Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The surveillance society and Aaro ...

A commenter who I can't thank because they're anonymous writes ...

To drag this topic onto the blog's raison d'etre, does anyone else think this strikes the death knell for Aaro's Birtist and intrusive approach to personal information? It seems that the people we would trust the most with our info,the police, come out looking corrupted and somewhat incompetent. And of course there's the journalism that goes under the rubric of News International, who are no longer the gatekeepers to Truth so much as the fallen angels making up Murdoch particular domain of hell. As someone said before, Aaro got attacked by Monbiot on Twitter over the responsibility held by the company he works for all these scandals, and Aaro was highly disingenuous in his replies, more or less saying that because he wasn't under any sort of "editorial control" (because he's a free spirit, you see, not bound to any of the old ideological lines) there was nothing to be worried about concerning his employer's ethical behavior. It's the sort of thing that should receive a proper posting on here.

It is a very good point. Back in the day, Aaro was a big fan of the surveillance state (doing quite a bit of work to establish the dodgy credentials of the "Every day you are recorded 300 times by CCTV" factoid). I wonder if his views might be subject to revision now that we have learned, or at least been vividly demonstrated that a) any information which is accessible to the state, is accessible to anyone who can bribe an officer of the state, and that b) even people who believe themselves to be "too boring" to be the subject of official surveillance, can become interesting if they have a close relative who is murdered.

I lack the skills to do that linking-to-twitter conversations thing (perhaps another editor can help: Update: Thanks CousCous Kid!) but the Aaro/Monbiot exchange was a peach. Aaro's side of it was perhaps influenced in its tone by the fact that he was preparing for an uncomfortable and worrying medical procedure (best wishes big fella), but the underlying point is clear to anyone - having laid down with dogs, our man is trying to pretend that he only has small, easily managed fleas which don't really stick to him anyway.

97 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://bettween.com/daaronovitch/georgemonbiot

Couscous Kid

7/12/2011 12:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Hoagy said...

This last Ellroyesque week has rather micturated on Aaro's "Conspiracies? only loonies entertain such crimethink!" schtick.
How big might this can of worms be?
Tangentopoli in the U.K., coming sometime, maybe?

7/12/2011 01:10:00 PM  
Blogger Phil said...

As I said a few days ago, Tangentopoli started out as an investigation of bribery in local government in Milan - in fact, that's where the name came from: it literally means "Bribe City" or "Bribesville". Sometimes these things do spread. The other interesting parallel is that T'opoli took the lid off scandalous practices that everyone already knew about and had tolerated for years. Which is how you get people like Berlusconi claiming (to this day) that the whole thing was a political conspiracy, since nobody could have any valid reasons for objecting to this stuff that everyone already knew about, etc.

7/12/2011 01:49:00 PM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

I think one of the interesting things about this case is that it ought to put some perspective on the (characteristically inaccurate) tabloid-driven hysteria about local government and RIPA. Not that I'd want to defend everything that local authorities have done, but most of their surveillance has been in areas where they have regulatory and investigative responsibilities and the power to bring prosecutions (trading standards, fly tipping etc).

2 points.

1. The tabloids have been far more invasive of privacy than local authorities have been.

2. There has been a persistent campaign that only the police should be able to do these things, but it turns out that they've been hand in glove with the tabloids themselves.

[I should declare an interest here, as Mrs Cabernet works in a related area.]

7/12/2011 02:02:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

It is a very good point - and one that was consistently made in the abstract by those arguing against the surveillance state, and IIRC largely ignored as beneath contempt by Aaro etc.

Perhaps someone to whom he's likely to respond could ask Aaro about that 'instruction' from the Indie - telling the world about it could be his own token Nick-Davies-like exposé. Might even be welcomed by his employers (though probably not, since they will one day be a past employer too).

In particular, one is led to assume he refused to comply. Also, and esp. if he didn't/couldn't prevent such editorial control being exerted, did he resign in protest?

I haven;t time to check dates or nuffink, but recalling the Indy's anti-war/surveillance/GWOT stance, could that have been the subject matter of this 'instruction'?

7/12/2011 02:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Hoagy said...

Its interesting to compare and contrast Murdoch and Berlusconi.
Murdoch's aims: to bend the Anglosphere polity strongly and permanently in the direction of crackpot neoliberalism and wargasmic neoconservatism.
Murdoch's means: bootstrap his media power up to the point where no one can oppose his project without the realistic fear that giant buckets of shit will be flung in their face all day, every day, until they cease and desist doing anything Rupe thinks obnoxious. Do all this indirectly through subordinates (Brillo Pad, Wade, McKenzie etc.). Very much the éminence grise.
Berlusconi's aims: Stay on as Prime Minister in order to stay out of jail.
Berlusconi's means: use the media empire you built to put yourself into the only office that can give you legal cover. The exact opposite of an éminence grise

7/12/2011 02:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Hoagy said...

"Well, Hoover performed. He would have fought. That was the point. He would have
defied a few people. He would have scared them to death. He has a file on everybody."
— Richard Milhous Nixon

word verification:locruclo
'Low crook,lo!'

7/12/2011 03:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

To drag this topic onto the blog's raison d'etre, does anyone else think this strikes the death knell for Aaro's Birtist and intrusive approach to personal information? It seems that the people we would trust the most with our info,the police, come out looking corrupted and somewhat incompetent.

Sorry, this is news? Policemen passing on information to certain members of the press; private investigators blagging agents of the state and corporate officials very much greedy for filthy lucre? We may or may not be looking at orders of magnitude previously unimagined, but these practices were hardly unknown back when DA was giving his perspective on the surveillance society. In other words, they were part of the debate then and are part of the debate now. My point is: what has changed and why should DA or anybody else reflect on their arguments?

In some cases we're talking about workers at phone companies passing on mobile numbers to journos. In others, we have officials dispensing private information having been duped by identity thieves. In both cases, the deterent to this behaviour is making it a criminal offence. That clearly isn't 100% effective - never has been and never will be - but again I don't see why any of this should give DA pause for thought, or at least, I don't see why it should give him or those who share his arguments more pause for thought than anyone else?

Re writing for the Times, there are currently as many allegations against the Times as there are against the Guardian and the Independent.

Whatever happend to this blog's (and George Monbiot's?) principled opposition to smear by association?

If we're going down the 'Times is owned by the same company that owns the NoTW' route, then you've got yourself a pretty mess. After all, News Int. is just a UK subsidiary of News Corp, so presumably Monbiot would like everyone currently taking a salary at Harper Collins, Festival Records and 20th Century Fox plus countless others to do the right thing and throw themselves on the dole?

7/12/2011 03:22:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

Sorry, this is news?

You might have missed it if you're still boycotting the Guardian and BBC for their obsessive hatred of Israel but yes, it's been quite a prominent story recently. Twit.

7/12/2011 03:30:00 PM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

Brownie: I think the point here is that Aaro and co are the part of the decoration that make the whole operation look better than it is. They are there for PR and propaganda purposes and so are pretty well implicated in giving cover to what goes on in the rest rather than being some separate and entirely unconnected thing. Admittedly, there's some difficulty in the idea that putting Oliver Kamm out front could improve the public image of even an S&M brothel, but I'm sure you get the picture.

7/12/2011 03:34:00 PM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

...what has changed and why should DA or anybody else reflect on their arguments?

Ever thus.

7/12/2011 03:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

You might have missed it if you're still boycotting the Guardian and BBC for their obsessive hatred of Israel but yes, it's been quite a prominent story recently. Twit.

As it happens, I do occasionally buy the Guardian and I do work for the BBC. I've defended both on HP numerous times, more so the BBC than the Guardian which still thinks it's being both radical and balanced to include articels from the likes of, for example, Neil "kill Iraqi translators" Clark.

Why do you think it's okay to deliberately misrepresent my views?

7/12/2011 03:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

Brownie: I think the point here is that Aaro and co are the part of the decoration that make the whole operation look better than it is.

I understand the point, but I don't think it's fair. He's writing a column for a pretty highly-regarded newspaper which, at time of writing, is not implicated in this tawdry mess.

Using Monbiot's logic, every journalist not employed by GMG should be in car on their way to Beachy Head.

7/12/2011 03:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Cian said...

My point is: what has changed and why should DA or anybody else reflect on their arguments?

Because Aaro ignored, or derided, such possibilities at the time. Events in the past week, that you have apparently missed, would make it difficult even for him to do so.

Not exactly covering yourself in glory here Brownie.

7/12/2011 03:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Cian said...

He's writing a column for a pretty highly-regarded newspaper

Ah, you're a time-traveller from the distant past. Sadly the highly-regarded bit didn't survive Murdoch's proprietorship. These days its an underfunded rag that has to be given away.

7/12/2011 03:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Waterloo Sunset said...

One thing that hasn't yet really been discussed in relation to state/journalist collusion is the reproducing of state sourced misinformation as fact. Often unattributed as well. With the cops, let alone contacts journalists have with the security services. In any discussion of links between state agencies and the press, it's certainly relevant and has wider ramifications for democracy.

This one isn't going to be raised outside the fringes though, because the broadsheets are at least as implicated as the tabloids, if not more so. And people like Martin '' Samurai Swords' are unlikely to be keen on widening the scope of the discussion away from tabloid misdeeds.

7/12/2011 04:01:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

Views? Shurely 'stances'?

FR - ever thus

as in Chomsky's anti-conspiracy progression:

It doesn’t happen; not as far as I know; hardly ever; not typically; not without being blown wide open; only as a ‘fringe’ activity; not without proper authorisation; it’s not a big surprise

Also, to repeat:

It [corrupt leaks of state-held info] is a very good point - and one that was consistently made in the abstract by those arguing against the surveillance state, and IIRC largely ignored as beneath contempt by Aaro etc.

7/12/2011 04:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Hoagy said...

Brownie, you might like to follow the advice of two Western Masters (Diogenes the Cynic & John Dillinger):'Lie down on the floor and keep calm.'
In your case 20 mg of Valium might help. Failing that, inhaling 200 mg of Helium would at least amuse those unfortunate enough to be in earshot of you.

7/12/2011 04:12:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

Nick did a piece on police bullshit before he went completely Euston.

And David Leigh did one about spookery, in the press gazette around 1990 IIRC. Couldn;t track it down quickly but did come across this which illustrates the problems of a 'confidentiality' based privacy law being used by govt (won't selflink again).

7/12/2011 04:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Hoagy said...

By the way, I must say I'm glad the estimable providers of this blog did'nt fold it away like they mused that they might about a year ago.
Where would we go for Decent shenanigans and monkeyshines?

7/12/2011 04:18:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

I think the David Leigh article you were thinking of might be from 1985 and can be found here

There was also a notorious mea culpa in the Staggers.

7/12/2011 04:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

Because Aaro ignored, or derided, such possibilities at the time.

What? He deirded the possibility that police mgiht shift information on to journalists? He ignored the fact that journalists might 'blag' to get their hands on private info?

Are you sure about this? I'm pretty certain DA's arguments were not predicated on a naive assumption that the police are incorruptible.

I think you and others are still missing the point. We haven't suddenly stumbled upon previously unthinkable practice that is only now possible because the state is intrusive to a degree DA supports. If the police are doing their jobs properly, they will always have access to information that could prove valuable to third parties, and there will always be some police officers willing to sell that on.

What, precisely, was DA arguing in favour of that means this malpractice is more likely today, or can you at least be specific about the arguments that he ought to be refelcting on in light of these revelations?

7/12/2011 05:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

Brownie, you might like to follow the advice of two Western Masters...

Alternatively, you could provide some concrete examples of the arguments DA has made previously that are invalidated because we've discovered something about the police that, er, we've always known.

If you are interviewed by the police for whatever reason (as a suspect, a witness or victim), they will immediately have your name, address, phone and address info, job title, family details and specifics about what you were doing and with whom you were doing it last Tuesday night. Roll back the surveillance state to whatever levels you find acceptable, and the police will still have access to that data. Expand the surveillance state to whatever levels DA was advocating, and there may be one or two additional pieces of info that we wouldn't want falling into the wrong hands, but nothing that changes the debate materially.

Or if there is, no-one has bothered to identify it yet.

7/12/2011 05:31:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

bubby; re: David Leigh piece

Actually I was 10 years out, not merely 5, and the periodical was the British Journalism Review, not Press Gazette.

7/12/2011 05:33:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Brownie: I think the point here is that Aaro and co are the part of the decoration that make the whole operation look better than it is.

I understand the point, but I don't think it's fair. He's writing a column for a pretty highly-regarded newspaper which, at time of writing, is not implicated in this tawdry mess.


As I suggested yesterday on Twitter, the word I would use to describe the Times is beard.

Come on, Brownie, the News International papers are co-dependent. The Sun makes the money and the Times and Sunday Times offer a patina of respectability, like a table of Kilgore Trout books outside a dirty magazine shop. Though the Times isn't as highly regarded as it was. (No paper is.)

Sorry, this is news? Policemen passing on information to certain members of the press; private investigators blagging agents of the state and corporate officials very much greedy for filthy lucre? We may or may not be looking at orders of magnitude previously unimagined, but these practices were hardly unknown back when DA was giving his perspective on the surveillance society. In other words, they were part of the debate then and are part of the debate now. My point is: what has changed and why should DA or anybody else reflect on their arguments?

To answer the first question of the last sentence: IMO, nothing. Corruption is harder to ignore, that's all, so the arguments which attempt to do so are less convincing. That's it.

I'm sure you'll tell me if this is unfair.

Aaro and others (including Blair) in favour of surveillance. The police are good and trustworthy people. They have your interests at heart. If you don't trust them, you're just paranoid.

Everyone who doubts the surveillance state. We're not paranoid, we just don't trust the police with too much power.

Our Dave claims that he's never had a steer from his editors at NI. I have no reason to gainsay him on that. But Murdoch is Murdoch:

When Rupert Murdoch acquired Times Newspapers Limited in 1981, Evans was appointed editor of The Times. However, he remained with the paper only a year, resigning over policy differences relating to editorial independence.

Pre-Murdoch, the Sunday Times broke the thalidomide story, one of the big news events of the last century. Now what does it report on?

What is it we object to or don't trust? Murdoch is known to interfere in his newspapers. And that interference has taken the form of political assassination. Personally, I think NI is staffed by fantasists, but they believe at least that "it was the Sun what won it". Every time Murdoch interferes, it's against press accountability, or for an attack on the BBC, or it's intimidating a Labour politician. When he arrived at NI, his employment policy was allegedly (need link) "no poofters, no blacks, no suede shoes." (Best link I can find. Also, too.)

Would I work for a cunt like that? I'd rather pull my own eyes out.

7/12/2011 05:37:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Just seen Brownie's most recent comment. This is what David Aaronovitch argued (via.) He seems to say that as we don't have a bad government, bad things won't happen to most people, as the law will step in. It's pretty clear that it didn't, and the John Yates investigation was *cough* flawed if not incompetent and/or corrupt.

It always amazes me - and it shouldn't - how clever adults seem to believe, against the evidence of their own experience, that the governing classes in our democracy inevitably mess everything up. “National politics is discredited. The wrong people are in power. The whole system is broken”, asserts a high-brow Establishment figure at the weekend, listing the Child Support Agency, cost overruns and failures of IT projects, the fiasco of the new contracts for doctors and dentists, the “late marking of SATs” the loss of personal data, as definitive proof.

One could add to that, a Prime Minister who hired Andy Coulson (bully -- see also Pottergate) who'd been investigated when one of his staff had been sent to prison. David Cameron ignored warnings from Alan Rusbridger among others, and when called on this in the House of Commons, decided to go AWOL. Hooray for democracy.

7/12/2011 05:37:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

When I compared the Times and ST to a table of Kilgore Trout books, I meant to add, but not as well-written. Of course.

Which reminds me, "So it goes" would have been a very fine front page for the last News of the World, if not as fine as "The fascist octopus has sung its swansong."

7/12/2011 05:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

Would I work for a cunt like that? I'd rather pull my own eyes out.

Everything you say about Murdoch was known or at least suspected before this scandal broke. Where were the posts asking how DA can sleep at night working for the Timees?

Whatever you think of DA's output, are you seriously going to claim that it reads like Digger's Diary? Does DA's general outlook on life and politics, as represented in his columns for the Times, chime with your understanding of what makes Murdoch tick?

If you answer these questions honestly, then the question of whether DA writes without fear or favour shouldn't trouble you for more than a nano-second. You say you won't 'gainsay' his word on this, but you do everything but.

The Times may not be what it was, but if everyone could just stop pretending it's a weekday version of the NoTW that would be terrific.

7/12/2011 05:53:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

The metaphor I wanted to go for, but repeatedly rejected, goes like this.

The NotW used to specialise in murders. You know, if you put poison in someone's tea, what's in the cup you give them is mostly tea. It doesn't have to be all poison to kill. It may not even take very much.

The Times may not be poison, but it's the vector used by the poisoner. (Oh hell, have I used vector correctly or have I done a Will Self?)

Dennis Potter[1] called his terminal cancer 'Rupert.' He said there is no one person more responsible for the pollution of what was already a fairly polluted press.

The Times may not be what it was, but if everyone could just stop pretending it's a weekday version of the NoTW that would be terrific.

I'm not. I've called it a 'beard'; I've compared it to non-porn books outside a porn shop. I've said it's there to hide the taste of poison.

I don't know how DA sleeps at night. Asking him would be futile. ;-)

[1] How would Brooks and Coulson have reacted to a Dennis Potter emergency?

7/12/2011 06:18:00 PM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

Does DA's general outlook on life and politics, as represented in his columns for the Times, chime with your understanding of what makes Murdoch tick?

Well I'm not sure if I have a complete view on "what makes Murdoch tick". Worth noting though that the Times is one of two papers (the Observer being the other one) that provides a happy home for people persuaded by the Henry Jackson Society view of the world. Presumably they get jobs there because their outlook chimes with someones? (Probably T. Blair, come to think of it.)

7/12/2011 06:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Hoagy said...

The last really big scoop I can recall from the ST was the Vannunu story from the mid '80s. That was genuinely a Big Deal. They only got that after Cap'n Bob fumbled the story ( and likely tipped off Mossad that the game was afoot ) though. Would a story so damaging to Israel get any play in the Murdoch press at any point in the last ten years?

7/12/2011 06:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Cian said...

If the Times wasn't dying, it wouldn't be given away, or offered very cheap through promotional deals.

While its less poisonous in its content; the weight of its content is closer to the Mail these days, than the other broadsheets.

7/12/2011 07:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

The Times may not be poison, but it's the vector used by the poisoner.

What does that make the New York Post? What's your vector, Victor?

This is just code for saying, "Yes, I accept the Times is different to the NoTW, but here's a stick with which to beat DA so I'm buggered if I'm not going to pick it up".

While its less poisonous in its content; the weight of its content is closer to the Mail these days, than the other broadsheets.

Something you could only possibly know if you read it. So Cian reads the Times, but people who write for it are beyond the pale.

Is everyone keepig up?

7/12/2011 07:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

Worth noting though that the Times is one of two papers (the Observer being the other one) that provides a happy home for people persuaded by the Henry Jackson Society

Two words: "Neil" and "Clark"

7/12/2011 07:52:00 PM  
Blogger Phil said...

Its interesting to compare and contrast Murdoch and Berlusconi.

Mmyeah, but the analogy is between what's happening now and the collapse of the old, Christian Democrat regime (the same party in power for 44 years, sustained by fear, corruption and lies). Berlusconi is a phenomenon of a much lower order - a kind of political Stay Behind operation.

7/12/2011 07:54:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

What does that make the New York Post? What's your vector, Victor?

Another paper I'd boycott? Good job I'm not in democratic Israel, eh?

What exactly is your point about Neil Clark? Publishing him is part of the Guardian's commitment to pluralism. He can't be any worse than Julie Bindel or that god-botherer on CiF. At least he hasn't asked a leader of her majesty's loyal opposition to circumnavigate the bloody globe to fellate him. Unlike some evil billionaire tycoons I could name.

And I won't believe that Dave is free to write what he wants until he describes his paper's owner as being as crude as you'd expect a man raised by feral dingoes to be, and only suitable for paid employment as a Gollum-o-gram. Until then, he ain't telling it like it is.

7/12/2011 08:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Cian said...

Something you could only possibly know if you read it. So Cian reads the Times, but people who write for it are beyond the pale.

If you could point to where I said that the people who wrote for it are 'beyond the pale' I'd be most grateful. I tend to classify it with the free newspapers these days. At least the indie has some interesting quirks.

I glance (and it usually is a glance, as there's usually very little of interest) at it occasionally when someone has left a copy on the train, or in a cafe. If you want to make that a 'gotcha' moment, feel free.

7/12/2011 08:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Cian said...

I think Brownie's point is that Neil Clark has suddenly joined the Henry Jackson Society. Not a huge surprise; one posterior looks pretty much like another when you're close up.

7/12/2011 08:18:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Speaking of the Henry Jackson Society, The Rt. Hon. Michael Gove MP is a signatory. He also wrote for Murdoch, receiving
£5,000 a month for one hour's work a week where he puffed one Joel Klein who "left his job as Chancellor of New York City Schools, to take up positions as Executive Vice-President in the office of the chairman and CEO of News Corp’s Education Division."

There's nothing like cool, dispassionate journalism.

7/12/2011 09:00:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Oh and BTW, I don't hate ALL Murdoch's empire. True, I'm certainly not a fan (I can do litotes too, you know) of Glenn Beck or Bill O'Reilly. But there's still one show...

And not everyone at the NotW was a cunt. But the rest, maybe they were human once... but they were diverted, they were perverted, going by Giles Coren's petulant tweets.

7/12/2011 09:11:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

I don't much go for this everything-was-known-or-suspected line. I think the scale of this is extraordinary. I knew what Murdoch and his papers were like - of course I did, I've been a socialist for more than thirty years. But I didn't know they were quite like this. Not quite these levels of depravity, and not quite on the industrial scale that's being revealed.

It's quite feasible that the Times doesn't share the methods of the NOTW, and even if there's some overlap, it won't do so on the same scale. of course. but what it does do is serve Murdoch's business and political interests every bit as much as the NOTW, because thats what Murdoch's papers do. It's not some coincidence of ownership like two companies that happen to be in the same share portfolio. They serve his interests. It's what they do and what they are supposed to do. This can't simply be ignored.

Now, I don't and won't hold it against any given inidvidual that they work for any newspaper (within reason). I've written for the Times on one occasion myself. I don't care. But what's a bit different with Aaro is that he's not just Joe Colmunist, he was (and is) very much part of Tony Blair's court circle, and Blair was very much part of Murdoch's. Their relationship is political, as is the relationship between the Times and the NOTW and the relationship of both to Murdoch: and we're talking about higher levels of those court circles, it's not like Mr White being a member of the Labour Party in Oxford East and Mrs Green being a member in Edinburgh West.

In those circumstances I don't think Aaro can really do "nothing to do with me guv" and nor can anybody else do "nothing new here, nothing to see". This isn't just about dreadful journalistic practices, it's about networks of power, patronage and corruption, if I may be excused some late-night clichés, and Aaro has been playing an active role within that network. One personally clean, of that I'm sure, nobody's paying him to do or say things he doesn't agree with. But he's been part of it all the same.

7/12/2011 09:33:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

As far as Aaro and the surveillance society is concerned, if nothing has changed, and the police force are as trustworthy as they were a fortnight ago, then I'd like to see Aaro actually say that. he's been notoriously trusting where the state is concerned (the de Menezes shooting and subsequent events come inevitably to mind here) and the point is that it's only really possible for nothing to have changed if you already held a deeply sceptical view of these matters. Which I do not think he did.

7/12/2011 09:38:00 PM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

So we're in the middle of what seems like a really big shift in British politics, the media, culture etc, with reputations being made and lost, and somehow Brownie thinks Neil Clark is relevant to something or other. Really?

7/12/2011 10:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Asteri said...

The best thing about all this is watching every politician who's spent the last 30 years having to lick de facto PM Murdoch's boots while looking over their shoulders for his henchmen, suddenly turn on him like dogs against their owners. Brown's attempts to play at being the victim of NI would however be more credible if his wife hadn't organised Rebekah Brooks 40th.

7/12/2011 11:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Three completely unrelated points:

1. I think that thinking about Murdoch in terms of Berlusconi is entirely unhelpful. I agree with Waterloo Sunset. Over the past week, politicians have been quick to plead that they're really just weak and powerless, and Murdoch is the puppet-master, and they're "merely a conspiracy to seize power" (hat-tip Dwight Eisenhower), and they did it too! and, and, and ...

At the same time, various hacks have been all too keen to emphasise that Parliament is awash in catharsis, and that the truth has finely emerged about the relationship between Murdoch and politicians.

But all of this misses the fact that the influence works in the other direction too. The off-the-record briefings. The churnalism. The smears. The daily drip-drip-drip of bullshit. The "exclusives". The latest set of (funnily enough, never followed up on) allegations against the latest brown-skinned tyrant with a funny name.

Clearly it's obvious now that NOTW had no sincere concern for the victims of crime. But why should we assume that they took stands simply to sell papers? There's no reason to suppose that a civil libertarian tabloid wouldn't sell well. And why should we assume it's about Murdoch's politics? He's more of a libertarian, and "tough on crime" rhetoric is not what he believes in. But such talk does benefit the government by increasing its power.

And here is Peter Oborne providing an example of this process in action:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-L6U0ZQE32E

2. I don't know whether you lot saw this back in March but DA debated Rory Stewart about interventionism/war-mongering:

https://www.intelligencesquared.com/events/bad-guys

3. Can I make a request? Is it possible to see less word association between vile shitheads like Murdoch, and female genitalia, please? It does a disservice to half the human species.

7/13/2011 12:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

Off-topic: Hari suspended. See Jack of Kent for all the gory details that now include allegations of sock-puppetry.

http://jackofkent.blogspot.com/2011/07/who-is-david-rose.html

Haha. The word verification is acking me to type in 'flout'. As in, 'the truth', Johann.

7/13/2011 01:15:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

This is on topic how, Brownie? You seem to have adopted Michael Ezra's tactic of trying to change the subject to fit your own idees fixes, and then accusing everyone else of not handling the truth.

But, as you're clearly keeping up with the latest events, I'd like to add that they chopped off King Charles' head, which shows you can't really trust Parliament, to save you the bother.

Anon, you're quite right, and I apologise to half of all vertebrates (is that right? it's too early for a course in cladistics) for my language fail. I got too carried away in winding up Comrade Brownie. I just wanted to test a theory: the more vitriol I threw at Murdoch, the more he went, Neil Clark -- and now, Johann Hari. I predict that he'll bring up Ken Livingstone sometime this afternoon.

Another person curiously on Harry's Place's enemies list..
So, scratch the c-word. Just imagine I said something more original, say spirochete, instead.

7/13/2011 05:29:00 AM  
Blogger Phil said...

I think that thinking about Murdoch in terms of Berlusconi is entirely unhelpful.

As the local Italianist, I'd like to point out that nobody has suggested doing this. I've likened the (political) fall of News Corp to the fall of the Christian Democrat regime, circa 1992-4.

(Also, you don't say why this would be unhelpful - after all, a close relationship between govt and press, managed by and to the advantage of the *former*, isn't exactly unknown in Berlusconi's Italy. But never mind.)

7/13/2011 07:29:00 AM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

A quick glance at the Twitter record, btw, reveals that Aaro was not in fact saying "nothing to do with me guv", and was actually defending his employer; specifically he said that "use of the #notw scandal to block the BSkyB bid is disingenuous on part of competitors". Also "Murdoch probably saved paper journalism" (which is strange, as only two national newspapers have been shut down in the last thirty years in the UK, both by Murdoch).

The Robert Fisk story linked above is excellent, particularly its two last paragraphs, which really ought to give Aaro some pause over whether it is such a good thing that in five years at the Times, nobody ever felt the need to instruct him on what to write.

7/13/2011 08:04:00 AM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

Recall also that the supposedly respectable Times found room in their roster of columnists for Andy Hayman, which puts all of Aaro's "proud of the fine bunch of people I work with" bluster into some perspective.

7/13/2011 08:16:00 AM  
Blogger Phil said...

"Murdoch probably saved paper journalism"

...by breaking the tyranny of the printroom unions and ushering in the brave new world of papers like, er, Today... well, anyway, we needed to open up the market to new entrants, because the old newspaper companies could never have handled the challenges of... stuff... and so by now we'd have no newspapers at all.

That Aaro swallows this line says a lot. It's a bit like the idea (which I remember being pushed by Andrew Neil) that unrestricted commercial broadcasting would lead to more high-quality programmes - in both cases the argument was essentially "this thing that's working isn't really working, and if we break it the replacement will be much better, honest".

7/13/2011 08:48:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

While we're discussing poor journalistic practice, I may as well observe that if you web-publish pieces about individuals that you later find yourselves having to withdraw, then that's poor practice, because you really shouldn't be running pieces that you're not able or prepared to defend. If this happens because of a generally reckless approach to people, facts and accusations, then this is true all the more.

This is, of course, a very minor point indeed compared to rampant phone-hacking, police corruption or the closeness of the Blair coterie to Rupert Murdoch. But, y'know.

7/13/2011 08:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

This is on topic how, Brownie?

You missed my "off-topic" preface? I reckon I've seen the same thing from some of your regular readers at least half-a-dozen times on the last half-a-dozen threads with nary an admonishment from you or the other authors, but hey, it's your blog, so you'll get no more "off-topics" from me.

Recall also that the supposedly respectable Times found room in their roster of columnists for Andy Hayman, which puts all of Aaro's "proud of the fine bunch of people I work with" bluster into some perspective.

So you write stuff like this, and then pretend to wonder what the reference to Neil Clark is all about? Has Hayman revealed himself to be a Srebrenica denier recently?

BTW, I liked the commitment to "pluralism" excuse. Covers a multitude of sins that one, doesn't it?

7/13/2011 08:57:00 AM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

So you write stuff like this, and then pretend to wonder what the reference to Neil Clark is all about? Has Hayman revealed himself to be a Srebrenica denier recently?

Neil Clark, odious though he is, is a ridiculous man of absolutely no consequence. Hayman, ridiculous though he is, is an odious man who has exercised significant power in a matter of major public importance.

Don't you see the difference Brownie? No wonder Harry's Place is obsessed by the offhand remarks of nonentities and the supposed connections of unimportant people to nonentities with offensive views (etc.)

7/13/2011 09:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

While we're discussing poor journalistic practice, I may as well observe that if you web-publish pieces about individuals that you later find yourselves having to withdraw, then that's poor practice, because you really shouldn't be running pieces that you're not able or prepared to defend.

How very establishment of you, Justin (not to mention off-topic, eh CChap?). I mean, fuck those ridiculous libel laws just a second and the fact that as an amateur blogger without a legal team at your disposal you face the prospect of having to remortgage your house even if you win your case, just don't write anythhing that might possibly upset professional journalists.

You all getting this you blogging upstarts?

7/13/2011 09:12:00 AM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

Given Dave's propsensity for saying things like this...

"So would Garton Ash really rather be freer and less safe to the extent of having less chance of catching a rapist or murderer? It's a brave position, but he and other upholders of the IDP should now be asked to spell it out". http://tinyurl.com/yopon6

...(Which, to be clear, means "There is a particular emphasis on opponents of this scheme to justify themselves against some fairly nasty insinuations")...

...I don't think it's unreasonable to ask whether Dave himself might like to reassess his previous statements in light of recent revelations of massive state-private sector collaboration and collusion in hugely infringing upon the privacy of citizens, to their very great detriment, for personal and financial gain.

By the way, the only time I can recall Aaro getting antsy at all about official misuse of information is when it was used to harm his favoured politicians. I can't recall him ever seriously considering the possibility of corruption or other misuse of data, although that doesn't mean he hasn't.

7/13/2011 09:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

Don't you see the difference Brownie?

Given your point re Aaro was that he he should take a look at what passes for a co-writer at the Times, there isn't one. Your personal perspective on the relative influence wielded by Clark/Hayman is entirely irrelevant, and I very much suspect that you know it.

7/13/2011 09:20:00 AM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

Your personal perspective on the relative influence wielded by Clark/Hayman is entirely irrelevant,

Well you are certainly right about that. My "personal perspective" on the facts is completely irrelevant. The facts, however, are not.

7/13/2011 09:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

Well you are certainly right about that. My "personal perspective" on the facts is completely irrelevant. The facts, however, are not.

You really want to do this? Either "by your friends shall ye be known" works for all journalists at all papers, or it works for none. Saying it's works for DA/Hayman at the Times but doesn't apply in the case of Neil Clark/anyone else at the Guardian becuase Clark is not very influential (regardless of whether this is correct) is, well, piss-weak and means you run the risk of looking just a smidgen hypocritical.

7/13/2011 09:34:00 AM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

I've deleted the last 2 comments.

I think it enough to say that Hayman's accepting of a job with an organization he was previously employed to investigate, an investigation that he carried out rather badly, represents a "lapse of judgement" and a "conflict of interest".

7/13/2011 10:18:00 AM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

Either "by your friends shall ye be known" works for all journalists at all papers, or it works for none.

But that wasn't the argument. The argument was that News International is a seriously immoral and occasionally criminal organization and the Times is an integral part of that operation by providing a veneer of respectability. Moreover, the employment of Hayman at the Times, who had conducted and botched an investigation of same organization, further undermines the idea that the Times is detachable from our view of the rest of the organization.

Moreover, insofar, as anyone brought up the issue of association, it was Aaro himself, who said what a great bunch they all are and how proud he is to work with them. In which context "What? Even Hayman?" is a reasonable retort which can't be responded to by "Neena Neena Neil Clark!" because Neil Clark's occasional columns for the Guardian are totally irrelevant to whether Aaro should feel proud of his colleagues.

7/13/2011 10:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But to the committee, he was George Washington compared with Mr Hayman. I've seen a few incredulous MPs in my time, but nothing like this. Through most of Mr Hayman's evidence they were either rolling with laughter, or favouring him with a cold, sardonic glare. Or both.

Mr Vaz asked about the fact that he had taken a job as a columnist with News International, the very firm he had been investigating. "That is a private matter for me and the Times," said Hayman primly, to startled surprise.


Simon Hoggart, today.
Dave Weeden

PS I trust that won't get deleted.

7/13/2011 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

I have just deleted a comment by me that crossed in the mails with CC above.

7/13/2011 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

I mean, fuck those ridiculous libel laws just a second and the fact that as an amateur blogger without a legal team at your disposal you face the prospect of having to remortgage your house even if you win your case, just don't write anythhing that might possibly upset professional journalists.

As you are well aware, Harry's Place has run numerous stories that have libelled people who are not professional journalists (the particular nadir being, of course, Neil Berry of Christian CND) and has had to withdraw plenty of stories with respect to which there was never any libel threat.

7/13/2011 10:36:00 AM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

"That is a private matter for me and the Times"

'Privacy' as confidentiality (employee/er/contractual/commercial/something) strikes again.

7/13/2011 10:46:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

I mean, fuck those ridiculous libel laws just a second and the fact that as an amateur blogger without a legal team at your disposal you face the prospect of having to remortgage your house even if you win your case, just don't write anything that might possibly upset professional journalists.

I thought I would get a shriek like that in response, which is why I added the bit referring to " a generally reckless approach to people, facts and accusations". If you get into trouble regularly, because such are your regular habits, then you're absolutely not entitled to the "poor little us" defence: it's the defence of the bully who's found themselves on the wrong end for a change.

But it's not even necessary to make that glaring point. If you write regularly, and you're serious about what you do, then you can be expected to know that you published what you believe will stand up and you do not publish what you don't. And if you're not going to stand by it, then you do not publish it. That's not oppression, that's responsible literary and journalistic practice, and if you do not know this, after several years of (to put it kindly) controversial blogging, then you very much ought to.

You can't just write whatever you want and then scream "not fair!" when it turns out you can't. Which is what you do.

If you can't defend it, you don't publish it. Even if you're on a noble crusade against all that is rotten in the world. You just don't do it. And if you do, and you get caught out, then I'm very much afraid the fault is yours.

If you're capable of grasping that that's possible.

7/13/2011 10:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

This all turns on your insistence that we shouldn't be judging the Times as a newspaper in its own right and criticse/praise on the basis of its output, but rather consider its role as part of Murdoch's Machiavellian scheme to provide cover for the more disreputable organs in the NI portfolio. Okay, I get it.

Look, I stopped buying the Sun after Hillsborough - and by that I also include not buying it for my Mum who liked to do the bingo. To this day, I write to the BBC to ask why they continue to invite proven liar Kelvin Mackenzie onto shows like QT. But I've never considered not buying the Times, with its different editors, different journailists and different take on everyday shit. If there were any obvious sign of direct interference from Murdoch, that would probably change things, so I place considerable stock by the words of those like DA and Alton, both of whom I'm given to think wouldn't tolerate such interference.

In summary, I can see why anyone might choose to jump the way of not buying anything from the NI camp, but thse people ought not to find it too difficult to understand why others are capable and prepared to judge individual papers on their merits. Or to put it another way, I've got no problem with the likes of George Monbiot who decide they can't compartmentalise the Times, but is he really that perplexed by the position of others who have decided they can? Not to mention that the sanctimonious preaching to DA would sound better were it not emanating from a writer who plies his trade at a journal that thinks it's okay to give a column to genocide-denier Clark.

If News Corp does eventually get its hands on BSkyB, presumably every right-thinking person should imemdiately cancel Sky Sports, right?

7/13/2011 10:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Cian said...

I place considerable stock by the words of those like DA and Alton, both of whom I'm given to think wouldn't tolerate such interference

Just to be clear, we're talking about the same Roger Alton who was outraged that such a 'fine' newspaper as the NOTW had been destroyed by Mumsnet and organic shortbread dipping yummy mummies. There's not perhaps some other Alton working there who I was previously unaware of?

Its like government enquiries. If you pick the right guy, you don't need to interfere.

7/13/2011 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

Didn't Aaro also decide to retweet some highly dubious stuff about someone signing an affidavit stating they had told the Sun about Brown's kid (and thus all the stuff about, er, medical records must be bollocks)?

7/13/2011 11:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think people are saying that Aaro should be flouncing out on the Times and onto the dole, Brownie. It's rather that he's consistently argued that much public opinion, influenced by swivel-eyed lefty loons or libertarians, have been grossly excessive in their suspicion of government, cops and corporations. They're not really a conspiracy against the laity, but honest men and women trying to do what's best. To think otherwise is the thin edge of the wedge leading to anti-democratic conspiracy theorising. Presumably you have enough regard for Aaro to think that recent revelations will give him pause to thought: not to abandon everything he has said, to be sure, but to wonder whether he has trusted the mighty a little too much.
Neil Clarke is, of course and thank gawd, nowhere near power or influence.

Marc Mulholland

7/13/2011 11:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

As you are well aware, Harry's Place has run numerous stories that have libelled people who are not professional journalists (the particular nadir being, of course, Neil Berry of Christian CND) and has had to withdraw plenty of stories with respect to which there was never any libel threat.

The Berry thing was misidentification and nothing more. When you make a mistake, you correct it. That's what we did.

Reference your last clause, if there was no libel threat then we didn't *have to* withdraw any of those stories, did we? The fact we chose to shows we're prepared to correct when we've fucked up. I doubt you meant to concede this point, but thanks for doing so anyway.

If you get into trouble regularly, because such are your regular habits

There are two threats of libel that I'm aware of. The first came from Hari (actually he was responsible for two in quick succession about the same issue), which we caved in on - wrongly, given what we've all discovered recently. The second time the threat came from some litiguous Islamo-nut in London. We defended that, but only because a rather well-known and celebrated libel lawyer agreed to take up our case pro bono.

"Regularly"?

If you can't defend it, you don't publish it.

Kinda missing the point. DA could, if he wanted, demand that every post ever written about him here had to be remvoed because it libelled him. If he did this, CChap and the others would, unless they are very stupid or very rich, be forced to comply. The validity of DA's demand doesn't come into it. This is what the libel laws allow, and this is why far more blogs than just HP have had to fold in the face of bullying from so-called professionals.

The "it" in your "if you can't defend it" is basically everything you write given the way the cards are stacked. The ability to blog is pursued at the whim of those about whom we blog. The fact that most blog subjects have too many scruples to seek recourse to law everytime someone says something about them they don't like is the only reason why blogging is possible at all. The only way to insulate yourself against the possibility of becoming the subject of a libel writ is to blog about the weather and fuck all else.

This is one issue on which every person who has ever blogged ought to agree. In your case - as in every other - you can't see past your disdain for HP. What a shocker"

7/13/2011 11:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

I don't think people are saying that Aaro should be flouncing out on the Times and onto the dole, Brownie.

That is precisely what George Monbiot suggested he should be doing. How else are you interpreting that exchange?

7/13/2011 11:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is how I'm interpreting it, Brownie. It's about whether News Int can be trusted; whether Aaro can comfortably assume that all is fundamentally well outside the NoTW. What would it take for Aaro to say: "I will never believe another thing that I am told by our Murdoch Press ... and more to the point, neither will anyone else."?

Monbiot specifically says: "I'm simply trying find out where the line lies. And whether it has come any closer today."

That's straight-forwardly not a demand to resign precipitously.

7/13/2011 11:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's Marc Mulholland above, BTW.

7/13/2011 11:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

Monbiot specifically says: "I'm simply trying find out where the line lies.

And goes on to give every indication that he believes that line has been crossed and that DA should recgonise it has been crossed. Or do you think Monbiot is asking about the location of that line even though he's statisfied that, whatever the exact coordinates of said line, it's still a long way off?

But at the moment, knowing what we do, you're content to keep working for them.

So nothing you have seen yet is "likely" to lead to you considering your position? Just what does NI have to do?

Nope, no indication there that George believes DA should be walking. None at all.

7/13/2011 11:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You man read tweets as you like; Monbiot said what he meant, as I've itemised, and that's how I've read it.

MM

7/13/2011 12:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'may' not 'man'. Pech! So much for insouciance. - MM

7/13/2011 12:07:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

DA could, if he wanted, demand that every post ever written about him here had to be remvoed because it libelled him. If he did this, CChap and the others would, unless they are very stupid or very rich, be forced to comply.

Cobblers, though cobblers characteristic in style of he who wrote it. People criticise powerful people on the internet all the time, as they do in the printed press. If they are threatened, which happens very rarely, they can (and sometimes do) say they are standing by their comments. Or if they do not feel able to do that, their comments magically appear in a hundred other blogs the next day.

This latter only tends to happen, though, when what they say is seen to be clearly true, or that it's of public importance that it be aired, as opposed to being part of a friends-falling-out spat in which nobody is interested save those already in possession of a grudge.

The real point of this catch-all "you can't defend anything if they threaten you" approach is to avoid the very evident point that what you cannot defend, you do not publish. It's a way in which people who one moment are courageous tellers of truths suddenly start throwing themselves under the café tables at the first sound of thunder.

You're not poor innocents who got horribly bullied by Mr Powerful: you're a really good case of all-good-fun-until-somebody-gets-hurt. Irresponsible little bastards who liked throwing stones at other people and then got surprised when soembody threw them back.

So by all means blog about the weather: I'd much rather than you did. But if you're going to make allegations about people then either make some effort to stick by them or run somewhere else for sympathy, because there are genuinely deserving cases who merit it, rather than people who like to run pieces comparing Paul Mason with the BNP. Because that's what nasty little bastards do. I don't have a lot of sympathy for nasty little bastards.

7/13/2011 12:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

People criticise powerful people on the internet all the time, as they do in the printed press. If they are threatened, which happens very rarely, they can (and sometimes do) say they are standing by their comments.

Yep, like Ben Goldacre. You should ask him about it. He says it was a riot.

As regards your other points, we received support from many bloggers following the threats from Hari and we had to ask other blogs not to reprint the so-called 'offending articles'. I may be wrong, but I think we even recevied support from this blog, or maybe it was FR at his place. In any event, there were plenty of people with very different politics to ours who were clear where they stood. Johann copped a lot of flak.

It's a way in which people who one moment are courageous tellers of truths suddenly start throwing themselves under the café tables at the first sound of thunder.

Oooh, get you tough guy. This is hobby for most of us, and most of us have families to supprot and mortgages to pay. And that's it. As I say, you'd have to be stupid or very rich (not to say downright selfish) to put all that at risk to defend a frickin' blog post against some litigious wanker. But I salute your courage, and all that.

You're not poor innocents who got horribly bullied by Mr Powerful: you're a really good case of all-good-fun-until-somebody-gets-hurt. Irresponsible little bastards who liked throwing stones at other people blah, blah...

People can and do throw stones at us all the time. There's barely a week goes by that one of us isn't called a racist. I'd wager we're probably the most libelled bloggers in Britain today. People do it because, whatever else happens, they know we won't sue.

It's all very well for you, Justin. Until they make being a pompous ass a civil offence, you've got nothing to worry about it.

7/13/2011 12:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Cian said...

Its curious, but of all the people I thought would become die-hard Murdoch supporters, Brownie wasn't one of them.

I guess its the whole GWOT/Israel/HenryJackson/neocon thing that the Times has been so central to. We must protect the propaganda machine at all costs.

7/13/2011 01:08:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

This is hobby for most of us, and most of us have families to supprot and mortgages to pay. And that's it. As I say, you'd have to be stupid or very rich (not to say downright selfish) to put all that at risk to defend a frickin' blog post against some litigious wanker.

Just to be clear here; I have a family to support and a mortgage to pay. But I also have a good name to defend and a reputation for honesty which is equally important to me. It's for that reason that I am, actually, prepared to defend what I write, potentially at the cost of quite substantial personal inconvenience. I would certainly be prepared to spend a few quid on a solicitor's opinion, and if two or three of my co-bloggers were professional lawyers I might be tempted to go further.

However, it is precisely because I like to look at myself in the mirror and see someone who is prepared to defend what he writes, that I am prepared to check everything that I write (which is why AW does not accidentally get confused about names), and re-read everything I write, to make sure that I could defend it if I had to. And also, we don't hand out co-blogger or guest post slots to everyone who asks for one, because we know that we would be taking ownership of everything they write.

This is the substance of Justin's complaint - Harry's Place do not take the same degree of care about their blog (let alone its cesspit of a comments section), which is why people don't take you seriously. I think we probably might have expressed some degree of very, very gruding solidarity with Harry's Place on general principles, but very much tempered by the clear knowledge that you were largely the authors of your own misfortunes, and that it was wholly inevitable that your slapdash approach was going to have roughly those consequences in the end.

---

I learned this the hard way, by the way, with respect to the only post I've ever deleted, which happened when I called Steven den Beste a "grave-robbing cunt" for what I regarded as insincere appropriation of 9/11 victims for political ends. I realised that I wasn't actually able to defend that to a neutral party, and so I took it down and learned a lesson. I can also confirm that by "learned a lesson", I do not mea "adopted a variety of silly feminine pseudonyms to keep on trying the same crap".

7/13/2011 01:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

Bruschetta Boy,

I relaise this may get me banned, but what a load of sanctimonious dreck.

Was Hari right to threaten to sue us or not? You don't seem to be able to make up your mind. Back in day, you were clear that he wasn't right, however tempered your 'support' for HP may have been.

So the charge sheet against HP reads:

A total of two threats of action agianst us in 9 years, one which you concede should never have been made, and another we defended thanks to a friendly lawyer.

Given how long we have been going, given how many posts we produce and given the controversial subject matter, I'd say that's not too bad at all.

In short, the picture of HP that you like to paint - a den of defamation-happy demagogues who can't go near a keyboard without libelling someone - doesn't really stack up, does it?

BTW, I really enjoyed your "mistake" and "lesson learned" sermon. Of course, I've never written anything that I couldn't defend, so all my posts have gone up and stayed up. Something you might want to consider the next time you ascend the pulpit.

Please treat my slience from this point forward as affirmation that I'm bored shitless with all this.

7/13/2011 01:40:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Hi Brownie, I don't recall us supporting Harry's Place over Hari's threat to sue, and I can't find anything which suggests that we did. It probably was FR.

I have found other things of interest. Here's a post by Dan which I think we've all forgotten and maybe we should revisit. (At least I think it's Dan. When did I stop being the other Bruschetta Boy?)

Speaking of libel, in this post I link to a cached (and now not available) version of a David T post which I claimed he claimed that David Edgar libelled David Mamet (or someone else, it's not clear). David T uses the L-word more than anyone else on the planet it seems.

I also said:

But speaking of David Toube, as I was, I see (via Mike Power) that he's in at number 71 in the JC Power 100: The people shaping Jewish life in Britain. Yes, that means there are 28 less influential Jews in Britain[1]. Maybe they should sue. ...

[1] Ken Livinstone is no 76, and he's not Jewish, so I can't claim to understand the criteria. I didn't know David T was Jewish (not that it matters), and perhaps he's not. The JC likes Livingstone. H'sP think he's an anti-Semite. It takes all sorts.


Maybe, by Brownie's current standards, expressing surprise that there are any less influential Jews in the country than David T counts as libel.

More seriously, if Aaro was going to sue for libel, he'd have done it by now. He knows who Dan and I are. The thing is, while we may have strayed into (what's Sarah's phrase?) "acceptable blogger's hyperbole" we don't do mind-reading, and we're careful not to comment on private lives. (Not counting wishing DA well in operations, etc.) We comment on stuff he says in the public domain. We point out what we think are inaccuracies. This seems like not only fair comment to me (IANAL), but part of the self-correcting mechanism of discourse in a democracy.

You've commented on quite a few of our posts, Brownie. I don't recall you ever accusing us of libel. I doubt that Phil D'Bap was Aaro himself, but Aaro has certainly taken criticism from us in a mensch-like way. He can be irritable and sarcastic, but he gives as good as he gets.

And this is me talking about Nick's personal website (with a side order of Hari). There's a comment by Nick's then webmaster. I'd be bloody surprised if they sued, because they've always known that we're here. So I think I can conclude that we haven't crossed that line yet.

7/13/2011 01:47:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

So the charge sheet against HP reads:

A total of two threats of action agianst us in 9 years, one which you concede should never have been made, and another we defended thanks to a friendly lawyer.

Given how long we have been going, given how many posts we produce and given the controversial subject matter, I'd say that's not too bad at all.


You are not very good at drawing up charge sheets, are you? You've even forgotten Neil Berry, already (oh yes, that doesn't count because it was a "mistake" and you withdrew it as soon as it had been reproduced all over the web). Among others. Do you think that comparing Paul Mason to a member of the BNP was A-OK just because he happens not to have sued you?

7/13/2011 02:05:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

Please treat my slience from this point forward as affirmation that I'm bored shitless with all this.

If you are able to keep your side of this bargain, I will certainly accept that offer.

7/13/2011 02:07:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

I doubt that Phil D'Bap was Aaro himself

In which case this was presumably a hoax or an obscurely ironic joke:

Of course I was Phil D'Bap. Absolutely bang to rights. And as for Aarse! That nearly made the 'oscopy worthwhile.
Aaro


At the risk of luring that cloaca Brownie back, didn't HP have some kind of walk-on part in that Galloway/Soc. Unity business?

7/13/2011 03:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Witchsmeller Pursuivant said...

Its curious, but of all the people I thought would become die-hard Murdoch supporters, Brownie wasn't one of them. I guess its the whole GWOT/Israel/HenryJackson/neocon thing that the Times has been so central to. We must protect the propaganda machine at all costs.

Given their apocalyptic mindset, Brownie and his chums probably fear some kind of doomsday scenario; virulent metastasis across the pond with the Murdoch clan and their joint criminal enterprise indicted under RICO, nullifying at a stroke one of Israel's most pernicious apologists. Happy days...

7/13/2011 05:58:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Was Hari right to threaten to sue us or not?

Don't look at us! Look at him!

I don't have an opinion on whether Hari should or should not have sued HP. I do have an opinion on people who go round picking fights and then run away screaming when they happen, which is that they make arses of themselves in doing so.

7/13/2011 09:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

There's no disgrace in folding when bluffed (I know I'm not the only AW contributor to have rolled up like a cheap card table when threatened with a writ)

Guess who?

7/13/2011 09:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

What's all this about AW contributors facing libel writs and not having the cojones to stand by their words, Danny boy?

I think we should be told!

7/13/2011 09:49:00 PM  
Blogger Phil said...

Keep it up, Brownie. Nobody like you for catching people out in apparent inconsistencies and jeering like a twelve-year-old. Well, nobody except the rest of the HP regulars, but thank the Lord they don't tend to come here.

7/13/2011 09:50:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

It is, again, far from the most important point here, but, ah, "silence from this point forward"? Don't threaten things you won't stick to, sir!

(And I will be silent until the morning, for it is past midnight already. Night all.)

7/13/2011 10:03:00 PM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

I don't read Monbiot's comments as saying Aaro should resign, and I'm not suggesting that he should, nor that everyone who works for NI is tarred by the NoW's actions, or that people who buy the Times should stop doing so.

Nor do I think recent revelations make much difference to my opinion of Murdoch - I actually think he may have been shocked himself by some of the worst excesses, and not purely because of the effect they have had subsequently had on his business.

But what has been revealed is the extent of the institutional corruption at the NoW at the time, and this by extension does reflect on News International in the UK as a whole, especially given the current position of Rebecca Brooks - that's not just guilt by association.

So no, I don't expect NI journalists to resign en masse but but I would expect that some of them might have some misgivings about the organisation they work for and wonder if they might be happier with an alternative employer.

7/14/2011 01:48:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Oh Brownie, I'm not fond on libel, but it does seem that Michael Ezra came pretty close to chucking libels about concerning Marc Lynch and Juan Cole back in the comments here in January. One of the interesting things about Michael is that he is utterly credulous when it suits him. Re Cole, he was happy to link to someone's copy and paste of a Cole blog post, but not to go the extra 30 centimeters and find it on Cole's own site. Hence he missed a correction. (And I've had a similar discussion with him on Harry's Place. He doesn't like Communists, as we all know from his Twitter bio. Strange that he took a Communist view as fact once, just because it slagged off some Trots.)

But is Michael still a Harry's Placer? Didn't *cough cough* T have a go at him yesterday? What's with that?

7/14/2011 02:45:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

I think we should be told!

Steven den Beste. I decided I couldn't defend some of the things I wrote about him, and so I deleted him. He didn't actually threaten me with a libel suit per se, but it was clear to me that I couldn't defend what I'd written in front of a neutral party and so I deleted it. I learned quite a bit from that episode, which is why I've never done anything similar since.

7/15/2011 06:14:00 AM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

By the way, Brownie, I thought we had a fucking deal.

7/15/2011 06:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

By the way, Brownie, I thought we had a fucking deal.

You lot spent the best part of day castigating HP for attracting the princely total of 2 threats of libel action in 9 years and mocking us for only having the balls to defend one, only for me to discover you saying this back in 2007:

There's no disgrace in folding when bluffed (I know I'm not the only AW contributor to have rolled up like a cheap card table when threatened with a writ)

I'm not surprised you want hide behind our 'bargain'.

And Justin, you still don't seem to be able to get your head around the fact that successfully defending a libel case might still leave you with a huge debt that you cannot pay. All this macho 'defend your position' stuff leads me to conclude that you're either really rich or really stupid.

7/19/2011 01:20:00 AM  

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