Guardian

Slouching towards irrelevance: Is ‘Comment is Free’ eating the Guardian?


Rob Marchant, a former British Labour Party manager, wrote a very important piece, at The Centre Left Blog, on Aug. 29, about racism at ‘Comment is Free’, and, more broadly, the institution’s regression and increasing rejection of the genuinely liberal ideals it once ardently defended. 

Writes Marchant (with emphases added): 

Once upon a time, there was a left-wing newspaper. Its founder, C.P. Scott, clearly saw it as less of a paper and more of a social mission. My grandfather, a true Socialist all his life, religiously took the Guardian every day, and I would leaf through it as a teenager, mulling over its worthy appraisals of Neil Kinnock’s latest speech or Billy Bragg’s new album. Compared with other papers, it always seemed a bit more in tune with “yoof”, which I then was, and the good guys, which were Labour.

Marchant then turned to the Josh Trevino row.

Last week a controversial new columnist, Josh Treviño, joined that newspaper. As a former advisor to the Bush administration, he was not necessarily a natural choice for the paper, but outside observers might have been pleasantly surprised to see, for once, a little compensating political balance at the newspaper.

Within days, he and the newspaper had agreed to part, officially on the pretext that he had slipped a reference into an article which had broken editorial guidelines – eighteen months previously.

While this sounds like it might be a fair explanation, it becomes a little odder when you put it in context. For the record, Treviño had also been involved in a controversy over his rather insensitive tweets regarding the Palestine flotilla; but that, too, had been over a year ago, he apologised and the Guardian had defended him.

Then, a few days ago, a group of what can only be described as far-left activists wrote to the Guardianto complain about Treviño’s hiring. Five days later, he was gone. The group included Baroness Jenny Tonge, who was earlier this year ejected by the Liberal Democrats for her unacceptable views, Stop The War Coalition’s Lindsey German, and various members of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, iEngage and Middle East Monitor. Or rather, when the only MP you can get to defend your cause is Jeremy Corbyn, you know you’re operating at the margins.

The whole argument is given in detail here forand against the Guardian (in the interests of fairness I include both, but I have to say that I find that against a great deal more convincing). Whatever your view on the Treviño controversy, though, there is a rather more disturbing, and difficult-to-avoid, conclusion: that this oddball collection from the fringes of politics, who wrote the letter, clearly have some sway on the editorial and managerial decisions of a national newspaper.

Marchant then contextualized the decision to fire Trevino:

There is a great deal more: some points of interest may already be known to readers of my blog, such as the printing of a puff-piece by unpleasant Holocaust cartoonist Carlos Latuff, or CiF’s running, on Holocaust Memorial Day, of an op-ed by Sheik Raed Salah, hate-preacher and convicted fundraiser for terrorism; or finally, its later op-ed in June, by someone who does not even pretend not to be a terrorist: Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of suicide-bombers Hamas in Gaza. Nice.

Marchant adds:

Where the Guardian may think it is being edgy and controversial, it is often being, at the very least, offensive to the sensibilities of ordinary people not known for their over-sensitivity. At worst it is laid open to not unreasonable charges of racism.

Indeed. 

Read the rest of Marchant’s incisive essay, here.

8 replies »

    • Terry, you’ve got to face reality: Britain is a democracy and does not violate international law, so you cannot expect Britons to close their eyes on violations of international law committed abroad.

  1. Al Guardian, as one poster put it right.
    Time that Labour takes action against terror defenders.

  2. Rob Marchant’s article is excellent. He’s exposed the cesspit of lies and racism that Comment is Free has become. It is now the forum of choice for left-wing anti-semites, and beyond hope of salvaging.

    Jonathan Friedland and the rest of the Guardian’s Jewish staff should be called upon to resign.