Mehdi Hasan, the New Statesman’s senior editor (politics), obviously didn’t like my mockery of his less-than-probing interview with the extremist-backed mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman. It’s drawn him into a long, angry and I think very unwise riposte on his New Statesman blog.
It’s unwise because it exposes Mr Hasan, like so many other Islamist sympathisers, as a liar. He accuses me of working for the Iranian state-funded broadcaster, Press TV, and states: “Sources at Press TV tell me Gilligan is among the highest-paid, if not the highest-paid, employee at the channel.” He asks: “So, Andrew, when will you quit your lucrative job at Press TV?”
The answer to that question is “eleven months ago.” Because if Mehdi Hasan had actually spoken to any “sources at Press TV,” he would have been told that I am not, in fact, “among the highest-paid employees at the channel,” nor indeed any sort of employee at all. He would have been told that I have not worked for Press TV for nearly a year. I can only conclude that he did not, in fact, speak to anyone at Press TV – and that he made up this quote to further his untruth.
I did present a regular discussion show on the station, in which Islamism, and the policies of the Iranian government, were often debated and challenged. But I stopped last December, in part for precisely the reason Mr Hasan says – taking the Iranian shilling was inconsistent with my opposition to Islamism. I have not worked for Press TV since. The only exception is two one-off shows I presented for them in the week of the general election in May, more than six months ago. (Mr Hasan, though this must have slipped his mind, was one of the guests!)
The fact that I left Press TV last year is also clearly stated on my Wikipedia entry, from which Mr Hasan quotes in his post, and has been reported in the press. Any competent journalist would have checked this. Mr Hasan also includes a number of other claims – that I am a “propagandist” for instance – which are untrue and for which I have successfully taken legal action against one of my other critics.
Mehdi Hasan attacks what he claims is my “biased journalism” and selective quotation, without alas giving any examples that stand up to scrutiny. Selective quotation is not when you take a piece from a longer quote – it’s when you select from a quote in a way that changes its meaning. But Mr Hasan has himself been caught in that most serious of journalistic crimes – making up a quote.
(PS – Just in case Mehdi is tempted to change his post, or take it down, I do of course have copies.)