Yesterday saw the launch of brave new libertarian web-site Heat Street, which aims to fill the public’s insatiable demand for a news outlet that lets right-wingers be as awful as they want and call it free speech.
The name is a virtually nonsensical pun suggesting that this is Fleet Street, only hotter, and forms part of the empire of the man almost single-handedly responsible for moving news production away from Fleet Street, 30 years ago. Perhaps he’s forgotten that.
The site opened in glorious fashion with a story suggesting that the wife of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders may have committed a federal offence by lying on a loan application for Burlington College, during the period she was president of the college. The article was branded as a ‘Heat Street Exclusive’, which meant that you had to wade through the leaden writing to discover that the story had broken in January, had been exciting enough to make the local news in Vermont and had died down as it was abundantly clear, even from Heat Street’s own article, that while the college may have overreached itself and had a spot of bad luck there was no evidence of fraudulent activity.
Meanwhile the site’s co-leader, and living antidote to the Midas touch, Louise Mensch, presented her own interview with beleaguered Tory minster John Whittingdale. This interview opened with Mensch praising his fearlessness and mastery of his brief and then demonstrating both by pitching him soft-ball questions on subjects that the interviewer and interviewee clearly agreed on, with painfully obvious pre-scripting to set up his factoids.
It’s certainly terrifying to see the ugly truths that suppression of free speech and the creation of safe spaces have been sheltering us from.
Speaking of free speak and safe spaces, issue 1 of Heat Street (which, I note, did not come with a free gift, unless you count sudden crippling regret that you’d ever learned to read) also included an interview with arch-libertarian and person most likely to appear in future history books under the heading ‘Causes of the revolution’, Milo Yiannopoulos.
Unfortunately Heat Street’s budget doesn’t stretch as far as employing writers good enough to disguise that Milo is human garbage – although, in fairness, there’s no evidence that writers that good exist anywhere – and Milo doesn’t help the situation by saying words from his brain for them to write down.
Unfortunately there’s not space in the pages and pages of self-indulgent tripe for Milo to explain why a free-market libertarian like himself ended up whining in a government briefing room that a private company was restricting his free-speech, somehow, by not putting a little tick next to his name. Maybe they’re saving that for the point when this flaming site gets round to asking somebody a difficult question.
Where this site fails, apart from the awful, awful writing, terrible choice of subjects and choosing a pun three decades past its sell-by date for a title, is that it keeps going on about free speech and the elimination of safe-spaces, but is actually aiming to present the most sanitised view of the right that it can. That it fails to even offer the functionality to comment on the articles reveals both its lack of commitment to ‘anything goes’ discussion and its desire to keep those who agree with them hidden from public view.
Ultimately if you want to read a site that promotes the views on offer in Heat Street then there are better written, better sourced sites where you don’t have to keep reading Murdoch’s whiny brats complaining, in puff-piece articles on a site owned by the 2nd largest media conglomerate in the world, that they don’t enjoy free-speech.
I imagine that a lot of their traffic yesterday was driven by their political opponents going to the site to see how badly it would fail, and who, satisfied that it was just as terrible as they dreamed, will not revisit. The future of Heat Street is cold and traffic-free.