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Saturday 28 March 2020

Observer Leader Writer Caught Red Handed

You may not yet have heard of Sonia Sodha. But she is a Very Important Media Person Indeed. So important that she not merely a leader writer, but the chief leader writer, for the Observer, Sunday sister paper to the Guardian. She has also been caught indulging in a crude and gratuitous act of smearing, made worse by the flagrantly abusive way in which she has tried to excuse herself. The subject was, as ever, the Coronavirus pandemic.
Sonia Sodha

Turning her attention to Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet, who has been vocal in his criticism of the Government’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak, she sniffed “Just been reminded Richard Horton was the Lancet editor who published the utterly discredited [Andrew] Wakefield paper that claimed a link between the MMR & autism, & which caused vaccination rates to plummet. He took *twelve years* to formally withdraw it”.
Dr Richard Horton

Do go on. “I’m a bit shocked he’s still editor to be honest! Anyway I think this is important context to the tone of his Lancet editorial. There are *undoubtedly* v tough qus to be asked about govt preparedness & how they wasted time in procuring ventilators/PPE/testing capacity. But there are more & less responsible ways to ask them”.
The smear used is “I can link him to something bad, therefore everything he does is bad”, not unlike the smear “Carole Cadwalladr had to issue a correction for one of her claims, therefore they’re all wrong”. Ms Cadwalladr writes for, er, The Observer. Perhaps Ms Sodha remembers her. Meanwhile, Peter Jukes of Byline Media wondered what the point of the attack actually was. “Who reminded you, Sonia? And why now?
Fair question. What say Ms S? “No one with dodgy motivations Peter, if that's what you're suggesting”. Just a little defensive. Jukes was more specific. “Nothing to do with the fact the Lancet has just published a damning account of NHS preparedness then? Oh good”. At which point Sonia Sodha sold the pass in no style at all. “Nope. From a fellow critic of the government. Sorry to crash your conspiracy theory”. Oh dear!
This is exactly the kind of accusation that the right-wing press, and especially their shock troops like the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, use in trying to discredit Byline Media - which, along with Byline Investigates, is picking up on an increasing number of stories that papers like the Observer can’t, or won’t, cover.
It’s very “we’re the establishment, we’re real journalists, you’re just a conspiracy site”. Very “we know and you don’t”. But one Tweeter was distinctly unimpressed. “No need for any conspiracy theory. Why would you be pointing that out now, at a time when he is making wholly valid criticisms of the govt, other than to back up the govt? There is no other possible reason. How thick do you think we are?” Well, quite. And there was more.
BTW pls can you name the person who wrote the pro Iraq invasion editorial in the Observer? Just so we can be clear? You know, the invasion that caused around half a million deaths?” What’s sauce for the goose, and all that. Yes, Wakefield’s paper was a shocker. So was the Observer’s blind advocacy for the Iraq adventure.

If Guardian Media Group is becoming a Government propaganda outlet, then perhaps its management should come clean and say so. And then leave real journalism to others.
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Arnold said...

The GMC found that Wakefield had been dishonest in his research in 2010, so the delay wasn't really down to The Lancet. It was Wakefield's press conferences that did the real damage.

Andy McDonald said...

I think she needs to consider the difference between a newspaper and a scientific journal.

David said...

The same Observer that splashed ridiculous claims about MMR causing autism across its front page and later tried to rehabilitate Wakefield, and which still employs the journalist responsible to write on health, that Observer?

The same Observer that initially could only find space for Ms Cadwalladr in the glossy magazine? They seem to have been a government mouthpiece since a visit from the spooks following Wikileaks.

Mark Howard said...

Indeed there is a huge difference between the editor of a scientific journal and a newspaper but equally a huge gulf between most journal editors of The Lancet or Science or Nature. Most journals are for tiny specialist audiences. The lancet covers, er medicine. It would be the peer reviewers if there was blame to go around but they were lied to. A massive part of the reason for the GMC action in striking Wakefield off.

RDT said...

Blocking people who point out the Observer supported the Iraq War

Anonymous said...

Interesting how so MANY "journalists" are now right to far right.

All a coincidence.

Of course it is.....

Anonymous said...

Byline won't be the future either Tim.

Intelligence community may agree.

Look at the evidence. Between mainstream and alternative media, none of them have solved a single high-profile case. NONE!

Watching them all bicker on social media is both concerning and unprofessional.

Money, money, money.

zen_lobster said...

wasnt Sonia on the board of some pre-TIG think-tank style vehicle for Chuka?