Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Shooting the Messenger Redux: Guardian in the firing line

Last night the Observer newspaper, a long standing paper in its own right (it actually predates the Guardian by several years) publisheda badly sourced front page story taken from Birtherist Wayne Madsen and the privacy surgeon site about European surveillance

Disaster for the Observer, which has been running on a much reduced staff for several years. It is owned by the Guardian now, but has a long and distinctly different identity and editorial separation.

Not for much longer after a disaster like that.

Complete cock up.

However, it wasn’t long before many were claiming that this cock up undermined all of the Guardian’s reporting on the Snowden issue. To me, that would be like assuming that News of the World’s hacking undermined the Wall Street Journal’s financial reporting, just because they have the same owner. In a long a protracted twitter exchange with Charles Johnson at Green Footballs (beginning somewhere round here) I noticed the claim had gone from ‘Observer screws up’ to “Guardian repeatedly used Madsen as a source.”

Well, no. A source of a story in journalistic terms is the ‘source/origin’ of a story. Apart from the Observer debacle, he is cited five times by the Guardian, for one line quotes, often taken from other news sources. All but one of these were from before 2003, when he launched towards birtherism

Having put paid to the idea he’s a major source for the Guardian, perhaps it would be worth watching this excellent Charlie Rose interview with Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger and US editor Janine Gibson to see their real motivations.

Three things are apparent to me

1. They verified everything

2. The redacted anything that was a threat to national security

3. They think it’s bigger than Snowden, and digital surveillance, for the first time in history, compromises the right to protest and the possibilities of investigative journalism

The latter is my biggest fear as expressed in the New Republic last week


Meanwhile Der Spiegel is reporting about surveillance on the EU parliament (Germans have a historical reason for mistrusting this level of intrusion) and the Washington Post is reporting that the NSA capture was of live information, with 49 per cent risk the target is domestic.  


  1. Kysen

    in fact, I’m not even remotely near to ‘completely’ trusting either side.


    I do know that the discussion is important and that shooting the messenger is not the way to handle it.

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  2. I still am put off by the focus on the actual messenger.  If the message has weight it will stand on its own wont it?  That’s a problem in my mind.  In all this misinformation flowing around the NSA story in all of it there is nothing in the message that requires the kind of attention people seem to want to pay it among the messenger class.

    We just lost the #VRA and the GOP is trying to pass secessionist constitutions on voting rights in the old confederacy.  They are jamming probes up peoples cha chas!  Today we find out that people spy.

    When Hillary Clinton first came on board a story came out that had consular personnel instructed to take their guests glassed and cups to harvest their DNA.  It’s taking the oxygen from the real all this fake.  It’s driving me crazy.

  3. Rustbelt Dem

    To be brutally honest (not with you but with myself), I have to say that I can’t seem to rouse myself into caring about any of this, besides the espionage.  It really has to do with two things.

    1. The abdication of the press since at least 1992 to be any responsibility than being an attack dog for the Republican Party.  From Whitewater to the faux outrage in regards to impeachment, and cresting in the abolutely shamlessing pile on of Al Gore in 2000.  Since then it has been more of the subtle anti Democratic jingoism, but Judith Miller’s paper has absolutely no standing in regard to whistleblowing purity standards.

    2.  To me, the messenger is important.  To preface, let me say flat out that I am an ultra partisan American Democrat, everybody knows that who has dealt with me online.  Be that as it may, I find the vast majority of people who are zealous about this issue at a certain site to be amongst the most vile bullies and hard left bigot enablers.  It seriously gave me pause.   You know that that doesn’t apply to you, of course.

    (And no, DK lurkers, something like this didn’t happen under Bush.  And I wouldn’t have liked it then either.  I guess I have too many friends in uniform to spit on them).

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