Morning Call: pick of the comment

The ten must-read pieces from this morning's papers

1. The change we need now is a rougher, more radical Barack Obama (Guardian)

Jonathan Freedland says it would be disastrous for Obama to conclude he must rush to the centre to win back independent voters. Instead, he needs to make himself the leader of a radical movement again.

2. Irrespective of Chilcot, Blair will always remain a pariah (Independent)

Matthew Norman predicts that Tony Blair's appearance at the Chilcot inquiry will change little. He can never escape the verdict of the court of public opinion.

3. How political ideology found a new world (Financial Times)

Ideologies now play a larger role in US politics than in Europe, says John Kay. European parties seek office by emphasising their competence rather than their beliefs. By contrast, US politics is more aggressively, even destructively, partisan.

4. This recession was no accident, and we know who's to blame (Daily Telegraph)

Simon Heffer argues that the government cannot evade responsibility for the recession; it was the Treasury that gave banks access to huge amounts of cheap money. Worse, the Tories followed Labour and took growth for granted.

5. This time let's not waste growth (Independent)

Hamish McRae says that as growth returns we need to consider how to use it more wisely. Even during the boom, it was not clear that added wealth was making us happier.

6. Tories must talk about the next generation (Times)

Daniel Finkelstein discusses David Willetts's new book, The Pinch, and says it provides the Tories with something they have been missing -- a Conservative explanation of fairness.

7. France's attack on the veil is a huge blunder (Guardian)

Raphaël Liogier argues that France's attempt to ban the niqab and the burqa is a huge blunder. Women who wear the full veil are not against modernity.

8. Credit rating (Times)

A leader says that the memory of the recession is too recent for the government to seek electoral reward. No credible politician can claim that the downswing is an accident but the upswing is all his doing.

9. Volcker's axe is not enough to cut banks to size (Financial Times)

Martin Wolf argues that Paul Volcker's plan to tame the US financial sector is, in important respects, unworkable, undesirable and irrelevant to the task at hand.

10. Yemen's greatest enemy is sitting across its border (Independent)

Victoria Clark says that Yemen dreads becoming dependent on aid from Saudi Arabia.

 

Follow the New Statesman team on Twitter

Getty
Show Hide image

The economics of outrage: Why you haven't seen the end of Katie Hopkins

Her distasteful tweet may have cost her a job at LBC, but this isn't the last we've seen of Britain's biggest troll. 

Another atrocity, other surge of grief and fear, and there like clockwork was the UK’s biggest troll. Hours after the explosion at the Manchester Arena that killed 22 mostly young and female concert goers, Katie Hopkins weighed in with a very on-brand tweet calling for a “final solution” to the complex issue of terrorism.

She quickly deleted it, replacing the offending phrase with the words “true solution”, but did not tone down the essentially fascist message. Few thought it had been an innocent mistake on the part of someone unaware of the historical connotations of those two words.  And no matter how many urged their fellow web users not to give Hopkins the attention she craved, it still sparked angry tweets, condemnatory news articles and even reports to the police.

Hopkins has lost her presenting job at LBC radio, but she is yet to lose her column at Mail Online, and it’s quite likely she won’t.

Mail Online and its print counterpart The Daily Mail have regularly shown they are prepared to go down the deliberately divisive path Hopkins was signposting. But even if the site's managing editor Martin Clarke was secretly a liberal sandal-wearer, there are also very good economic reasons for Mail Online to stick with her. The extreme and outrageous is great at gaining attention, and attention is what makes money for Mail Online.

It is ironic that Hopkins’s career was initially helped by TV’s attempts to provide balance. Producers could rely on her to provide a counterweight to even the most committed and rational bleeding-heart liberal.

As Patrick Smith, a former media specialist who is currently a senior reporter at BuzzFeed News points out: “It’s very difficult for producers who are legally bound to be balanced, they will sometimes literally have lawyers in the room.”

“That in a way is why some people who are skirting very close or beyond the bounds of taste and decency get on air.”

But while TV may have made Hopkins, it is online where her extreme views perform best.  As digital publishers have learned, the best way to get the shares, clicks and page views that make them money is to provoke an emotional response. And there are few things as good at provoking an emotional response as extreme and outrageous political views.

And in many ways it doesn’t matter whether that response is negative or positive. Those who complain about what Hopkins says are also the ones who draw attention to it – many will read what she writes in order to know exactly why they should hate her.

Of course using outrageous views as a sales tactic is not confined to the web – The Daily Mail prints columns by Sarah Vine for a reason - but the risks of pushing the boundaries of taste and decency are greater in a linear, analogue world. Cancelling a newspaper subscription or changing radio station is a simpler and often longer-lasting act than pledging to never click on a tempting link on Twitter or Facebook. LBC may have had far more to lose from sticking with Hopkins than Mail Online does, and much less to gain. Someone prepared to say what Hopkins says will not be out of work for long. 

0800 7318496