It was the Shag Heard Round The World - or, rather, the non-shag. On air with my former colleague Dan Wootton, another former colleague Laurence Fox observed that he did not find Ava Evans (not a former colleague, but she does follow Andrew Lawton) "shaggable". You can judge for yourself the exchange, but I thought our chum Megyn Kelly had the fairest summation:
I listened to the whole segment. You were mad she so easily wrote off the epidemic of men's suicide, which she absolutely did. She sounded heartless.
You were making the point of how unattractive it made her to you. You didn't use the Queen's English but what she said was far uglier.
That's true. Suicide is now the leading cause of death for men under fifty. That's pretty serious, don't you think? America's heading in the same direction: The 2022 suicide numbers are the highest ever recorded, and close to double what they were at the beginning of the century. According to one poll three years ago, over a quarter of all young Americans 18-24 had considered suicide in the previous thirty days.
The acceptance in our societies of deaths from despair as a leading cause of mortality among young and middle-aged men is a subject worth exploring. But, as always on Cheapo TV, that's not what was going on. Instead, Laurence had been called in to attack what Miss Evans had said about it on some other station. Commentary is a low enough profession, but commentary upon other commentary is lower still, and (in this case) commentary upon commentary upon commentary (Lozza had been invited to comment on Ava's comments on the bloke who'd been commenting on male suicide) is almost entirely removed from anything that matters.
I used to turn down invitations like this from Fox News all the time: some guy you've never heard of has said something about Trump or Bush or Romney; would you like to come in and pretend to be outraged about it? Er, no, thanks. Unlike Lozza, I'm not that good an actor.
Laurence Fox is very insightful and moving on the subject of male suicide. But, invited to opine instead on a very peripheral media figure 99 per cent of viewers have never heard of, he floundered - as I would do in such circumstances. I never myself go the "I wouldn't shag that" route, because I've aged half-a-century in the last year and I'm now 137 years old, and the last time I checked the Minor Celebrities No One Wants To Shag hit parade I held the top three spots single-handed and they were thinking of retiring the trophy.
Yet I get the larger point, as Megyn put it, "of how unattractive it made her". I suppose if I'd been tempted down the same path I'd have gone for a variation of Kathy Shaidle's line: "What happened to you?" We have made a world of men that women don't want and women that men don't want, and that doesn't seem likely to end well.
But that's neither here nor there. It was a short segment guilty of nothing other than poor taste - which in the relentlessly vulgar Brit media is surely no big deal. Discussing the issue, Joan Bakewell - who in my salad days made her name on the Beeb as "the thinking man's crumpet" (ie, eminently shaggable) rather than merely the Bakewell tart (although Frank Muir liked to call her that, without consequence) - magisterially pronounced that Lozza is a "dick".
Shag dick dick shag wank bollock arse dick piss shag, all the way to the great Les Dawson's leering refrain of knickers knackers knockers: that's Brit public discourse, from the late Les to the thinking man's crumpet. This is a country in which a Minister of the Crown can suggest on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show that Nigel Farage looks as if someone has put his finger up Nigel's bottom and "he really rather likes it":
Defence minister Anna Soubry stunned TV viewers when she said Ukip leader Nigel Farage 'looks like somebody has put their finger up his bottom'.
Fellow guests on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show were taken aback as a laughing Ms Soubry made a gesture with her finger and added it looked as if 'he really rather likes it'.
Which doesn't sound Nigel's bag at all. And actually, even if it was, that's rather less kinky than a "respectable" "lady" eager to fantasise about such things in front of millions of people on the world's most prestigious broadcast network.
And yet Anna Soubry survived - for a few years, at least. I was so startled by the interview that I put a similarly potty-mouthed Cabinet minister in The Prisoner of Windsor.
But that's UK public discourse for you: it's unutterably vulgar - except that it's uttered round the clock. So the Minister of State at the Department of Defence is permitted to get her jollies slavering over the violation of Nigel Farage's posterior, but Nigel's primetime colleagues are not permitted to express a disinclination to violate.
Of course! Because Anna Soubry, Andrew Marr, Joan Bakewell, Adam Boulton and even young Ava Evans are all in the club - and Farage, Fox and Wootton aren't and never will be. That's what Mr Boulton's "delicate ecology" of UK broadcasting boils down to.
And so, entirely predictably, the state censor Ofcom has now announced it's opening an investigation into GB News over its bizarre outbreak of non-shagging. I believe that's the twelfth current investigation into the channel, and we pretty much know the outcome. After all, GB's chief exec has already said the segment was "way past the limits of acceptance". So what are Lord Grade and Melanie Dawes going to "find"? Oh, no, relax, turns out it's perfectly acceptable after all?
Grade and Dame Melanie will rule against GB News and this time (unlike in my own cases) they will fine them. Rather a lot, I think. Because it has to be a big enough number so that Ava Evans (who has played this like the first violin of the Berlin Philharmonic) doesn't get her chums in the commentariat to run a zillion "Out-of-touch Ofcom thinks reducing women to their shaggability is only worth ten-thousand quid!" stories. (Aside from anything else, an Ofcom ruling plus huge fine would assist in the frustration of GB co-owner Paul Marshall's bid to buy the Telegraph Group.)
So the short version of this is my headline from two months ago:
Ofcommed into Oblivion
Remember what the Steyn Show used to do on GB News? Vaccine victims ignored by the government and vaporised on social media. The industrial-scale gang-rape of English schoolgirls up and down the land from Rochdale to Banbury. The utter uselessness of the British constabulary, who are too busy dancing their clubfooted macarenas to investigate any crimes.
Seen any of that lately on GBN? As I've said with each of these new Ofcom complaints, GB News would have done better to push back against the Steyn rulings - because at least then you'd be taking a stand on the biggest public-policy disaster of our times, as opposed to defending the right to pronounce a woman entirely non-shaggable. Which, in terms of free-speech first principles, may indeed be a right, but not one you'd necessarily want to argue before a jury, never mind faceless ideological commissars of a highly politicised state bureaucracy.
The descent into a Tories'n'trivia channel was a conscious strategy to insulate GB News from its enemies. Doesn't seem to be working out.
By the way, when it comes to shaggability, GB CEO Angelos Softcockoulos knows whereof he speaks:
The claim naming Mr Frangopoulos, a married father of five, made allegations that he propositioned and declared feelings for a female member of staff in a late-night phone call after work drinks in 2021.
Having been rebuffed, Mr Frangopoulos then allegedly undermined and marginalised the woman in her role before she left and got employment lawyers to negotiate a private settlement with the channel.
A source with knowledge of the case said: "She felt ostracised, bullied and became psychologically distressed, essentially for turning down someone's advances."
GBN settled for five figures - which in America would have been seven or eight. At any rate, the thwarted shagger is now on his high horse about how "appalled" he is by media bigshots treating women as mere sexual commodities. So he has suspended three of the above lady's fellow presenters - Laurence Fox, for saying a woman was unshaggable; Dan Wootton, for appearing to smirk during the segment; and Calvin Robinson, for saying he wasn't going to appear on Dan's show until Dan was back in the chair.
GB News purports to be "investigating" the last, but we all know that Calvin's been dumped merely for having the impertinence to disagree publicly with management. Which in my experience is not something that, say, Conrad Black or even Rupert Murdoch did. However, the GBN contract I declined to sign would have required me to cede control of my social media accounts to the station's management. I take it the other chaps agreed to something similar. It's one reason why one should be wary of entering into contracts with small, hollow, weak, weaselly men - or "dicks", as Baroness Bakewell would say - because they're very insecure. As Calvin's "suspension" demonstrates.
In our comments section, from far Auckland, Veronica summarises the state of play:
Mark (unfortunately) suffered a 'total physical implosion' at the end of the Adriatic cruise, and it seems his old employer GB News is going the same way - Fox, Wootton and now Calvin Robinson suspended, the first two likely to be sacked. Not sure what Robinson's done wrong, other than show loyalty publicly to his colleagues. GB News isn't really in the 'loyalty' business as we know, not when it comes to their hosts, and especially not to their audience. The People's Channel! Yeah right.
Interestingly, both Fox and Robinson admit that they and GB News should've supported Mark against Ofcom and not doing so was a mistake - Fox says the board should sack the management, 'clear out the enemies within... and beg Mark Steyn to come back,' whilst Robinson says, 'we failed as a community to stand up for Mark Steyn...if we let them do the same to Dan, it's over'.
Within three hours, Calvin was suspended. "Over" is looking like the way to bet.
~Mark has been touched by how many readers, listeners and viewers have inquired about how to support his important (and non-shagadelic) free-speech lawsuit against the ever more overbearing censors of Ofcom. Well, there are several ways to lend a hand, including:
a) signing up a friend for a Steyn Club Gift Membership;
b) buying a chum a SteynOnline gift certificate; or
c) ordering a copy of Steyn's latest book The Prisoner of Windsor. You won't regret it.
With the first two methods, one hundred per cent of the proceeds and, in the last, a significant chunk thereof go to a grand cause - and you or your loved one gets something, too.