Anatomy of an arsehole: Dan Wootton fronts GB News’ despicable Dad's Army war on the BBC

Stupid boy.

Besides Nigel Farage’s first show for the channel — an unedifying spectacle up there with seeing a man outside Wetherspoons shitting directly into a green bin — I’ve not watched much GB News since the first couple of weeks when I was obliged by professional curiosity to review the collapsing clown car of current affairs broadcasting. But last night I stumbled upon a clip from Dan Wootton’s show on Twitter and it was clear I needed to return to GBeebies.1

With the turd splash of attention after its unseemly removal of Guto Harri from its ‘free speech’ channel for the unforgivable crime of doing the wrong speech too freely, GB News needed a new way of demanding attention. As the televisual equivalent of a toddler pissing themselves because their mum wouldn’t buy them a Cornetto, it has alighted on trying to start a war with the BBC.

And in the vanguard of this effort, with GB News’ former big BBC beast Andrew Neil is still off in France strolling around in his fetching baseball cap and vest, there’s Dan Wootton. It’s a risky choice as Wootton reads an autocue as if he’s a dog taught to bark words phonetically and has all the charm of an open grave filled with copies of Piers Morgan’s latest book.

Showing his typical commitment to topicality, Wootton delivered a monologue on Emily Maitlis’ Press Gazette interview last week, a topic that was covered by the rest of the right-wing media on Friday. I also covered it in this newsletter. As his brain visibly buffered, Wootton said:

Few people doubt. Emily Maitlis. Is. A Very Good Journalist. BUT she’s not an impartial journalist. She refuses to be, regardless of numerous dressing downs from her BBC bosses — publicly and behind-the-scenes — so now it’s time for the new Director-General, Tim Davie, to live up to his promise to ensure impartiality on-air and on social media. He must make it clear this time of opinion-driven journalism is not appropriate on the public sector broadcaster which is. meant. to represent us. ALL.

Having Dan Wootton lecture anyone on journalistic ethics is like looking to Fred West for landscaping tips.

This is the same Dan Wootton who, while at The Sun, wrote a sensationalist ‘scoop’ headlined Hollywood HIV Panic — itself a complete lift of a previous Radar Online story despite the ‘exclusive’ tag — that led the British Medical Journal to call it “how not to report a case of HIV, while the Terence Higgins Trust decried it as “irresponsible” and “an insidious headline grab”.

The same Wootton indeed who, after being promoted to Executive Editor of The Sun and gifted/cursed with a slot on TalkRADIO, wrote a front-page splash in April 2019 headlined Not in Meg Back Yard (groan). In September of the same year, the press regulator IPSO — which is usually so toothless it has to be fed entirely on Nesquik — ruled that tale breached its guidelines on accuracy.

Wootton had claimed Prince Harry and Meghan had upset employees by banning “low paid staff” from using a car park near Frogmore Cottage in Windsor where they lived at the time. The carpark wasn’t closed, some staff still used it, and the Royal couple hadn’t made the decision to change its use. The Sun published an apology, but the same empty stories just kept on coming.

After Caroline Flack’s death in February 2020, Wootton used the horrific news as a means to promote his new Drive Time show on TalkRADIO. The station pushed his monologue with the line:

Dan Wootton will today launch his new Drive Time show on TalkRADIO with a personal reflection on his relationship with Caroline Flack following the presenter’s tragic death.

Nothing says “personal reflection” like a monologue filmed for TalkRADIO and vigorously press released in advance. Still, I expect Wootton needed time to practice squeezing a tear from his frozen ducts.

When the time came, Wootton excitedly announcing that it was his first show, trailed “heartfelt reflections” then used a line he still frequently rolls out at GB News, saying he planned to “shake up the biased and boring coverage on the wireless”, before pulling one of his trademark emotional handbrake turns — call it Fast & Incurious. He began:

“Caroline never moaned about the criticism that came from the public or the media…”

And who might that terribly critical media include? Well, desperate Dan Wootton, of course. The monologue was classic Wootton spin. It wasn’t him and his colleagues in the tabloid press — The Sun had splashed photos of the inside of the presenter’s flat with the headline Flack’s Bedroom Bloodbath — who were to blame but the nasty, judging public.

Wootton used Flack’s death as a means of defending himself and his bosses at The Sun, claiming that he had ‘supported’ her and that his stories had been on her side. MailOnline, where Wootton was to later move at the same time as securing the GB News job, published 15 stories in the hours after her death was announced. Between New Year’s Eve, when the events that led to her arrest took place, and her death it published more than 25 stories about her.

Andrew Brady, Flack’s former fiancé, wrote a blog post shortly after her death that presented a very different perspective to Wootton’s claim that he had “supported” her. Brady wrote:

Dan, you should be ashamed of yourself. Every time you scrutinised, manipulated and betrayed her trust. Every time you got a compromising story of her or one of her loved ones and used it against her. Tormenting her and calling her every name under the sun. Almost to breaking point. So much so she felt so helpless and thought it necessary to give you another story on another matter to try and make the other story disappear…

Dan, you used to go on Breakfast TV, and you claim to be friends with Caroline. I am singling you out because in addition to personally attacking her on several occasions you have also created a style of showbiz journalism in the UK that is subjecting ordinary people to hurtful and demoralising stories.

Brady was later accused of harassing Wootton and pleaded not guilty to the charges at Sheffield Crown Court in May 2021.

Wootton does his hassling and haranguing via a byline for the MailOnline and on the sofa at GB News so that’s fine, apparently.

In January 2020, Wootton broke the news that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were moving to Canada and stepping away from the Royal Family, ahead of the couple’s planned announcement of the decision. He used the so-called ‘Megxit’ scoop to get himself a much higher profile and has published numerous pieces about Harry and Meghan since.

By June 2020, the Megxit story was being cast in a different light, however, as details of how Wootton got his Royal scoops came to light. Byline Times claimed that Wootton had paid £4,000 to the partner of a Royal official for stories about Prince Harry published in June and July 2019, which concerned his son’s nannies and who his godparents would be.

Wootton claimed to be the victim — just as he did back at the Leveson Inquiry when he effectively claimed to have never seen or heard anything about phone hacking while sitting in the offices of the News of the World — saying he had been the victim of “misinformation” that had been fed into his reports “in a calculated and malicious way”. If there was ever an expert in calculation and maliciousness, it’s Dan Wootton.

‘Blackmailed’:  How Victoria Newton splashed details of Phillip Schofield’s private life in its pages after threatening to expose him

Wootton’s last big ‘achievement’ for The Sun was breaking/forcing the story of Phillip Schofield’s coming out in February 2020. Schofield insists that it was his decision to talk about his sexuality, but multiple sources suggested to me and others that Wootton and his newly-appointed boss Sun editor Victoria Newton applied heavy pressure.

It’s a classic set-up: A tabloid has information on someone, says it’ll publish it anyway but that a story printed with the subject’s acquiescence will be much softer and kinder to them. My sources claimed that Wootton told Schofield that The Sun knew about his sexuality and would make him look like a hypocrite if he didn’t comply with it. Wootton had previously worked in and around ITV, which broadcasts This Morning, as a celebrity ‘expert’ on Lorraine.

When Wootton was announced as one of the ‘stars’ of GB News in January 2021, the channel’s CEO Angelos Frangopoulos — a former CEO of Sky News Australiasaid he would “[challenge] the status quo and be more inclusive of differing viewpoints while delivering impartial journalism and entertaining debate.”

Wootton opened his first show for GB News with a monologue trafficking coronavirus conspiracy theorists’ talking points.

But let’s see how the rest of his monologue went last night. Perhaps he’s come on leaps and bounds since that first show’s incredible combination of arse-numbing boredom and teeth-grindingly offensive rhetoric:

[Emily Maitlis] thinks she’s above the rules. In a new interview with the Press Gazette, she said her BBC bosses were WRONG to find her in breach of impartiality over that Dominic Cummings monologue and she’s accused THEM of giving into political pressure from Downing Street… there was nothing ‘editorially independent’ about Ms Maitlis’ on-air rant, the BBC authorities investigated and made that clear.

… we all know where Ms Maitlis stands. She’s made that clear. She’s paid out of OUR money and has a responsibiltiy to be impartial. If she wants to express her anti-Boris, anti-Tory views ad nauseum, she can do so by leaving the BBC and joining The Guardian…

Pause here for a monkey with a toy drum kit to do the badoom tish and the gallery to activate the canned laughter.

But if the BBC wants us to believe that they take impartiality seriously they must not treat Ms Maitlis differently because she’s one of their biggest stars. Especially given they’re considering hiring as their news boss a Boris and Brexit-hating former Huffington Post loudmouth called Jess Brammar. Not surprisingly, Jess Brammar was described by Ms Maitlis as “a terrific journalist” — they share the same worldview after all. We’re not stupid. The mask is slipping at BBC News. Tim Davie must act.

Fact check: Dan Wootton is stupid. He’s also malicious and so adrift from any kind of truth that his output should legally be referred to as “fact-free journalism-style burble, product of New Zealand”.

Jess Brammar, who was previously deputy editor of Newsnight, a fact that Wootton deliberately omits, was not given a right-to-reply by GB News. Instead, Wootton is allowed by this so-called bastion of “impartial journalism” (so Frangopoulos claims) to defame a young woman’s professional reputation on-air and all over YouTube and social media.

Dan Wootton knows as much about journalism as a penguin does about the Sahara. He is a poisonous polemicist who has never met a fact he wouldn’t distort or a convenient lie he wouldn’t propagate. I’m not suggesting Brammar is perfect but her record — which includes defending her staff against the more grotesque government bullying and breaking stories about exploitation and injustice — is there to be scrutinised. And so is Wootton’s catalogue of tittle-tattle, twisted takes, and cruel ‘scoops’.

GB News needs an enemy to justify its pitiful existence and the BBC — which frequently falls on its face and can be justifiably criticised in many ways — is an easy and obvious target. The coward Dan Wootton has gone for Maitlis and Brammar because he knows the misogynist newspapers have already gone in two-footed after they were shown the way by drink-driving enthusiast and human bin bag Paul Staines of Guido Fawkes.

Wootton is not a maverick or a bold thinker. He’s not a sharp-tongued polemicist or a provocateur. He’s a high school bully with access to professional(ish) broadcasting equipment and a MailOnline column. And his GB News show follows the same pattern established by his malfunctioning animatronic act at TalkRADIO, with the worst monologues this side of a tragically under-performing GCSE Theatre Studies cohort at a school where a desperately out-of-his-depth PE teacher has been forced to take the topic.

Last night on his segment ‘Uncancelled’, he interviewed that famously cancelled man Rod Liddle who, aside from columns in The Spectator and The Times along with frequent appearances on the radio, is notoriously kept locked in a woke dungeon and silenced.

I once called Wootton the worst person in British media — a big claim given the competition — but his hours and hours on GB News only serve to prove that further. The mask doesn’t have to slip for Dan Wootton; he didn’t bother putting one on in the first place.

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As it was dubbed by Sooz Kepner way back in February.