Guardian Censorship: Some Comments Are Freer Than Others

In a recent editorial, The Guardian complained about the expulsion of their Moscow correspondent, Luke Harding. All the usual Russia tropes were brought up in explanation, including its “shrinking space for a free press.”

But Harding’s “crowning offense”, at least according to the Guardian’s “guess”, was “his association with this paper’s story on what the WikiLeaks material revealed about the views of foreign diplomats and others on the nature of the Russian system as it has evolved, or rather, devolved, under Vladimir Putin.”

By this time, most of my “guesses” were revolving around the question of WTF are the Guardian Editors smoking. Not very diplomatic, true, so I limited myself to just pointing out that their arguments are specious, and why (unfortunately failed to screenshot my response). But the gist of it went something along these lines…

1. As shown by a simple Googling, Luke Harding is a professional plagiarist, ripping off from the eXile. It’s well documented and we have to wonder what he’s doing as a journalist in the first place. And that’s not going into the observation that most of Harding’s “real” journalism consists of dogged Russia-bashing - and that countries like the US also bans journalists it dislikes from entering. No outcry from the Guardian there!

2. The Guardian’s argument that Russia banned Luke Harding for his Wikileaks stories is simply absurd on too many levels. For a start, there are literally thousands of articles – both from Western journalists in Russia and Russian journalists writing for Russian newspapers – covering the cables in which US diplomats blow off about Russia being a “mafia state.” All you need to confirm this is a 30-second search of Russian Google News, but I guess that is too much real work for an accomplished specialist in plagiarism and sensationalism.

3. Frankly, boohoo! And good riddance.

As it turned out, good riddance to me too. The Guardian is more than happy to dish it out, but can’t take the heat itself. Of the first 50 comments on that Editorial – located in the section Comment Is Free, of all places – some 11 have been censored because they don’t “abide by [The Guardian's] community standards.”

That’s more than 20% censorship, including all of the truly critical views. Comment is free indeed. But I “guess” that some comments are freer than others.

UPDATE #1

To John Haskell’s question, “Are we then to conclude that Harding was denied entry to Russia because he ripped off the Exile?”

AK – If I had to “guess” – just as the Guardian does – then I’d say someone took a look at Harding’s articles for his past years in Russia, noticed they were full of negative spin, fact distortion and outright propaganda (e.g. this, making out the South Ossetia War as a “cruel” Russian invasion of Georgia), and hence the ban.

Harding is perhaps unfortunate that it befell him (after all Ed Lucas can still travel there freely), but “guessing” that it was due to his Wikileaks coverage – if it was hundreds of other Western and Russian journalists would also be expelled or in jail – is mendacious.

UPDATE #2

Response to Sean Russia Blog’s “The Hard Lessons of the Harding Affair.”

Some paranoias die hard.  Some day, though I can’t imagine that it will be anytime soon, the Russian government will have enough self-confidence in themselves and their system to see that the best way to deal with irritants is to ignore them, or better yet defuse them through positive recognition. This is after all what mature liberal democracies do, and as Gramsci taught, consent is always more effective than force.

AK - If you consider the US a “mature liberal democracy”, then Russia is already playing to form. I don’t follow these news closely, but just in 2004, according to the CPJ, “nine foreign journalists were detained and denied entry because they did not have visas.” A Google search reveals that in 2010 a Colombian and a Palestinian journalist were denied entry, whose coverage went against American interests.

Think the Guardian’s Britain is any better? Off the top of my head, they denied entry to right-wing radio personality Michael Savage. While I despise his views, and agree with the Foreign Office opinion that some of it is “hate speech”, why are the Russians not allowed to consider Luke Harding’s anti-Russian diatribes to be also hate speech?

PS. Despite the whataboutism here – justified, I think, because of the double standards the same countries that criticize Russia display – I actually agree with you that barring Luke Harding is more trouble than its worth. That said, now that the milk has been spilled, Russia might as well refrain from backpedaling.

UPDATE #3

So it appears Russia has allowed Luke Harding to come back. Meanwhile, I remain censored by the Guardian.

Guardian = less respect for free speech than the Kremlin.

EDIT: This post has been translated into Russian at Inosmi.Ru (Цензура в The Guardian: некоторые комментарии свободнее других). Thanks guys – you rock!

Comments

  1. If Putin really does let the bear out of his cage for a romp I’d go to great lengths to avoid England. Fangs and claws are coming out…almost show time.

    • England is a frothing at the mouth chihuahua. It is hard to understand why they hate Russians so much considering that the only conflict has been in colonial wars such Crimea. It has zero to do with democratic standards since they don’t spew so much hate at Egypt and other repressive regime. Do they blame communism for the loss of their empire?

      It looks like the “third world toilet” called Russia is some sort of major competitor or perceived impediment to their ambitions. Why else exert so much effort yapping?

      • Basically I think it’s because of the number of Russians – both rich and poor – in London. A highly visible group of people who can be both accused of being richer than us, and scrounging off us.

        As a consequence, they make great targets for some of Britain’s more diminutive politicians.

  2. Alread bumped on to contacts in globally known media groups.

    I note though that someone actually did recently (as in towards the end of the comments) post a link to the guardian apology on its website and is is still there. It will be interesting to see if it remains once they lock the thread.

  3. john haskell says:

    are we then to conclude that Harding was denied entry to Russia because he ripped off the Exile? You don’t offer any other suppositions.

    • If I had to “guess” – just as the Guardian does – then I’d say someone took a look at Harding’s articles for his past years in Russia, noticed they were full of negative spin, fact distortion and outright propaganda (e.g. this, making out the South Ossetia War as a “cruel” Russian invasion of Georgia), and hence the ban.

      Harding is perhaps unfortunate that it befell him (after all Ed Lucas can still travel there freely), but “guessing” that it was due to his Wikileaks coverage – if it was hundreds of other Western and Russian journalists would also be expelled or in jail – is irresponsible. Using the expulsion to further push their “repression of free speech” meme is mendacious (even the Guardian’s own UK bars entry to people it considers promoters of hate speech, like that anti-gay Pastor or Michael Savaga; but isn’t Luke Harding a promoter of hate speech by Russian standards?).

      It’s the typical British colonialist mentality – we can bar any foreigner we want, for no reason (as they frequently do to Russians who want to visit family members), but there’ll be hell to pay if one of our fine fellows suffers as much as a long wait for a visa. Looks like for all its ostensible progressivism the Guardian shares this colonialist mentality.

      • Coupla points.

        1. Harding isn’t a promoter of “hate speech,” at least as far as I know. He may be a lousy journalist, but that’s different. Can you cite me any instances where Harding has urged for Russians to be attacked on ethnic grounds; or suggested that they are somehow racially deficient; or even tarred all of them with the same brush of inferiority? If you have such examples, I’d be glad to see them.

        2. The British gov’t is inconsistent on the “hate speech” issue anyway. Yes, they barred Michael Savage. But they also, in the person of London mayor Ken Livingston, welcomed with open arms an Islamic “scholar” who spews anti-Semitic and anti-gay rhetoric and applauds suicide bombers. I don’t think “colonialist mentality” played a role there – more like a third-worldist, post-colonialist mentality.

    • I saw somewhere that Luke Harding received a six-month visa that would last until his children finished school, and that the visa just expired. (Also that he knew then that he probably would not receive a new one.) Six months ago no one has heard of Wikileaks, so the Guardian and Luke Harding are all being a bunch of drama queens.

  4. WorldLocal says:

    Here are some deleted comments there:
    —-
    Press freedom: Retreat from the Guardian

    Not like every other days – posts are being deleted in unprecedented level and (SIC!) with no trace of it at all. The Guardian doesn’t want to show even the traces of other opinions. Looks that Guardian does have something to hide. That is shame!

    Luke, please don’t delete this post again – that is silly.

    —–

    The level of censorship in CIF today on the subject speaks for itself.

    That proves the opinion that Harding isn’t just journalist but rather anti-Russian propaganda officer.

    From my perspective Russophobia isn’t much different from anti-Semitism.
    So Russia is absolutely right to not grand a visa to such a Russophobe.

    ——

    That is essentially Goebbels recipe. That is why Luke Harding’s writing is not about journalism – it’s about brainwashing and forming a certain image and stereotypes abort Russia – this is not journalism this is propaganda.

    This is the shame for Guardian as well – that is why it keeps deleting such a posts form CiF.

    • My oh my, such non-conforming posts that violate every rule of decency. //sarc

      Is the western media really this desperate to control opposing opinions? I wonder since the internet has liberated people from the controlled information channels of the mainstream media. Even if most still swallow the CNN, BBC, CBC, etc. swill there are millions who don’t buy the crap and shop elsewhere. This must be making western regimes be afraid.

    • john walter says:

      Harding is an enigma, is he is an incompetent journalist, lazy enough to rip off articles from other journalists, or is he not really a journalist at all? I have a gut feeling he is the latter. Now there is no crime in that, many would see it as an honour to work for their country, but The Guardian immedately presses the delete button at the suggestion. Which to my way of thinking tends to confirm the latter view of Harding.

      • Withnail1969 says:

        john walter – i don’t think Luke Harding works for MI6 or whatever – I could be wrong obviously. He seems too incompetent and ignorant to be an effective intelligence officer.

        However, he doesn’t seem to be subject to normal rules of journalism – like when he writes an article he fills it with conjecture, innuendo and unsupported claims. How does he get away with that? Surely the editor should send them back? His writing stands out as unusually poor and sloppy in an otherwise pretty solid newspaper.

        Have you noticed, by the way, that everyone he meets in Russia when he quotes them in an article is called ‘Sasha’? How many ‘Sashas’ can there be?

        Why does he want Britain to be hostile to Russia? We can’t take them on militarily, and they have a load of useful resources. Wouldn’t it make more sense to have friendly relations?

        And what’s the point of writing in The Guardian if you want the readers to hate Russia? The majority of Guardian readers would not go along with that stance.

  5. Peregrinus says:

    Israel Shamir loves you.

    Good association with eXile though, Mark Ames too was kicked on his ass out from Russia before he could even finish saying “Kabaeva and Putin”.

    • The eXile left when their financial situation, always precarious, collapsed on the heels of a (pre-announced) bureaucratic inspection for possible violation of media laws (e.g. they had a long association with Eduard Limonov of National Bolshevik notoriety).

      While I agree Russia’s extremism laws are far too broad, it’s clear that the eXile must have been on its last legs to fold so suddenly. But they were not “kicked out” and had fuck all to do with “Kabaeva and Putin.”

      Re-Israel Shamir. Pretty lame as far as insinuations go. Final point, though one that will fly over the head. Notice how S/O doesn’t censor even blatant trolls like Peregrinus, and compare and contrast with some MSM outlets.

      • Peregrinus says:

        Oh no, you didn’t!
        Let’s just say that yours “Luke Harding is a professional plagiarist” and “Good riddance” has nothing to do with the point and subject, and serves rather as a colorful blatant display.

      • Notice how S/O doesn’t censor…

        Liar.

        • Chrisius Dossius Optimus Maximus says:

          The Karlin blowhard censors pro Guardian voices that are more objective in a non so impartial manner

          • The ignorant sock puppeting prick in the form Chris Doss strikes again with another set of falsely stated non-substantive comments.

          • For clarity sake, there’s much more that can be said at the more high profile of venues.

          • Karlin has a twisted liking for freaks and freak shows, while sucking up to some comparitvely lame crap.

            I’m here as a form of slumming, inclusive of carrying on like the beasts.

            This is minor league from the kind of big league pitching that I hit out of the park.

    • I wonder why the Moscow Times, St. Petersburg Times, Kommersant, Ren TV, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Moscow News, etc., have not been “shut down by Putin”. How come you don’t have some Politkovskaya “murdered by Putin” every week? There are plenty of candidates like Yulia Latynina who are just begging to be offed for taking a dump on the heads of Russians every time they write some piece of “journalism”.

      In the west anything that criticizes the core of western behaviour (e.g. invasion of Iraq) is fobbed off as some conspiracy theory but every bit of inane drivel about Russia is taken at face value. Like CNN showing pictures of Tskhinval and calling it Gori.

  6. George Galloway the British MP was denied entry into Canada for having opinions that weren’t shared by Harper’s regime. You simply cannot find the amount of anti-western propaganda spewage anywhere in the western media like in Russia where you have whole papers (e.g. Moscow Times) devoted to smearing Russia and Russians. This is a case closing contradiction to the theory that Russia lacks press freedom. The Russian media is actually distorted by foreign governments and their agents (e.g. clowns like Gusinsky and Brezovsky, who owned until very recently major media assets in Russia). So if some lying f*ck gets banned from visiting Russia then it is simply nothing of note. Russians can get their daily fill of anti-Russian diarreah from the west via internet, TV and radio.

    I know the self-righteous holier-than-thou westerners will chime in that the west is the crown of creation and cannot be faulted, but please. The hypocrisy is so brazen it is comical.

  7. I am sorry, but the weakest and most annoying argument in defending any country is: ‘but the WEST does it too.’
    So what? That does not make it right? If a journalist, whatever he is writing or plagiarizing, is being denied entry into the country they used to do their work, may it be England or the US, that would be a scandalous move.
    You might not like Harding, which I understand, but that does not justify this form of censorship.

    • The fact that “the WEST does it too”, while it usually is true, is not the point and you should know it. The point is that the west regularly holds itself up as an example to the world of how civilized, decent people behave, while shrieking that Russia is a nation of savages where corruption reigns and democratic institutions wither for want of attention.

      If western reports on Russia concluded with, “…so, yet another example of how Russia blew millions and millions of the peoples’ dollars on a stupid road to the Olympics – but then, we’re no better”, there would be no angry retorts at all. Except perhaps from westerners, saying, “we do NOT!!!”.

  8. Withnail1969 says:

    Hi kirill, I’m from England and i can tell you most people here don’t hate Russia – in fact they don’t really know much about the place. This Luke Harding character keeps trying to stir up anti-Russian feeling with his lies and distortions, but it never works. What does he want us to do, march on Moscow? It’s so stupid. I hope Russia does not renew this clown’s visa.

    After his plagiarism case he is clearly not a journalist anyway.

    • Thanks for the information and it is good to hear that. I am making a big mistake putting all the people and some “journalists” in the same boat.

  9. “If you consider the US a “mature liberal democracy”, then Russia is already playing to form.”

    If you consider the US a “corporate ruling class state” then Russia is still playing to form…even more so without regional elections. In the US we still pretend to elect state governors but really an outsider has no chance at that level. American business people operating in key strategic industries have to be political perfect fits or they don’t survive…they either get bought or destroyed…sued…dealt out…whatever.

    “Russian government will have enough self-confidence in themselves and their system to see that the best way to deal with irritants is to ignore them, or better yet defuse them through positive recognition.”

    If the ruling class controls the institutions of influence i.e. education, religion, and media then the typical strategy would be to attack an outsiders loyalty and identity to the voting populace and tailor the attack to whatever locality.

    • Regional elections are a scam. The US states and Canadian provinces are nothing more than an additional layer of bureaucrat and politician parasites who can play the “pass the buck” game much easier. Two levels of government, national and micro-regional (greater municipal), are sufficient since there is a clear separation of tasks.

  10. As to question “Why does British government hate Russia so much?” here is my theory, for what it’s worth, and I certainly didn’t invent this theory, it’s very common one: America/Britain axis still has aspirations to bust up Russia and take away North Caucasus (to get at Caspian energy resources, of course). This is long-term strategy, they are looking 20-30 years in future. America out-sourced most of this project to their lapdog Britain, because Brits had much experience fighting Russians in Crimea and central Asia — true, that was a long time ago, but past experience still counts for something. So anyhow, corgi-dog Britain still sees itself as big bulldog fighting Russian bear on world stage; hence, bitter tone of propaganda war.

  11. UPDATE #3

    So it appears Russia has allowed Luke Harding to come back. Meanwhile, I remain censored by the Guardian.

    Guardian = less respect for free speech than the Kremlin.

    So much for the “free” Western media!

  12. I wrote a haiku poem:

    “Why let Luke back in?
    Russia loses face, alas!
    Guardian smirks. Bummer.”

    (Note: “Guardian” has to be pronounced as only 2 syllables for the haiku to work!) :)

  13. Manichaean says:

    Exactly same story happened to me over the scandal with Luke Harding. I had previously been an active participant of discussions on Guardian’s CIF for a few years and all was fine. Till the events described in the blog took place and I was criticizing Mr. Harding for his staunch (almost racist) anti-Russian position and his lack of talent in investigating journalism. In fact he just spreads stereotypes and propaganda IMHO. I had been heavily censored on Guardian CiF, had been effectively banned in fact (how else do you call this policy of pre-censoring your comments when they appear a couple of hours after you wrote them), so you can not participate in any discussion. And I’m still pre-censored up to now.
    Nice example of “freedom of English media”.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Ioffe, Sean Guillory and Anatoly Karlin write about the expulsion of Guardian's Moscow correspondent Luke Harding from Russia. [...]

  2. [...] Ioffe, Sean Guillory and Anatoly Karlin write about the expulsion of Guardian's Moscow correspondent Luke Harding from [...]

  3. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Realmenwork3 and Askmeanything.biz, SteveTaff. SteveTaff said: RT@america1first "Luke Harding Is A Plagiarist" Censored By Guardian | Sublime Oblivion http://bit.ly/hFfXr3 [...]

  4. […] forgot, but, ironically enough, the fellow who wrote the Guardian piece, well, read up here: Guardian Censorship: Some Comments Are Freer Than Others | Da Russophile Sign in or Register Now to […]

  5. a6europe.zendesk.Com

    “Luke Harding Is A Plagiarist” Censored By Guardian

Leave a Reply