Dan Hodges: The Flip-Flopper

Dan Hodges is renowned for his divisiveness and hypocrisy on COVID-19 responses. Whilst being humiliated seems to be an acceptable payoff for getting attention for Dan, his public breakdowns and denialism do little to inspire confidence in a struggling corporate media industry and in the people who may look to journalists for guidance.

Dan Hodges is a commentator for the Mail on Sunday and according to one of the most decorated journalists of our times, Pulitzer Prize winner Glen Greenwald, he’s the “Worst political pundit in the West”. Many share Glenn’s view, some of whom aren’t as reserved as he is in their description of the Hodges.

He has been a loud, divisive voice during the COVID-19 pandemic taking up such opposite positions as opposing lockdowns to demanding lockdowns to claiming only the at-risk groups need to be vaccinated before we can open up society to claiming that society can only open up if everyone is vaccinated. It’s these radically opposing, ever-changing positions, that have lead to him attracting a lot of criticism and a lot of attention — which is what an ex-colleague of his told me is his aim.

The solution to the Covid crisis is not to pretend there’s not an issue with a small bit significant number of people being offered the vaccine not accepting the vaccine. The solution is to ensure those people refusing to get vaccinated get vaccinated.

Dan Hodges, 15th May 2021

Hodges isn’t a name that’s widely known outside of Twitter. Indeed, the first time I heard of him was during the pandemic and even then it was for his flip-flopping and controversial positions on COVID-19 restrictions. But those positions have become more radical, more authoritarian and more desperate during 2021. Here we take a look at few examples.

First up, 9th Sept 2020 – Dan is clearly annoyed at the idea of a “Covid passport”.

19th May 2021 – Dan pleads for the “Covid passport”. Those who don’t want these passports he now refers to as “crazies”.

17th January 2021, Dan claims that only the most vulnerable need to be vaccinated before society can open up again. He reinforces his view by citing it to be a “fundamental point”.

Fast-forward to 17th May 2021 and Dan now claims that unless almost everyone gets the vaccine then there’s no way out of the current situation.

In response to this tweet, someone pleads for “Covid passports” if the uptake in the vaccine does slow to which Hodges agrees.

On the same day, Hodges would ring-fence his newfound support for everyone to be vaccinated by blaming in advance anyone who doesn’t get vaccinated for potential delays in the lifting of lockdown restrictions.

In 5 short months, he went from arguing that only the most vulnerable need to be vaccinated to calling anyone who doesn’t get vaccinated “crazies”.

It’s likely that Dan pre-emptively attacked those who may not wish to be vaccinated for potentially delaying the easing of lockdown restrictions due to him previously taking up an absolute position that lockdowns would be over by the summer.

This is a major problem for those who speak in absolute terms. Unless they are of honourable intentions and will happily accept they got things wrong (not Dan) they must then move the goalposts around a bit (a lot in Dan’s case) in an attempt to save face. By moving the goalposts they appear hypocritical but to someone who cannot stand being wrong, that’s a price worth paying.

Paid for Volte-Face?

I’d previously been in contact with a journalist who also happened to be an ex-colleague of Hodges. The purpose of my initial communication with this person was relating to a previous investigation we had been working on, so I decided to ask them for a view on the allegations that Hodges was being paid to sow confusion and division.

I doubt he’s being paid [for his views]. He thrives on attention, good and bad. When he’s not getting it, he’s inclined to become erratic and fabulist. Insecurity. He’s even content being attacked. Being ignored to Dan is to be irrelevant. Paid? No. Attention-seeking? Most definitely. Just my views. Seek others.

ex-colleague of Dan Hodges to citizenjournos

Those claims do certainly fit and “erratic” is a good description of what we’ve been seeing from him of late.

Daubney highlights this erratic flip-flopping from Hodges by pointing to the comparison of his I referred to elsewhere in this report that ‘only the vulnerable need vaccinated’ to ‘everyone needs to be vaccinated’. Dan’s response for being called out on his blatant hypocrisy?

Ha! Who cares. It’s fantastic!

No shame at having been called out in public for major league hypocrisy. Instead, he adopts a position of arrogance and pride at being hypocritical.

Advertising Covid Passports

Come the 19th May Hodges had realised that his hypocrisy was being rewarded with a lot of attention so he would go even further and sell Covid passports as a good idea both at home and abroad:

Lockdown Deniers

The first time Hodges appears to have used the term “Lockdown-Denier[s]” was on the 22nd January 2021.

Realising that he’d found another well to siphon attention from he stuck with using it. Even though his use of the term is not suited to the context he uses it in nor does it make any sense, indeed, it arguably makes him look unintelligent and silly. None of that matters to Dan. He doesn’t care. If appearing idiotic gets him attention, he’s in.

The definition of a “lockdown denier” is someone who denies that lockdowns have or are occurring. Like a “Holocaust Denier” denies that the Holocaust occurred and a “Climate Change Denier” denies the climate is changing, a Lockdown Denier by definition is someone who denies that lockdowns are happening. Dan uses this term against those who are complaining about the fact lockdowns are occurring. When language stands in the way of Dan seeking to be right, he just changes its meaning:

Here, Dan equates opposition to denialism. That’s to say that if one opposes racism, they deny it occurs. Or if someone opposes homophobia they are denying it exists.

Here he explains that to be a lockdown denier is to question the need for lockdowns.

Peter Hitchens Articulately Lays Bare Hodges’ Hypocrisy

Video credit: talk radio

Take-away

In a time when trust in journalists is 52 percentage points below that of delivery drivers and when corporate media are ceasing their print publications whilst pleading for donations for their online websites, the actions of commentators like Dan only serve to further discredit an already struggling industry.

Ego and self-serving attitudes do little to restore trust in the media. Sure, Dan has fun. Being the village idiot is worth it if it results in him getting attention. Humiliation is something reserved for those with a degree of decorum, that excludes Hodges. But the damage he’s doing to journalism and journalists cannot be dismissed easily. As an observer, when reading his tweets I cringe in embarrassment for him and his industry and I know for a fact many of his peers feel the same. His ex-colleague would tell me he’s quite an insecure person, and I believe that claim is self-evident. But isn’t it dangerous when that person has a significant following on Twitter and plays out this insecurity in real time with vulnerable people paying attention?

Whatever Dan’s personal and private issues are, he should be aware that his flip-flopping and hypocritical positions have consequences. I for one would not wish to make light of his personal struggles, but I would call on him to act responsibly and to give his followers an informed and consistent message. People are confused and demoralised enough these days with mixed messaging from the government. The last thing they need is journalists having meltdowns on Twitter and making a mockery of their profession as a result.

I will finish with this pertinent example of Hodges‘ desire to almost always seek out positions that will ultimately lead him into humiliation. He’s a magnet for it.

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