The Useless Comments of the Guardian’s “Comment is Free” Editor

This is a cross-post from Judeosphere

Haaretz has just published an interview with Matt Seaton, editor of “Comment is Free” (CiF)—the opinion website of the Guardian, with 3 million unique users and 10 million page-views a month.

It has not gone unnoticed by critics that CiF—and the British media in general—has a bit of an obsession when it comes to Israel. Seaton reacts to this accusation:

We spend a great deal of time thinking how to cover the subject in a balanced and fair way and not in excessive quantity. It’s difficult to do that when the Middle East is setting the news agenda. The Arab-Israeli conflict is also a fault-line in the geopolitics of the region. That’s just a reality…..It’s a region of the world that generates so much news; we’re part of that, but it’s not of our making.

Actually, dude, it is of your making. The fault of the Guardian—and other media outlets and pundits—is constantly reinforcing the idea that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the most important, central issue driving events in the Middle East. (The ongoing Sunni-Shiite dispute is arguably a larger, more influential geopolitical fault-line.)

The obsessive focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict crowds out the myriad other significant events and political developments throughout the region—and plays into the hands of Middle Eastern regimes that use Israel as a scapegoat for their problems, or to divert attention from their own internal issues.

By way of example for the sheer number of topics not being addressed, check out the website of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, which closely monitors events across the Arab-Muslim world, through projects such as its Arab Reform Bulletin.

Here’s just a recent sampling of subjects:

“Political Crises but Few Alternatives in Algeria”

“Iraq’s Quest for Democracy amid Massive Corruption”

“Patriotic Union of Kurdistan: Revival or Mere Survival?”

“Egypt’s New Brotherhood Leadership: Implications and Limits of Change”

“Sunnis and Iraq’s Elections: An Evolving Balance of Power”

“Obama and Human Rights in the Middle East: Suggestions for Act Two”

“Implications of the Jordanian Parliament’s Dissolution”

Seaton is right that “the Middle East is setting the news agenda”—but it’s the Guardian that’s ignoring the wider news.

Also from the Haaretz interview, Seaton assures us that CiF is vigilant against anti-semitism:

You have been harshly criticized for posting articles by Hamas members. What are your red lines? For example, if I was offered a piece that spoke of a Jewish lobby, as opposed to a pro-Israel lobby, that would mean automatic disqualification.

So, memo to would-be CiF columnists: Feel free to write as much as you want about how the “Israel Lobby” controls the media, the government and the economy.

Categories: Guardian

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7 replies »

  1. What a ludicrous interview.

    Anshel Pfeffer should be ashamed of him/herself. There are so many documented instances of The Guardian putting its thumbs on the scale in giving preference and support ti Israels ‘haters’.

    HaAretz should hang its head in shame.

    It would be nice if Matt Seaton would be interviewed in a live interview with a well prepared questioner.

    But let’s face it. That ain’t going to happen.

  2. Very informative piece from Judeosphere. “…it’s the Guardian that’s ignoring the wider news,” says Hawkeye. This point is central to why this once-revered organ is going belly-up. Roll on the day. Here is Duvidl’s hymn in expectation:

    Mine Eyes Wiil See The Glory of The Guardian Gone Bust
    (To the tune of: “Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory of The Coming of The Lord.”)
    (or: “The Battle Hymn of The Republic.” Hat tip: US Tradition)

    Mine eyes will see the glory of The Guardian gone bust.
    Rustbucket’s bucket now just rusty will become a pile of rust;
    And then the Council cleaners will mop up that rusty dust,
    Richard Desmond marches on.

    Chorus: Glory, Glory Hallelujah;
    Administrators running rampant through ya,
    Bankrupcy notices nailed to ya.
    While Murdoch marches on.

    Mine eyes will see the glory of Victoria on the dole.
    No more Gordon’s gin; just meths mixed with house-Harpic that she stole.
    She will meet Matt on the dole queue downing Tennants; oh how droll.
    Peter Bazaljet marches on.


    Mine eyes will see the glory of Belle moderating Matt;
    Confiscating his Temoxipan; she’ll try a touch of that.
    And mix it with some anti-freeze she’s taken from his flat.
    Cardboard City marches on.


    Mine eyes will see the glory of Brian on income support;
    Teaching Arabic to vagrants; “Hamas slang”, like he’s been taught.
    When the Council snoopers spot him, they’ll say,”We’ll see you in court.”
    The Big Issue marches on.

    DS Al Coda

  3. No wonder Seaton was willing to be interviewed by Haaretz. Haaretz is Israels version of “the guardian”, with the same deranged, blame Zionists first world view, deleting well reasoned comments that are counter to the leftist/progressively mentally ill agenda of the editors.

  4. Edward, there is a difference between Haaretz and comment is free. Haaretz, in true Israeli style, allows in all comment, including the vilest. They might very rarely moderate a talkback column lightly but generally whatever is received (presumably while the section is active,) remains there permanently.

    Their attitude to the factual in their articles follows the same lines.

  5. Arabella, in the case of Haaretz and the vile “guardian/independent”, “factual” is moderated to what the marxist editors see as supporting the revolution. Anything that is counter-revolutionary is excised – airbrushed out like a stalinist history book.

    CiF, as long as you support the revolution, is HIGHLY “moderated”, especially if you oppose the “compassionate” release of the bomber of Pan Am 103, which was done for the “passion” for libyan oil contracts.

    I suggest the following…

    It’s all about perfidy.