June 16, 2003


Sarah Baxter of The London Times on the Wolfoditzes at The Guardian:

A powerful editor of The New York Times just lost his job over the fabrications of Jayson Blair, a young newsroom protégé. Admittedly Blair lied deliberately, pretending to be all over America when he was actually at home in Brooklyn, but his little flights of fancy look trivial next to the casual anti-American distortions of so many newspapers.

The Wolfowitz story was too good to be true and too good to check. A freelance at The Guardian was so delighted with it that he went to the trouble of translating Wolfowitz from German into English, when he had spoken in English in the first place. And the German story was wrong anyway. No matter: another journalist turned it into the splash.

And on the bloggers who unmask them:

Gregory Djerejian, 30, is an American blogger (web logger) in London who runs a site called Belgravia Dispatch. A current affairs junkie, he took only minutes to do The Guardian’s job for it. “When I saw the headline, my first reaction was Paul Wolfowitz is too smart to say anything like that, so I did a quick Google search.”

A correction was up and running on Belgravia Dispatch hours before The Guardian got around to its own. “I don’t have a political agenda,” said Djerejian, “but I get a little offended by the constant conspiratorial agenda about the Americans.”

Posted by Tim Blair at June 16, 2003 12:02 AM | TrackBack

The Guardian is incredibly slap-dash in its "reporting". Check out the last paragraph of an article written in April by John Sutherland, their supposed "US political expert," on a leading member of the US "Christian Right."

"Armageddon, the 11th volume of LaHaye's Left Behind saga, is just published. Sales of 50 million are claimed for the series. How many Americans believe his fictionalised eschatology? Millions. It was LaHaye who founded the Moral Majority movement that propelled Nixon into office."

All well and good, except that 1.) Tim LaHaye did not found the Moral Majority (which in any case is now defunct). 2.) Richard Nixon was not "helped into power" by the Moral Majority. Nixon resigned in 1974; the Moral Majority was founded in 1979. It was REAGAN (three presidents after Nixon), who was "helped into power" by the MM. 3.) Nixon was not supported by "the Christian Right" which in any case did not really exist at the time he was in office. For his support of arms limitations talks and detente with the Soviets, his meddling in the free market via price and wage controls in the early 70s, and his opening of relations with Red China, Nixon was anathema to the sort of people who later went on to found the Moral Majority. If you don't know the real political difference between Nixon and Reagan, you really do not have any right to call yourself an "expert" on US political affairs.

I emailed the Guardian with these corrections and did not receive the courtesy of a reply. Neither was the article ever corrected -- it's still up in their on-line editions.

I have zero respect for the Guardian's "editorial ethics."

Posted by: Susan at June 16, 2003 01:20 AM

"the Guardian's 'editorial ethics'"

The Guardian has editorial ethics?


Susan - thanks for the best laugh I've had today.

Posted by: Barbara Skolaut at June 16, 2003 04:13 AM

Not to mention - where is the support for the rather astonishing conclusion that millions of Americans believe "fictionalized" eschatology.

Posted by: T. Hartin at June 16, 2003 05:21 AM

Perhaps I could sign on as the "British political expert" for some US paper. After, I've read just about all the P.G. Wodehouse novels and short stories (I even know his nickname was "Plum") and all of Dorothy L. Sayres. This should qualify me to pontificate on, say, what lower-class Brits thinks about the Euro or agricultural supports. I'm also pretty sure they still have a king or some such, although I'm pretty sure they don't cut off heads much any more. Also, they call each other "Guvnor" a lot.

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at June 16, 2003 08:28 AM

Here's the passage that made me piss my pants:
Emily Bell, managing editor of Guardian Online, said the mistake had nothing to do with the anti- war stance of the paper or many of its staff: "I don't know what the politics of my writers or editors are."

Wow, no wonder The Guardian is such a joke - its own senior editorial staff don't read the thing.

Posted by: Craig Ranapia at June 16, 2003 11:31 AM

Tim Blair, of course, never misrepresents his sources and corrects errors scrupulously as and when they arise.

Yeah, and "Sink the Pink" is AC/DC's best ever song. (Don't blame me, I was dead already.)

Posted by: Bon Scott at June 16, 2003 11:33 PM


The fact that this expert seemed to mix up Nixon's own rhetorical phrase "silent majority" and the organization that called itself "Moral Majority" is actually not any worse than what I could imagine the NYT doing right about now.

Posted by: Russell at June 16, 2003 11:37 PM

Cite the errors, Bon-Bon.

Posted by: tim at June 19, 2003 02:38 AM