The question Laura Kuenssberg should have asked the editor of the Sun

Late on Friday night, the Sun published a column by Jeremy Clarkson.

You wouldn’t expect him to say anything nice about Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, to be honest.

Most of the article was merely his opinion on Harry and Meghan’s Netflix documentary. I think he’s wrong, but, again, no surprise there. He’s allowed to be.

But there was one part of that article which didn’t merely stray over the boundaries of acceptable behaviour, it stuck two fingers at them from outer space.

He described his hatred of Meghan as being deeper than his hatred of two other women, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and serial killer Rose West. These are not two women you would normally compare. Then he said that he dreams of the day when Meghan is paraded naked through the streets of every town in Britain while people chanted “Shame”at her and chucked crap at her.

Words matter and too often in the right wing press, they fuel a toxic culture which makes life less safe for every marginalised group in this country, from disabled people, to immigrants to women to trans people. This vivid description of humiliating violence to a woman, presented as an aspiration, has no place on the pages of a newspaper in a civilised society.

Most reasonable people will think that Clarkson is just being a twit again, but it will intensify the hatred of a few. We just have to hope that nobody takes his words too literally.

Jeremy Clarkson has always been obnoxious. It is what he does. The first time I wrote to him was in response to an article he wrote on women drivers a quarter of a century ago. I actually got a quite funny and self-deprecating reply from him. But that was a world away from what he wrote about Meghan.

Harry comes in for criticism too, deliberately misnamed for comic effect and portrayed as Meghan’s puppet. It’s a typical misogynist trope to assume that any woman you don’t like is somehow controlling those around her, usually with some sort of sexual temptation. And in this case there is no somehow about it. Clarkson says that explicitly.

But he does not dream of degrading violence against Harry. Funny, that.

It’s not just Clarkson that is responsible, though. The Sun has an editor across whose desk this must have passed, who thought that this hate-filled rant was ok to publish.

But what really annoys me is that Laura Kuenssberg had the editor of the Sun sitting right there in front of her on her show this morning and she didn’t challenge her on why she had allowed such a piece of violent misogyny to be published. And nor did any of the other panellists. No wonder the right wing press get away with so much when they know that they will not come under any scrutiny.

Instead, Kuenssberg chose to ask the editor of The Sun whether Harry’s claims about the collusion between the royals and the media were true. She took the obvious denial at face value but didn’t take it any further. It was a valid question, but she should have followed up with something on this article.

Harry and Meghan says that the racist and misogynist attacks on Meghan in the British press, and the failure of the Royal Family to protect her, led to them basically fleeing the country. Clarkson’s article, published by one media outlet unscrutinised by others, makes their point for them.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Martin Gray 18th Dec '22 - 5:03pm

    Excellent post Caron ..
    Clarkson is a nasty piece of work – a bully & a coward..
    This is the man who assaulted a member of a BBC production team because a hot meal wasn’t available…
    A journalist of LK status – in allowing that article to go unchallenged – was shameful…

  • Steve Trevethan 18th Dec '22 - 5:24pm

    Might this indicate that the B B C is neither neutral, objective nor consistently questioning?

  • Chris Moore 18th Dec '22 - 6:45pm

    Blame might lie with the editorial team who told her not go into it.

    OR they didn’t tell her about it.

    OR they over-looked it. They might not have bothered to read his feeble column.

  • Thank you for posting about this. I have to say this week has been really hard with the details of horrific murders of women being reported about and then this. Comments and views like this is how it starts. It’s hard not to feel despair about the future. We still have such a mountain to climb to rid our society of the racism and misogyny shown in his column. I really hope that our Lib Dem MPs call this out too.

  • Nice piece. Agree 100%. Keunsberg’s interview with Dowden was also odd. Surely the reason why the actual cost of the government giving pay rises equal to inflation is £640 per household rather than £1000 claimed is that approximately a third comes back to the treasury due to income tax and nic paid. An elementary “side of the bus” error. You’d think she’d know the difference between gross and net. Depressing.

  • Diana Simpson 19th Dec '22 - 11:23am

    Good one, Caron. Clarkson’s ‘witchcraft’ punishment image is deplorable. His ilk is the antithesis of a modern liberal society.

  • David Garlick 19th Dec '22 - 12:17pm

    Thank you for bringing this to our attention. I guess that most LD’s are not avid fans of The Sun or the ‘gentleman’ that is J C. After this both sink lower in my estimation.

  • All rather worrying about the BBC coming down in its standards of presenting and interviewing. Maybe part of a culture shift led by the Conservatives on its board ? Remember Emily Maitlis revealing that Sir Robbie Gibb on the board of the BBC is still an active Conservative.

  • I find it difficult to understand how someone like Jeremy Clarkson thinks it acceptable to make these kind of remarks. I believe them to be thoroughly irresponsible boarding on ‘ hate crime’ to say the least. I think most balanced people will understand how bullying, trolling, misogyny etc is not regarded as amusing. However, Jeremy obviously regards this to be a form of wit.

    S Procter

  • Jenny Barnes 19th Dec '22 - 3:59pm

    He’s having a lovely time irritating the woke libtards. (whatever that may be) All part of the culture wars, brought to you as a distraction from freezing while not being able to afford food.

  • Ruth Bright 19th Dec '22 - 7:56pm

    Love Caron’s economy and precision.

  • Clarksons piece didn’t come out of nowhere, there has been a concerted campaign against Meghan & Harry in the Tory Press, presumably encouraged by The Monarchy. The day after the Clarkson article there he was at a fancy party hosted by The Queen.

    Perhaps some of the Monarchists in Our Party could think about their positions on this ?

  • David Vasmer 20th Dec '22 - 9:15pm

    Nigel Jones mentions Robbie Gibb – I worked with him at the BBC in the 90s and he will do everything in his power to weaken the ability of the BBC to challenge a Conservative Government.

  • Tristan Ward 22nd Dec '22 - 12:17pm

    Excellent article.

    Incidentally, should I – or any of us – be able to say of Nigel Farage/Boris Johnson/Liz Truss:

    “I hate him/her. I hate him/her on a cellular level. At night, I’m unable to sleep as I lie there, grinding my teeth and dreaming of the day when s/he is made to parade naked through the streets of every town in Britain while the crowds chant, ‘Shame!’ and throw lumps of excrement,”

    I think it’s a useful sense check.

  • Mick Taylor 22nd Dec '22 - 2:42pm

    It’s interesting isn’t it how people’s perceptions of others changes. Clarkson’s published view on Megan Markle are appalling and wholly unacceptable. Yet, this same man, backed remain in 2016. It surely shows that you can’t sum up an individual based on one view s/he holds.

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