As the GB News drama continued to unfold – after Lawrence Fox’s suspension from the broadcaster for an on-air misogynistic rant – the story took an unexpected twist.
It was little surprise that Fox, the darling of rightwing culture warriors, would double down on comments that even GB News deemed too offensive to let slide. But Fox’s decision to turn on Dan Wootton – whom GB News has refused to investigate over allegations of historic inappropriate sexual messaging – was more of a curve ball. By Wednesday night Wootton had also been suspended by the channel and GB News insiders were in shock at the loss of two of their highest-profile presenters.
It all began on Tuesday, when Fox used a guest appearance on Wootton’s evening show to call the political journalist Ava Evans a “little woman” and suggested no one would want to “shag” her. When Fox said, “Show me a single self-respecting man that would like to climb into bed with that woman, ever. Who wasn’t an incel,” Wootton responded with a short laugh.
When Fox continued, saying women such as Evans were “pathetic and embarrassing”, Wootton laughed and said “Oh Laurence” as his guest concluded: “Who’d want to shag that?”
Wootton, looking at his screen, went on to raise Evans’ reaction to Fox, saying: “I’m just going to provide a touch of balance from her because she did actually respond to this earlier today, saying that she regretted [earlier comments dismissing the idea of a men’s minister to address concerns about men’s mental health] but she didn’t apologise.”
He added: “Uh, yes. So there you go. And she’s a very beautiful woman, Laurence, very beautiful.”
But just a few hours later, at 11:37pm, after strong criticism on social media, Wootton was furiously back-pedalling and expressing disgust. He posted on X: “Dear @AvaSantina I think you’re brilliant. Earlier tonight I was attempting to find your tweets to read back from my iPad and couldn’t locate them. I apologise for what was said during the course of my show and should have done this immediately on air. This is not what our channel is about.”
Dear @AvaSantina I think you’re brilliant. Earlier tonight I was attempting to find your tweets to read back from my iPad and couldn’t locate them.
I apologise for what was said during the course of my show and should have done this immediately on air. This
This is not what our…
— Dan Wootton (@danwootton) September 26, 2023
He apologised again on Wednesday at 7.40am, saying he wanted to “reiterate my regret over last night’s exchange with Laurence on GB News”, saying he had reacted out of shock in an “off guard” moment.
“I should have intervened immediately to challenge offensive and misogynistic remarks,” he wrote. “I apologise unreservedly for what was a very unfortunate lapse in judgment on my part under the intense pressure of a bizarre exchange. I know I should have done better.”
I want to reiterate my regret over last night’s exchange with Laurence on GB News.
Having looked at the footage, I can see how inappropriate my reaction to his totally unacceptable remarks appears to be and want to be clear that I was in no way amused by the comments.
— Dan Wootton (@danwootton) September 27, 2023
A little after 9am, Fox posted on X, asking for criticism to be directed at him, not Wootton. “First of all, don’t take a pop at @danwootton for something I said. That’s not fair,” he posted, before going on to say he stood by “every word of what I said” and he was “totally within my rights to say that I wouldn’t want to shag a hyper-offended 4th wave feminist and not apologise.”
First of all, don’t take a pop at @danwootton for something I said. That’s not fair.
Secondly. I stand by every word of what I said. If a woman wants to go on television and belittle male suicide, she is totally within her rights to do so and not apologise,… pic.twitter.com/GhKS06jsq0
— Laurence Fox (@LozzaFox) September 27, 2023
But an hour later, after he was suspended by GB News, his tone appeared to sour. “A phone call might have been polite,” he said, adding that GB News, and by implication Wootton, “knew exactly what I intended to say”.
A phone call might have been polite.
By matter of interest for the audience contributors do a pre interview before going on, so they knew exactly what I intended to say.
I fully defend the the home of free speech’s right to capitulate to the mob… https://t.co/RQJsYZDbnw pic.twitter.com/9MTwhMDXOZ
— Laurence Fox (@LozzaFox) September 27, 2023
Then, at 11:04am, Fox went nuclear. Reposting Wootton’s apology, he wrote: “Honesty is the best policy”, followed by a photograph that appeared to show an exchange between the pair – although names were not included – suggesting that Wootton had found the exchange amusing. “Making you giggle is my weekly joy,” said the first message, sent apparently at 9.55pm, followed by several laughing emojis. The response was several laughing emojis, followed by: “You can imagine them freaking out in the gallery!!!!!”, to which the response came: “So much fun. Xx”