Musings on how the Guardian defines “Disproportionate” and “Fair and Balanced”

After a week of watching the Guardian gorging itself on the ‘Palestine papers’ like an out of control bulimic, a few thoughts and observations came to mind.

It was interesting to see how the Guardian transferred its long-held policies regarding ‘fair and balanced’ coverage of Israeli affairs to the Palestinian stage.  As veteran CiF readers know, the column space given to (‘good’) anti-Zionist or Israel-chastising Jews such as Seth Freedman, Antony Lerman, Rachel Shabi, Avi Shlaim, Abe Haim or Mya Guarnieri was always consistently ‘disproportionate’ (to use a word much-loved by the Guardian) when compared to the amount of space allocated to pro-Israel Zionist Jews or Israelis.

The ‘Palestine papers’ week saw a similar tactic being employed with regard to Palestinians. A deluge of fairly uniformly outraged commentary came from ‘good’ Palestinians such as Ghada Karmi, Karma Nablusi, Osama Hamdan and Laila el Haddad – their common denominator being that they either belong to Hamas or are sympathetic to its ideology and political views.  None of these people, incidentally, actually live in areas ruled by either the PA or Israel.

The only attempt to inject ‘balance’ into the commentary by allowing a Palestinian voice which opposes Hamas to be heard was an article by Saeb Erekat four days into the outrage fest. The voice of ordinary Palestinians in the streets who are opposed to Hamas and may actually support the kind of compromises reflected in the leaked papers as a way forward to securing a much-needed peace agreement was nowhere to be heard on the pages of CiF. And therefore any reader of the Guardian over the past few days who is unfamiliar with the Middle East might well assume that political opinion on the Palestinian street is remarkably monotone and that those supporting a Hamas-style continuation of the conflict with Israel are the overwhelming majority.

That would of course be because the Guardian has yet again ditched its commitment to being ‘fair and balanced’.

Another interesting observation was the way in which Guardian coverage of a story it instigated itself was allowed (some might even say ‘designed’) to partially eclipse the real stories coming out of Lebanon during the same week. Since the political crisis in Lebanon began on January 12th CiF has published a mere 14 articles on the subject (at the time of writing) – five of which appeared on the first day. Could that be considered ‘disproportionate’?

All the Guardian’s resident Middle East ‘expert’ Brian Whitaker could muster on the subject in his ‘This week in the Middle East’ round up was a terse one-liner.

“There have been disturbances, too, in Lebanon but they are a continuation of old sectarian/political rivalries rather than anything strikingly new.”

On January 29th we were treated to an article by ‘Al Hayat’ correspondent  Mohanad Hage Ali which informed us that “[m]edia reports are wrong: Syria, not Hezbollah, is in control” in Lebanon.

Ah; so it’s not the Iranian-backed theocratic Islamist terrorist group, but the Iranian-backed autocratic secular dictatorship which has taken over a sovereign country. What a relief.

How fortunate that we have the Guardian to inform us that there’s nothing to see here and we really should move along.

15 replies »

  1. sigh. where to begin?

    well, my background in psychology tells me that you guys have none. bulimics gorge and then purge. so maybe i could start, cif-watch-style, fisking there.

    but i won’t… because, unlike cif-watch (or cif-monitor, whatever your ridiculous website is named) for me it’s about the SUBSTANCE and not merely attacking the poster.

    so, what’s interesting to me is that– despite the fact that i’ve posted NOTHING that you can refute recently– you have chosen to STAM put my name in this post.

    but, ha ha, i wouldn’t expect you to know what STAM means as none of you actually speak hebrew, do you? 😉

  2. “but, ha ha, i wouldn’t expect you to know what STAM means as none of you actually speak hebrew, do you?”

    Dear Mya the Troll,

    Something tells me you’re in for a little surprise and a large hammering …

  3. Mya, respectfully, to accuse CiF Watch of engaging in hyperbole or unwarranted attacks would imply that you have forgotten about your own history of engaging in vitriolic assaults on Israel.

    Here’s a classic:

    Israel rabbis racist decree strikes at the very soul of Judaism

    So, the very soul of Judaism was on trial? I’m assuming you stand by that characterization of your story? So, I guess you tried and and convicted Israel/Judaism – all in a remarkably thrifty 614 words!

    Then there were these gems from your piece:

    “just the latest wave in a rising tide of religious fascism [in Israel].”

    “Israel is handing the reins over to religious fascists”

    Mya, if you live here like I do, I simply can’t fathom how the word ‘fascism’ could be used in any context do describe my country.

    So, while I commend you for posting here, I really don’t think you’re in any position to critique CiF Watch for the tone or tenor of our posts.

  4. מאיה – או מיה – לא ממש ברור –
    הרקע שלי בפסיכולוגיה קלינית – משולב עם הכרות עם הכתיבה שלך – גורם לי לחשוב שזהו תחום שאולי לא כדאי לך להכנס אליו בפורומים ציבוריים. הרקע שלי כאזרחית מדינת ישראל בעלת ותק מעל שלושים שנה גורם לי לחשוב שסביר להניח שהעברית שלי לא פחות טובה משלך. הרקע שלי באנגלית גורם לי להודיע לך שיש פטנט נחמד בשפה זו הנקרא ‘קפיטל לטרס’ – לו היית משתמשת באותיות אלו מדי פעם דברייך הייו אולי מתקרבים למשהו מובן

  5. Actually, Mya, its nice to know you read us and feel free to comment here.

    Many of us have been banned from CP Scott’s paper, something that I think the crew that are running the show there may actually regret in retrospect.

    Within reason, we really do believe that

    “The voice of opponents no less than that of friends has a right to be heard”

    even when comments like yours seem to be drawing broad inferences from little data.

  6. Mya maybe you don’t know but Israel has two official languages: Hebrew and Arabic. Are you speaking Arabic too? I somehow have very serious doubts. FYI many of us speak both.
    Have you served in the army? Do you know the expressions חייל שבוז and פז”ם? Have you ever visited any small community (Jewish, Arab, Druze etc) in the Galil? Have you ever visited a שכונת מצוקה or let’s say Sderot or any other settlement suffering from the rockets of your heroes? I think that the answers is a big NEVER. So please be so kind and shut your bloody mouth before you start to question our familiarity with Israel and its languages.

  7. The Guardian is written in English…..

    Now back to the above article,

    the Guardian had the most commentary in the world about the Papers, literally, as most other news outlets (at least in the US) spent little to no copy on it.
    and now with events in Egypt….

  8. Well, well, what a classic comment by Guarnieri— priceless, in fact.

    Talk about her being hoist by her own petard. (I’ll bet she doesn’t know what that means.)

    You don’t need a psychology degree to realise that Guarnieri is intoxicated by her “success” in landing a job at the snake-pit that is CiF, where she can indulge her frustrations and petty jealousies, sounding off against decent, innocent Israelis, at no cost to herself, safe in the knowledge that whatever lies she peddles, she’ll walk safely in Israel.

    Wonder whether she’d be quite as “brave” exposing the barbarity endemic in, say, a country like Iran?
    We all know the answer to that one.

    So, Mya, how about it love?
    Just for a bit of variety, why don’t you ask your bosses whether you could do a report on, say, the lot of gays in Iran?
    Oh, I forgot, Ahmadinejad says there aren’t any—- could he have killed them all off already?
    OK, so how about the Friday pantomime every week in Riyadh, when they publicly behead (usually) hapless foreign workers, just to set an example.

    So many colourful activities in the Arab world, and so few reports about them.
    Fancy, with your wonderful talent for hyperbole, just think what a hit you’d be, with your “tell it as it is” style.

  9. mya why do you live in israel? you’re neither born israeli (did you make aliyah?) nor palestinian, so as a jew who has decided it’s nice living there, you’re a hypocrite – why don’t you go back to where you came from, instead of taking advantage of your privilege as a jew to live in israel and enjoy the status and benefits of belonging to the privileged racial group?

    i know born jewish israelis who have left – consistent with their political opposition to the jewish state’s treatment of non-jews they’ve decided that they can not in clear conscience continue to live there. yet you, in all your wisdom … enjoy the benefits of being a jew in israeli society – please explain.