Boom time for the grievance artists: The media’s liars are drowning in loot

Controversy tastes so good to the bad faith loser legions.

Image by BrianBrianQuinn


They have long been called controversialists, but there is a better name for those columnists and commentators who instantly take the opposite line to everybody else — they are the grievance artists. While they generally expend thousands of words on a weekly basis explaining why the left — despite not having access to the levers of political or media power in any meaningful way in the US or UK — are the real bad guys, it is actually they who live for grievances.

There’s a spectrum — from committed characters like the Andy Kauffman-esque awfulness of Brendan O’Neill and Mark Littlewood of the IEA to the almost blank minded puppet act of Darren Grimes — but they all operate on the same business model:

  1. something happens on the news

  2. tweet about it maniacally

  3. take the most extreme line on it in print/online

  4. get appearance fees for talking about the ‘controversy’

  5. go to: step 1

It’s not that they believe in nothing, but rather that they believe in rejecting whatever the seemingly reasonable line is on any issue. They believe in being the pure opposite of whatever anyone on the left says. It just so happens that the way the UK press and media are constructed means that false balance is expected in every debate:

If the argument is ‘biscuits are delicious’, it’s Brendan O’Neill’s job to argue that the working class doesn’t eat biscuits, that biscuits are something that only the elite care about, that biscuits shame his dead Irish peasant farmer ancestors, and eventually that biscuit lovers are, in fact, anarcho-communist snowflake remoaners.

The grievance artists can always find a new front in the culture war. Their continuing employment of columnists demand it. So if the juice in fighting about statues or attacking trans people drains away, they will construct — their instincts for aggression are strong — a new battle out of thin air. There’s nothing someone on the left and of the left can do or say that a grievance artist can interpret in bad faith. That is their superpower.