Laurence Fox scandal proves GB News must rapidly change course to survive, media campaign group says
An organisation that campaigns to eradicate hate in the media has said the Laurence Fox controversy proves once and for all that GB News must radically change its ways if it wants to survive.
Fox was suspended by GB News after he made a series of misogynistic comments about Ava Evans – a political correspondent with the digital media company Joe – during an appearance on Dan Wootton Tonight.
The former actor has since been fired. Wootton, who was heavily criticised for failing to challenge Fox on air and for laughing as he spoke about Evans, is still being investigated by the company.
For Richard Wilson, executive director of Stop Funding Hate, the “appalling” incident is simply the straw that broke the camel’s back. He says GB News has been spinning hateful narratives and arguments about individuals and minority groups for some time.
“It was appalling – absolutely appalling – and shocking to hear those kind of misogynistic comments being aired on GB News, but it wasn’t that surprising, unfortunately,” Wilson tells PinkNews.
“We’ve seen over the last couple of years this pattern of GB News vilifying particular individuals. They’ve said awful things about Meghan Markle, they’ve said horrible things about Greta Thunberg, so unfortunately it fits into a pattern.”
Laurence Fox scandal could be a ‘turning point’ for GB News
What was different this time around is that GB News almost immediately suspended both Fox and Wootton.
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“It kind of felt like a bit of a turning point – that there actually is a red line for GB News and this comment obviously breached it,” Wilson says.
He believes the response was likely motivated by the strong public reaction to the clip, which was shared on social media by Evans – but it might also have been out of a fear of losing even more advertisers.
Like most media companies, advertising is a crucial source of revenue for GB News – however, the news station has struggled to make money since it was launched in 2021.
“I think this incident must prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that GB News is not brand safe for advertisers. Many people would have been able to see that before but I think this has really put it beyond doubt,” Wilson says.
“It’s also proved that being regulated by Ofcom is no guarantee of brand safety. You can have all of those processes in place and yet still something like this will happen.
“So if you’re a brand that wants to appeal to mainstream society, it’s too much of a risk to associate your brand with a channel that has based its whole model on generating outrage and generating toxicity.”
As the fallout continues, Wilson says GB finds itself stuck in a “contradiction”. The station was set up essentially as a UK-version of Fox News, with right-wing commentators doling out divisive and sometimes offensive commentary.
Now, GB News will have to decide whether it should continue on that tack and risk going under, or take a new approach entirely.
“The only way I could possibly see this channel becoming commercially viable would be if they made a massive effort to detoxify and move in a less extreme direction.”
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