Anna Brees is still smarting from her recent turn of stardom in Private Eye.
A few days ago we commented on the Eye‘s story that Brees, a former journalist turned promotional flack for ex-DC Jon Wedger, had confessed to adding a salacious story about Edward Heath to the Brees Media re-issue of Mike Tarraga’s memoir, Meat Rack Boy. Tarraga had self-published the first version, A Successful Failure: The life of an uncouth lout, a few years ago, but had inserted the Heath story in the second version with Brees’ encouragement.
When Rosie Waterhouse, author of the two Eye stories, questioned Brees further about the discrepancies between the two books, Brees refused to comment further.
Now, as a journalist, one would think that Brees would have been well aware that when one refuses to answer a journalist’s question, one’s refusal is likely to become the story. Apparently Brees was away the day they taught that.
Wind him up and watch him go!
Her response to Waterhouse’s second article was to record a video with a now-enraged Tarraga, who let fly with a string of expletives about Waterhouse. She published this on Wedger’s YouTube channel:
A very wound-up Tarraga lets fly with a string of expletives about Waterhouse, while Brees smiles encouragingly:
This is particularly aimed toward Rosie-Fucking-Waterhouse: get your facts sodding well right, have the decency to answer me, come and face me, have a look at my record, or if you haven’t got the arse to do that my lovey, I now call you a fucking liar, what you have said about me. Now take me to court. …
I will prove you a fucking liar, and I will have you in the gutter, my lovey.
Brees interjects, noting that Waterhouse had contacted her and had asked a number of questions about inconsistencies between the two books: “She did pick up quite a few things like dates.” She added that Waterhouse had found information on a “private forum” which appeared to contradict some of the timing in Tarraga’s story.
The “private forum” turns out to have been a discussion forum on a genealogy site:
Tarraga says that Waterhouse took this post out of context, and that he had only been describing the first loving care he had received as a child. However, this still doesn’t explain the date inconsistency.
Alleged Heath abuse ‘of no sodding consequence’
In this curious exchange, Tarraga describes Heath’s alleged sexual abuse, but then dismisses it as “of no sodding consequence whatsoever”; and Brees states that inserting the Heath story into the second version of the book had been her idea:
Brees: …What I have to say is very important: that first book that you wrote, we spoke to you and we found out about this incident with the former prime minister, Edward Heath…
Tarraga: Edward Heath was of no consequence. I didn’t know who the bloody hell he was. I wasn’t into politics, I didn’t understand politics…. [description of child sexual abuse omitted] It was of no sodding consequence whatsoever. I probably got half a crown and was allowed to smoke on the arse end of the bloody boat. And that was it. And it wasn’t a huge great big boat, you know, it wasn’t a gin palace, it was a little yacht-y sailing boat. …
Brees: the thing is, Michael, I picked up on the Edward Heath incident. It wasn’t a major incident. You were horrifically sexually abused and raped as a child. And in the grand scheme of things, that’s what journalists do, they realise what the headline is, the headline that you didn’t pick up on, we put it in the book, and every single penny of that book is going towards training people to get that message out on new media platforms.
So basically, Brees seems to be saying that adding in the questionable Heath narrative to boost sales is “what journalists do”. All righty then. [Ahem. Journalists don’t write headlines; editors do that.—Ed.]
Oh, but it’s all okay, because “every single penny of that book is going towards training people to get that message out on new media platforms”. Oddly, this varies from Brees’ last proclamation about what will happen to the proceeds of the book: in a tweet dated 3 April, she said, “[Tarraga’s] book is making £350 a month which will pay for a big event in June for survivors to tell their stories”.
Wedger, meanwhile, seems to have other plans for the Meat Rack money: on his Jon Wedger Foundation blog, he proclaimed, “All profits [from Tarraga’s book] go to the campaign to expose an establishment cover up of child abuse”.
‘Go and troll Rosie!’
Most concerning in the Brees/Tarraga video, however, is that Brees seems quite happy to encourage Tarraga incite viewers to harass Waterhouse. He says,
If trolling makes you happy—if you get your rocks off trolling someone, get your rocks off. But not over me. You know? Do it somewhere else. Look at a real half-wit, like—go and troll Rosie! Cause I’m sure she’d love it!”
Brees’ smirk during this tirade tells a story:
Perhaps Brees failed to explain to Tarraga that it is the job of real journalists to ask uncomfortable questions about inconsistencies and discrepancies in people’s stories; maybe she skimmed over the fact that Waterhouse was not questioning Tarraga’s abuse whilst in the care system, but was curious about the sudden appearance of the Heath story in a memoir which already detailed horrific child sexual abuse.
As a “professional journalist”, you would think she’d know better.