The Magnificent Pollard

On 15 January right-wing hack Stephen Pollard posted on Interpal, the charity which Mr Galloway’s appearance on Celebrity Big Brother is intended to benefit. “The real villain of the piece is not the odious Galloway, whose penchant for licking the backsides of terrorist sponsors we all know about”, he harrumphed. “It is Channel Four, which is knowingly allowing such an organisation to benefit from its airwaves.” He concluded with these words: “This is an altogether more serious matter than Galloway’s humiliation. I hope to return to it soon.”

Pollard’s hopes were gratified, and he did indeed return to the matter soon with a new post on the matter today, which reads in full:

“You might notice that a posting from yesterday on Interpal is no longer up. I removed it after a few minutes (although I understand that it remained visible for a little while afterwards). It concerned its nomination by George Galloway in the Big Brother programme.I want to make clear that the charity operates as an entirely legitimate organisation and no evidence has ever been produced to suggest otherwise.”

So, there we are. Some people might think an apology was in order, but not, apparently, Pollard. So, no apology.But it’s always fun when Pollard posts-and-retracts.

On 1 November 2004, a post modestly titled “Pollard Speaks, YouGov Quakes” was followed up by a new post which said that “for reasons which I can’t go in to, I have had to pull it” (i.e., the earlier post). This was doubly puzzling, because not only was the earlier post never in fact pulled – you can read it by following the earlier link, and don’t forget to read Mr Shakespeare’s comment while you’re at it – but also because the retraction ended by declaring “Game, set and match” to Pollard himself, which in the circumstances seemed, well, peculiar.

Pollard’s relationship to truth is complicated, as long-time Stoa readers know. He’s been known to post straightforward falsehoods: the Tour de France, one of the most complex team events of the sporting calendar, is dull “because the team element is missing”. Sometimes he just makes up figures to support his arguments. And he’s also been known to cite his own work – the same work that contains the made-up figures – without mentioning that it is his own work, thus creating the impression that there’s something more than made-up figures behind his arguments. He’s a funny chap.

Morals: don’t believe what you read in the Daily Telegraph. Don’t believe what US government officials say. A third moral would be, “Don’t believe what you read on Stephen Pollard’s blog”, but I can’t believe anyone’s really that stupid.

UPDATE [9.15pm]: Surprise, surprise — there’s falsehood even in Pollard’s retraction. Who’d have thunk it? The post he “removed… after a few minutes” and which “remained visible for a little while afterwards” is not only still available in the Google cache, which is indeed outside of Pollard’s control. It’s also available on at least one other blog that quotes the post admiringly. And, as happened in the case of “Pollard Speaks, YouGov Quakes”, it is also, incredibly, still available on Pollard’s own site, so that nothing at all seems to have been removed, except perhaps the post’s appearance on the front page of his own blog. What an absurd creature he is.

UPDATE [9.30pm]: It seems that Pollard “cannot recommend Anthony Browne’s new book, ‘The Retreat of Reason’… too highly”. Ho hum.

UPDATE [9.50pm]: Since my original post, I see that Pollard’s retraction has acquired a slightly different form of words. I wonder what’s behind that little edit? It now reads: “I want to make clear that the charity operates as an entirely legitimate organisation for the relief of suffering and no evidence has ever been produced to suggest otherwise” (emphasis added).

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