In a piece tagged to the Christchurch shooting entitled “Is there a growing far-right threat online?”, the BBC has taken the time to praise the good looks and dress-sense of Martin Sellner, the leader of Austrian group Generation Identity (a group that has been described by its campaigners as “neo-Nazi” and has been backed by the ex-Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke).
It’s July 2019 — months from the Christchurch massacre — and the BBC is giving Martin Sellner length to explain his racist views and here’s how he’s introduced. Come on! pic.twitter.com/jlQAyplfjs
— Mark Di Stefano (@MarkDiStef) July 8, 2019
Before getting into Sellner’s “fierce opposition to Muslim migrants” or the fact his home was raided by police in connection to the attacks in Christchurch, they mention his “sharp haircut and trainers” and their opinion that “he looks nothing like the traditional image of a far-right activist.”
This is not the first time the BBC has written an positive profile of Sellner’s aesthetics – in fact, it did so as recently as September 2018. It similarly opened with a fawning description of his “T-shirt, skinny jeans and sharply styled haircut” and introduces him as a man with a “striking haircut, fashionable skinny jeans and thick-rimmed glasses” before going into his speeches about “the evils of multiculturalism and how Muslims want to take over Europe.”
In the past, the BBC has light-handedly backtracked after platforming niche hard-right groups, as was seen when they profiled a Turning Point UK activist and only later mentioned in a tweet that she was even part of the pro-Trump offshoot. But at the time of writing, no attempt has been made in the case of Sellner, and the Fashion Week-style descriptions of the hard-right posterboy remain.
Regardless of whether or not the BBC updates its description of Sellner, one thing is for certain: no amount of racist, dangerous or neo-Nazi views can save the Beeb from its fixation on a pair of well-fitting trousers.
Update: A BBC Spokesperson said: “The article does not endorse or glamourise Sellner – it makes clear that he has carefully repackaged and rebranded far-right ideas to try and reach a new audience and his image is part of this. We interview a series of experts and commentators who make this point – therefore the way he dresses is key to the story.”