poor scholarship.

  • No thanks, I don’t want to be hounded out of my job

    What’s your position on bigots who masquerade as pseudo-academic “Think Tanks”? If Kollerstrom deserves to be sacked for using his academic status to add weight to his racist crankery, surely groups like Policy Exchange and the Centre For Social Cohesion should be banned from publishing mendacious anti-Muslim propaganda?

  • If you both the search the archives, you’ll find I did a big piece a good while back on Policy Exchange and its link to the Tory Party.

    Should they be banned from publishing ‘anti-Muslim propaganda’?

    No, no more than Kollerstrom should be banned from publishing nonsense about the Holocaust, which he hasn’t been. All that has happened here is that Kollerstrom has had an honorary, unsalaried, academic position withdrawn by UCL, which no longer wishes to be associated with him and his opinions.

  • Most interesting.

    Yvonne Roberts also hosts a show on that channel….one that I’ll be on next week. So should she (and I?) be similarly panned?

  • That would depend…

    There’s a difference between a regular gig and a guest appearance – one cannot legitimately make any inferences from a guest appearance about the individuals views of the editorial line taken by a TV station.

    So far as Robert and Gilligan are concerned, if they are regular presenters and under contract to the station then the question one has to raise is that of what, if anything, might happen were they to express dissatisfaction with or challenge the station’s editorial line and, equally, whether they are free to do that under the terms of their contract.

    That’s surely the test here when it comes to assessing whether Press TV is, or is not, merely a propaganda tool of the Iranian government. Does it permit its presenters the kind of editorial independence that would allow them to slate Kollerstrom and rip apart his ‘research’ on camera – and if not, whether those presenters are prepared to compromise their integrity in return for hanging on to their paycheck.

  • I have also covered this story on Harry’s Place:
    http://www.hurryupharry.org/2008/05/19/irans-uk-propaganda-station-presstv-promotes-holocaust-denial/

    I have been asked to appear on PressTV, but have said no. Part of the reason is that I thought it likely that it would end up promoting neo-Nazi propaganda.

    You will have to make your own decision on this matter. I would happily debate against a neo-Nazi. Indeed, I have agreed to do so in the past.

    However, I would not speak on the platform of an openly racist organisation. To do so legitimates it. If you appear on PressTV, your appearance implies that it is a mainstream organisation with something valuable to contribute to political debate.

    If you disagree, I’d be interested to hear why.

  • Kollerstrom hasn

  • I don’t think that anyone can deny the hypocrisy of Mr Gilligan’s little bit of work on the side. Let’s not forget that he criticised Ken Livingstone for extending an invitation to a ‘homophobic, fundamentalist Muslim cleric’, while in the meantime accepting money from a homophobic fundamentalist Muslim theocracy.

    What’s revealing is that when he was confronted with this allegation on Liberal Conspiracy, he just uprooted the goalposts and accused Sunny of exactly the same offence.