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When Clayton ‘interviewed’ Musk
Shiny new BBC people
Until this morning I hadn’t heard of James Clayton. In my previous life (prior to March 2020) he’s the type of person I may have met on my visits to San Francisco to do tech related things. We’re in the same line of work, so to speak. I used to talk with journalists in the Bay Area when I was running Comms for technology start-ups and their wannabe media star CEOs. Although, James’ role as “North America Tech Reporter” for the BBC is a relatively new one. It used to be that Rory Cellan-Jones ruled that particular roost and would jaunt over from the UK to California to report from the Consumer Electronics Show and other corporate shindigs - and would studiously avoid jobbing comms types like me. He followed me on Twitter for a while but quickly unfollowed me when he realised I was pro-Brexit. And I reciprocated the unfollow when I got bored with his tweeting the results of his experiments making sourdough bread in plant-pots. Rory’s output on technology matters never really amounted to much.
This morning I found out who James Clayton was because of what had unfolded on Twitter - when I was asleep during the night (San Francisco is currently 8 hours behind BST). Apparently Clayton had offered to ‘interview’ Elon Musk on a Twitter ‘Space’ (these are like live streamed radio shows where Twitter users can connect to the spaces to listen to nominated speakers debate various topics). For this one James had offered to interview Elon Musk. And, astonishingly, Musk had agreed. Some 3 million people ‘tuned in’.
Part of the reason Musk might have agreed to this meeting was that just a few weeks ago, Marianna Spring - the BBC's first specialist disinformation and social media correspondent - had put together a hatchet-job on Twitter-under-Musk’s management. Spring, like Clayton, has a job title befitting of the BBC’s new role in international broadcasting and global class woke moralising. Where, previously, journalists uncovered conspiracies, corruption, shady dealings or corporate malfeasance, the BBC’s new shiny role (and possibly its old one as well) is to uncover opinions that don’t match its editorial lines and ensure they don’t get reported. They do that by labelling all dissenting opinion as hate speech or misinformation. The problem that James had in his interview with Musk was that, despite repeating the claim that Twitter (under Musk) was awash with hate, he couldn’t actually provide a specific example of even one tweet that he regarded as hateful. Indeed, he decided to redefine “hate” as tweets that might “solicit a reaction” or are “slightly racist”.
The BBC editorial lines are, typically, these days, defined by the UK government (and its governmental partners in the United States) and corporate partners in the World Economic Forum. Tim Weber, formerly of BBC Business, and one of Rory Cellan-Jones’ colleagues, was a regular at Davos - and would tweet avidly to tell us all (although, bless, he never managed to amass many followers). Now that he’s moved on to Edelman - the uber-woke PR firm that typically launches its corporate “trust” barometer at the annual Davos shindig - he must have amassed lots of Schwab brownie-points.
But the BBC, and other establishment PR machines, have never met the like of Elon Musk. Where, in the past, the BBC could get away with atrocious, patronising behaviour and globalist schmoozing, now it has to deal with a new era that’s calling it out. And Musk, I have to say, is leading the charge.
Just a few days ago Musk adorned the @BBC twitter account with a “Government funded media” label. And, at yesterday’s lamb-to-the-slaughter Twitter-Space match, Musk supremely, and effortlessly, intellectually eviscerated James Clayton. Indeed I’d go as far as to say that it was the moment when the BBC’s brand was shredded with the same degree of hubristic-precision as when Bud Light decided to put Dylan Mulvaney’s visage on its beer cans. If James Clayton, and the entire BBC Board, aren’t asking what exactly they stand for after this car-crash, then we can expect more of the same: a humiliating descent into that place where ageing media elephants go to die.