I think it’s fair to say that few if any countries in the free world have a legacy media whose leading organs are more thoroughly corrupt than America’s – more devoted, that is, to obediently parroting the deep state’s mendacious left-wing narrative than to the nowadays quaint-sounding goal of uncovering and telling the truth without fear or favor. That said, however, Britain’s establishment news media do have their own distinct deficiencies. While they exhibit rather more ideological variation than their U.S. counterparts – few major U.S. dailies are as far apart politically as, say, the Telegraph is from the Guardian, or the Mail from the Morning Star – the British media possess a peculiarity all their own: to a perplexing extent, their most influential commentators are unusually callow and shallow.
The epitome of this type – and perhaps the single most influential journalist in the U.K. – is Owen Jones. He’s 39, but he looks 29, and – when holding forth on TV, which he often does when not scribbling his weekly column for the Guardian – he sounds barely 19. The son and grandson of card-carrying Communists, he was graduated from Oxford in 2007 and, within a frighteningly short period of time, became a big deal on Fleet Street – not because he’s deeply learned or preternaturally wise or possessed of an unusual felicity of expression, but because, good heavens, the lad can always be counted on to deliver precisely the kind of goods the Guardian and its readers want. (Prior to the Guardian, incidentally, Jones was with the Independent.) His prejudices are simple and clear: he hates capitalism, he hates America, he hates Israel. He buys the whole transgender ideology package; back in the day, he even supported Sinn Fein. He was six when Margaret Thatcher left office, but he has all the right opinions about her. And his sympathy for Muslims – who, in his view, are innocent victims of vile Western bigotry, period – is beyond measure, even though, as a gay man, he’d be subject to capital punishment in at least a half dozen Islamic countries.
Jones has been repeatedly confronted with this self-contradiction, and he’s repeatedly refused to address it honestly. And while he’s quick to accuse his fellow Brits of “Islamophobia” and of “demonizing migrants” – and we’re talking here, mind you, about “migrants” who’ve abused the welfare system and sent crime rates skyrocketing, and who tell pollsters that they’d rather live under sharia than under democracy – he’s never used his pulpit (as far as I can determine) to draw attention to the mass extermination of Jews, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, and, yes, apostate Muslims in the Islamic world. As for the Muslim “grooming gangs” that have raped tens of thousands of English girls over a period of decades, Jones has dismissed that entire vast reality as a Big Lie propounded by right-wing racists.
It was in 2016 that an event occurred which exposed the problematic nature of Jones’s Islamophilia and therein placed him in a very uncomfortable position indeed. I’m referring to the June 12 jihadist massacre at the Pulse nightclub, a gay establishment in Orlando, in which 49 people were killed and 53 wounded. During a TV appearance that evening, Jones not only refused to acknowledge even the possibility of a link between the terrorist’s Islamic faith and his presumed homophobia; he insisted that his two interlocutors on the program, Mark Longhurst and Julia Hartley-Brewer, were incapable of understanding or caring about the massacre as much as he did, since he was gay and they weren’t. When they both rejected this nonsensical assertion, Jones, who is famous for his occasional bursts of infantile petulance, walked off the show. Douglas Murray – also gay, but ten times smarter and infinitely more principled – ascribed Jones’s reaction to sheer guilt. “I’m sorry for Owen Jones,” Murray tweeted. “I would also feel guilty if I’d spent my life covering for the ideology that just killed 50 LGBT people.”
Cut to October 5, 2023, when I watched a newly posted video in which Jones was totally owned by some college kid (at least he looked like a college kid) who effectively challenged Jones’s puerile belief in the intrinsic value of “diversity.” That video went viral – but not for long. Because two days later, Hamas invaded Israel. Four days after those atrocities, Jones was interviewed on SkyNews along with 79-year-old Jewish Labour MP Margaret Dodge. I found their interaction jaw-dropping – and so, as it happens, did Spiked Online’s Brendan O’Neill, who wrote:
Here was a Jewish lady in clear anguish over the racist slaughter of more than a thousand of her people, politely apologising to the host for having a lump in her throat, and the non-Jew Jonesy basically upbraided her. He essentially told her to pipe down at one point. Unseemly doesn’t cover it.
I can’t remember the last time I saw something like this on TV. In fact, has there ever been a televised spat in which a member of an ethnic group that has just suffered an unimaginable act of racist savagery is pitted against a non-member of that ethnic group who wants to change the subject? Yes, Jones lamented Hamas’s attack on Israeli citizens. “No cause on Earth” justifies the slaughter of civilians, he said. But he clearly couldn’t wait to move on to his main topic – Israel’s military response to Hamas’s butchery.
His body language betrayed his impatience with Hodge and her insistence on gabbing about dead Israelis. Where she was open and expressive, keen to get across to viewers the distress Jewish people are feeling right now, Owen seemed agitated. He was hunched and tetchy. You could almost hear the voice in his head: “Must bring this back to Israeli barbarism, must bring this back to Israeli barbarism…”
Giles Udy, a veteran historian of the Soviet Gulag system, offered a succinct comment at X (formerly Twitter): “Owen Jones, as to be expected, leading the pack on the closest apology for Hamas that he can make without actually saying it.”
Jones apparently took part in at least one of the pro-Hamas marches that were held in London on the weekends following October 7. But not until October 18 did he address the Hamas-Israel conflict in the Guardian. His take was that “Britain’s political establishment,” by supporting Israeli self-defense, was demonstrating a disgraceful lack of respect for Palestinian life. His next few columns all returned to the same topic. On October 24, he echoed the UN line that Israel’s actions in Gaza verged on genocide. On October 31, he defended Rashida Tlaib’s support for Hamas. On November 22, he charged that Israel was murdering children. On November 29, he wrote that “Israel’s assault against Gaza is a Russian doll of horror, with many atrocities tucked within,” among them the “mass slaughter of journalists.” (No mention, of course, that virtually all Palestinian “journalists” are Hamas operatives.) On X, Jones has sounded the same notes.
Jones was one of those invited to view Bearing Witness, the IDF film of Hamas atrocities that was compiled from body-cam, car-cam, CCTV, home-security, and mobile-phone clips. Afterwards, Jones admitted in a YouTube video that it had been “deeply harrowing” and that, yes, Hamas had committed war crimes. But he proceeded to complain that the footage didn’t substantiate Israel’s claim that members of Hamas had beheaded babies alive, killed children, raped women, or carried out torture. Also, Jones said, one clip actually showed Hamas members making a proper distinction between soldiers and civilians. (You’d have thought he considered them deserving of an award.) Less than halfway into his 25-minute YouTube reaction to the IDF film, Jones started trying to muddy things up by talking about people killed in crossfire, by comparing the latest Israeli and Palestinian death tolls, and by rejecting any comparison of Hamas to the Nazis as “belittl[ing]” the horror of the Holocaust.
He went on to contend that while the manifest purpose of the IDF’s screening was to win journalists’ support for the Israeli retaliation against Hamas, he, for one, wasn’t about to respond to a video of atrocities by supporting atrocities in the other direction. Either such experiences “dull your humanity,” he maintained, or they “deepen your humanity”; naturally, he placed himself in the latter category. As much as Israel wanted him to overcome his empathy for the “innocents” of Gaza, Jones vowed never to do so. Among the details that he omitted from this celebration of himself and of the “innocents” of Gaza was the fact that those “innocents” overwhelmingly approve of Hamas and applauded the October 7 massacre; the fact that Hamas uses civilians as human shields; and the fact that Westerners – far from being indifferent, as he professes, to Palestinian suffering – have poured billions of dollars in humanitarian aid into Gaza only to see it spent on materiel, secret military tunnels, and mansions in Qatar.
Then came Jones’s November 16 exchange with TV host Piers Morgan. Jones began with a withering putdown of an Israeli spokesperson who’d just informed Morgan about Hamas’s use of a Gaza hospital as a terrorist base. Jones brushed off this charge as being beyond ludicrous, saying that Israeli spokesmen “have a long track record of lying through their back teeth.” By contrast, he was quick to emphasize that he does believe any statement by the UN – which in this context means the UNRWA (The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East), a wholly owned subsidiary of Hamas. When Morgan mentioned to Jones that Israel had supplied fuel to a Gaza hospital only to see Hamas use the fuel for its own ends, Jones rejected that charge, too, citing, as if it were gospel, testimony by hospital officials – vermin who, like UNRWA, are also under the thumb of Hamas.
On December 4, by the way, Rachel O’Donoghue of Honest Reporting noted a similar example of breathtaking denial on Jones’s part: after the IDF found “evidence of a Hamas command center located within the Al-Shifa Hospital in the Gaza Strip” as well as “security camera footage that showed Israeli hostages had been taken there,” Jones “ludicrously claimed the footage offered proof that ‘injured hostages were taken there for medical treatment’ by their captors.’”
But back to Piers Morgan, who at one point in his interview with Jones truthfully pointed out that Hamas’s charter explicitly declares its “genocidal intent” towards the Jews. Jones, unable to deny that plain fact, countered with the allegation that Israel, too, has been guilty of spewing “genocidal rhetoric” – for example, by referring to Hamas as “human animals.” (Far from calling this “genocidal rhetoric,” I’d call it an insult to animals, because no species other than homo sapiens practices the kind of savagery, rooted in pure evil, that was displayed by Hamas on October 7.) In response, Morgan pointed out that the Israelis clearly aren’t genocidal, because they have the ability to “kill everybody in Gaza tomorrow and they’re not doing it.”
Since Jones’s appearance with Morgan, overwhelming evidence has emerged of Hamas’s use of hospitals, schools, mosques, private residences, and other non-military structures for military purposes. Indeed, extensions of Hamas’s intricate network of tunnels have been found to lead into innumerable homes. It has even been said that when entering homes in Gaza to find weapons or tunnel access, the IDF has learned that the first place to look is under the bed or crib in a child’s bedroom. Jones – again, as far as I’ve seen – has yet to acknowledge publicly any of this.
But who on earth, at this point in Jones’s career, would ever expect him to be a remotely fair broker? In his interview with Piers Morgan, as in his earlier TV discussion of the Orlando Pulse massacre, he made it crystal clear that he’s not in the truth business – he’s in the propaganda business. Yes, when pressed, as he was by Morgan, he’ll criticize Hamas’s actions on October 7 and grant that Hamas is a terrorist group that shouldn’t be allowed to govern Gaza. But his declarations of this sort always sound entirely pro forma, and he always moves on from them as fast as he can. He always makes sure to stress, moreover, that it’s Israeli cruelty that has forced Palestinians, in their desperation, to turn to terrorism as a last resort. And he never comes close to admitting that Jew-hatred is a central tenet of Islam, that it’s inculcated in Palestinians from early childhood, and that if only Gazans, during the last 15 years, had been psychologically capable of concentrating their energies on developing their communities instead of plotting obsessively to murder their neighbors, their lives could have been infinitely more productive, more prosperous, and happier.