Is it too much to hope that this is how it all ends for Katie Hopkins?
The undoing of hate-peddler Hopkins is the perfect parable for the age of outrage
Katie Hopkins: now having to put up with the indignity of bleeding-heart liberals’ sympathy. Photograph: Getty
Is it too much to hope that this is how it ends for Katie Hopkins? The professional termagant, who came to prominence on reality TV, as a contestant, in 2007, on The Apprentice, and built a following as a right-wing, generally anti-compassion columnist, has applied for insolvency, following a libel action.
On a human level you’d have to feel somewhat sorry for her. (No, really. Try. It’s quite cathartic.) She has had to sell her “£950,000 mansion” in Devon, with its red music room and five bedrooms; she has lost her mainstream-media career, including a column for MailOnline and a radio show; and has been forced to apply for an “individual voluntary arrangement”, which will allow her to avoid bankruptcy and manage the repayment of her debts over the next half-decade or so.
In a way she is the perfect parable for the age of outrage. She built a career manufacturing outrage and peddling hate, so it seems appropriate that hers should vanish – disappear in a puff of two characteristically badly thought-out tweets – with all of that outrage and hate turned back on her. Live by the sword of 240-character outrage; die by it too.
Adding insult to the injury, I’m sure, is that she’s now having to put up with the indignity of bleeding-heart liberals professing sympathy for her. Sorry, Katie.
Katie Hopkins’s financial undoing is just the latest in a line of glorious acts of self-sabotage that saw her part ways with various media employers
Her financial undoing is just the latest in a line of glorious acts of self-sabotage that saw her part ways with various media employers, including, last year, LBC radio in London, after she called in a tweet for a “final solution” to Islamist terrorism. (When news that she would be leaving her job with immediate effect broke, her colleagues reportedly broke out in cheers.) Later in 2017, her contract with MailOnline ended “by mutual consent”, after it had to settle several libel claims arising from her articles. It’s telling that the tipping point seems to have come not because her views were too unpalatable for the publisher but because they were too expensive.
She is usually described as a right-wing or far-right commentator, but her outpourings on Twitter and in the media seem to be united less by a coherent political ideology than by an ear for an outrageous soundbite, an inability to think too deeply about anything, and a bottomless deficit of empathy. She has mocked people who have been bullied, people with money problems, people with ginger hair, people with dementia (suggesting they were bed-blockers) and people with depression (calling it “fashionable” and the “ultimate passport to self-obsession”). She has also publicly taunted a nine-year-old with autism, despite revealing later that one of her own daughters has been diagnosed as on the spectrum.
Poor Katie Hopkins.— Pundamentalism (@Pundamentalism) September 17, 2018
Not sympathy, just an assessment of her finances now.
It"s taken 21 months— Jack Monroe #bootstrapcook (@BootstrapCook) March 10, 2017
but today the High Court ruled
that Hopkins statements to/about me were defamatory.
I sued her for libel.
and I won.
But her greatest vitriol is reserved for migrants. In the Sun she wrote that migrants were “a plague of feral humans” and “cockroaches…built to survive a nuclear bomb”, language so obviously drawn from Nazi ideology that the writer Jon Ronson later said, in an interview with her, that it was as if “she was cutting the brakes on her own car”. (In the same interview she mused aloud about whether she might be a psychopath, and could be capable of murdering someone.)
The beginning of the end – or, if not the end, her total financial dissolution – came in an apparently more benign set of statements in 2015, when she published two tweets accusing the food writer Jack Monroe, falsely, of backing the defacement of war memorials by protesters. It turned out she had Monroe confused with the columnist Laurie Penny.
It was never just about the tweets, for either of them. Monroe initially asked only for an apology and a donation of £5,000, or just over €5,500, to a migrants’ charity. Hopkins refused, even though she now admits the tweets were “an absolute mistake”, because “I don’t agree with migration into the UK” and because she personally didn’t think what she accused Monroe of was particularly damaging – which, unfortunately for Hopkins, is not how defamation works.
So Monroe sued, and was awarded £24,000, or €27,000, in damages. Hopkins, who now has a career making YouTube videos for Rebel Media, a far-right Canadian website, also had to stump up for both sides’ legal costs. Monroe’s are £107,000, or about €120,000, and her own are believed to be up to twice that much. Tweeting after the trial concluded, in March 2017, Monroe said “to everyone who told me I couldn’t, wouldn’t, shouldn’t – I could, I would, I did”.
Trump has thanked her for her ‘powerful writing’. He of all people should be able to find a job for someone who has built a career being professionally rude
Twitter users have been quick, as Twitter users will, to revive something Hopkins posted three years earlier, in March 2014, when she opined that “the only thing people in debt have in common, other than bad money management, is an ability to blame anyone but themselves. #debtdebate”.
Monroe, to her credit, has refused to join in the online gloating, perhaps discerning that her sympathy would be even more offensive to Hopkins. “For the want of an apology, a house, a job, a column, a radio show, and now financial solvency, were lost. It’s all very sad, actually,” she tweeted. She added, to the Guardian, “I don’t know if it’s a fire that’s burning out or a fire that we’re pouring petrol on.”
Because, of course, it seems too much to hope that this is how it ends for Katie Hopkins.
Although she has not responded to media requests to comment on the insolvency, she was still tweeting furiously from Poland to her 867,000 followers in support of Trump’s nominee for the US supreme court, Brett Kavanaugh, who has denied allegations of sexual harassment, and now looks set to testify in a public hearing.
There’s always the chance she’ll finally make good on her armchair cheerleading for Trump and the National Rifle Association and actually move to the United States. Trump has thanked her for her “powerful writing”; he of all people should be able to find a job for someone who has built a career being professionally rude. Then again, as Marina Hyde pointed out in the Guardian earlier this year, “in the big pond of more skilled US wingnuts, Katie would not even be a microscopic organism”.
Back where it all began, in 2007, Alan Sugar’s Apprentice adviser Nick Hewer presciently said, “You’ve decided to create a new brand – Katie Hopkins. It’s made you famous, but it’s made you loathed. Where is it going to take you now?”
The answer, for now, is all alone with her vitriol, hoist by her own hateful words, a cautionary tale for the age of outrage.