Saturday, November 27, 2010

A sort of response to a recent anonymous coward

I don't like deleting comments, but I've deleted a couple by a person who styles themselves as "Anonymous". I've no problem with anonymous comments per se: at least one of our commenters, redpesto, uses the anonymous options but 'signs' his comments. What I object to are personal, specifically defamatory, comments. I've deleted two of Anonymous's comments in the last thread, and Blogger's spam filter ate the third. (BTW, if your comment doesn't appear, it's in the spam folder, write to me and I'll probably liberate it. The algorithm it uses is totally opaque to me.)

Here, yet again, is my non-lawyer's view of what blogs should delete and why. I'm going to quote Anon's deleted comment because otherwise I'll have to dance around the subject in a way which is unnecessarily both obscure and prolix.

"AFAIK Just Journalism was so bonkers that Nick Cohen resigned from their board"

A very old photo of Nick, being used, before his alcohol consumption caught up with him.

AFAIK, the cartoon portrait on Nick Cohen on the Spectator blog site, which gives the impression that he has his hair cut in a monastery, is a good contemporary likeness. The photo used, where his style is more junior Jedward, belongs in the archives. Fair enough, it was an old pic. I doubt NC chose it though. Even if he did, I couldn't altogether blame him; I'm roughly his age, and I'm all too acquainted with brightness falling from the hair, if the hair doesn't fall first. I prefer to leave the "ooh hasn't she got old" to the nasties who write for the Daily Mail (when they're not writing headlines like "People over 45 should take an aspirin a day say makers of aspirin").

Besides which, as I said in reply, alcohol consumption does not make you go bald. (Can't resist: has anyone seen Christopher Hitchens lately? Sorry, I must watch him debate Blair, I may have to fast forward the Blair parts though.)

This blog doesn't do ad hominems not unless I think they're funny, anyway. We do ad argumentum and I want to keep it that way. Anonymous had nothing to say other than a rude personal comment, and that's why I deleted it.

The comment the spam filter took included:

Anyway you can asume what you want about me, I can take it, and since you provide an anonymous option I think i'm free to use it if I wish, I can asure you i'm not a regular reader, so leaving a name won't provide you with anymore info.

This misses the point. If you take a shot at someone, they should be able to take a shot back, otherwise you're a coward in my book. I'm not asking anyone to leave a name for my benefit, but for whoever they attack to have a name at least to reply. It's big to say "I can take it" while hiding.

Sorry about this. Thank you for your time. Normal service will be resumed. Please do not hit your computer.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, before I leave this issue, I'll make a few things clear. Firstly I was not actually referring to NC hair loss. Second you suggested that I should back up my comment with some evidence, I posted a link which pretty much validated my point and you did not included it.


"This misses the point. If you take a shot at someone, they should be able to take a shot back, otherwise you're a coward in my book"

well, I don't write a blog dedicated to mocking journalists (not that that is in anyway illegitimate) and picking holes in their work. So, I hardly think your in a position to take the moral high ground over a throwaway comment, and I don't think your name is actually Mr C. Chap.

11/27/2010 05:42:00 PM  
Anonymous belle le triste said...

It's weird to me how dense people are about this. The point of signing with a stable pseud, as opposed to merely lazily popping the anon knob, is so that the conversation doesn't end up with two or more entirely distinct posters "named" anonymous. Once you can't tell which one's saying what, actual dialogue becomes impossible. If you're actually interested in what other people are saying -- which I grant you, some drive-by trolls entirely aren't -- it seems basic etiquette to acknowledge they might be interested in what you're saying, A pseud doesn't block this; "anonymous" does.

11/27/2010 06:32:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

No, my name isn't C Chap: it's Dave Weeden, as both David Aaronovitch and Nick Cohen know. (I'm also known to Brownie, David T, Norman Geras see here), Oliver Kamm, and I think Martin Bright.)

I do write a blog mocking journalists. For what they write - for what they're paid for. What they do in their spare time is of no concern to me. Nick Cohen spends a lot of energy slagging off people like me; I spend my time here on picking holes in how he does so. I've said rather frequently that I agree with him on many things (secularism, possibly libel laws, the personality cults and personality flaws in New Labour, and other stuff).

I mock, but, as you've noted, we have open comments. Anyone I do mock is welcome to return fire. Brownie from Harry's Place, to his credit, does so. I think Martin Bright has. I had an email once from David Aaronovitch when I'd gone too far (he was right). I learned from that: and I now stick to mocking what they say. I don't go into what they are or how they choose to live.

I'm a romantic believer in fairness. If you cast an aspersion on our Nick, he should be able to cast one back on you, assuming that you're not (as of course you are) "whiter than white" to borrow a phrase from Tony Blair. Not to do so is cowardice, I repeat. You're ready to land a kick, it should be from you, not part of some ad hoc gang you've run behind and will know nothing of tomorrow. Commenting as 'Anonymous' puts you on the level of that EDL cunt who does videos disguised by a balaclava/gimp-mask. (He knows my name too: we aren't, how you say?, friends.) To adapt a better former PM than St Tony: you're a coward. Maybe Nick likes a drink, but he'll be sober in the morning.

11/27/2010 06:33:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Thanks Belle. Good point.

BTW, I know you weren't referring to hair loss. Unless you actually know Nick Cohen, you can't say much about anything else. Photographs aren't very good for skin colour/tone. I recently saw the documentary on Peter Mandelson which included a professional (one photographer, about three assistants) photo session. Mandelson looked at the better ones and didn't like his mouth in some. Cameras don't lie, but they can be economical with the truth. Have you ever looked in a TV show window where lots of sets show the same programme at the same time? Did you notice slightly different palettes (to be overly technical)? I'm pretty sure Gillian McKeith doesn't drink, but age hasn't done her any favours.

After the middle of the journey of your life, every year makes you look worse. What's your point?

11/27/2010 06:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Mr A said...

"I don't go into what they are or how they choose to live"

That's fair enough, what qualifies someone as an alcoholic is of cause open to interpretation, I personally choose not to drink as I think its bad for your health and impedes your judgement, so for those reasons I do judge people who drink to to much. Personally I think NC is an alcoholic, that's my view, based on the fact that he was obviously drunk in public, in the daytime, and at an important event, while pouring him self yet more wine, he proceeded to to swear and shout abuse at other people and coupled with the fact that his wikipedia page has a section on his alcohol consumption, so my point was hardly that outrageous.

If Nick Cohen likes to drink that's his business, but it does have affects on ones professional job, as it would anyone else. If in private he dressed in a potato sack and lived in a tree house it would not necessarily effect what he does as a profession, but drinking clearly does so its a valid observation.

11/27/2010 07:14:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Well you're now calling yourself 'Mr A'. That's an improvement - see Belle's comment.

Um, and indeed, er, you've got filmed evidence of NC drunk. As you may realise from my posts, I'm unreasonably pedantic. How does this prove he's an alcoholic or even that it affects his work?

11/27/2010 08:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Mr A said...

Being pissed on the job is usually and indication that someone has a bit of a drinking problem, if I went to work drunk and started abusing my colleagues -apart from being fired, there would some muttering that I might have a problem. NC 'friend' Craig Murray has insinuated that NC drinking is affecting his mental health (perhaps half-heartedly), but still goes beyond what I said.

AW often accuses NC (rightly) of sloppy journalism, poor research and of being clueless about what he writes about, its not beyond the realms of possibility that alcohol may play a part in this.

Since NC can't take a shot at me I’ll do it for him, I have a mighty appetite which ever so often catches up with me, and people don't tend to be subtle in pointing that out, but it does motivate me to do something about it, even a being a vegetarian and a non-drinker doesn't guaranty immunity. Gillian McKeith may not look to good for her age but that's because a lifetime of eating lentils and celery isn't much good for you either.

11/27/2010 09:36:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Being pissed on the job is usually and indication that someone has a bit of a drinking problem

It's not "not beyond the realms of possibility that alcohol may play a part" in what we (mostly I) accuse Nick Cohen of. But I'm still a stickler for 18th century rationalism and evidence. I can believe it has been, but I have no evidence. Besides, it's not the putative cause I object to. Suppose you regard drinking as immoral, as you seem to, and it turned out that some journalist -- let us for argument's sake refer to him as NC -- wrote stuff which was bellicose and poorly argued, but did not actually drink. Let us imagine that NC was suffering from a brain tumour or suppressed childhood abuse -- things he could not possibly be held to be responsible for. I'm trying to stick to what he says, not to possible causes, which I cannot divine, and do not really care about.

I'm not saying this well. I'm not shooting *at* Nick Cohen at all, but at certain arguments for the Iraq War etc which I find disingenuous.

I think that's what we do: AW and all the other media-watching blogs. We read newspaper pieces and we apply logic to them as much as anything. We're saying, "this does not compute." OK, logic and other evidence. Basically, it's shouting at the television, but in print, and not at the television so much as at newspapers.

You still don't get it. We're not interested in personal failings. No one is perfect. We're interested in bad arguments, especially harmful ones. This blog isn't about why someone made a bad argument. It's only about the truth of that argument. Those WMD weren't there. This isn't a roulette table where the odds collapse to zero with a new game: our reading of Gulf War II/Iraq etc happened to be correct, because we gave credit to the better information.

I can't stress this enough [cliche - Ed]: there was a time when good journalists cleaved to the security services like Ulysses hugging the shore. Times have changed. The emmies (as Chief Inspector Dalziel would say - MI this and MI that) don't control information any more. It's all out there. Official journalism is only one outlet, now there are Wikileaks, Wikipedia, blogs. Propaganda and spin are dead, if we are vigilant, anyway.

11/27/2010 10:33:00 PM  
Anonymous bruschettaboy said...

CC (who has in fact left his real name on this blog several times, as have I) is 100% right here. The policy at AW has always been that you have to provide either a name or consistent pseudonym, or a rational argument that isn't personally abusive.

11/27/2010 10:41:00 PM  
Anonymous dd said...

Oh god, do I have to drag out the "booze policy" again?

Aaronovitch Watch's consistent view on Nick Cohen and alcohol is that it's a known fact that he likes a drink, he's shown up drunk and embarrassed himself on a couple of occasions and in general he's part of the booze culture at the Observer which might not be good for the long term health. But he gets his column in on time, has written two books (one of them a best seller) and lives a normal family life. In other words, if he has a drinking problem, we should all have such problems.

More generally (and this is true of Christopher Hitchens too), this is not a sensible, productive or pleasant road to go down. If the guy has a drinking problem, then it's really rather shitty to have a go at him for it. If he doesn't, then what's the point.

11/27/2010 10:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Mr A said...

"i'm trying to stick to what he says, not to possible causes, which I cannot divine, and do not really care about"

I don't agree with this personally, i'm intrested in the causes or motives that make people the way they are. NC and co's journalistic output changed for the worst when they transformed into 'decents' after 911. I'm not saying that I think its inpossible to change your outlook relatively quicky, but I can't help but think its alot less pragmatic than that. I'm to cynical.

11/27/2010 11:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Cian said...

I don't know enough about Nick to know if he's an alcoholic. Its certainly possible, but equally he might just be a heavy drinker. However you can do yourself a lot of damage by drinking heavily (far more than most drug addictions), and Nick's behaviour would certainly be consistent with that. But then equally so would a mid-life crisis, a tumour, or excessive contrarianism. If he drinks as much as he's rumoured to he's certainly not doing himself any favours, but its considered impolite in this culture to point that out.

Christopher Hitchens on the other hand obviously is an alcoholic, but I don't think its the reason for his politics. It might be the reason for the dulling of his intellect however.

11/28/2010 12:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Al said...

Personally, I think it is far too much of a cop-out to explain the decline in Nick's journalism to booze.

His stuff on libel etc recently has actually been rather good, as I think another poster said on another thread. But he is so discredited with his intemperate Decent rants that even the good stuff has a shadow over it. Wrong I know, but I can't help it.

11/28/2010 01:15:00 AM  
Anonymous skidmarx said...

alcohol consumption does not make you go bald
Hair Loss Buddy suggests it might be an indirect contributor. Alopecia UK thinks it might have some other relevant effects.

11/28/2010 01:43:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Agreed with all the regulars above.

BUT - i do think that at times we 'do' why an argument isn't good, and that it's sometimes useful to do it. Not so much about the 'personal life' thing - though I think that a lot of decents pretty clearly had a 'sea change' when they had children, relatively late in life - but more of a 'times changing' thing, thus, in particular, Aaro and Nick's use of the internet for research.

We've talked a few times on here about Aaro's use of the net and he mercifully changed approach after the whole 'HP Sauce / CND' mess. Nick, on the other hand, uses internet research all the time and displays a bafflingly credulous approach to it, thus if a website is saying something he agrees with, he endorses it fully.

That brings me on to his libel stuff. certainly it's better than most of the other dreck he produces, but the main reason for this is that he 'liberates' most of it from blogs, most notably 'Jack of Kent'. Nick's own additions tend to be of the belligerent, ranty variety. It's part of his general tendency, post-Berman, to lash out at anything and everything in print, regardless of its relevance.

off topic, but I've recently worked out a couple of things about David Toube.

1) he used to post on the popbitch messageboard as the_brief; never, ever discussed politics; and his postings were in general pretty good. gave a lot of excellent, free legal advice. Weirdly this is after sept 11th 2001 which is meant to be his damascene conversion to 'anti-islamism'.

2) he is quite good pals with someone i know...

11/28/2010 01:57:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Is "debate" a transitive verb?

11/28/2010 09:25:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

That's debatable.

11/29/2010 06:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

After the middle of the journey of your life, every year makes you look worse.

Speak for yourself.

11/29/2010 03:21:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Oh yes, and your eyesight starts to fail. Thanks for reminding me.

11/29/2010 04:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous (You Can't Keep Me Down, Blogostalinists) said...

Nick reckons that the people who wouldn't stop commissioning Martin Durkin if he just wiped his ass with a benefits claim have a "leftish bias".

11/29/2010 04:07:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

ah, every single thing copied and pasted from hary's place. quelle surprise from our nick.

must piss him off that he was replaced by one D. Cameron in the Obs this week...

11/29/2010 04:52:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Oh, good lord.

[C4] executives are leading the fashion for reactionary chic, currently sweeping the pseudo-left intelligentsia. They will indulge religious bigots, if and only if the bigots are anti-western.

I don't really know much about C4, as I don't really watch much of it, but if he's talking about the 'Today' programme as well, then Johann Hari [YouTube] thinks that Anne Atkins who still does the odd 'Thought for the Day' is both reactionary and a religious bigot. Does that count? (I hate TFTD, and don't listen to any of them.) Melanie Phillips isn't exactly a paragon of tolerance to gays, yet she's been "indulged" on Question Time, as has Nick Griffin.

The problems I have with Nick's argument are:

1 every issue coming down to one person taking the 'for' side and someone else taking the 'anti' side is pretty boring tv or radio. I don't know if Nick's hoping that no one will bother debate guys like that, so, by his implied rules, they don't get any exposure, or that even the most dim-witted backbencher could verbally crush them. (And an objection to this 'forced debate' idea is that it requires someone (very like a government appointed censor) to decide who is safe to talk to a camera unopposed, and who isn't.)

2 he seems to believe that unless someone actively argues against these guys, Joe Public will be hypnotised by their rhetoric. I prefer to believe that audiences are fairly savvy, and spot bullshit unaided.

I think the first step in arguing with really illiberal people is not to become illiberal oneself. And Nick does seem to want to deny a few people access to the media.

Finally, I think there's a big difference between columnists in the press (like, say, Richard Littlejohn) venting their prejudices weekly or bi-weekly and some guy doing it once in a blue moon.

Rather than have everything debated on air by talking heads, we could allow for balance to emerge. It's not as if there aren't plenty of anti-Islamic and pro-tolerance voices elsewhere. Now that we know that the Saudis urged the US to attack Iran, and we hate the Saudis are the Iranians the good guys now? (Mad Mel has a similar thought.)

I do think that Daniel Lionsden (in the comments) is a brilliant moniker.

11/29/2010 04:56:00 PM  
Anonymous skidmarx said...

I have seen 4thought tv several times when the contributor has been espousing their Christian faith, including one a few nights ago which opposed the death penaly but insisted that life should mean life, so I would suggest that Nick hasn't bothered to watch any Channel 4 either (was it him who did a similar thing with "Mock The Week", or am I getting my ex-diligent journalists mixed up?)

11/30/2010 12:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aaro's column in the Times apparently claims that the Wiki leaks show that the Americans are a force for good in the world.

Reports please, from anyone who reads this at the dentist or on the shelves of their newsagent, about how Aaro develops this argument.


12/02/2010 08:29:00 AM  
Blogger flyingrodent said...

I'll post a deeply unfair and sarcastic shorterised version, when I get a minute.

12/02/2010 09:13:00 AM  
Blogger flyingrodent said...

Okay, so - The Secret's Out - The Yanks Are a Force For Good... The Wikileaks cables prove that the world's most powerful democracy is on our side, the side of liberty

...The unelected, unaccountable Julian Assange has called for the democraticalicious Hillary Clinton to resign. How ironic! Okay, so she may run spies in the UN, but who doesn't? I bet even Cyprus does it. Espionage is fine, because other countries are probably doing it.

How very hypocritical the Guardian, NY Times etc. are to trumpet the importance of this leak for selfish reasons, while also downplaying the possible dangers to US policy and security. I shall now non-hypocritically segue into a lengthy disposition on how the leaks are a) utterly insignificant, b) treacherous, dangerous and how they c)100% prove me absolutely right on all of the arguments I've been making in recent years.

First, let me draw a dubious analogy between Kim Philby, who was a commie traitor and Julian Assange, who isn't even a US citizen. Isn't it interesting how "right-thinking circles" love Assange, where they didn't like Philby? Let's say no more about it, but leave the implication hanging, for texture.

Okay so, America, it's just awesome, isn't it? Some people misunderstood previous leaks about Iraq and Afghanistan, which made it look like the US was spunking missiles and bullets all over the middle east with no clear overriding purpose, strategy or plans for victory. This obviously isn't true, for reasons I decline to elaborate upon...

(Continued, for them what care...)

Word capcha: Haters!

12/02/2010 09:49:00 AM  
Blogger flyingrodent said...

...Everybody expected the leak to detail all the torture and death squad activity that we've known for years is going on, but ha! The leaks "strongly suggest" that in the only case of supposed torture I care to mention, Aafia Siddiqui - who was supported by the awful Moazzam Begg* - was not tortured at all, so there.

As a Clinton hack has pointed out, the US government does not engage in conspiracies. The leaks prove this.

Pakistani authorities publicly complain about US drone attacks, but secretly quite like being hit. The Saudis hate and fear the Iranians. The Chinese think the North Koreans are mental. Thus, something or other.

The world is a big, complicated, confusing place, and because of this we should cut the Americans lots of slack if they make the occasional, unintentional balls-up.

It's ironic that the leak only emerged because America is so awesome and democratic, and awesome.

The leaks show that America is not Bad and Evil, so I will now arse on about the concept of "Spent America", without at any point musing upon the possible existence of Insanely Belligerent and Utterly Heedless America, or indeed Retarded, Violence-Because-We-Have-No-Other-Ideas America.

America is tired of being awesome all the time - would you rather that Hezbollah and the Chinese Communist Party were in charge? Having posed this question, I now caution against anti-Americanism, although not because I wish to suggest any kind of link between disliking American policy and the other political ideologies that I've just mentioned.

The cables prove - as if it needed proving! - that America is awesome, and also on Britain's side; On the side of liberty, freedom, coffee, donuts and probably hot blow-jobs from sexy girls with big hooters. They haven't been lying to us or secretly working against our interests, because they are awesome and anyway, our interests are more or less the same as those of the American government. We should seek the same "solutions" as those desired by the American government, by which I almost certainly mean bombs and machine guns.

We don't have to pretend that the Yanks are perfect, because here's a cartoon that says the Americans are awesome, and if you don't like a world that's dominated by the US, what else are you going to do? By which I mean, it's President Obama's way or the highway, Commie.

(There you go - deeply unfair, but probably closer to the truth than the author would like to think. Bizarrely triumphalist and bare-faced this week, I thought, but not boring. That'd be worse).

*Note that Moazzam Begg gets a mention in the Wikileak docs, but not in the way you might think... Funnily, Aaro doesn't touch on this.

12/02/2010 10:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know whether to believe you or not, Mr Rodent. It is complete balderdash and couldn't possibly be printed in the newspaper of record. Yet I have seen articles by Mr Aaronovitch, Mr Kamm and others that are just about as illogical as you are suggesting. I am many miles away from my dentist or a branch of WH Smug so it will have to remain a mystery.


12/02/2010 11:13:00 AM  
Anonymous dd said...

I think it is becoming traditional to remind readers that the Times, although stacked in boxes which look very similar to the display boxes of Metro, is not free in Starbucks. Several AW readers have been shocked and dismayed by finding that they have accidentally bought (as in, paid literal money for) a copy of the Times so it is as well to keep it in mind. If circumstances change or the Times is sold to an oligarch and starts to be given away free at tube stations, we'll try and keep you posted.

12/02/2010 12:22:00 PM  
Anonymous skidmarx said...

DA did put in a free-to-air performance on last night's Newsnight; he began by saying he was for the students but against their cause (reminiscent of Bill Hicks "I'm for the war, just against the troops) and finished by being accused of being patronising.

Last night's 4thought tv.
" asks if Christians are being persecuted in Britain. Relationship therapist Gary McFarlane was dismissed from his job in 2008 because he refused to provide sex therapy to gay couples as a result of his Christian beliefs."

12/02/2010 12:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

DA did put in a free-to-air performance on last night's Newsnight

...yeah, DA v two Cambridge undergrads (despite the continued occupation at UCL), plus a couple of people I didn't get the names of while I was channel-surfing. I thought of the AW Team, but let it go; the likelihood of DA patronising today's students put me off.


12/02/2010 02:06:00 PM  
Anonymous BenSix said...

He didn't quite pat them on the head and give them lollipops but...

12/02/2010 02:11:00 PM  
Blogger Coventrian said...

Very funny from DA's twitter page

"Even on twitter, my angry friends, 'fat', 'wanker', 'Tory', 'Stalinist' and 'Murdoch' do not constitute an argument. Well, not much of one..."


'Predictably - I think unavoidably accused of being patronising on Newsnight. Big surprise was discovering how much Zoe Williams hates me.'


O would some power the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us.

Robert Burns, Poem "To a Louse" - verse 8

12/02/2010 03:09:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Well it's OK, patronise him back.

For instance, I would have thought that David's failure to support the occupations will come as a body blow for the movement: they must have expected the approval of such a prominent figure on the radical British left etc etc et

12/02/2010 03:14:00 PM  
Anonymous BenSix said...

I'm sure the joke's been made many times before but I, for one, am quite surprised to see Aaronovitch doesn't support occupations...

12/02/2010 03:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Going back to Wikileaks, I think the fact that the US Ambassador to Luxemburg was so positive about Moazzam Begg does deserve emphasising: She went to see Begg on precisely the joint Amnesty-Begg tour that caused the legions of decency to erupt, and yet she thought his non-vengeful argument that Europe take Gitmo detainees was pretty impressive. Which makes some of the responses to Begg's place on the tour look a bit hysterical. She said
"“Mr. Begg is doing our work for us, and his articulate, reasoned presentation makes for a convincing argument. It is ironic that after four years of imprisonment and alleged torture, Moazzam Begg is delivering the same demarche to GOL [Government of Luxemburg]as we are: please consider accepting GTMO detainees for resettlement. “

Ann On.

12/02/2010 04:29:00 PM  
Anonymous dd said...

The USA has, sadly, abandoned all the principles of democracy and liberalism and been taken over by mindless anti-American bigotry. For the USA to allow itself to be associated with Moazzam Begg means that it is now utterly discredited.

12/02/2010 04:43:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

ejh - yes, debate can be transitive, it's just that its direct object is the subject matter and not another party to the debate.

Re Wikileaks, I think fat Tory Stalinist Murdoch-wanker David Aaronovitch has made a really good effort here, and shown a really good improvement in getting his journalistic skills up to the level of noticing how pro-US-interests most of the more interesting cables seem to be. It's really great to see him pushing himself to do this kind of journalistic investigation. He's got a long way to go, of course, but he's moving in the right direction and deserves to be encouraged: well done, David.

In fact so undamaging to the US - and so convenient in many cases for their PR effort - is the preponderance of the documents I've come across so far that I'm inclined to give some consideration to the possibility that Akhmadi-Najad is on the right track when he claims that this latest batch was an engineered 'leak' of selected material.

Though the pronounced (though not too blatant, obviously) pro-US bias could just be down to what the papers have focussed on. It may be that this is influenced by the pseudo-coercive machinery of D-notices rather than just their customary obesiance to the authorities, though the latter could probably explain it.

But at some point Wikileaks was/is bound to be on the wrong end of such a trick (which is after all a standard bit of spy work, including adding just enough material just damaging enough to make it convincing).

Ideally I'd like to see some evidence that the selection of cables leaked doesn't have gaps in it. But I don;t really know what such evidence would look like, let alone think it likely that any is going to be forthcoming.

12/02/2010 05:02:00 PM  
Blogger Coventrian said...

Mehdi Hasan in The Staggers on Son of Sam here...

12/02/2010 05:07:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

ejh - yes, debate can be transitive, it's just that its direct object is the subject matter and not another party to the debate.

Quite right and I should have been more exact.

12/02/2010 05:08:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

You mean your statement should have been more exact, etc etc

12/02/2010 05:39:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

Hasan's examples are diplomats spying and Islamo-arabo-terror-fascists being tortured in far-away places. These are (o tempora, o mores) pretty low-impact disclosures.

As ever in the conspiratorial realm, evidence, especially direct evidence, is going to be very hard to come by, but the possibility is not an absurdly remote one (the disinfo hypothesis, that is - the helpfulness of the MSM and esp. Murdoch press is very far from a remote poss.)

12/02/2010 05:51:00 PM  
Anonymous BenSix said...

But at some point Wikileaks was/is bound to be on the wrong end of such a trick...

True enough, sadly. A David and Goliath situation's very inspiring until the giant decides to wear a bigger helmet.

12/02/2010 06:13:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

One kind of tenuous, and in itself hard-to-establish, evidence might be whether there is a serious attempt to find and punish a leaker, I suppose.

12/02/2010 06:51:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

Hmm, should perhaps emph. I'm only mentioning that as a possibility, not as a strong probability, firm conclusion, fervently held article of faith etc., but having done so, I have to go some way to making an outline case in its favour.

12/03/2010 09:49:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

BB - "I think it is becoming traditional to remind readers that the Times, although stacked in boxes which look very similar to the display boxes of Metro, is not free in Starbucks."

Partly because the Guardian now fills the Starbucks 'looks free but isn't slot' (and has for two years)

12/03/2010 03:20:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

If the Times (were to) have run a scam like that in the last couple of years, I'd expect it to be in connection with the electronic edition on ipad/mobile phone.

They might not even be bothered about getting money out of it; something more like an old-fashioned freebie circulation-boosting exercise would be on the cards, I'd have thought.

(Again this is by way of a possibility/lead for the less lazy/call for evidence.)

Actually just done a quick google and came up with this which is all a bit vague, but at least the kind of thing I'm thinking of.

12/04/2010 03:16:00 AM  
Anonymous dd said...

Yourekiddingme! I'll have to update that joke!

12/04/2010 02:11:00 PM  

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