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What do we know about Melissa Kite ? Anyone have her biographical details ?

I am delighted to be mentioned in Melissa Kite's article! Fame at last.

Every journalist knows her initial piece was rubbish. She must be undermining herself even further with her peers by reminding them of her original piece.

No, I cannot wholly concur.

Melissa Kite's article, like all articles, deserves scrutiny. Fisking is a good exercise for all journalists. It comes from the States and it is a wonderful way to hold them to account. Fact check Polly is a must-read. I have no idea at all as to whether her article was well-founded or not, except to say that I trust Alan Duncan implicitly on the matter. Doesn't mean she wasn't, as she claims, "well-sourced" for it. Perhaps somebody senior was attempting to rock the boat?

But what Melissa objects to in her article today is the sheer misogyny of Guido Fawkes commenters. Here, she has a point. A good point. Guido's site regularly posts the most vicious bile about women - right, left, doesn't matter. Some of the comments on the Prime Minister's wife were beyond disgraceful.

Now Fawkes is not a Conservative. But the Conservative sites regularly link to and promote his articles and his site. Often, this is because he has outstanding political gossip and tips. Yet there is no warning attached that Fawkes loathes women and will print graphic slurs against them at every opportunity. To a casual reader, this implies a shoulder-shrugging attitude from the top Tory blogs as to what is written at Guido's site.

The comments at ConHome and Iain Dale were, however, measured and level and certainly not misogynist.

http://iaindale.blogspot.com/2007/05/fisking-shadow-cabinet-reshuffle.html

Kite says explicitly in her article today

"So far, so fair game, I thought."

What is not fair game are the comments on Guido's site. And there should be recognition by the serious blogs of the homophobia and misogyny that he publishes there daily when those blogs are linking to him.

I thought to start with that she was just an arrogant journalist who didn't like being held to account.

I now think she is using this whole episode to make a name for herself. she is little know outside Westminster (where she is not very highly thought of) and she has seen this as a chance for recognition. In that sense you are playing into her hands.

I would say that it is fairly well known at Westminster that the main source for her article isn't the one you are hinting above and iain dale has claimed. It was somebody very heavily involved in DC leadership campaign (and that is why she mistakenly thought it authoritative) but who has declined in influence as time has worn on due to personal circumstances.

Tory T wrote "Yet there is no warning attached that Fawkes loathes women". Kite's article, and others, have reported Guido's real name.

I have known Guido personally for over 20 years and regard that statement as untrue and defamatory. He is married with a young child.

Having published Tory T's comment, Conservative Home could be sued for libel. I suggest that the Editor takes action against Tory T.

He must stand by what he publishes, Co-C.

I cannot repost the comments here as they are too vile for a Conservative website. There is nothing libertarian about printing such stuff; it doesn't harm freedom of speech to refuse to publish it on your own blog.

He chooses to publish graphic, derogatory comments about women and homosexuals; he actively encourages graphic comments about them. Caption contests, etc.

If you encourage and publish misogyny you are commiting misogyny. The stuff Melissa Kite listed was extremely mild, as any reader of Guido knows.

Fawkes doesn't publish it Tory T. (A few) of his commentators make distasteful remarks.There are also distasteful remarks on Iain's site and sometimes here.
I have no idea whether Melissa Kite's original article was accurate or not but what I do know is that when her story was questioned by bloggers she reacted badly and arrogantly and made various unwise remarks about blogging and a few leading bloggers.
Support for her opinion seems to be about nil,even on the Spectator blog the opinion appears to be overwhelmingly against her and I can't see anything there that could could be considered misogynist.
You say that Guido 'loathes women and will print graphic slurs at every opportunity'. I do not know whether that is true or not as I don't see Guido's site everyday but I hope you are prepared to justify that statement otherwise I suspect Guido may well come after you if you can't.

Malcolm,

If it's published in the comments on his site, he published it. He controls the site. He chooses what goes up there. When he wants to, he puts on comment moderation and deletes - often.

But he lets the graphic slurs against women (and gay men) stay up. With "caption contests" he encourages them, too.

That's misogyny.

Malcolm, one more comment before I log off for Sunday. If you'd like to see an example (just one out of thousands chosen randomly) of the misogyny Guido publishes, go to his site. On the right hand side is a column starting "archives", go down that to "Labels", click on Cherie, read the article's comments as they come up.

All those comments Guido approved to be published. He deletes ones he does not choose to publish.

Now that is just a single example of what he puts up there daily.

What's with all this "Ms" nonsense? Missing some letters on the editorial keyboard?

She is not married; therefore she is Miss Kite.

I have just checked your suggestion, ToryT, and you are so right. The posts are puerile, more reminiscent of a 15year old's revenge against his math teacher. Should have been deleted at source. I very rarely go to Guido for that very reason.Not even remotely funny.Cherie Blair may be all of those things, but Guido should enable them to be put a tad more elegantly otherwise delete - stat.

The American blogs have exposed the biases of CBS anchor Dan Rather and CNN executive Eason Jordan. I look forward to the UK blogs doing similar things in the years to come.

Melissa: You were not attacked on this site because you were a woman but because you wrote a rubbish article. Get over it!

You're quite right, Annabel! That's why I also very rarely bother to read Guido.

Who will guard the Blogs - the editor of this site is not afraid of speculating and talking about topics beyond his own safety-zone. For example, Tim often writes about the importance of marriage, yet he has no experience at all - and it shows.

It's true Chips that I'm not married but I've benefited enormously from being brought up in a loving home where my parents were married and I've studied the evidence that points to the enormous social benefits of marriage. One of the advantages of blogging is that any arguments I make can be readily challenged in the threads or on YourPlatform. Let me quote from the text that appears in the right hand sidebar of the YourPlatform page:

"If you would like to write for YourPlatform email a suggestion to the Deputy Editor at [email protected] YourPlatform only hosts original, exclusive work and is particularly keen to publish articles that offer an alternative perspective to that provided by ConservativeHome editorials. Please be aware that publishing is at our discretion, we can't use all of the articles sent in. Contributions of approximately 600 words are ideal."

Tim

I've watched cows give milk - I know they are good at it, but I'm not sure how they do it or it I could do it myself.

By the way, your upbringing was far from normal. Army family, army school, life in Germany, University, Bank of England and then the Tory Party. Not the standard childhood and early adulthood I would suggest.

I value blogs for their freedom to express what has been bottled up inside for lack of a means of expression. They have also changed the way I think, for example I hate the c-word, yet through some of the more outspoken blogs I have come to accept that it really is about the only way to talk about some of the creatures who have crawled out from under the NuLab stone.

Therefore I also accept these so-called mysogynists, although I have not seen any myself, including on Guido's. Probably because I do not follow up every comment written. If I have seen anything I do not like, I gloss over it, as I grant them the right to sya it.

There have also been a few sites I have visited and decided not to return to, that is MY editorial control. I think Melissa needs to do the same.

Alan Douglas

Melissa does have a point about the nature of some of the comments about her on different conservative websites and blogs. However, that does not negate the fact that her information backing up her previous article may have been unreliable.

When David Cameron does reshuffle the Shadow Cabinet, and if she is proven wrong, I hope she will publicly apologise and resign from her job at the Telegraph.

On another point, Chips of Brookfield (above), 'I've watched cows give milk - I know they are good at it, but I'm not sure how they do it or it I could do it myself.' What a ridiculous analogy. At least get the right species if you're going to make another moronic comment.

Chips

There's no such thing as a "standard" life, thank goodness. And I've never played cricket but I've got plenty of opinions on it. And like most people on this site I've never been an MP but I've got opinions on them, too.

Anybody who's lived in a home with married parents has lived the benefits of marriage first hand.

Don't be so obnoxious.

I agree with Tory T's observations. Some of the comments on Guido in particular are beneath contempt, and he must accept his share of responsibility for permitting and condoning such comments.

Mind you, I also agree with the editor's observations: the original article was the sort of unattributable rubbish that should be on the way out, and the comprehensive taking apart of the article by Iain Dale and this site should be educational and chastening for Melissa Kite. She is not doing herself any favours by her reaction to criticism of her original shoddy piece.

Poor Guido.....I must defend him and his scurrilous blog for such is free speech.

You talk about shoddy journalism but fail to mention what could so easily be construed as 'shoddy blogging'. ConservativeHome and Iain Dale's Diary - the two most influential tory blogs out there - have at one time or another published speculative posts which could also be described as 'shoddy'. In reality, rather than being shoddy or malicious, I suspect the posts were a mixture of conjecture and wishful thinking. Nothing wrong with that, it's good activism. But to hold the blogosphere up as whiter than white is naive to say the least.

Which CH posts are you thinking of, UK Daily Pundit?

I'd be very interested in examples.

ConservativeHome isn't perfect but we try to be accurate and at least, unlike with conventional newspapers, commentators have a right to take what we write to task.

UK Daily Pundit, I seem to remember you made a claim on your blog that David Cameron would step down as Conservative leader some time soon, and that David Davis would take over. Any further thoughts on that now?

Melissa Kite has been edging in this direction for some months now. Her articles seem pretty keen to accept one-source briefing from unnamed individuals and are occasionally embarassingly slavish in their obedience to the party line.

The question has to be asked, why do the Editors let her continue doing it? Just out of chummy loyalty?

By giving her space on the comment pages Nick, The Sunday Telegraph appear to be standing with MK on this issue.

I don't think men are all they are cracked out to be either...

Yes, Miss O, so you told us all on Mr. Dale's site too.

Tory T is completely right about the threads on Guido.

They are very ugly.

CH is much more responsible when it comes to personal comments although it is too Christian, too neocon and too small government for my liking.

It should really be called BushHome.com!

CH will never criticise Guido because of the advertising service it shares with Guido and Iain Dale.

Take a look around the site Felicity - I recently ended the relationship with MessageSpace advertising in order to pursue an independent advertising stream.

And, Felicity, that independent advertising stream won't be from the CIA!

Felicity (and others): depending on my mood I linger for varying times on different sites but I enjoy reading CH, Guido and Iain Dale every day.

However I always recall Guido's excellent response to criticism of his style - "Feel free to leave, and please accept a full refund of your membership fee".

Why do you and Tory T even bother strolling across there if you know you will be irritated?

Editor: We don't go in for advertising porn sites like Iain Dale's Diary and yourself have gone in for lately.

What are you talking about central intelligency agency?

Tory T - Any refusal to publish harms free speech, you either believe that all people have to right to think and say what they choose or you don't. There is no relativist "middle way" on this since to claim one is to set yourself up as the arbiter of what others can or cannot think and say. Haven't we already had more than enough of this big brother approach from Labour, surely you're not going to sign up to that politically correct strangulation of democracy and open debate?

Truth be told, this whole episode reflects well on neither Melissa Kite nor the respective blogs.

It's no secret that there are certain senior Conservatives who enjoy the favour of right-wing blogs - David Davis in the case of Iain Dale, and Iain Duncan Smith (hence the frequent reference by PoliticalBetting to ConservativeHome as CONtinuityIDS) or Liam Fox (hence the tongue-in-cheek pseudonym I occasionally post under) in the case of ConservativeHome. There's nothing wrong with that - favouritism is part of human nature, after all - but it does help explain why the blogs responded to Kite's article in a manner I suspect they wouldn't have if Kite had named, say, Oliver Letwin or Teresa May as being in line for demotion.

The blog articles, and the comments encouraged by the tone of those articles, naturally sent Kite onto the defensive, explaining her wild over-reaction in the Spectator piece last week and her slightly more measured piece in the Sunday Telegraph today. She doesn't help her cause by conflating the robust response to her articles by Iain Dale and ConservativeHome with the offensive comments (not discouraged by the blog administrator) at the 'Guido Fawkes' blog, but given the nature of those comments and the close association between the three blogs, her reaction is perhaps understandable.

One more thing - gossip and speculation is part and parcel of political discourse, and has been since the year dot. It sells newspapers, it attracts TV viewers and it bumps the hit count of websites like this. Melissa Kite is guilty of it, but no more so than Nick Robinson, Tom Bradby, Adam Boulton or the self-appointed commentariat in the blogosphere - something to reflect upon perhaps?

All those actively campaigning for a Conservative victory at the next election will welcome a form of self-censorship from site administrators on the blogosphere.

Too often, threads descend into mud slinging and highly personal comments often between anon and anon. Why two people who do not know each other want to vent such animosity towards each other is bemusing.

These insulting threads give ammo to those such as Melissa Kite who wish to portray us in a negative light. I have long thought that people should post under their real names and this would raise the level of debate from it's (all too oftern) low level.

Editor: We didn't miss Miss Ogyny link...

Chris Palmer: on the subject of David Cameron stepping down as Conservative leader some time soon, and David Davis taking over, I am now in a position to update you.

David Cameron will step down at some point this year. If he doesn't step down of his own accord he'll be forced to step down. As for DD, I'm sorry to say that he missed his opportunity. I'm now tipping George Osborne for leader.

Editor: on the subject of speculative posts I wasn't having a dig at either you or Iain. Just making the point that predictions and speculations made on CH and IDD haven't always come to fruition. I'm not knocking that - sometimes it's worth a punt. If I have the time I will dig out a few speculative posts published on CH.

Michael Hewlett: I have to agree with you on anonymous posters - but only to a certain extent. I have a feeling that without an extensive and fairly draconian registration system that this would only lead to the same people posting the same rubbish under realistic-sounding pseudonyms.

I know that this site is frequently quoted in the media, and that does sometimes concern me. However, on this blog between ourselves I think we're probably all intelligent enough to decode various pseudonyms and factor that in when reading their comments. I do remember reading a ludicrous comment from one contributor recently about how much power he and his cronies had supposedly amassed in their local Association, and thinking "yes, so powerful you daren't post under your real name..." I think we can handle that.

UKDailyPundit: I'm amazed at your ridiculous suggestion. While you're obviously not at liberty to reveal your sources, I'd love to know which credible group inside the Party might think they would be strong enough to pull this off, and how they think it might help those of us campaigning on the ground. In that dream-world, they'd better be tooled up for a fight. I don't mean to be rude, but I just think that someone's yanking your chain.

Sam, if you re-read my original post you will find that you and I are talking about the same person. I was not saying David Ruffley was the source for MK's article. I said it was a middle ranking shadow minister known to be close to David Cameron.

To be fair Iain, both you and ConservativeHome dropped strong hints that David Ruffley's fingerprints were all over Melissa Kite's article.

I suspected that most readers of the two blog pieces would not have known they were *ahem* barking up the wrong tree if they made the logical assumption (based on those hints) that David Ruffley was the middle-ranking shadow minister close to David Cameron that you were referring to.

I agree with the editor that the blogs can serve a very good role in calling lazy journalism to account and doing it very quickly. That is good and a step forward for democracy. However I too am concerned at the tone of some of the blogs and the large number of posts from anonymous/pseduonyms. Quite often posts are unecessarily nasty and aggresive and there are a number of examples of them being worryingly anti-women. This sort of approach does nothing for debate and democracy and threatens to undermine the validity of blogs. It demeans all of us including the poster. Added to this is the obvious tendency for the same people to be using different names to post under and indeed for some blogs to be unaccountable (I can think of some that are clearly fronts masquerading as neutral and spinning stories gaianst partcular parties when an election is imminent). All of this is a real issue folks and seems to revolve around a lack of accountability. My suspicion is that blogs as we know them at the moment will have to change or will become less relevant as a media than say the Doughty Street type approach which is attributable and accountable,

Matt

Don't care about the reshuffle. Have no idea whether MK's source was a good one or not, genuine or using her to stir things up, but I do know that comments on Paul's and on Iain's site (less so) are very often offensive. Sometimes extremely offensive. Often sexist and crude, often homophobic, sometimes racist, sometimes led or egged on by the publisher/editor/blogger.

Comment editing is not systematic or fair minded. I'm not saying it should be btw.Just reporting my opinion.

Melissa can be wrong and right at the same time. Wrong about the reshuffle, right about the character of the commentagensia.

Chris, all of that is perfectly true. However you do slightly miss the point that certain people just don't like you as a person.

When remarks are personal and barbed, please do consider the possibility that they are intended that way for a reason. You.

We have clashed on this one over at Iain's and my opinion of your level of intelligence has not changed.

Kite's story could have been a plant from inside the clique at the top of the party trying to reassure europhiles that Fox, as the leading vocal eurosceptic with position in the party, was on the way out.

The europhiles are increasingly insecure, trying to put a sticking plaster over the fact that almost all conservatives are now sceptic on the EU. They are being allowed to keep the EPP together, autoreselect the europhile MEP's who no longer represent Conservative viewpoints and waffle on about EU reform in the MER. Hopefully, all the media are taken in by it all, not just Melissa.

Cameron gets good media only as long as he keeps reassuring the EU 'network' that he intends no watering down of Britain's EU position. What better way to keep the media onside than to leak that he will be dumping Fox when he gets the chance - and even doing it at some point when he will get maximum payback.

Cameron has to play europhile to get media.

It's not surprising that Kite cannot work out the inner workings of the Conservative Party leadership. She'd do better reading the tea-leaves. Love the fact that she can't handle being criticised, and she needs to go off on mysogyny. I'm sure she's a lovely girl.

Why thanks Geoff. Remarks on Tory blogs are nasty towards a wide variety of people. Rude, crude, sexist, racist, homophobic etc in varying combinations. Melissa is right about that and as you acknowledge, whether you like me or not, I am right too.

I'm not sure how you are doing your intelligence tests but I'm not sure there will be a market for them as they do not work.

Perhaps you could however apply your patent test to some of the people who disgrace the right wing blogs with their noxious vocabulary, appalling isms, and all round nastiness?

My view is that most comment makers are bonkers.

"In what other profession could you call someone every name under the sun and not expect them to defend themselves in court?" Asks Melissa. In the next sentence, she uses the word "tombstone". Hmm.

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