Guardian

Guardian Assistant Editor Michael White’s revealing admission about his paper’s coverage of Israel


H/T Just Journalism

In Guardian Assistant Editor Michael White’s Blog yesterday, on the topic of media self-censorship – in the context of recent crackdown by the Turkish government on voices critical of the regime – there was a remarkable admission about his paper’s coverage of Israel.

White, who’s been with the Guardian for over 30 years, said:

[The Guardian has] always sensed liberal, middle class ill-ease in going after stories about immigration, legal or otherwise, about welfare fraud or the less attractive tribal habits of the working class, which is more easily ignored altogether.

Toffs, including royal ones, Christians, especially popes, governments of Israel, and US Republicans are more straightforward targets.

White concluded:

So while we hacks do not fear the knock at the door in a Turkish dawn, we should not feel too pleased with ourselves. And remember, dear reader, that we are also striving much of the time to tell you what you’d rather know rather than challenge your prejudices and make you cross.

No, Mr. White, you’re right. You and your colleagues shouldn’t be too pleased with yourselves.

While its refreshing to hear White seem to acknowledge (or at least suggest) that The Guardian’s obsessively negative coverage of Israel serves to reaffirm its readers’ considerable prejudices about the Jewish state, I frankly doubt that he realizes just how injurious his organization’s legitimization of this bigotry is to both Israel and the broader Jewish community.

Yes – as White suggests – a responsible newspaper (especially one which claims a liberal orientation) should challenge its readers’ prejudices, not grant them moral license.

Indeed – outside the comfortable bubble of White’s London Salon – for those of us living in Israel and diaspora communities around the world who are increasingly vulnerable to the real world consequences of anti-Zionist and Judeophobic narratives, such egregious journalistic bias isn’t a mere abstraction.

White’s candor is to be commended, but it would seem that only those predisposed to the most puerile optimism could sustain a belief in the capacity of such an enormous institution to break free of its own ideological inertia.

Our battle against the Guardian will be a long and arduous one.

10 replies »

  1. I’ve spoken over email with Mr White about his paper’s coverage of Israel. I don’t want to be specific because it was a private correspondence. But I got the real impression he’s a good guy.

  2. OyVaGoy

    But I got the real impression he’s a good guy.

    OK.

    But if that is so, why does he stay in that cesspit?

    AND

    The Guardian’s obsessively negative coverage of Israel serves to reaffirm its readers’ considerable prejudices about the Jewish state, I frankly doubt that he realizes just how injurious his organization’s legitimization of this bigotry is to both Israel and the broader Jewish community.

    I don’t think that that explains the Guardian’s obsession. I believe that it is much more part of the management coven’s hostility to the single super power status of the United States of America, the great ‘Soviet Killer’. In effect they are continuing the Cold War while the ‘superb and divine’ (but dead), Soviet Union, has thrown in the towel.

    They are using misrepresentation and omission to present a world view which wants to see a single world nation state and, of course Socialistic in nature.

    Somehow the world is passing The Guardian by and an easy target for them is Israel, a very close ally of The United States of America. A country whose intrinsic value as a stable liberal democracy has only been accentuated by the upheavals in the surrounding countries even more so when the end result of those upheavals is simply not clear.

  3. What was worse was White’s admission of ignorance about the Guardian’s favourite Middle Eastern government in Turkey persecuting hundreds of Turkish journalists.

    A definite case of Three Brass Monkey Syndrome.

  4. This is the man who could, apropos of almost nothing at all, say:

    “In Israel they murder each other a great deal. The Israeli Defense Forces murder people because In Israel they murder each other a great deal. The Israeli Defense Forces murder people because they don’t like their political style and what they’ve got to say and it only means that people more extreme come in and take their place. and it only means that people more extreme come in and take their place”.

    All three statements in that comment are false.

    “They” don’t murder each other a great deal.

    The IDF does not murder people because “because they don’t like their political style and what they’ve got to say”

    and the policy of targeted assassinations, to which he was presumably referring, has actually made sure that people less extreme or more worried about saving their skin come in and take their place.

  5. OyvaGoy, can you explain how you came to the conclusion that White is a good guy rather than and out and out hypocrite, given that, as JerusalemMite says he remains in the cesspit of the Groan and admits that he bashes Israel because it’s a soft target?

    He also admitted that the Groan tells people what they want to hear rather than, presumably, offers honest reportage of what is going on!

    He’s either completely slipped his moorings or is incredibly arrogant and believes that these admissions will not undermine him as a person or his professionalism, such as it is. I am blowed if I know which though.

  6. I used to read the Guardian because it DID challenge my ideas about the Middle East. I became increasingly fed-up with it, though, as it became increasingly anti-establishment, trotting out old reasons which had become increasingly irrelevant. I don’t look at it any more for reliable factual information, so what use is it?

    • Why is Adam Levick telling us this now? It’s 4 words (“…the state of Israel…”) in a list which are “easy targets”, and it was written in March of this year: 4 moths ago. And has The Guardian changed its habits since? Not one jot.

      Bit of a damp squib really, Adam.

      • Why is Adam Levick telling us this now?

        This morning I was thinking about this very post from Adam in connection with the current Jonathan Freedland threads. What do you mean “now”? It’s four months old.