Salon Writer Smears Ricky Gervais As ‘Transphobic’


Special Correspondents starring Ricky Gervais and Eric Bana debuts on Netflix today. As a fan of both men’s work, I’m really looking forward to watching it, but a weekend trip means it’ll have to wait until Monday.

I did have time to see a pretty scathing review of the film however via our favourite smear enterprise, ‘Salon’. More accurately, this was less a review and more an incredibly mean-spirited, inaccurate, sneering attack on the film’s Writer/Director/star Ricky Gervais. You’d think Gervais was responsible for creating a kitten crushing factory rather than a piece of entertainment.

Now, I can’t speak for the film itself, as I haven’t seen it yet. Given how polarising and subjective comedy is as an art form though, I think reviews in this genre are utterly pointless anyway. Cast your mind back to some of the early reviews of ‘The Office’ for instance.

I also imagine Ricky couldn’t care less what mean things are said about him on the internet at this point. People are entitled to their opinion on his output of course, but what irritates me most is the slow death rattle of internet journalism to which Salon seems to be leading the charge.

It’s the willingness to allow its writers to throw out incredibly serious smears with little or no supporting evidence whatsoever – or zero diligence carried out on the sources they do bother to provide.

We’ve seen Salon do this with Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and Ayaan Hirsi Ali time and time again. And now it appears Ricky Gervais can join the list of those bestowed with the most incendiary labels available to its writers – without justification.

Putting aside Sonia Saraiya’s unforgivable misunderstanding of what ‘The Office’ was actually about, she accuses Gervais of being ‘transphobic’ when she states:

“…his horrific stumbling through transphobic jokes at this year’s Golden Globes revealed just how vicious his trademark banality can be”

This is a reference to Ricky Gervais’s jokes about Caitlyn Jenner from the Golden Globes which you can watch below:


It’s an odd idea that jokes about transgender people must be transphobic by default. Or even stranger, the assumption that a transgender person couldn’t possibly possess a sense of humour.

This is also a demonstration of how smears and false accusations can stick in the way that they have re-emerged months later and presented as a statement of fact. Where is the objectivity?

I think Gervais summed up this failure to grasp basic comedy around the time these accusations first emerged:


It may be naive to assume that you can challenge these failures of journalism to any effect – but if readers don’t demand a higher level of journalistic integrity from online media, the editors will have no motivation to demand it from their writers either.

I’m an absolutist when it comes to freedom of speech. Anyone should be able to say what they want in an ideal world. I just think those calling themselves ‘journalists’ have a duty to the profession to be more than just ‘anyone’. Especially since they are privileged with informing the masses.

Stephen Knight is host of The #GSPodcast. You can listen to The Godless Spellchecker Podcast here, and support it by becoming a patron here.


  • Ricky Gervais started out on C4’s 11 O-Clock show as a quirky comedian that offended people – that was his stock in trade. To his eternal credit he has not forgotten that & seeks to offend people whenever the opportunity arises. More like him please.

  • Salon …. the ultimate Bloviatic

  • Everyone has the right to be offended but some people abuse the privilege

  • I wonder what percentage of the population now stop listening the second they hear someone being accused of some kind of bigotry.
    I know I do.

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