Since the departure of Alan Rusbridger from the editor’s chair, the Guardian has been far less willing to speak truth to power when the power in question is the rest of the press, and especially that part of it under the control of the Murdoch mafiosi. And the paper’s continued avoidance of comment on the now infamous “Muslim Fostering” story merely confirms that Kath Viner and her team have chosen an easier life.
Kath Viner, editor, the Guardian
That story, as has now been demonstrated beyond all doubt, was the ultimate confection of falsehood and misinformation. It trashed the reputation of Andrew Norfolk, and laid bare the editorial ineptitude of John Witherow. It was nothing more than vicious dog-whistle racism dressed up as serious investigative journalism.
Worse, the rest of the media establishment did not want to criticise the Murdoch goons, not even the broadcasters. But eventually, so I’m told, Miqdaad Versi of the Muslim Council of Britain, secured agreement from the Guardian to run a piece written by him under the Comment Is Free banner. It was submitted by the start of last week.
But then came problems. Versi, I am reliably informed, had asserted that Witherow should resign (and dead right he should). By late on Tuesday, the piece had still not been scheduled for publication: my information is that the Guardian wanted to replace “should resign” with “should be held to account”. That was bad enough. But worse was to come.
Wednesday came and went with no publication. So did Thursday. By yesterday, it was looking like the Guardian had got cold feet. Put alongside the recent publication of Rusbridger’s account of events around the phone hacking revelations - a time when the paper really was being put under the cosh by the Murdoch mafiosi - it looked bad.
Then came word that there would not be a publication date for Versi’s Comment Is Free piece, because it had been spiked. You read that right: the management at King’s Place were so frightened of Murdoch reprisals that they had apparently ducked their responsibility. And it was not the first recent occasion when they had done so.
January last year brought the Guardian’s abandonment of press victims when the paper called for Part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry to be cancelled. When the Commons Culture, Media and Sport committee recommended Leveson 2 go ahead, along with Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act, the Guardian failed to report it.
This year, the news was very much in the same vein: when new Minister for Murdoch Matt Hancock decided to finally bin Leveson 2, the Guardian once again ignored all those victims of press malpractice, and instead cheered him on. A letter signed by 21 professors of journalism duly passed severely adverse comment on the paper’s stance.
And now, the paper of Charles Prestwich Scott has chickened out of publishing legitimate and well-founded criticism of one of the most scandalously bad pieces of journalism in recent history - because its management is scared of the Murdoch mafiosi.
If the Guardian is not prepared to hold power to account, then what is it for?
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