Monday, 27 August 2012

A most convenient out: Guardian drops Treviño

The Guardian has finally figured a way out of its latest 'liberal predicament': how to maintain its appearance as an 'open, pluralist' newspaper while harbouring a militant Zionist who has called directly for the murder of peaceful pro-Palestinian activists.

The Guardian had hired Joshua Treviño in a seeming effort to broaden its US online readership. In more simple market terms, it was seeking ways of enhancing its profit base.

Following his appointment, some vigilant observers, readily aware of Treviño's arch-conservative views, reminded the Guardian of his words, tweeted in 2011, in relation to the Gaza aid flotilla:
"Dear IDF: If you end up shooting any Americans on the new Gaza flotilla – well, most Americans are cool with that. Including me"
Treviño also issued this comment in 2010 after Israel had shot dead nine activists aboard the Mavi Marmara:
"After examining the facts of the flotilla, I condemn Israel: For being too nice, too soft, too accomodating to the scum of the earth."
Stung by major criticism from Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada and other Palestinian support groups, as well as many of the paper's own readers, the Guardian went into damage limitation mode, allowing Trevino a clarification days before his first appointed column. None of it was remotely convincing, casting the Guardian in even darker light.  

Having fudged and obfuscated in denouncing and firing Treviño, it has now used a desperate pretext to offload him, citing 'conflict-of-interest' business links in Malaysia.

Rather than an open apology and statement of contrition, the whole affair has been handled as a 'contractual problem'.

As noted by Electronic Intifada, the Guardian's Readers' Editor, Chris Elliot, has only added to the paper's shameless excuses in his evasive justifications:
"I have reviewed Abunimah's complaint. While I think it likely that a reasonable person might well believe this was the intent of the tweet, I don't think it is possible to make an objective finding of inaccuracy about his denial. The tweet states clearly that he would be "cool" ie relaxed about them being shot. In the article he denies absolutely that he meant this to be taken as an encouragement to the IDF to kill Americans. I believe the complaint would require a judgment on Treviño's sincerity: a matter of opinion, not a decision based on factual accuracy." 
Asking where we draw the line between a paper's efforts to "host vigorous debate among people who disagree" while eschewing this kind of "open hate speech", Abunimah concludes that:
"Elliott has avoided taking a position on whether the mountain of evidence that Treviño regularly “applauded, encouraged, or welcomed the death of fellow human beings” meant that he was being dishonest about his “life and record.”"
And what kind of indignant response did Treviño's actual appointment produce amongst the Guardian's other major writers?

As Joe Emersberger, at ZNet, laments:
"One will search in vain for articles by other Guardian “team members” stating the obvious about Treviño and their bosses who hired him. The Guardian tried to defend Treviño's hiring by claiming a desire for a “plurality” of views. However, judging by the total absence of any articles by Guardian team members about Treviño’s deranged outbursts, plurality isn’t valued at all. Is the Guardian team virtually unanimous in their support for, or indifference to, Treviño’s hiring or to what he said? No strong feelings at all from such an otherwise very opinionated group?"
On the back of its vilification of Julian Assange, the Guardian's dealings over Treviño confirms its sharp corporate practices, the dutiful silence of its leading writers and the weasel methods of its editors.


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