During Tuesday’s (14 September) episode of the ITV show, the presenter interviewed environmental campaigner Liam Norton, who took part in the Insulate Britain shutdown of the M25 on Monday (13 September).
During a heated exchange, Madeley suggested that the group’s protests could have been dangerous, asking what gave the activists “the right” to stop a child from potentially travelling to receive cancer treatment or someone from getting to a job interview.
Madeley then read out the dictionary definition of fascism and suggested that Insulate Britain fell under it.
“You are blocking out reality, aren’t you? You’re only seeing one aspect of reality. You are ignoring the reality of the individual,” Madeley said, with Norton replying that the presenter was “in denial of the reality of the crisis”.
“That is fascism, I’m afraid, and I think you need to face up to it,” the GMB host said. Norton responded: “I think you’re confused, Richard, about what that word means.”
“I’m not confused at all,” Madeley said.
Many GMB viewers took to Twitter to complain about the exchange, questioning why Madeley was ignoring Norton’s arguments and simply branding him a fascist.
“I’m sorry but Richard Madeley being more angry at climate activists than he is when interviewing politicians who are allowing children to starve? Make it make sense,” one viewer commented.
“Richard Madeley doesn’t have the intellectual capability to manage a discussion on this issue,” another commenter added. “He interrupted continually, misunderstood the points the speaker tried you make, made spurious links and seemed to prefer his many soapbox moments rather than actually asking a question.”
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One minute you’re showing the catastrophic effects of climate change, next minute Richard Madeley is calling a climate change activist is fascist! 🤔
— Sara Luff (@luff_sara) September 14, 2021
One tweet read: “Richard Madeley calling a climate change activist a fascist. Interesting, wonder if he’s ever called Nigel Farage this?”
“Richard Madeley in full Partridge mode this morning accusing climate change protesters of being fascists. Satire-reality blur,” another viewer commented.
Many viewers pointed out the particular hypocrisy in Madeley making these comments while GMB also showed reports about melting ice in the Arctic.
“Richard Madeley on @GMB just accused climate change protesters of fascism, minutes after cutting away from @gmb’s climate crisis report….” one Twitter user wrote.
“One minute you’re showing the catastrophic effects of climate change, next minute Richard Madeley is calling a climate change activist is fascist!” another replied.
The Independent has contacted ITV for comment.