The New York Times has developed a very strange niche beat: Gather up tweets mocking a British conservative (a reliable source of mirth for the liberal media Twitterati), and then shape it into a “news” story for the enjoyment of its own liberal readership. Either Times reporters and editors are just tickled by British Twitter wit, or there's partisanship underfoot.
The latest subject of mockery culled from online British “wits” was former Conservative Party British Prime Minister David Cameron, who is releasing an autobiography in a few months. Richard Perez-Pena, the paper’s London-based International News Editor, stooped to gather up mean tweets for Saturday’s “Before Book Is Published, British Mock The Author.” Online the headline was "David Cameron’s Book Isn’t Out Yet. The Scathing Commentary Is."
Stop the presses!
Once in a while, the British gift for mockery aligns just so with social media frothery and weighty matters of state. Such a moment came this week when HarperCollins announced that one of its units would publish the autobiography of David Cameron in September.
Cameron opposed Brexit but “rolled the dice on a referendum he hoped would unite his Conservative Party." That failed. Thus the Twitter insults, which the Times saw fit to amplify.
Cue the Twitter flood.
“I believe the audiobook version features someone sobbing,” @WGallagher replied to the HarperCollins tweet.
@BJT98 asked, “Will the hardback come without a spine as well?”
“I do hope it will be printed on perforated, soft paper,” @GriffAuroroa wrote, “so that it can be of some use to us all.”
“Every word inside should be ‘Sorry,’” @Os_Oris commented.
Perez-Pena even supportively forwarded "references to book-burning" and pejorative alternative titles.
Many people online took issue with the book’s title, “For the Record,” helpfully suggesting alternatives like “Well, That Didn’t Work” and “Running Away.” Alas, most of the suggestions, including the most scathing, cannot be printed here.
Stooping even lower, the Times editor dredged up a silly (if mortifying) tale from Cameron’s days at university and stuck them in the story as well.
Nor can many, many of the references people made to the hotly denied and never corroborated rumor that as a university student in the 1980s, Mr. Cameron performed a lewd act with the severed head of a pig.
Because at The New York Times, "the truth is more important now than ever."
This is actually the second time a sniggering Times correspondent has culled Twitter insults of a conservative UK politician and somehow conjured up a New York Times-worthy news story about them. In November 2018 the paper piled on tweedy conservative British politician Jacob Rees-Mogg, reprinting mean tweets, which was apparently justified because Rees-Moss is “a hard-line Brexiter once called the ‘Honorable member for the 18th century’ because of his perceived antediluvian ways.”