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Dan Wootton Getty 1.jpg

Dan Wootton and the Monstrous Hypocrisy of the British Media

By Kayleigh Donaldson | Politics | July 26, 2023 |

By Kayleigh Donaldson | Politics | July 26, 2023 |

Dan Wootton Getty 1.jpg

Over the past week or so, the publication Byline Times has released a three-part investigation into accusations of sexual assault and misconduct made against TV presenter, newspaper writer, and all-around poisonous hack Dan Wootton. It is alleged that Wootton sexually assaulted men and hid behind fake online identities to blackmail and harass others into giving him sexual images of themselves. The report is damning, extensively detailed, and tough to stomach. It’s also inspired a strange wall of silence from the majority of the British media. One would think that a compelling report with reams of evidence regarding a major press figure would be of interest to the masses. Apparently not. The volume of news on Wootton is markedly smaller than what we recently went through with regard to Huw Edwards and Phillip Schofield, even though the accusations against Wootton are equally, if not more, insidious in nature.

Dan Wootton is a truly terrible person. A tabloid vulture who has turned a life of celebrity tattle into a career as a hard-right rabble-rouser, Wootton exemplifies the worst of British media (even though he’s from New Zealand.) His reputation is sordid, even among his rotten colleagues, with an especially fetishistic agenda regarding the humiliation of famous women. Amy Winehouse, Lily Allen, Caroline Flack, and Meghan Markle are among his favoured targets, with Markle being perhaps his most beloved punching bag ever since Flack died by suicide. His cruelty is notably heightened, and that’s saying something given the industry he’s in.

Wootton has responded to the allegations of Byline Times by trying to start a culture war because it’s all he knows how to do. Appearing on his show on GB News (imagine a low-budget British Fox News without any of the effectiveness), he claimed he was the victim of a hard-left smear campaign and called for empathy and nuance. If you could get through his grandstanding speech without choking on your own fits of laughter, you’re a stronger person than I. The very idea of Dan Wootton of all people pleading for empathy is staggeringly hypocritical.

As everyone has already noted, Phillip Schofield’s controversies, involving his infidelities with a younger man who he knew from a much younger age, dominated the press for weeks. GB News took particular glee in dedicating hours’ worth of programming to the story, positioning it as a symbol of the rot at the heart of the establishment they claimed to be opposed to. Wootton was front and centre for this charade, insisting he’d tried to reveal the truth about Schofield to ITV but was sacked (this doesn’t seem to have been the case.) A story is seldom just a story. It acts as the foundation for a wider cycle of ideas, but also the reporting publication’s preferred agenda. It was tough to avoid the queasy sensation regarding the Schofield case that a hell of a lot of people covering it weren’t doing so in the name of concern for the alleged victim but to air their own grievances about supposedly liberal corporations and the usual ‘anti-woke’ word vomit they’ve made their bread and butter (that and a crap-ton of homophobia, it must be said.) Such feelings are only confirmed by the deafening silence at GB News over the Wootton accusations. Surely, these stalwarts of decency and moral arbiters of the nation would want to speak out in the name of victims everywhere? Ha…

The grift has seldom been more evident. It’s extremely easy to be a scold. It’s profitable too. There will always be money in the bank for those who make it their life’s work to dictate the morals of the world to those who deviate from them. The British tabloids, for all their love of topless young women and upskirt paparazzi shots, are stridently conservative in their worldview. Aside from the Murdoch influence of it all and wide support of Tory Party policies, they revel in the judgment of the masses, from families who receive government support to celebrities who express basic opinions. It’s no surprise they’re at the forefront of the abhorrent wave of transphobia that’s engulfed this whole island, as well as demonizing climate change protests, unions, and anyone who dares to call Nigel Farage a big-honking racist.

The thing about being a professional scold is that you’re never able to take what you dish out. Anyone who tries to turn the tables is either a jealous hater or part of a ‘smear campaign by nefarious players’ as Wootton claims about his own allegations. As we’ve seen from the constant faux culture war nonsense of the past few years, the easiest way to dismiss any form of criticism is to claim it’s coming from a shady cabal that hates free speech. Wootton is no scrappy underdog. He’s a writer for the Daily Mail and host of a ‘news’ channel owned by a hedge funder and an investment firm, with members of the current Conservative Party cabinet among its presenters.

The British media needs Dan Wootton, much in the same way that any hate movement needs its loudest and cruellest bullies. All the other transphobes can quietly distance themselves from someone like Graham Linehan and imply he’s too much for them, but they don’t ever decry him because he’s still helpful to their cruel cause. Similarly, Wootton is a bully, a misogynist, a social-climbing worm, and king of the dog whistles, and the rest of his tabloid crew can claim he’s not part of their circle but he’s still got a big seat at the table for their overall agenda. The beastly hypocrisy of it all is evident but never to be acknowledged. Even a drop of self-awareness would spoil the rotten little plot.

The Culture and Media Committee has written to the editor of The Sun, Wootton’s former employer, asking what investigations are now underway regarding the allegations against him. Wootton is now crowd-funding for his supposed legal defence against Byline Times. His Daily Mail column seems to have been put on ice, but he’s still appearing on GB News where he’s still ranting about Meghan Markle. The grift never ends, in large part because a lot of people have a lot of money riding on it. None of this is surprising to those of us who have spent our lives trying not to be engulfed by this tabloid hate. That doesn’t make it any less disheartening when stuff like this happens and the press sticks their heads in the sand. For all their talk of protecting victims in regards to Schofield and Edwards, it was always clear that their sympathy merely extended as far as their financial benefits.

I keep returning to a line in a recent piece by Marina Hyde about the Wootton case: ‘The two crucial things about people like Dan is that they are, without exception, monstrous hypocrites - and they also reduce the world. Their entire business is making human experience smaller. There are about six or seven basic story templates into which they believe all other people’s lives must be squeezed, whether or not they want them to be.’ To reduce the planet and all of our lives to a handful of headlines and scornful declarations is good for business, but disastrous for humanity. That’s probably why Wootton’s colleagues and associates are keeping their lips sealed right now.