The Guardian: smug, arrogant and subject to special treatment

It’s time for all of us, wherever we fall on the political spectrum, to start questioning the level of influence afforded to one paper and its agenda

The Guardian was especially self-important in dealing with the NOTW
Charlotte Henry
On 11 January 2012 10:33

It must be so delightful being a Guardian journalist. Always being right. Always being morally superior.

They have undoubtedly broken some fantastic, important stories, such as Trafigura, the Wiki-leaks cable dump, and phone hacking, but this in turn has had the effect of lacing their material with a dose of arrogance; an air of the untouchable. Too often, the Guardian themselves try to be the story - look at the books from Guardian hacks about Wiki-leaks, for example.

This is a dangerous mind-set to have for any organisation whose role is meant to be questioning those in power. 

All newspapers try to write eye catching, agenda setting stories; that is how they sell papers and survive. However, there is a smugness about Guardian journalists; an unchallengeable assertion that their angle is the right, and only acceptable one that leaves a slightly more bitter taste in the mouth than others. Just follow a few of them on Twitter if you don’t believe me. You’ll soon see what I mean.

The truth is that the Guardian is hardly perfect. Having instigated the closure of the News of the World, and the resulting loss of 300 jobs, it has transpired that people working for the NOTW did not cause the deletion that gave the Dowler parents false hope.

Was there an ounce of humility from the Editor-In-Chief Alan Rusbridger, or Nick Davies, whose by-line adorns the story? Not a bit of it. There was excuse after excuse, a defensive piece by Davies, and a note in the corrections and clarifications column. Given that this was a game changing, front page story, this hardly constitutes the like-for-like apology so often demanded by Guardianistas.

The point is not that Guardian journalists intentionally misled the public; I suspect the error in this case was more on the side of the police. The point is that the information suited the Guardian’s anti-Murdoch agenda, and so they went big on it, and were then unapologetic when they were found to have been wrong.

What is worse is that this huge error received very little outside criticism. The Guardian seems to have a gained a position of near unquestioned authority, which is not good for a free press, or free speech.

Imagine if The Sun had run an equivalent story, with an equivalent error, that had equivalent consequences.

Imagine if it had been the Daily Mail.

Kelvin Mackenzie rather succinctly summed up the whole thing in his performance/appearance before the Leveson inquiry on Monday, as the Guardian (oh, the irony,) reported:

“MacKenzie complained that if the Sun had hacked Tony Blair's mobile (not that it does that sort of thing) to prove his villainy over Iraq, its reporter would get six months – if the Guardian did it, the paper would win a Pulitzer prize.”

In fairness, perhaps it’s not just the Guardian. They are simply the worst example of a problem that is currently rife within the left wing and liberal commentariat, many of whose members seem content to be wannabe Polly Toynbees.

Others in this group (and I suppose I must include myself in it, as I certainly consider myself a liberal, if not a traditional left winger,) often hide behind the perception that our case is morally superior, and so we don’t have to make it properly. This has then been counteracted with an obsession with statistics (yes, I’m look at you Owen Jones and Mehdi Hasan,) which all adds up to a rather unpalatable self-righteousness, and a belief that nobody should argue against such views.

While I accept that the Guardian has found itself on a pedestal because the public buy the paper and have put it there, I think it’s time for all of us, wherever we fall on the political spectrum, to start questioning the level of influence afforded to one paper and its agenda.

Charlotte Henry blogs at Digital Politico. You can follow her on twitter at @charlotteahenry

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