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In an age of instant response and social media, the previously straightforward task of taking celebrities down a peg or two can sometimes have unexpectedly frightening consequences.
Take the case of the Telegraph journalist Tim Walker, who posted a sneery blog this morning about Stephen Fry, claiming that he had spotted him out and about, conversing freely with humans, at a time when his personal Twitter account was being updated with text. This, Tim decided, means that he does not do his own tweeting.
He then went on to suggest that Stephen’s absence from Twitter would be a good thing (yeah, he went there), and that he had once seen talking to Peter Hitchens (brother of Christopher), and then tweeting an unpleasant comment about him afterwards.
Which would indicate that he probably does write his own tweets, actually, but that’s by the by. Only a few hours later, Stephen responded (on his Tumblr feed, which he clearly does write), with a hugely long and venomous attack on Tim’s professional ethics, and indeed his profession.
He pointed out that the tweets in question were in support of charities and had been scheduled so that their websites would not crash under the sudden arrival of lots of people. He also explained that it’s easy to schedule tweets, and that he has no reason to explain himself anyway.
Then he called Tim Walker a lot of names (and being Stephen Fry, they were all beautifully constructed, and quite graphic), and went on to explain why he no longer gives print interviews:
“Aside from any other consideration, having a following vaster by millions than his disgusting rag means I never ever have to submit myself to the horror of a print interview ever again in my life. Ever. Imagine what joy that means!
“When I do a The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug press junket next week, for example, I will do no print media; when I have to offer some PR for an up-coming BBC 2 series on being gay around the world called Out There: no print media. No magazines and certainly no newspapers. And it’s all because of people like Tim Walker.
One of the chief glories of Twitter, from my point of view, is that it allows me to short-circuit loathsome bottom-feeders of his kind. If I do a TV chat show, or a radio interview people are free to think I’m a wanker, because at least it’s me they’re listening to or watching. Not some “profile” version of me filtered through the envious, mean-spirited spite of an arse-hole journalist whose only attainment is the ability to sneer.”
Then there were some more names and an explanation of the Peter Hitchens thing. They don’t get on, it seems.
I urge you to read the whole thing, because if nothing else, righteous indignation of this kind is rarely so beautifully expressed. And I am not just saying that in case he comes after the bloggers next.