‘The Mail thrives on sowing division.’
In an article in the Mail on March 14, columnist Sarah Vine provocatively asked, ‘why does Gary Lineker get lionised after comparing this country’s elected government to the Nazis – while Fiona Bruce is hung our to dry just for doing her job?’
Describing Lineker’s tweet as comparing ‘this country’s democratically elected government to the Third Reich’, and Bruce as a woman explaining a ‘slightly tricky legal point to an audience on BBC’s Question Time,’ the author wrote, ‘can you guess which one is lionised by the Left for being a free-speech hero and which is condemned for making ‘insensitive and irresponsible comments?’
The column was in response to the media storm engulfing Gary Lineker and Fiona Bruce’s remark on Question Time about Stanley Johnson. The Question Time presenter faced criticism after stepping in during a discussion last week, when the father of Boris Johnson was described as a ‘wife beater.’ Bruce interjected, telling viewers: “Just so everyone knows what this is referring to, Stanley Johnson’s [ex] wife spoke to a journalist, Tom Bower, and she said that Stanley Johnson had broken her nose and that she’d ended up in hospital as a result.
“Stanley Johnson has not commented publicly on that. Friends of his have said it did happen, it was a one-off.”
Bruce was accused of ‘minimising’ and trivialising domestic abuse and her comments were criticised by the charity Women’s Aid, who called them “unnecessary and irresponsible.” Following the controversy, Bruce has said she will step back from her role as an ambassador for the domestic violence charity Refuge.
In attempting to compare Lineker and Bruce’s comments and equate the criticism of the latter’s remarks as ‘left-wing keyboard warriors who now seem to think they run this country on the number of followers or amount of retweets they get – as sufficiently woke or virtue signalling,” Sarah Vine’s column was ripped into.
“It’s very easy, Sarah Vine. Gary Lineker was protesting about an injustice; Fiona Bruce was mitigating the actions of an abuser. Clear enough?’ someone posted.
Others claimed Vine was being untruthful about what Lineker had said.
“Sarah Vine is lying about what Gary Lineker said in the Daily Mail this evening. Considering how long his tweet has been out there, and how much discussion there’s been, it’s impossible she doesn’t know his comment was about the LANGUAGE the Tories are using,” wrote author Edwin Hayward.
Referring to similar misrepresentations in other right-wing newspapers over Lineker’s remark, including an article in the Sun, which claimed the Match of the Day host had compared UK migrant policy to 1930s Germany, Hayward tweeted:
“The Sun, Express, Daily Mail and Telegraph have all carefully and consciously misrepresented the situation around Gary Lineker. (Reminder: he was talking about LANGUAGE not POLICY when he made his 1930s Germany comparison.)”
Another reader criticised the Mail for ‘thriving on sowing division’ and described the article as ‘disgusting journalism.’
Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward
Image credit: Twitter screengrab.