onthebrynk apologises unreservedly for misinforming
You know how it is. There you are kicking back after a difficult job achieved – a potentially controversial blog posted and positive responses received. Then the mobile pings and there, right in your face on a whatsapp video call is the Head of Legal.
‘Which bit of undertaking exhaustive research and not providing too much conjecture did you struggle to comply with the most?’
Clearly there was going to be no preamble.
I knew I was in trub and what’s more had a tiny inkling that it might be to do with that blog post ‘Groangate – The Movie’
‘Where was your fact checking?’
‘Not sure I understand …. The basic facts were spot on: The Guardian, having partnered with WikiLeaks then sought to distance itself from Julian Assange and his predicament; the computers were forcibly removed from Guardian offices and it was a Guardian journalist who leaked unredacted information. Obviously I had to make up the content about meetings and what not, but I named no names, apart from Julian Assange, who is unlikely to take issue with me, and …….
She interrupted me with a loud sigh.
‘It’s not about the movie outline – we all thought it was rather good ….. for you ….’
‘Phew … nothing serious then … sorry I didn’t run it past you …. Won’t happen again …. I ….’
‘It is serious!’ Her impatience showed. ‘It’s in the comments …’
‘Oh well I can’t be held responsible for other people’s ….’
‘That’s a moot point, but,’ she sighed again, ‘It’s your comment.’
‘My comment?’ I began to feel that I was hooked on a line I hadn’t quite grasped the full import of.
‘Yes your comment … the one where you imply that the Guardian sub editors must have OK’d the phrases ‘massive turd’ and ‘arsehole.’
‘Sorry? …. they must have done.’
‘No they didn’t,’ another sigh, ‘because these phrases were never in any article published by The Guardian.’
‘Not true!’ I retorted, a little loudly, knowing deep down that I was going to lose this one but not quite sure why or anywhere near ready to accept that, ‘those journalists wrote those things and ….’
‘Yes they did write those things …. but not for The Guardian …. They wrote them on their twitter accounts.’
Oh bollocks! I thought, though managed not to say. Had I made a big assumption and then not checked it out carefully?
‘Oh,’ I managed.
‘But they did write those things,’ I carried on regardless.
She shook her head, ‘You’ll have to post a correction.’
‘A correction and an apology.’
I won’t take your time up with a recounting of the next 10 minutes of the conversation (mainly as I don’t come out of it that well) but suffice to say I bowed to the inevitable.
‘OK, OK …. I’ll attach a retraction, correction, whatever to the comment.’
I moved to cut the connection, but there was more.
‘That won’t do! It falls far short of what would be considered responsible journalism. You must write a new post …. with headlines that make it clear that you’ve made an error and’ she paused for emphasis, ‘apologising …. unreservedly.’
I nodded glumly ….. ‘But I don’t have to apologise to the journalists do I?’
She grinned, for the first time it has to be said, ‘No, I hardly think they are going to want to draw attention to themselves on this, it’s hardly them at their best!’
‘Oh, and there’s one other thing, somewhere in all of this was the suggestion that The Guardian is no longer a trust.’
‘Well I think you’ll find … if you are prepared to do some basic research, that it still is.’
‘Now, I think we need to have a little chat about your journalistic practices …..’
Again, I won’t trouble you with this part of the conversation, not just to spare you, but mainly to spare myself the trauma of recounting it. So, on the same principle that it’s better to pay a parking fine immediately so as to be able to move on, let’s get on with the correction, retraction, apology thing:
GUARDIAN SUB EDITORS NOT CULPABLE FOR ASSANGE SMEARS
Offensive descriptions not used by journalists in Guardian columns
onthebrynk apologises unreservedly for misinforming in comments made in post of 21.01.22.
And a sincere apology to all the onthebrynk faithful for me getting this wrong. It may not be the most crucial aspect of The Guardian’s appalling treatment of Julian Assange – but it was the bit that made me mad enough to write about it in the first place and may have encouraged you to read on.