Georgina Henry recently made her worst decision so far by attempting to excuse and apologise for an ill-judged and reprehensible by line for an article by Michael Lerner on CiF in which he referred to those who protested against Goldstone’s lunatic and highly creative interpretation of events in Gaza as “a choir of ethical cretins.”
For the reader who may have missed Henry’s priceless and inane attempt to dig herself out of a hole of her own making, it is reproduced below (and it even got 5 recommendations!):
21 Oct 09, 12:34pm
Thanks to those of you who have raised the issue of Michael Lerner’s use of the phrase “choir of ethical cretins”. The intention was clearly not to offend in that he was using it in its colloquial sense, and in a general way. But I have asked the editor of the Guardian’s style guide (where the word is currently not mentioned) whether guidance should be included on its use. Since we’ve taken the point on board, perhaps the thread could now concentrate on debating the merits of his argument.
Obviously Henry came in for a lot of stick from intelligent people for writing such rubbish, but below is a fly-on-the-wall take of what might have led to that asinine comment and what should have ensued as a result of her making it, if the Guardian/CiF had had any ethical sense at all.
It’s called “Three Misguided Idiots: a play in two acts” and stars Georgina Henry, Brian Whitaker and Matt Seaton, with a last act appearance by Alan Rusbridger, the Guardian’s Editor in Chief:
Georgina Henry is moaning and chewing the carpet in her office, having been plied with strong coffee by her PA following an avalanche of emails of complaint about Lerner’s spiteful and inelegant remark. The telephone rings and she picks herself up from the floor as her PA hands her the receiver:
HENRY (spitting out bits of carpet): Yes? What do you want? Oh Matt… What is it now?
SEATON: Well frankly Georgina (and I really don’t want to upset you) it’s this remark by Michael Lerner. What’re we going to do about it (not that I think that we should do anything about it unless you say so of course).
HENRY: (sighs… then): Let’s have a meeting. Go get Brian (Whitaker) and come to my office.
Several minutes pass. Then a knock on the door and Seaton and Whitaker join Henry.
WHITAKER: This is a bit of a nasty one, but of course it’s been planned by Zionists and people in the pay of the Israeli Government so do we actually need to do anything?
HENRY: So are you saying that Lerner deliberately did this to make us look bad? Well, we may be able to spin that…..
SEATON (eagerly) : Well, I think he did..
Both look at him pityingly and then roll their eyes at each other.
HENRY: Well I suppose I could go onto the thread and try to defuse it.
WHITAKER and SEATON: Good idea! Do it now.
Henry dashes something off to the thread and sends it immediately, and shows it to Seaton and Whitaker afterwards.
WHITAKER: (reads the post) What the…??? Well that could have been done better. The Zionists and their chums could drive a coach and horses through that. What if CiF Watch get their hands on it?
SEATON: Yes, I agree with Brian. We could really be in the doggy doo.
HENRY, (glaring at them furiously): I have made an executive decision and I stand by it.
SEATON: Quite right too. I agree with Georgina.
Henry glares at Whitaker and he sinks into his seat.
The telephone rings. Alan Rusbridger wants a word with all of them immediately.
END OF ACT ONE
Henry, Seaton and Whitaker are in Rusbridger’s office
RUSBRIDGER: (Pacing up and down mumbling under his breath and waving his arms about) What the hell do you three think you’re playing at?
The three look at the floor.
RUSBRIDGER: I am getting emails and letters of complaint about this idiot Lerner, whom I’ve never even heard of and the ‘phone’s been ringing nonstop. It’s bad enough that we allowed ourselves to be led up the garden path about Jenin but this is another blow.
Georgina! Don’t look at the others, all this is your responsibility. And I’ve just read your idiotic post to the Lerner thread. What on earth did you think you were doing?
HENRY: I felt it my duty to keep the thread on track and in the service of freedom of expression …..
RUSBRIDGER: BY DOING WHAT FOR GOD’S SAKE? MAKING A FOOL OF YOURSELF BY EXCUSING THE SUPREMELY IDIOTIC? DON’T YOU REALISE WHAT YOU HAVE DONE? I COULD LOSE MY OWN JOB BECAUSE OF THIS!
And I’ve spent the morning looking at all your commissioned articles about the Israel/Palestine issue and I’ve got to say I think all of you are unhealthily obsessed – there’s no other word for it. And precisely what do YOU mean, Georgina, by “in the service of freedom of expression?” I’ve been looking at the comments as well and I notice that most of them are frankly crazy and you’ve allowed them to remain. But they can’t all have been crazy. What’ve you done with the comments which disagreed with this man Lerner?
HENRY: (Sullenly) I made an executive decision and told the moderators to delete almost all of them. (Leaps to her feet and gesticulates, voice rising and with dilated pupils and then:) They cannot, they must not be allowed to derail the threads!! I see it as my duty to bring the truth to the nation ….. (Suddenly realises that the others are staring at her and sinks into her seat again, looking at her feet and playing with her fingers).
RUSBRIDGER: (looking shocked) You just don’t get it do you? YOU ARE MAKING US LOOK BAD!
Well, that’s it – I’ve marked all of your cards now and I’ve had a gut full of your attitude Georgina – you’ve done this once too often. I thought you had potential, I gave you free reign to use it creatively, and this is the thanks I get. I am not going to go before the Board to defend your stupidity any more – you’re on your own from now on to clean up your own mess.
(Whitaker opens his mouth to protest, but catches Rusbridger’s eye and thinks better of it)
RUSBRIDGER: And Whitaker, don’t you give me any rubbish either, about this being a Zionist plot by people in the pay of the Israeli government. That may wash with the intellectually challenged who are allowed to spout rubbish underneath what you write but it won’t wash with me. I have several bones to pick with you about making that so obvious too. “Zionist plot” indeed… You have to hint at it otherwise they’ll be all over us, and yet you have all the subtlety of a bull in a china shop.
The Guardian is losing money hand over fist and I’ve been told to economise. There’ll be some changes around here, mark my words.
And as for you, Seaton (Seaton gulps and gets out his handkerchief). WHAT POSSESSED YOU TO WRITE TO MEL PHILLIPS’ COLUMN IN YOUR OFFICIAL CAPACITY? Let’s see what you’ve written:
” We admire Melanie’s work so much that we had to nominate this blogpost as one of our ‘best of the web’ on Cif (Cif, please, Mel; not CiF).
” hope she won’t feel too compromised by being included in our ‘institutionalised intellectual and moral depravity’.”
SHE COULD EAT YOU FOR BREAKFAST AND YET YOU STILL TRY TO BE SMART! HAVE YOU SEEN SOME OF THE COMMENTS? (Seaton starts to cry and rubs his eyes).
If I’ve told you all once I have told you a hundred times – DO NOT ACKNOWLEDGE CIFWATCH! DO NOT REFER TO IT! DO NOT ENGAGE WITH IT! DON’T EVEN HINT THAT IT EXISTS! DO YOU UNDERSTAND? (they all nod). If we ignore them then they may just leave us alone.
SEATON: I just wanted to say sorry…..