The NUJ’s website tells us “The NUJ's Black members' council organises the Claudia Jones memorial lecture … The lecture is held every year as part of London's Black History Month in honour of pioneering radical journalist, Claudia Jones”. No information on this year’s lecture, though. And there is a good reason for that.
This year’s guest speaker was to have been - but now won’t be - the Canary’s editor-in-chief Kerry-Anne Mendoza, and the venue the Scott Room at the Guardian building in King’s Place. But Ms Mendoza won’t now be appearing: the NUJ has pulled her invite after Guardian journalists took exception to letting her in the building.
Moreover, Mark di Stefano of BuzzFeed News linked the cancellation to a piece that the Canary had previously run which, it was alleged, had caused freelance Guardian contributor Carl David Goette-Luciak to be deported from Nicaragua. The Canary was claimed to have been “the main source of intimidation” of Goette-Luciak.
The piece concerned was authored by Max Blumenthal, who is a controversial figure, and some at first may have thought Max had over-egged his pudding. But then, BuzzFeed retracted its claim, telling “BuzzFeed News acknowledges that Max Blumenthal neither doxxed anybody or threatened violence and did not intent to imply beyond the reported facts that Carl David Goette-Luciak was deported as a result of Blumenthal’s article”.
So have all parties concerned taken a deep breath, stepped back, had a think about it and decided to allow the lecture to go ahead at the Guardian, with Ms Mendoza giving it? Well, no they haven’t. There has been no walking back of the assertion that “The Guardian NUJ chapel committee has also condemned the Canary’s actions”.
Now, those who look in regularly on Zelo Street will know that I have previously passed adverse comment on the Canary, not least over the ridiculous claim that BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg was somehow in hock to the Tories because someone at a Tory conference put her name on the speakers’ list for an event before asking her (she declined the invitation, when it came). But there is a worrying trend in no-platforming new media.
If it is fine for purveyors of falsehood and misinformation - hello TPA, IEA, ASI, CPS and the rest of the right-wing Astroturf lobby group alphabet soup - to be given a platform, and likewise pundits who peddle bigotry - hello Rod Liddle and friends - then it should not trouble anyone to give the likes of Kerry-Anne Mendoza one too - especially now that the original accusation levelled at Max Blumenthal has been retracted.
Worse for the media establishment, it is telling that the only other source to so far pronounce on this affair has been that of the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog - a borderline Fake News site. The Great Guido has, predictably, followed the establishment line and put the boot in to the Canary.
But what we really have here is another step towards media establishment conformity taken by the Guardian. That’s the establishment that tries its damnedest to censor the views of those in the New Media, while protesting about censorship elsewhere.
As The Artist Taxi Driver put it, “WTF is happening at the Guardian?” If only we knew.
Enjoy your visit to Zelo Street? You can help this truly independent blog carry on talking truth to power, while retaining its sense of humour, by adding to its Just Giving page at