Journalistic Standards at the Guardian 196

Yesterday I received a begging letter from Katharine Viner of the Guardian

Screenshot (60)

Perhaps they will be able to induce individuals to give £10 a month, £120 will buy Polly Toynbee one lunch at the Ivy. But apart from the ethics of asking ordinary people to fund some of the most overpaid people in the country, there are questions about the claims which Viner makes. She talks of Guardian journalism as “well-sourced”, “calm”, “intelligent”, “in-depth”, “thoughtful” and “well-resourced.”

Now I put each of those in inverted commas, to indicate they are words which Ms Viner actually used in the full email. (The image is an extract).

Now let us look at some of the Guardian’s actual output. Today Gaby Hinshliff, in a highly slanted comment on yesterday’s incident involving Ruth Smeeth, writes in the Guardian that

a Corbynite activist stood up and accused her of being part of a “media conspiracy” against her own party

Note Ms Hinshliff’s use of inverted commas there, indicating that “media conspiracy” was the actual phrase used. Except it wasn’t. Wadsworth never used the phrase, or indeed either of the words “media” and “conspiracy” separately. What he actually said is widely available, as is video footage of him saying it. I published it yesterday, along with what I hope was a very rational consideration of what the incident did and did not signify .

Strangely enough, the only place the words “media conspiracy” occur – actually in inverted commas – is in Ruth Smeeth’s own press release.

So, at best, Gaby Hinshliff is merely an extremely lazy journalist who took Ruth Smeeth’s false account of what was said and wrote about it with no effort at all to check it and see if it was true, or if there was another side of the story. A ten second google search would have corrected her. Extreme laziness and the lowest of journalistic standards is the very best explanation of Hinshliff’s behaviour. At worst, Hinshliff is knowingly and deliberately repeating and amplifying a deliberate lie.

What is beyond any possible dispute is that Hinshliff has demonstrated that Viner’s claim that the Guardian produces responsible, properly researched and ethical journalism is another plain lie.

The difficulty is that the Guardian has columnists who are so blinded by their own prejudices and hatreds as to be incapable of rational analysis. On precisely the same subject, somebody suggested to Nick Cohen he look at my article on the Ruth Smeeth case to see another side of the story. Cohen’s reply seems to me a fair summation of the intellectual standards and ethos which now prevail at the Guardian:

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The rejoinder to him seems perfectly fair, but received no response. I like to think of myself as delightfully eccentric, rather than a “fruitcake”. But the notion you can completely ignore or dismiss an argument by an insulting ad hominem again reflects the very opposite to the standards Viner claims that the Guardian espouses.

I do hope none of you gave them any money.

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196 thoughts on “Journalistic Standards at the Guardian

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  • Tony_0pmoc

    The Guardian is Dead in The Water and They Know It

    May I suggest an alternative
    “Join the Labour Party Help us campaign for a fairer Britain”

    “Choose your membership rate or Renew an existing membership”

    Standard Membership from £3.92 per month

    Membership available to everyone over 14 years old.
    Reduced from £1.96 per month

    Those who are retired, are unemployed or work less than 16 hours per week.
    Young Labour – 20 to 26 from £1.00 per month

    For those who are 20-26 years old.
    Young Labour – 14 to 19 from £1.00 per year

    For those who are 14-19 years old.
    Labour Students from £1.00 per year

    For those who hold a student card.
    British Armed Forces from £1.00 per year

    Current and former members of the British Armed Forces. Rate only available for first year.
    Trade Union from £1.96 per month
    Current members of trade unions affiliated to the Labour Party.

    I am not yet a member of The Labour Party – and The Guardian is Not Fit to use for Loo Paper except in an emergency….and it originally came from Manchester – and was originally the Best – but you Blairites & Neocons shit all over it.

    It is now a DisGrace

    Try This instead


  • charles drake

    the guardian guards against the prevailing norms the drop in standards in society in general.
    it is a bulwark against prejudice exclusion and nazi like non integration.
    europe and the uk even now have still not learned to become multicultural the guardian is at the heart of the battle.
    the likes of nick cohen should not be so easily dismissed he is a warrior on a mission we need calm during the coming storms we need to change london is showing the way we have to some how have to transform the rest of the country scotland will be the tip of the spear in this regard nick sturgeon one of many great leaders.
    this is not the time for forum comments pending edit delete on off the back of hababalook comment this is the time give all and support the inclusive print industry during difficult times most of the folks working in guardian are struggling support the message do not shoot the messenger.
    as for word antisemitism when ms may becomes primeminister she will correct the problem on the street and on the web via certification

      • charles drake

        on my third stroke spelling dislaxic to the core not sure what a comma is or does but give your all to cohen and chums.
        i have not been to a wine bar in years but i here you do not get much change from 26 tanners or a 9 bob note.
        how can these story writers carry on without supportings without lubrications no sir give sir eye says.
        and as for the bbc they need a major cash and tax injections.

        • Tony_0pmoc

          …but I thought you were telling the truth…Surely they didn’t hate you that much and faked your death in wikipedia. I didn’t realise you were that important – but that song is actually exceedingly well constructed – especially the final bit. The song is full of detail. You hit The Flying Doctor.

          “Charles Edward Springall, known professionally as Charlie Drake (19 June 1925 – 23 December 2006) was an English comedian, actor, writer and singer.

          With his small stature (5′ 1″/155 cm tall), curly red hair and liking for slapstick, he was a popular comedian with children in his early years, becoming nationally known for his “Hello, my darlings!” catchphrase.”

          • charles drake

            not the time for habablook banter forum
            clogging but i retired to little america discovered by admiral bird.
            after bowie prince and leon britain and lord mcalpine moved in i had to return morally dubious crowd.
            so clean in little america beyond the ice you know it is tropical
            a paradise way to many bad acts for my tastes.

            i have never met a cohen of average or below intellect most you will find are giants

          • michael norton

            I used to imagine u were quite amusing.
            Not so amusing now Cyril Smith

    • charles drake

      we should not turn this into a nick cohen witch hunt after all it is not a battle you can win his hinterland vast and strong not forgetting his intellectual rigor for the tarry and thrust of battle.
      no sir best say sorry asap and move on.
      he accepts paypal donations and appy polly loggies via twitters.

      • Mulga Mumblebrain

        Cohen needs to be constantly reminded that propagandising for aggression (the Supreme Crime under International Law)brought deserved retribution at the Nuremberg trials. If Blairzebub ought to face the ICC, so should his propagandists.

    • SOG

      I thought poor spelling was a given at the Grauniad, though it’s a long time since I’ve read one. The day came when I realised they had no science-capable person working that day.

      • Ba'al's Sock

        All science material in the Graun can be found the previous week in New Scientist, and usually a year before that in Scientific American (in greater depth). (NS is another publication which has hit the skids over the last few years)

        • Mulga Mumblebrain

          Yes, New Scientist started going neo-liberal some years ago. They leave no stone unturned.

    • Shatnersrug

      Nick Cohen Is a foul blood stain warmonger, Poly Toynbee is a Rijoca gargling liar, aby Hinsliff is a diabolical journalist and I never realised Owen Jones book “The Establishment” was actually meant as a manual for him.

      I defended the guardian for years but not any more.

      But back to Cohen I saw him two weeks ago walking through the N1 centre in Islington and boy did he look bad, a hollowed out husk of a man, I had to double take I thought it was an old old man. Where as Craig is a cheeky happy chap. So if a malcontent like him calls you a crazy you should be happy with that because the man has no joy in his life.

  • paul

    Prompted by your post,I have come to cancelled my muffin making masterclass with nick cohen, saving me £249.99.

  • conjunction

    The last two years I have forked out about £190 pa to read the FT on a daily basis, because it does some of the things Viner claims for the Guardian. It is far more calm and not interested in celebrityitis and ‘live’ reporting which means you can’t get the sense of a story and facile opinions.

    To be fair I do read the Guardian regularly because there’s some good stuff in there but it’s buried in a lot of tosh. I would never pay the Guardian because so much of what it says is so obviously biased and so many writers have little respect for the truth.

    • lysias

      The 1% would be most annoyed if the newspaper they read stopped printing something close enough to the truth to be useful for their investment decisions.

  • Republicofscotland

    I find a main stream tabloid openly looking for funds worrying to say the least, one wonders if the Guardian newspapers circulation has dropped dramatically in recent times ? if so why?

    Could it be down to what Craig has easily uncovered lazy incompetent and possibly biased journalism?

    I am reminded of course that tabloids are under no obligation to print the veracity of a story, which makes one wonder, if the likes of the IPSO, which replaced the PCC, is a somewhat limited body.

  • Duncan McFarlane

    Some Guardian reporting is to be fair good, and they have a much wider range of comment opinion than most newspapers. But their willingness to believe whatever Blairites tell them is quite a major weakness

  • Alistair Granham

    To be fair, the Guardian does publish good stuff too. I thought this thoughtful and well written:

    Sometimes one can find excellent stuff in newspapers with most of whose politics one disagrees profoundly. I was most impressed by this piece in the Telegraph a while ago:

    I like the hope in both these pieces. Never mind about Nick Cohen. If Jeremy Corbyn continues to try to do what is right, the most amazing good may come of it in the long run.

    • Ba'al's Sock

      It still gives George Monbiot space, and although globalism is its default economic preference, it does print dissenting views. Also it has Martin Rowson and Steve Bell. Insufficient representation for masculinists*, too much thinkpiece fluff and not enough investigative reporting (remember that Wikileaks and Panama material were not actually sourced by the Graun but handed to it on a plate, the latter via Der Spiegel) Comments policed by axe-wielding IDF setachment. Curate’s egg, not worth the price, but I get it at a discount. Would read the Sun or the Mail instead – both are better, journalistically – but I don’t want my friends to see me

      *It’s time for oppressed men to be empowered by metropolitan thinkpiece writers, just like pretty affluent women are…

  • charles drake

    i have been out of the fruit loop for quite some times but i do not understand why guardian needs funds do they not get cash monies from the newspaper man street vendors and the johns menzies newsagents shop outlets?
    they get plenty of funding from the ministry of informations or the ministry of selected truths.
    this hole story i find puzzlement.
    shirley extra monies could be found from foreign aid development or defense i mean selected information shaped truth perception is a defense of the realm matter is it not?

    we can only have consent of the rabble populace with the reel news

    • Ba'al's Sock

      I am beginning to enjoy your comments immensely. Reminds me of someone long ago handled ‘Exad’. Peace.

  • Captain Corelli

    With the exception of Paul Mason, Owen Jones and Frankie Boyle The Guardian is a very piss poor read.

    The way they have bullied and bitched about Corbyn on a virtual daily basis is proof enough of how wretched their journalistic standards are. They also still seem to have a fawning admiration for that demon Blair.

    I really do hope they’re in financial difficulty, couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch.

    I won’t give them the shite of my shoe.

    • Republicofscotland

      In my opinion I really don’t think that the demise of any mainstream tabloid, is in the publics interest, and certainly not the Guardian for that matter. It’s the variety and views of each tabloid on a myraid of matters, that can often complete the full picture of any one story.

      Yes there are unscrupulous journalists, but overall I’d say most journalist do try and present any given story to the reader as unbiased. I do however fully agree that the majority of the press has given Jeremy Corbyn a torrid time of it, which I feel, like many do is unfair, and morally, wrong.

    • Spaull

      On a comment there, I compared the Graun to a much loved elderly relative who is suffering from dementia. You still love her for what she once was, but you know it will be better for you and her when her suffering finally comes to an end.

      Needless to say I got modded off.

      But as someone who has read the paper for 35 years, and is appalled by what it has become, I think I am entitled to feel that way.

      • lysias

        Only it’s not the same Guardian. Different owners. Different management. Only the name — and a few holdover writers – is the same.

        • Mulga Mumblebrain

          It shows you, yet again, where real power resides under capitalism-with the money power. The money power can buy any MSM conduit, and change it out of all recognition. The Guardian today is the Anti-Guardian compared to its previous incarnation.

    • Resident Dissident

      With a bit of look Seumas Milne will be back soon – I’ve rather missed being kept informed on the Stalinist angle to British politics.

  • Clark

    Isn’t it Nick Cohen who’s still searching the sands of Iraq for Saddam’s WMD rather than finding a hat he can eat, or was that someone else? C’mon, some people have eaten light aircraft. Maybe someone ate the WMD.

  • exiled off mainstream

    The Graun lost their cojones when MI5 (or was it MI6) broke up their mainframe computer during the Snowden affair. Since that time, the Graun has degenerated from a source of scepticism to a grovelling pravda for the powers that be.

    • RobG

      MI5 and MI6 are both criminal organisations.

      Don’t be fooled by the James Bond films.

      These people are criminal psychopaths completely outside of the law.

      • lysias

        As is the CIA.

        I was just rewatching “The Ipcress File”. One of the heads of a British Army intelligence outfit is reading to Harry Palmer his evaluation, which speaks of Palmer’s criminal tendencies. Which the head says might prove useful.

    • Ultraviolet

      You really think the Guardian ACTUALLY broke up their computers?

      “The article accompanying the video, written by Luke Harding, clarifies that the Snowden files were stored on “four laptops,” which were then destroyed by The Guardian staffers. This matches early reports from August when The Guardian’s editor, Alan Rusbridger said that the computers were MacBook Pros. But as we noticed at the time, not all the parts were from MacBooks. Several of the parts were actually from a PC — a very old, outdated PC.

      “Well, once again, new photos that appeared in the video clearly show desktop PC parts. Specifically, a cumbersome power supply, a motherboard, an external PC keyboard and a cooling fan, neither of which belong inside a MacBook Pro. In fact, in the photo below from the video alleging to show the destroyed computer parts only shows PC parts.”

  • Trowbridge H. Ford aka The Biscuit

    I’ve made my disgust of The Guardian crystal clear on other sites, especially squonk blog, so I have stopped receiving any begging letters from it, and am sure I won’t in future.

    I particularly dislike its putting old controversies in a new light where all the important bits are left out, like its current rehash of the Czech spies, the Koerchers.

    It really fits Orwell’s complaints to a tee.

  • ben

    there has never been recorded a more epic win in the history of the Galaxy.

    eff the guardian.. so, so hard.

  • Antony Goddard

    I supported REMAIN but did not want to be ‘tapped up’ nor ‘be given the bite’ by Remain.orgs
    Why should I ? The proliferation of Beggars in Britain is a sign of the times. As an old timer
    I remember being taught WB Yeats “Easter 1916” in the schoolroom. and also as Cadets
    we were given time to practise marksmanship in the local Rifle Range.
    Are we all catapaulted into interesting times ?
    BTW The Irish leader, Higgins stole the show at the Thiepval Commemoration.
    His quiet dignity was plain contrast to the Jingoism.

  • Resident Dissident

    “So, at best, Gaby Hinshliff is merely an extremely lazy journalist who took Ruth Smeeth’s false account ”

    Its being reported that Corbyn agreed with Chrakabarti’s admonishment of Wadsworth’s behaviour.

  • Laguerre

    I pay a subscription to the Guardian, because in the end I spend half my day on their site, even if I don’t agree with them. It doesn’t seem reasonable to me that I should benefit by commenting without paying.

  • Monteverdi

    The above appeared on the Gabby Hinscliff article in the Guardian which Craig refers to mentioning Ruth Smeeth MP’s time as a Director of Publicity and Campaigns at the Israel lobbyist’s BICOM and her ‘ protected status ‘ revealed by Wikileaks at the US Embassy without further comment.
    It was deleted within two minutes of appearing on the BTL comments.

  • RobG

    Whatever spin these vermin put on it, they are all going to be dealt with, be they tories or labour.

    This country has had enough of corrupt scumj, and the little darlings are going to find that out very shortly.;

    • Habbabkuk (la vita e' bella!)

      It is now being reported that neither Mrs May nor Mr Gove would trigger Article 50 TEU anytime this year.

      That is truly excellent news for real democracy and offers those with Britain’s best interests at heart cause for optimism.


      PS – big demo for” Remain” in London in Saturday. Please consider swelling its ranks.

      • Clark

        This is a demonstration I’m not going to bother with. After initially feeling great disappointment, upon reflection I’ve become very pleased with the nearly 50/50 result. It denies a mandates to both business-as-usual, and to rejection of European integration. Couldn’t be better.

        Europe is big enough and ugly enough to withstand this result, and it has very powerful friends to support it. The true threat to democracy is the media propaganda blitz against Corbyn.

      • Loony

        No, this is excellent news for anarchists, so your glee is fully understandable.

        A sane person may pause to reflect on the situation in Austria. Whilst Austria does not bestride the world stage Austrians have caused certain problems in the past.

        It would likely be in the best interests of everyone for the British to deliver to coup de grace.

        • Geoff

          I assume the Austrian problems you’re referring to are Gerhard Berger’s ‘legendary’ practical jokes against his F1 team mates?

        • Clark

          I think we haven’t considered a first time yet. The EU referendum rolled multiple issues into one binary choice. Consequently, each side are shouting at the other for positions they’re assuming to be held by everyone in their opposition. Very messy; much heat, little light.

  • Laguerre

    No doubt the Guardian is unsatisfactory, but if it’s lost, what’s left? No moderately liberal forum. It’s a real danger. Better having to fight with rightist shits, than no forum at all.

    • Habbabkuk (la vita e' bella!)

      I’d tend to agree with that. This hatred of The Guardian on here really does appear to go beyond the reasonable. Is it a case of jilted lovers?

      • Clark

        I think the Guardian lost a lot of support when it began its smear campaign against Julian Assange, especially the direct lie that he released the Cablegate password when in fact it was a Guardian journalist who published it in his own book. Also because Wikileaks had trusted the Guardian as one of its media partners. The Guardian benefited greatly from Wikileaks and then turned on Assange – traitorous.

  • John Spencer-Davis

    Oh, this is interesting! Let’s talk about journalistic standards at Labour List.

    A couple of days ago I linked to a list of 246 councillors who had signed a letter supporting Jeremy Corbyn. It was rather disconcerting that the next morning a list appeared of over 500 councillors who thought the opposite, and had signed a letter calling on him to go. I wondered whether I should publicise that list in the interests of justice. I decided not to. My position is that I support Corbyn, and there are plenty of people on this forum who do not, and if they wished to publicise that list it was their responsibility to do that. I certainly would have had no objection to it appearing.

    It now seems that a number of councillors whose names appeared on the list of 500 are in fact Corbyn supporters, and are furious that their names had appeared on that list without their approval. Councillor Matthew Brown has called for comments to that effect on Twitter and has found 11 rogue names thus far, some expressing themselves very bluntly.

    The list promptly disappeared from Labour List. It is now back again with more names added and the following explanation:

    The list below was edited when it emerged that a small minority of councillors had inadvertently given approval for the inclusion of their names by clicking on an email signature button. LabourList had no involvement in the compilation of this list.

    I will leave you to ponder how many councillors might have been contacted to make sure they wanted their names on the list, and how many might have just been left on there because they haven’t objected. And how many councillors actually exist…

    There do not seem to have been any complaints from the 246 pro-Corbyn councillors.

    • John Spencer-Davis

      Update: Clearly this matter is not over yet. I have just clicked on my own link to Cllr Matthew Brown’s Twitter account and have found that there are now more councillors than the 11 I mentioned who are denying their names should be on the list. Keep an eye on this.

      • charles drake

        you investigate this episode and report back on monday old chum.
        the following of freaks and child catchers from the council via twitters is not my idea of fun
        in fact one could say it is slightly creepy.

    • Resident Dissident

      I fear you have a different definition of interesting to most of us. When do we move onto the celebrities for and against Corbyn. Lily Allen doesn’t count she is a has been singer who never had much of a voice.

      • John Spencer-Davis

        Names of pro-Corbyn Labour councillors are being fraudulently appended to a letter denouncing Corbyn and telling him to resign, and you don’t find that interesting, and you don’t think other people on here will either. Uh-huh. I wonder if you would find it interesting if it were the other way about. No, silly me, of course you wouldn’t.

        • Resident Dissident

          No they are very naughty boys – I think I would rather talk about real politics. Should parties appeal to the purity of their members or to the concerns of their voters. Should Marxism or social democracy be the dominant force within the Labour Party. On the other hand we could talk about some of the idiots in Momentum.

          • John Spencer-Davis

            On the other hand we could talk about whether MPs and unelected media persons should employ every dirty trick in the book to depose a leader with a huge mandate from his membership – or doesn’t that count as real politics?

          • Resident Dissident

            Good question who should MPs represent those who elected them or those of party members, Which policies and values should they follow those in the manifesto and those that are still in the Party’s aims and values ( like support of the EU, an independent deterrent and a mixed economy) or those that a party leader elected subsequently would like to change them to.

          • Resident Dissident

            What is more important ideological purity of the party or winning enough votes by building a coalitions of interest and entering into compromises with the less than pure so as to obtain power to actually do something practical?

            There are reasons why the hard/Marxist left has never been very successful – what do you think they are?

          • bevin

            The difference between “Marxism” and “Social Democracy” is not self evident: the SD Federation was founded by “Marxists” who dominated the SPD for many years.
            In recent times the term has been used by the likes of Owen, Williams and Jenkins to suggest that it is a form of socialism, without the bits that offend the CIA and the City-Socialism aimed at lowering the wages of workers and taxing them to keep the wealthy in the style to which they are accustomed.
            Perhaps you could explain what Social Democracy is and why you would call socialists in the Labour Party, Marxists?

          • Resident Dissident

            “Social democracy is a political, social and economic ideology that supports economic and social interventions to promote social justice within the framework of a capitalist economy, and a policy regime involving collective bargaining arrangements, a commitment to representative democracy, measures for income redistribution, regulation of the economy in the general interest and welfare state provisions.[1][2][3] Social democracy thus aims to create the conditions for capitalism to lead to greater democratic, egalitarian and solidaristic outcomes; and is often associated with the set of socioeconomic policies that became prominent in Northern and Western Europe—particularly the Nordic model in the Nordic countries—during the latter half of the 20th century”

            As good a definition as any –

            The Labour Party’s aims and values are broadly supportive.

            The Marxist Leninists do not wish to see anything happening within the framework of a market economy and they certainly have no commitment to representative democracy – as demonstrated by their current fixation on support within the Party rather than the broader electorate. They also prattle on about the imminent collapse of capitalism and have done so for many many years.

    • Habbabkuk (la vita e' bella!)

      Thank you for reminding me of the 246, which in turn reminds me that you never did give us the total number of Labour councillors in Great Britain.

  • Burnt

    We’d be better to ask The Guardian to pay us for the time that we waste sifting through it. The Guardian is a tiny step above the BBC and others, because every now and again they achieve a modicum of decency, with the right guest authors. Mostly, though, it is something that you read only to know what other people are reading, so that you know all the lies, imbecilities, half-truths, misconceptions, perversions that you will be up against in your dinner conversation. It really is pathetic that it is asking for handouts, when it is really doing very well profiting off of the pollution that it generates. I actually find the Guardian more sexist, more racist, and more classist, than anything else, precisely because it hides behind its past reputation and the appearance of being progressive. That is just appearance, though, and scraping the surface, you quickly find the majority of its writers are an embarrassment to journalism, and whatever good ones there were have long gone.

    • Laguerre

      You’re not obliged to read their stuff. Give it up, if you don’t like it… many people here continue to read the Guardian, while condemning it.

  • Mungo, Bhoy

    I also received the Rusbridger Memorial Appeal mail. Here is how I replied:

    “If the Guardian were reporting everything they should then I would chip in.

    The paper however, like the rest of the UK press, decided in recent times to ignore the biggest scandal in British sporting history.

    The demise and liquidation of the Rangers Football Club raised many serious issues, and latterly the episode that has come to be known as “Resolution 12” raised some very worrying questions about the governance of football in Scotland and (again) within UEFA.

    The Guardian chose to ignore this story completely. Worse still they declined to run a very moderate paid advert alerting the public to the issue, an advert which had already appeared in a Swiss daily newspaper.

    The reasons behind this seem to many people to be sinister and questionable in the extreme.

    As a former reader and strong supporter of the Guardian I am quite appalled by another instance of apparent executive editorial control being applied to a subject of enormous public interest.

    When the Guardian starts to act again like a proper and responsible newspaper I will consider supporting you again.

    Yours (name supplied)

    To quote Viner: “These are perilous times for progressive politics – and at moments like these the world needs the Guardian more than ever.”

    Really? Prove it.

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