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Giles Coren, the late Dawn Foster, Owen Jones, cancel culture and the sad decline of Fleet Street

Tom Winnifrith
Wednesday 21 July 2021

Dawn Foster was a young journalist who has died aged just 34. Surely we can all feel some understanding for someone dying so young? Not Giles Coren of the Times but he is not really the villain of this piece.

Coren fell out with Foster after a spat in which she essentially stated that his cushy media life was down to his family all being media celebs over two generations. He called this out as trolling and thus in essence says he is quite happy that she is dead.

Dawn, who achieved all that she achieved despite having been born and raised very much on the wrong side of the tracks, tweeted:

Giles Coren a prime example of how the “if I’ve heard of yer da, I don’t need to hear from you” rule holds for almost every man bar Jesus.

That Coren regard this as “trolling”  and “vile abuse” of his family shows what a thin-skinned little prick he is. His dad, Alan, would have been far more resilient. To say that he is rather glad that Ms Foster has gone to a better place is, we can all agree, rather unpleasant.

However, the real villain of this take is the King of Cancel Culture Owen Jones who has poured fire on this spat by calling out Coren and suggesting that his colleagues at the Times attack him. They will not. Jones laments the fact that Coren’s career will suffer no consequences as a result of his tweet which is both a libel of the dead (not that you can libel the dead), a lie and unpleasant.

There are many reasons why The Times should fire Coren but this is not one of them. Have we really reached the stage where sending an unpleasant (and inaccurate) tweet becomes a sacking offence? If we dig hard enough, we could probably fire millions of folks across Britain on this basis. If the Times wants to sack Coren, then it could well do so for being not that talented, over-promoted for reasons I cannot fathom and for writing vast quantities of tedious piffle.

In the old days of Fleet Street, journalists would meet up in boozers like El Vino’s, say nasty things to each other, sometimes come to blows, but since everyone was so shitfaced that nobody could remember what anyone said, the spat ended there. Sometimes spats would boil over into poisonous comments in columns but what one old bruiser said about another was really of no interest to anyone outside the small media village and the idea that a remark about a fellow hack could be career-ending would have been seen as a complete hoot.

My late Uncle Chris Booker – who never got me a job in my life – fell out with numerous folks including Auberon Waugh. Waugh often had a pop at Chris. One line was “x used to be married to Christopher Booker but then so have half the women in London these days.” I am sure Chris returned the compliment. Does anybody really care? If you knew a protagonist it might be vaguely amusing. If not, it probably was not. 

Now that we all sit at our desks, almost invariably sober, posting material via the interweb, these spats take on a poisonous new media existence. And they are all so silly.

At a time when the UK suffers the most monstrously venal and inept Government which is loading the country up with a debt its citizens will struggle to support and where funny money printing has made corruption endemic at all levels of society, surely there are real stories journalists might think to tackle?

Those expense farming alcoholics of the good old days of the Street would be waking up this morning with a sore head but going out to deal with what mattered. Instead, with a clear head, a hereditary journalist is deleting his offensive and untrue tweet while another, Jones, whips up a twitter storm to demand his sacking.

RIP Lunchtime O’Booze – who got his job on merit.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
[email protected]
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