The Daily Express 'Runs a Spoiler' for Nigel Farage
How some journalists act as spin doctors for the very people they are supposed to be holding to account
There is a term in the newspaper industry known as “running a spoiler”. This is where somebody, who has been told they will be the subject of a negative story in one news outlet, leaks it to another more sympathetic outlet, in order to “spoil” the original story before it is even published.
This shameless practice was used against Byline Times this week ahead of the publication of our story about Nigel Farage being paid to record a racist and homophobic message on Cameo.
We put the story to Farage’s spokespeople earlier this week in order to give them time to respond. Yet rather than do so, they instead leaked the story to the Farage House Journal the Daily Express.
The Express responded in kind by turning it into a story about a supposed “stitch up” by “ITV bosses”, which they suggested was designed to “stop Mr Farage from becoming King of the Jungle” after winning “millions of new fans” on the show.
Folded with Adam Bienkov is an entirely reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
The paper’s Political Editor David Maddox later took to GB News where he again suggested (without evidence) that it was “clearly a stitch up” by ITV.
Now aside from Maddox’ hagiography of Farage, it’s worth pointing out that his central claim is also completely untrue.
Far from being a sinister Remainer plot by “ITV bosses” to sabotage a contestant on their own reality show, the story was actually produced entirely by Byline before being taken to ITN (a connected but separate company) for a potential joint publication.
It’s also worth pointing out that at the time of writing the story has not yet appeared on ITV.
Yet despite being untrue, Farage’s “spoiler” has succeeded in turning a story about his own behaviour into one about (non-existent) sinister forces plotting to take him down.
However, it has also succeeded in highlighting something even more worrying about how journalism really works in the UK.