British journalist Liz Jones has an unqualified knack for raising media hackles on both sides of the Atlantic. To Salon’s Mary Elizabeth Williams, Jones—longtime Daily Mail columnist, former editor in chief of Marie Claire, and, as of last month, sworn foe of Rihanna—is “a walking collection of pure, bona fide nonsense.” Jezebel, which for a while ran a regular feature entitled “Keeping Up With the Jones,” has variously labeled the 54-year-old writer “biggest crazypants in world,” “professional crank” and, simply, “noted troll.” And to many, Jones will forever be Jizz Loans, the nickname coined in November 2011 after she wrote about stealing a boyfriend’s sperm (from a used condom and to no avail, in case you were wondering). Even venerable interviewer Lynn Barber, who profiled Jones for the UK Sunday Times, gave a physical description unrestrained in its casual disdain: “She has long dyed witchy hair, thick black painted eyebrows, and an alarming chipmunk smile when she bares her dazzling veneers. Her face is round and looks too big for her stick-like body … She just looks very odd.”
No writer, and definitely no man, attracts hyperbolic censure as reliably. (When she declared that Stephen Fry’s suicide attempt “took real guts,” one journalist tweeted that it was “the most dangerous irresponsible thing in any paper this year.”) But Jones, like most outrage-provoking commentators, starkly divides opinion. Representative of the pro-Jones stance is UK Observer columnist Barbara Ellen’s description of her as “a witty, frank, pomposity-free communicator,” whose “honesty, humour and self-deprecating defiance are criminally underestimated.” And, proclaims the jacket copy on Jones’s new memoir, Girl Least Likely To: 30 Years of Fashion, Fasting and Fleet Street, she was named 2012 Columnist of the Year by the British Society of Magazine Editors—beating How to Be a Woman author Caitlin Moran, who is adored as universally as Jones is derided.