Despair on the Left

Gaddafi provided support over the years to not just the IRA but a rag-bag of left-wing fringe groups. There were many on the left who were not keen on taking on the tyrant in Tripoli. The New Statesman’s Mehdi Hasan was lamenting the dictator’s demise and the “imperialist war” waged by the West last night. That kind of thinking is common on the left.

Chris Bryant Replaces Richard Ingrams at the Indy

Guido has a sense that the Indy has, post-Hari, improved under the new editor Chris Blackhurst, the news values seem to have sharpened up a bit. It is somewhat questionable however that it is really as free from proprietorial interference as it claims on the masthead. Chris Bryant seems to have replaced Richard Ingrams as an Indy columnist, sadly his column isn’t quite as good as Ros Taylor’s parody of him, over which he threatened to sue the Guardian. Coincidentally Chris is a friend of Lebedev’s son Evgeny and was at a recent dinner party with the oligarch’s offspring. Evgeny “speaks regularly” to Chris Blackhurst, no doubt about the weather…

It is also said that the new editor is looking at the cost of the strip cartoon by Sally Ann Lasson. The current editor doesn’t find her as funny as the old editor Simon Kelner did, but then he is married to Sally…

Elsewhere the Telegraph is said to be contemplating hiring the Guardian’s feminist writer Tanya Gold for their political team. It would never have happened in Heffer’s day…

FT Editor Wants to Tax and Regulate Guido

The FT’s cerebral editor Lionel Barber gave the Fulbright Lecture last night about media matters of concern to the chatterati (The Future of News and Newspapers in the Digital Revolution). Barber joins the chorus for a Media Standards Commission, with teeth, to replace the discredited Press Complaints Commission.

Of interest to Guido was that he wants the regulator’s remit to cover blogs:

Should the new system embrace new media such as the Huffington Post UK or individual political bloggers such as Guido Fawkes?  My answer is Yes, not simply in the interests of a level playing field but also because the distinction between old and new media are rapidly becoming meaningless in the new digital eco-system.  New media is moving into reporting. Old media is blogging and tweeting, and using social media to promote and distribute news and analysis around the world.

If bloggers don’t cooperate he wants “a statutory levy on advertising revenues for non-participants, with such levies being used to fund the new body”. Good luck with that, because it will require some extra-territorial innovations in international law. It is never going to happen, you’ll have to prise the keyboard out of Guido’s cold dead hands…

 

Andrew Pierce Goes All Hari On Us

Guido has often highlighted the magpie tendencies of Mail columnist Andrew Pierce. He has been known to shamelessly lift content from this blog, now however after regular highlighting of this habit, he has stopped. It seems however that Andrew has found new pastures for “inspiration”. Pierce writes today:

The excellent BBC Radio 4 series The Reunion brought together five past pupils of The Courtauld Institute Of Art, whose most famous director, Sir Anthony Blunt, was sensationally exposed as a  Soviet spy.The former Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures was unmasked by Margaret Thatcher’s government as a member of the notorious 1950s Cambridge spy ring. Blunt’s pupils told listeners that they were worried Blunt would be remembered not as an  art historian but as a spy. Most people, surely, will remember him for what he really was — a traitor.

Which strangely reads just like a letter from yesterday’s Telegraph:

The Blunt fact

SIR – A group of worthies on Radio 4’s The Reunion were concerned that Anthony Blunt may be remembered not as an art historian, but as a spy.
They need not worry. Although his Soviet controller was indeed a spy, Blunt himself was not.
He was a traitor.

Jon Ball
Dronfield, Derbyshire

At first Guido thought this was just a coincidence, but then he had a look at some of the other snippets that would have been filed after lunch yesterday. Pierce writes:

The ludicrous Sally Bercow has entered the Big Brother House. What are the odds now on her husband soon being evicted from the Speaker’s House?

A good point, well made, in Saturday’s Telegraph:

Housemates

SIR – Sally Bercow has entered the Big Brother house. The smart money is now on her husband being evicted from the Speaker’s House.

John Axon
Petts Wood, Kent

As a previous Assistant Editor of the Telegraph, Andrew should know about the audience crossover with the Mail…

World's End Shouldn't Cost Freedom of the Press

Guido has read the News of the World since he was a paperboy in West London over 30 years ago. Those who don’t read it think “The Screws” is all titillation, randy vicars and soap stars. It is that and also great popular campaigning journalism at its best, reflecting the concerns of people other than Islington Indy readers.

Politicians, the corrupt and evil feared it, today is a good day for them. Unfortunately when the drive to get the story crossed over into illegally hacking the phones of victims of tragedies, the good guys became bad guys. It has always been the case that the best stories often have a dubious legal provenance involving deception, subterfuge or law breaking, that is done to get at the truth that wrongdoers are hiding. Investigative journalists everywhere, including this blog, do it because it is the only way to get the truth. Using the dark arts to sell more newspapers with ghoulish tales is, as many have said, disgusting and unacceptable.

Momentum is building for press regulation, politicians of all parties are keen to tame the feral press. Public opinion is shifting towards them. This would be a mistake. The rich and the powerful in this country would like nothing better than to have a craven and beholden press. In many countries this is exactly what they have and ordinary people are worse off for it. Privacy laws are a trojan horse for censorship.

Privacy from intrusion by the state or journalists who break the law by stealing photographs, hacking, climbing over the wall into your back garden, that should be protected. Privacy laws should not be a means to hide embarrassment for those who can afford to hire Schillings. That way lies an untouchable ruling elite.

In the end Murdoch closed the News of the World because he feared an advertiser and consumer boycott (plus to try take the heat off the Sky takeover). If you disapprove of a newspaper don’t buy and read it. That is simply the most powerful restraint you have on newspaper proprietors in a free democracy. Even Rupert Murdoch fears his customers.

Restrictive press laws will be circumvented in the borderless internet age, however Guido would rather not have to try to expensively fight the good fight from permanently offshore. Meantime Guido wishes both his friends and enemies at The Screws the best of luck for the future. Oh, and thanks for paying the kids’ school fees.

Oborne Flip Flops Again


Yesterday Peter Oborne in The Telegraph blasted Cameron for being in the sewer with Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson and James Murdoch. It was a terrific piece that Guido and everyone in the Westminster politico-media Village enjoyed immensely. Tim Montgomerie reminded us that it was just over a month ago that Oborne thought Cameron was on the verge of attaining “heroic status”.  Guido is second to none in admiration for Oborne, his books The Triumph of the Political Class and The Rise of Political Lying are the most compelling analyses of the failings of the British political class and client media. If he has a failing it is that he is a man who hopes for better and expects better of our political class, it is this that leads him to lavish praise on politicians whom he has high hopes for, thus he lauded praise on Cameron and then when Cameron, inevitably, disappointed him he turned and lashed him. When it comes to this hope and disappointment cycle he has previous.

At the begining of the Brown premiership when David Miliband mulled over a coup he wrote an article explaining Why none of them are fit to fill Gordon Brown’s shoes, in which he argued thatThe Labour Party’s only hope is to rally behind the man it idolised for so long when he was Chancellor”. Within a year he was warning of Brown’sHubris, hoopla and claims that were false, cynical and very, very dangerous“, calling Gordon Brown a cynical, dishonest liar. Quite a volte face.

Oborne gets into this situation because he wants to think the best of men, Guido on the other hand starts with the view that politicians are probably lying or crooked, or at least venal. This policy towards politicians makes for fewer about turns.

Hari was Dropped from GQ for "Concocted Journalism"

Dylan Jones, editor of GQ, is telling people that Johann Hari was dropped from writing for the magazine because he concocted copy that mixed fact and fiction. You don’t say…

Elsewhere more left-wing men of letters are breaking cover and saying openly what they have been muttering over the olive ciabatta in Hampstead and Islington. Martin Bright, who was an Orwell Prize judge this year, has come down hard tempered with mercy. In a tone which echoes Guido’s headmasters before a caning he writes:

Simply put, Johann Hari has let the side down. Several sides in fact. He has let down his fellow journalists, he has let down fellow liberals and he has let down the Orwell Prize… I feel a genuine sympathy for him on a personal level. There is something psychologically peculiar about attributing quotes in the way he did. And now through his arrogance he has drawn his editor and the Orwell Prize into this appalling mess. Johann Hari has disgraced himself. The Orwell Prize must come to its own decision about his prize. I hope his career survives this because he would be a loss to journalism. But if anyone is to believe what he writes in future he has to stop making excuses and simply explain his mystifying behaviour, honestly and openly. That is a piece I would read.

Elsewhere the novelist Jeremy Dun demands Hari admit he is a plagiarist and is scathing about Mark Lawson’s defence of Hari in the Guardian, which reads as if Lawson isn’t aware of the fullness of the allegations. Guy Walters in the New Statesmen (where Hari got his first break and had problems with deputy editor Christina Odone over his expenses) identified 42 cut ‘n pastes from Malalai Joya’s own book. Not all were in inverted commas, making them a problem of attribution, much of the text is presented as Hari’s own words. Classic plagiarism.

Left-wing academic Professor Norman Geras is balanced yet mildly scolds Hari’s defenders. Worth reading the Telegraph’s Damian Thompson for his take on events. He reckons it was the Kindle wot done For Hari

UPDATE: The blogger who caught this little scene-setting Hari lie in 2009 made Guido laugh, it dates back to the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Conference: “Johann Hari Hates Big Macs But Tells Whoppers“. In itself a trivial lie to sex up an anti-capitalist piece. These kind of lies are the reason why Polly Toynbee and Laurie Penny et al are so keen to excuse him. Shame on them.

Full Text of Hari's Mea Culpa


Guido doesn’t usually quote articles verbatim, but since this isn’t online and in the interests of doing a full “intellectual portrait” here it is:

The Lessons I Must Draw From These Attacks On My Journalism

It’s clearly not plagiarism or churnalism, but was it an error in another way? Yes. I now see it was wrong and I wouldn’t do it again

Yesterday on Twitter I was accused of plagiarism. This accusation is totally false – but I have reflected seriously on this and do have something to apologise for. When you interview a writer – especially but not only when English isn’t their first language – they will sometimes make a point that sounds clear when you hear it, but turns out to be incomprehensible or confusing on the page. In those instances, I have sometimes substituted a passage they have written or said more clearly elsewhere on the same subject for what they said to me, so the reader understands their point as clearly as possible. The quotes are always accurate representations of their words, inserted into the interview at the point where they made substantively the same argument using similar but less clear language. I did not and never have taken words from another context and twisted them to mean something different – I only ever substituted clearer expressions of the same sentiment, so the reader knew what the subject thinks in the most comprehensible possible words.

I stress: I have only ever done this where the interviewee was making the same or similar point to me in the interview that they had already made more clearly in print. Where I described their body language, for example, I was describing their body language as they made the same point that I was quoting – I was simply using the clearer words from their writing so the reader understood the point best. This is one reason why none of my interviewees have, to my knowledge, ever said they were misquoted in my nearly 10 years with The Independent, even when they feel I’ve been very critical of them in other ways. My critics have focused on my interview with Gideon Levy as supposedly distorted. So what does Gideon Levy say? These are his words: “I stand behind everything that was published in the interview. It was a totally accurate representation of my thoughts and words.”

This does not fit any definition of plagiarism. Plagiarism is presenting somebody else’s intellectual work as your own – whereas I have always accurately attributed the ideas of (say) Gideon Levy to Gideon Levy. Nor can it be regarded as churnalism. Churnalism is a journalist taking a press release and mindlessly recycling it. It is not a journalist carefully reading over all a writer’s books and quoting it to best reflect how they think.

Over the years I have interviewed some people who have messages we desperately need to hear – from Gideon Levy about Israel, to Malalai Joya about Afghanistan, to Gerry Adams about how to end a sectarian war. Just this week, I interviewed one of the bravest people I have ever met – Shirin Ebadi. I would hate people to not hear these vital messages because they incorrectly think the subjects have been falsely quoted. Every word I have quoted has been said by my interviewee, and accurately represents their view. I hope people continue to hear their words.

When I’ve been wrong in the past – as I shamefully was over the Iraq War – I have admitted it publicly, tried to think through how I got it wrong, and corrected myself. So I’ve thought carefully about whether I have been wrong here. It’s clearly not plagiarism or churnalism – but was it an error in another way? Yes. I now see it was wrong, and I wouldn’t do it again.

Why? Because an interview is not just an essayistic representation of what a person thinks; it is a report on an encounter between the interviewer and the interviewee. If (for example) a person doesn’t speak very good English, or is simply unclear, it may be better to quote their slightly broken or garbled English than to quote their more precise written work, and let that speak for itself. It depends on whether you prefer the intellectual accuracy of describing their ideas in their most considered words, or the reportorial accuracy of describing their ideas in the words they used on that particular afternoon. Since my interviews are long intellectual profiles, not ones where I’m trying to ferret out a scoop or exclusive, I have, in the past, prioritised the former. That was, on reflection, a mistake, because it wasn’t clear to the reader.

I’m sorry, and I’m grateful to the people who pointed out this error of judgement. I will make sure I learn from it.

UPDATE: Noam Chomsky has accused Hari of fabricating quotes from him supposedly spoken in conversation, calling them a “flight of the Hari imagination”.

UPDATE II: Rowan Wilson alleges that contrary to the blended “intellectual portrait” / interview / fictional account of a meeting with Antonio Negri “that there was no taxi called, I didn’t say the things ascribed to me, Negri wasn’t behaving arrogantly as suggested, there was no angry confontation with ICA staff” all of which “casts serious doubt on the veracity of anything that Hari says.”

Orwell Would Be Turning In His GraveHari Should Be Stripped of His Prize


Guido has just got off the phone with the Media Standards Trust, a charity “that fosters high standards in news on behalf of the public”. As sponsors of the Orwell Prize they funded the award to Johann Hari of the prestigous prize in 2008.[…]

+ READ MORE +

Fake Gay Girl in Damascus Humiliates Guardianistas

How much more right-on can you get than a blogging gay girl in Damascus? An oppressed lesbian fighting for Arab liberation and lipstick lusts? Well it is pretty unbeatable in the right-on victimisation stakes, sure enough the Guardian and the BBC went overboard.[…]

+ READ MORE +

How Journalism Works (Part 94)


Yesterday we reported exclusively that Bob Roberts will be appointed as Ed Miliband’s news spinner. The Guardian followed it up with “There were unconfirmed reports today that Bob Roberts, political editor of the Mirror, is to become Miliband’s director of communications…”, note the lack of attribution to the unconfirmed report.[…]

+ READ MORE +

More Left-Wing Tax Hypocrisy from Richard Murphy

In what is a bid to soothe ruffled LibDem feathers, rather than in response to the looter’s protest, the government has just announced a new clamp down on tax avoidance. Guido mentioned at the weekend how quiet the left were about the Guardian’s tax avoidance in contrast to their attitude to Philip Green.[…]

+ READ MORE +

"Make It Up" Macintyre Tweets Another "Exclusive"

James Macintyre no longer has a column in the New Statesman in which to share his insights. He now has only his Twitter to pass on wisdom. Yesterday he had a ground breaking “Twitter Exclusive” revealing that Gordon’s new book makes no mention of Tony Blair.[…]

+ READ MORE +

Feck Off Euro-Socialists

Euro-Socialist and Green MEPs have tabled a motion calling on Ireland to double corporate tax rates as part of a quid pro quo for a bail-out. Not a single Irish MEP has supported the motion. Ireland should just tell them to “feck off”…

Douglas Carswell is right, Ireland should decouple and default.[…]

+ READ MORE +

Yazz v Rod Liddle

Commentariat celebrities Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and Rod Liddle are duking it out in column inches.

She has a letter in today’s Sunday Times objecting to Liddle calling her “boring” and “stupid” last week.  To think that if only Rod hadn’t been convicted by the PCC thought-police of casual racism he could have been editor of the Indy and Yazz’s boss.[…]

+ READ MORE +

Finally An A-Polly-Gee

In a rare move for the belligerent and hyperactive columnist, Polly Toynbee this morning apologised for the inflammatory language that Guido highlighted the other day, when she compared a slight tweak in government benefits policy to the slaughter of six million Jews.[…]

+ READ MORE +



Tip offs: 0709 284 0531
team@Order-order.com

Quote of the Day

Heather Wheeler talks to Burton Mail about her tweet…

“It was a tongue in cheek pop after the European Parliament tweet – it was purely that. I also wanted to congratulate Team GB on a brilliant result and thirdly congratulate the Commonwealth countries who also did very well. Fourth, I am also looking forwarded to establishing new trade agreements. That was it – nothing more. Let’s just enjoy the summer!”

Guidogram: Sign up

Subscribe to the most succinct 7 days a week daily email read by thousands of Westminster insiders.

Facebook

EUROPEAN COMMISSION HATES TAX COMPETITION EUROPEAN COMMISSION HATES TAX COMPETITION
CORBYN’S DIGITAL DEMOCRACY GURU SUPPORTS IRA’S ARMED STRUGGLE CORBYN’S DIGITAL DEMOCRACY GURU SUPPORTS IRA’S ARMED STRUGGLE
EU RULING AGAINST IRELAND WILL BOOST CHANCES OF IREXIT EU RULING AGAINST IRELAND WILL BOOST CHANCES OF IREXIT
SMITH CAMPAIGN HIRES ANOTHER BIG PHARMA LOBBYIST SMITH CAMPAIGN HIRES ANOTHER BIG PHARMA LOBBYIST
BOB CROW BRIGADE GUN WIELDING ISIS FIGHTERS SLAM OILY SMITH BOB CROW BRIGADE GUN WIELDING ISIS FIGHTERS SLAM OILY SMITH
Burkini Unbanned Burkini Unbanned
Who Said it: Blair or Smith? Who Said it: Blair or Smith?
Labour MPs Love Theresa May As Well Labour MPs Love Theresa May As Well
Labour Adviser Created “Theresa May for PM” Campaign Labour Adviser Created “Theresa May for PM” Campaign
FARAGE TO TRUMP “I COME TO YOU WITH A MESSAGE OF HOPE AND OPTIMISM” FARAGE TO TRUMP “I COME TO YOU WITH A MESSAGE OF HOPE AND OPTIMISM”
Max Mosley Funds Tom Watson’s 11 Advisers Max Mosley Funds Tom Watson’s 11 Advisers
“JEREMY, JEREMY, JEREMY” “JEREMY, JEREMY, JEREMY”
FANCY A JOB IN DANCZUK’S OFFICE? FANCY A JOB IN DANCZUK’S OFFICE?
TEAM GB SING NATIONAL ANTHEM ON VICTORY JET HOME TEAM GB SING NATIONAL ANTHEM ON VICTORY JET HOME
HOW BRITISH EMPIRE BEATS EU FOR OLYMPIC MEDALS HOW BRITISH EMPIRE BEATS EU FOR OLYMPIC MEDALS
PRCA Complain to Carolyn Harris Over Lobbyist’s Pass PRCA Complain to Carolyn Harris Over Lobbyist’s Pass
Oily Smith the Devolution Dodger Oily Smith the Devolution Dodger
Times Runs Full Page Ad for “China Heroes” Times Runs Full Page Ad for “China Heroes”
SONG FOR JEREMY SONG FOR JEREMY
DROMEY CUTS SHORT ATTACK ON CORBYN TO GREET CORBYN WARMLY DROMEY CUTS SHORT ATTACK ON CORBYN TO GREET CORBYN WARMLY