Matthew Steeples asks: “What happened to fact-checking?” in the wake of “berk on a bicycle” Jeremy Vine quoting a fake Twitter account as being that of an ex-Tory MP on his Channel 5 current affairs show
“Berk on a bike” Jeremy Vine is one of those Marmite-like individuals people either love or hate; there’s no John Major “grey area” about him, but what this former Radio 4 Today presenter is meant to be, at the very least, is at least of not-brain-stir-fried.
Clearly illustrating his own lack of ability to spot irony and his Channel 5 current affairs research team’s complete ineptness at the key journalistic requirement to perform a bit of ante-hoc fact-checking, yesterday Vine decided to quote a “guy called Sir Michael Take and he’s apparently an ex-Tory MP” to his live audience.
Without immediately adding that this was very clearly a parody account that most definitely is named in honour of a ‘Mickey Take’ (or a bit of “taking the Michael”) had previously made a fool of a MailOnline journalist, Vine proceed to share ‘Sir Michael’s’ tweet. The alleged “former Conservative MP for Dorset East’s” missive read:
“Our old boys’ dinner at The Ritz has been cancelled because of the Rail Strike. Usually we meet up & raise money for our old school. Thanks to Mick Lynch & his cronies this won’t happen. A public school is now without vital funds & some poor elderly men missing pals to talk to.”
Later, returning to his ever and deservedly growing Twitter following, ‘Sir Michael’ responded:
“Very pleased to see my common sense opinions about The Rail Strike were featured on @theJeremyVine’s TV Programme this morning. I’m delighted that viewers of @JeremyVineOn5 were able to listen to my views on all of this industrial action.”
Meanwhile, as Jeremy Vine took to Twitter also and tried to pretend he’d not been had and called what he’d quoted “an out-of-context tweet,” veteran journalist Tim Walker observed: “There so many people working in television with absolutely no sense of humour whatsoever.”
I’d go further and herewith share my very favourite quote from the 1999 Anthony Minghella film The Talented Mr Ripley. In it, detective MacCarron observes of the situation he’s been sent to Venice to deal with: “See – in America, we’re taught to check a fact before it comes a fact. We’re taught to nose around…” Brown-nosing bore Jeremy Vine and his team jolly well ought to take stock of MacCarron’s sage advice and backtrack on the bloody baloney.
If you’d like to see further buffoons in the media having a bit of the Michael taken of them, follow ‘Sir Michael’ on Twitter at @MichaelTakeMP.
Editor’s Note – Unlike as is the case in many publications, this article was NOT sponsored or supported by a third-party. Follow Matthew Steeples on Twitter at @M_Steeples.