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Truthdigger of the Week: Laurie Penny

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Posted on Nov 25, 2011
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Penny, on the far right screen, faces off with Sharp (seated, left) and Maitlis on the BBC on Nov. 17.

Every social movement needs to guard against the inevitable attempts of mainstream media sources to warp its message, defend its targets and recast its members as lazy, crazy or fringy malcontents. Luckily for the Occupy movement, British journalist Laurie Penny is more than capable of taking on, and taking down, the opposition—and that’s why she’s our Truthdigger of the Week.

Although perhaps her most high-profile display of journalistic prowess happened on the BBC just after the Occupy Wall Street protests Nov. 17, Penny has been plugging away on her widely read blog, Penny Red, about OWS and the political upheavals happening in her home country in recent months. She’s also put her “savage red pen of justice,” as author, artist and cultural commentator Warren Ellis called it, to work on the subject of consumer culture’s ravaging effects on women’s bodies and minds in her book, “Meat Market: Female Flesh Under Capitalism.” Somewhere in there, the 25-year-old self-described “journalist, author, feminist, socialist, utopian, general reprobate and troublemaker” has also managed to write articles for more established—though less establishment—publications such as the New Statesman, The Independent, The Guardian and The Nation. And here’s the link to her Twitter page while we’re at it.

Credentials aside, it was her total ownership of the situation that unfolded over the course of the BBC Newsnight showdown with anchor Emily Maitlis and former Goldman Sachs partner Richard Sharp that launched her to the top of this week’s list of Truthdigger nominees—which, we should mention, included the Egyptian protesters and UC Davis English professor Nathan Brown. Penny managed to call out both Sharp, for trotting out the woefully predictable argument that big, socialist governments caused the global financial meltdown, as well as Maitlis for temporarily taking Sharp’s side. That changes after about one round of the debate, and soon Maitlis is telling Sharp, “It’s a little bit rich, isn’t it, to hear a banker trying to blame other people for the crisis that we’re in.”

So, for shutting down the opposing arguments in a fair but firm manner, for injecting a healthy dose of reality into the chatter chamber and for pointing out that “change is something you have to stand up and take for yourselves” instead of relying on politicians’ promises, Laurie Penny gets our vote.

Here’s that clip again if you haven’t seen the BBC Newsnight exchange.  —KA

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By Mike West, November 27, 2011 at 12:48 pm Link to this comment

Believe me when I say this, as I support the Occupy Wallstreet Movement, but I really don’t think Richard Sharp said anything wrong here.  He admitted that the part of the problem was the actions of bankers that required the bailouts of the institutions deemed too big to fail. But he also stated that part of the problem lies in the hands of European governments who spent recklessly on policies that they simply could not afford.  This is a very accurate statement, as we can see this occurring with Greece and other European nations today. 

What’s the problem here?

This left/right dichotomy that is being played out in the world is ridiculous and is simply avoiding the real issues that we should be talking about.  Real conversations/debates cannot be made right now because you’re either a socialist or conservative and until it ends, no issues will be solved.

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By Michael, November 27, 2011 at 12:38 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Believe me when I say this, as I support the Occupy Wallstreet Movement, but I really don’t think Richard Sharp said anything wrong here.  He admitted that the part of the problem was the actions of bankers that required the bailouts of the institutions deemed too big to fail. But he also stated that part of the problem lies in the hands of European governments who spent recklessly on policies that they simply could not afford.  This is a very accurate statement, as we can see this occurring with Greece and other European nations today. 

What’s the problem here?

This left/right dichotomy that is being played out in the world is ridiculous and is simply avoiding the real issues that we should be talking about.  Real conversations/debates cannot be made right now because you’re either a socialist or conservative and until it ends, no issues will be solved.  This video reeks of this and it’s a shame.

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By Zephram Cochrane, November 27, 2011 at 5:43 am Link to this comment

The banker oinked, but I have to agree with do over.

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By do over, November 27, 2011 at 5:02 am Link to this comment

Penny gets an “A” for effort and a “D” for content.  Her defense lacked understanding and clarity.  Occupy needs defenders who “get it”.

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By gerard, November 26, 2011 at 9:31 pm Link to this comment

Penny wise, Sharp foolish.

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By Michael Shaw, November 26, 2011 at 11:11 am Link to this comment

Power wealth seem to have everything, to hold all the cards from the military to the corporate media, but we have people like Laurie Penny! I’d take a Penny over their megabucks corruption any day!

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By William, November 26, 2011 at 11:08 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Irritating how he interrupts and talks over her any time he likes, while he had already been given well over half the air time already.

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By norman harman, November 26, 2011 at 10:27 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The only thing this young woman, Laurie Penny, could have said better would have
been when the host, Emily Maitlis, asked her what she would really like to see
come out of the OWS Movement, she would have looked directly at Richard Sharp
and said, “To see crooks like you put in prison.”

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By grokker, November 26, 2011 at 7:06 am Link to this comment

Listen to every statement Richard Sharp makes. He reeks of arrogance, condescension, and self-righteousness. He starts out by blaming government and “commerce” for the global economic meltdown. I love the way Laurie Penny gets into his face when he tries to shove the crisis off on politicians alone as if we don’t know where government borrows its money from. Right wing denial at its finest. I look forward to hearing more from her. Sharp on the other hand, is a douche and should face the guillotine or at least a long exile on a barren island somewhere.

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By Mariachi Commandos, November 26, 2011 at 1:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Robert

I like Ms. Penny but you made an egregious mistake in judgment on this one.  The student protesters at UC Davis, who took pepper spray to the face to show the militarization of America’s police forces who do the bidding of the ‘picket white fence’ crowd versus real human crises, should have been the truthdiggers of the week.  Ms. Penny, like Ms. Maddow, Mr. Matthews, Mr. Schultz, Senator Sanders or Mr. Olbermann, take it to Wall Street each day, but few take it to the face like the students.  Please exercise better judgment next time when faced with an iconic moment in American history.

Full disclosure: We nominated the UC Davis students.  And we think you judgment is faulty.

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By Dane Ferrell, November 25, 2011 at 6:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What a liar, and an idiot this guy was.

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By Buzz, November 25, 2011 at 5:19 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I can pretty much guarantee that almost all the comments posted by the regulars will have absolutely nothing to do with the article but will be yet another excuse to go on a wild tangent. Its like ADD hit parade. Please regulars, not another excuse to spout your pseudo intellectual babble.

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