Silicon Valley thinks journalists shouldn’t talk to Nigel Farage

When Campaign magazine interviewed Farage, social-media bigwigs went crazy.

Brendan O'Neill

Is anyone going to comment on the fact that Silicon Valley heavyweights are now reprimanding British magazines for their political coverage? This alarming state of affairs became apparent last week when big players at Google, Twitter and Spotify wrote to Campaign, the UK-based global magazine that covers advertising and marketing, to chastise it for daring to carry a cover story on Nigel Farage. This article ‘was a step in the wrong direction’, the social-media giants decreed in their astonishingly arrogant letter to Campaign. If you needed any further proof that the tech elite has gotten rather too big for its boots, here it was.

It all kicked off when Campaign released its issue that had a photo of Farage on the cover, trailing a profile interview with him inside the magazine. The profile was fairly sympathetic. Campaign acknowledged that, like the best marketing gurus, Farage ‘knows how to get a simple message across with maximum effect’. Clearly, Campaign believes that a successful politician, one whose party used social media and political messaging to good effect in the EU elections in May, is an apt subject matter for a magazine that deals in the issue of changing minds and making a splash. But some of its high-profile readers and advertisers disagreed – in incredibly intemperate tones.

A group called Media For All wrote to Campaign effectively to tell it off for talking to the ‘wrong’ kind of politician – despite the fact that Farage’s party won the EU elections hands down, with more than five million votes. Media For All’s missive – which was signed by the managing director of Twitter, the marketing director of Google, the head of sales at Spotify, and numerous other big-hitting media capitalists – openly said Campaign was ‘wrong’ to publish the feature on Farage. The letter caricatured Farage to a ridiculous degree – it said ‘the playbook he and his political allies have employed… is about hate’. Apparently Farage and the Brexit Party do one ‘simple’ thing – ‘identify people who look different, mobilise anger against them and hold them up as the people everyone else should blame’. And thus it was outrageous for Campaign to talk to him.

This infantile, sixth-former view of the Brexit Party is not only insulting to Farage – it’s also insulting to the millions of people who voted for the Brexit Party just a couple of months before Campaign wisely thought that Farage would be worth talking to and working out. These arrogant overlords of the social-media and marketing worlds must have a pretty low view of ordinary voters if they think so many of us could fall for such a ‘simple’ political style that is all about ‘hate’. At least now we know why social-media giants like Twitter and Google have become so open to political censorship over the past couple of years – it’s because they are beholden to the warped woke view that sees anyone who is pro-Brexit or right-wing as hateful and who thinks it is ‘wrong’ to feature such foul people in respectable media outlets. That such casually censorious people are in charge of social media should concern us all.

Amazingly, things got worse: Campaign’s reaction to the letter was as mad as the letter itself. It completely buckled. Instead of standing up for its editorial right to speak with all sorts of people who are doing interesting things in the realms of messaging and influence, it cravenly begged for the big-hitters’ forgiveness. ‘We made mistakes in our approach. And we’re sorry’, the editor-in-chief Claire Beale said. Worse, she promised essentially to cleanse Campaign of the culture that allowed the Farage profile to happen. ‘We will also host a public forum where we can come together to address your responses and the issues we wish we had addressed more effectively in the piece’, she said. In short, a self-flagellating crisis meeting to work out how such a terrible error – an interview with a prominent politician! – could have happened. This looks like a really sad and pathetic capitulation by an editor to money-men. We can surely agree that it is a bad thing when advertising forces wield such influence over a magazine’s editorial output.

And make no mistake: this little-discussed case will definitely embolden the social-media and advertising elites who think they have the right to shape political discussion itself. Do you think Campaign will ever speak to a Brexity person again? Of course it won’t. It has been put on notice by anti-Brexit elites. When Google, Twitter and others think nothing of chastising media outlets for speaking to the wrong people, there could be a chilling effect across the media. The truth is that Farage went to the people, engaged with the people, and won millions of democratic votes. In contrast, these letter-writers, in their aloof, unaccountable worlds, come off increasingly like a menace to democracy and to open media debate.

Brendan O’Neill is editor of spiked and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy

Picture by: Getty.

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Bob Thomas

27th July 2019 at 1:03 am

The problem with Silicon Valley is the $$$ and the bubble. They all speak to one another and most are solidly left-wing. The problem with wealthy tech people is their massive ego’s, this is built on the system in most US companies in California of ‘kissing up and shitting down’.
So these guys are offended that anyone could disagree with them and feel fully entitled to S.D. on anyone who does so.
In the end, they are all very small-minded and cannot see outside the balloon they live in.

Tony Leatham

24th July 2019 at 3:41 pm

I was shocked to see that Telegraph Media and ITV were signatories on the letter to campaign

Martin Bishop

24th July 2019 at 11:18 am

It’s amusing that my comment awaited moderation on a section of a site titled “Free Speech”. I wonder if it was triggered by certain words I used lol.

Simon Morgan

24th July 2019 at 5:32 am

I wonder if these people even get the irony of calling themselves ‘Media For All’? Probably not – they’re just too stupid.

Emmett Elvin

25th July 2019 at 8:46 pm

Oh, I’m certain they ‘get it’, Simon. These globalists are arch-ironists and have long enjoyed the practice of dressing up their operations as the very thing they are not. Up there with Tony Blair’s ‘Middle East Peace Envoy’ title, to name but one other example.

Paul Carlin

23rd July 2019 at 10:04 pm

An astonishingly enlightening piece here, demonstrating the appalling entitlement felt by those figures who signed that letter. Thank you B O’N.

Martin Bishop

23rd July 2019 at 9:39 pm

Freedom of speech doesn’t entitle you to space on a privately owned platform. I don’t envisage you giving a pro-remainer or Israel critic column space on Spiked anytime soon.

Hana Jinks

24th July 2019 at 12:42 pm

Remoaner’s are fruit loops, and those against Israel are generally communists and muslims.

Arevyou any of that lot?

Martin Bishop

25th July 2019 at 12:31 am

No, not one of those lot. It’s worse than you can imagine. I’m an individual.

Hana Jinks

25th July 2019 at 2:42 am


They see brexit as anti-democratic, but they pretty much let everyone have their say.

Martin Bishop

25th July 2019 at 10:11 am

I think Brexit without an “is this still what you want? ” vote is the diet pepsi of democracy. It’s still Pepsi, but only half the democratic calories. Better than nothing.

Hana Jinks

25th July 2019 at 10:25 am

People like you are why l see democracy as easily exploitable by the devil.

Martin Bishop

26th July 2019 at 5:45 pm

You can’t exploit me.

Christopher Tyson

23rd July 2019 at 7:57 pm

So many commentators and mainstream politicians spit out the name Farage as though he is self-evidently a monstrous figure. Generally they will also bring up his ‘populism’. It’s hard to think of a successful politician who hasn’t been a populist, being popular and democratic and a good communicator, I don’t really understand this downer on populism. Many years ago a friend of mine called me a populist and I realised that he didn’t mean it in a good way. I don’t have any insight into the soul of Farage. Publicly Farage is civil and tolerant and does not betray the racism and xenophobia that his critic accuse him of. I’ve no reason to believe that Farage holds these views, but the point is that we are all entitled to our private views and fantasies however unsavoury, but publicly we are expected to adhere to certain standards, in this sense hypocrisy is the hand maiden of virtue. I’m sure that my political views are very different to Farage’s, but he has taken on the Brexit cause that all the mainstream politicians have at best neglected at worst tried to scupper, in this sense Farage has been heroic. I am not naïve, heroes always turn out to be flawed, they will invariably let you down. Farage’s critics seem to believe that they have some special insight into the man but feel no need to substantiate it. Is Farage a very clever, secret racist? I’ve no reason to believe that he is, and I can’t say that he isn’t, but what’s the problem with secret racists anyway? If you are polite, civil and respectful and don’t allow your personal antipathies to affect your conduct towards people, there’s no problem.

Philip Humphrey

23rd July 2019 at 4:26 pm

Problem is that they’re just trying to nail down the lid of the pressure cooker of grievances that led to Brexit and the rise of the Brexit party. You can try to deprive people of a voice, but that doesn’t make their grievances go away. It’s not going to end well unless the liberal elite actually listen to the people, particularly the “left behinds”.

Hana Jinks

23rd July 2019 at 2:32 pm

Far. Out.

I know who the infantile sixth-formers are.

They’re the bitches that are bought to promote Farrago.

Seriously diabolical.

Jonathan Marshall

23rd July 2019 at 2:22 pm

For the love of Heaven, won’t just ONE organisation/company/whatever actually stand up to these intolerant bastards and tell them to go and boil their heads – instead of cravenly caving in every single time?

Stef Steer

23rd July 2019 at 1:59 pm

The ludicrously wealthy tech giants and their lackeys in the MSM and established parties around the world have pushed woke identity politics. i.e. the politics of categorisation and division (and called it diversity) and then accused the likes of Farage and the brexit party (who really represent diversity i.e. of opinion) of creating division.

All this hate, censorship and division is in the name of the tech giants maintaining their monopoly and keeping their taxes relatively low whilst getting their mercenaries and useful idiots to pretend its about protecting minorities.

Jonathan Yonge

23rd July 2019 at 12:59 pm

Seems as though Big Social Media is falling into the same tap as the old MSM in thinking that they can suppress debate to reinforce “the truth”.
Not possible in the internet age.
In reality, attempted suppression seems to give publicity and support to those they wish to suppress and therefore have the opposite effect.

As Brendan points out. The best approach is to confront arguments you dsiagree with and point out their fallacies. Free speech in other words.

gershwin gentile

23rd July 2019 at 12:48 pm

As someone who was indifferent to Brexit at the start, I have warmed to the idea. Anything that shits up the swivels eyes so much can only be a good thing.

All the remainers you hear from are numerically, historically and logically lacking. They also are just a tad “closet racist”, aren’t they? A bit sexist as well. As I remember the BAME Brexit vote represented the “White” Brexit vote. But that might be a lot of the “communities of colour” don’t come from the EU, but from the BCW. But like I say, historically lacking.

I suppose that’s why remainers have nothing but hate. They can’t reason with you (lacking you see) so they bully you. Call you names etc.

I wouldn’t worry about the Silicon Valley types, a short campaign about how much these SV types have made from the sexual exploitation of children and the murders committed by terrorist groups, that should shut them up.

Amelia Cantor

23rd July 2019 at 12:26 pm

The truth is that Farage went to the people, engaged with the people, and won millions of democratic votes.

Let’s try that again:

“The truth is that Farage went to the people, lied to the people, incited their worst impulses, and won millions of low-information, high-bigotry votes.”

There: fixed it for you.

And let’s always remember: Hitler also “won” millions of democratic votes. Democracy does not give racists and xenophobes the right to trample on vulnerable communities of colour. Brexit was the first whiff of something very toxic stirring in the undergrowth of British politics. That’s why Brexit has to be exterminated with extreme prejudice by any means necessary.

And that’s also why Brexit was opposed by a clear majority of folk from communities of colour. Without cisgender white males and deluded wrinklies, Brexit would have been dead in the starting blocks.

Jonathan Yonge

23rd July 2019 at 12:55 pm

Please tell me the lies that Farage said to the people

Amelia Cantor

23rd July 2019 at 12:59 pm

Lie #1: That the UK will be more prosperous and better-governed out of the EU.
Lie #2: The many millions more will go into the NHS
Lie #3: [try searching for yourself]

gershwin gentile

23rd July 2019 at 1:01 pm

Oh dear, don’t bother JY. AC isn’t that well connected with logic and reason.

Philip Davies

23rd July 2019 at 1:10 pm

I haven’t read such authoritarian, intolerant words in a long time… The way you refer to the people you don’t like is not far removed from the way fascists speak about their enemies… Exterminating was also one of their tactics too.

Jane 70

23rd July 2019 at 2:53 pm

I see AC uses ‘exterminated with extreme prejudice’: is said AC an algorithmic construct or a born again Dalek?

Northern 1312

23rd July 2019 at 1:59 pm

This is exceptionally well crafted satire, surely?

Jonathan Marshall

23rd July 2019 at 2:19 pm

I rather fear it isn’t…

Jane 70

23rd July 2019 at 2:49 pm

The tech giants have got too big for their bots.

I suggest they interview Louis Stedman-Bryce, our excellent, very entertaining BP MEP.

Grant Hardinge

23rd July 2019 at 2:17 pm

The Remain camp had an appalling disdain for the truth, and the even the Bank Of England and the Treasury used ridiculous assumptions for modelling the basis of the Fear Campaign against Brexit. All of which were exposed as lies the predicated outcome of the Referendum did not appear.

The part of the Brexit campaign that was misleading was the 350 million pound per week cost of the EU. The nett figure in 2016 was 220 million, but new figures this week showed the current figure to be 300 million per week (nett) : not that far from the figure used by one of the leave campaigns and one of the central complaints against the Leave campaign.

By the way, did the UK Government issue an information brochure detailing the claims of both sides, to all households. Not in your life. Given the amount of misinformation by Remainers, it’s a wonder the voters voted to Leave at all.

Frank Sutton

23rd July 2019 at 4:16 pm

You are the new Titania McGrath, and I claim my cisgendered white male privileges!

Amelia Cantor

25th July 2019 at 10:48 am

You’ve already got them. But not for long!

Simon Morgan

24th July 2019 at 5:29 am

The UK WILL be more prosperous out of the EU – apart from getting a global market, it won’t have to contribute billions of pounds to failing institution. Win / win all around.

There – Fixed that one for you.

Alex Thomas

24th July 2019 at 9:22 am

Sounds like your in Common Purpose Amelia. Or a spokesperson for the global elite who want to impose a world government. I, my family and friends decided long before the referendum that the EU was heading towards totalitarianism. Yesterday Mr Macron, the dictator of France, announced a German-Franco accord that EU members must sign into accepting quotas of immigrants and those who refuse will face economic sanctions. Democracy at work? The evil globalist cabal wish to destroy European culture and fhe EU is instrumental to their plans. Silicon Valley is the devil’s playground. Nice try.

mister wallace

25th July 2019 at 3:56 am

Oh dear, you mean all those people who disagree with you were able to vote? How totalitarian and fascist of you.

Penny Watson-Dollery

26th July 2019 at 5:54 pm

Amelia, you’re everything that’s wrong with this country. You only see ‘your’ view, you think that opinion is fact, and you can’t even back up your assertions with evidence. You have no interest in democracy because the vast majority of people don’t believe what you believe, so you find it ‘offensive’ because you can’t understand it. When you grow up, you’ll see that people don’t share your opinion, not because they’re ‘wrong’, but because you are.

Ian Weston

29th July 2019 at 6:37 am

Amelia, I think you may have overdone the Kool-aid.

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