The BBC’s comedy programme The Mash Report interviewed far-left conspiracy theorist Steve Topple as a guest on its latest episode, describing the Canary writer as a “left-wing journalist”. In reality, Topple is a conspiracist who has said that all Jews ought to be “held responsible” for Israel’s actions.
Topple is the most prominent writer at The Canary, authoring over 1,300 articles for the alt-left website which uses click-bait headlines to promote its content. Before joining the site he made numerous antisemitic comments on Twitter, including conspiracy theories about the Rothschilds.
In 2015, Topple wrote, “maybe most Jews peaceful, but until they recognize and destroy their growing Zionist cancer they must be held responsible.” He has appeared to back the claim that the British media is “Jewish”, that the Rothschilds family is behind the IMF and the Syrian civil war, and that the royal family are “Rothschild-Goldsmiths”. In 2014, he attacked the BBC for broadcasting a holocaust survivor’s story, calling it “subliminal propaganda”. Topple published an apology for his previous comments in 2016, but didn’t specify which views he no longer holds and has not deleted his offensive tweets.
Topple has been kept away from writing on antisemitism or Israel since then, but The Canary continues to defend figures accused of antisemitism, including Tony Greenstein, who labelled a Jewish MP “the member for Tel Aviv South” and was given an uncritical platform by the site last week. In an article on Naz Shah, the site described the meme she posted and later apologised for, which depicted Israel relocated to the USA as a “solution”, as making a “powerful political point”.
Not that Topple has given up promoting dangerous conspiracy theories. In 2016, for example, he wrote several articles which claimed that Portland Communications, a PR firm, orchestrated the 2016 leadership challenge against Jeremy Corbyn. Kevin McKeever, who works for Portland and who the article heavily implied was involved in efforts to remove Corbyn from the leadership, received a death threat soon after it was published, warning him to “prepare to be Coxed.” Two weeks earlier, Labour MP Jo Cox had been shot and killed.
Topple was also responsible for a 2017 story which reported incorrectly that Kuenssberg was due to speak at an event at Conservative Party conference, arguing that “the news raises questions about the impartiality of the journalist…again.” The Canary has been accused of “running a sexist hate campaign” against Kuenssberg, which has seen the site publish at least 40 articles about her, often authored by Topple. The BBC Political Editor had to be accompanied by bodyguards when attending Labour’s 2017 party conference.
The Mash Report is a satirical programme which used Topple for a comedy sketch, not a serious interview. However, the sketch was not primarily aimed at mocking The Canary writer, instead booking him simply to present a view from the left. Nor was this the first time the BBC has given The Canary a platform. Editor Kerry-Anne Mendoza was a panellist on Question Time last year, and has twice appeared on Newsnight.
Anyone who wishes to suggest to the BBC that people like Topple should not be normalised in this way can use this web form to complain.