Laurence Fox: cancelled by GB News?

Demise of controversial commentator hasn't deflected criticism of the broadcaster

Laurence Fox
Fox was suspended by GB News over comments he made about a female journalist
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

In 2019, when I met Laurence Fox, he was a "posh, louche" actor who'd voted for Jeremy Corbyn in 2017, but grown weary of the virtue signalling in his profession, said Janice Turner in The Times

A few months later, he went on Question Time, and while discussing Meghan Markle, he denied that Britain was a racist country, and accused a black woman of racism for calling him a privileged white male. Cue fury on one side, and cheers on another. Casting directors scored through his name, while radio and TV producers put him on their "rent-a-gob" list. 

Fox embraced his new role; and as mainstream doors slammed shut, he was flung into the arms of a new fan base on the margins. Eventually he ended up on GB News (GBN), where last week he delivered his now notorious "Who'd want to shag that?" diatribe about a female political journalist, leading to his suspension, along with fellow host Dan Wootton.

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'A martyr to free speech'

Fox has always wanted to be "a martyr to free speech", said Jenny Hjul on Reaction. That he should have been cancelled by GBN – the "home of free speech" – is vindication for him of sorts. We can expect him to follow a well-worn path to those parts of the internet where the likes of Russell Brand and Andrew Tate have found a lucrative niche. 

But what of GBN? It was quick to condemn Fox's comments, but that hasn't stopped Tory MP Caroline Nokes and others from calling for the channel (which rivals Sky News in some slots) to be taken off air. No surprise there, said Tom Slater in The Spectator. Ever since GBN launched, aiming to air issues and views that other channels routinely ignore, its critics have been gunning for it. Now the same kind of people who defended the BBC over Brand's vile behaviour in "Sachsgate" want GBN to be closed because of a "disgusting" outburst by one presenter at its crankier end.

'Right-wing propaganda channel'

Actually, GBN has been abusing its position for ages, said Sean O'Grady in The Independent. It is not governed by all the same rules as the BBC, but it is obliged to observe due impartiality in its political coverage, and not to broadcast misleading factual content. 

Yet with numerous right-wing and pro-Brexit politicians among its presenters (including Nigel Farage and the Tory MPs Jacob Rees-Mogg and Lee Anderson), and a fair few conspiracy nuts, it feels like a right-wing "propaganda channel" – an unbalanced promoter of a particular political agenda. Ofcom has several open inquiries into it, but with GBN so useful to the Government, there is a feeling that the regulator has turned a blind eye to breaches that it would not tolerate elsewhere.

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