Despite Its Battle With the Surveillance State, The Guardian is No Champion of the Free Press

The GuardianThe GuardianAt Spiked Online, Brendan O'Neill reminds us that The Guardian may currently be fighting the good fight against state smashers of hard drives and intimidators of journalists' loved ones, but the newspaper's institutional stance on the matter of press freedom is shaky at best. In fact, the press regulation scheme unveiled last year in Great Britain, and now the subject of vigorous debate in the country, has been championed every step of the way by the editors of that newspaper.

Writes O'Neill:

Everything that is now being done to the Guardian has already been done to the tabloid press, a hundred times over, and often at the behest of the Guardian. For all the initial depictions of Mr Miranda as ‘just Glenn Greenwald’s partner’, in fact he was ferrying encrypted information from the NSA leaker Edward Snowden on flights paid for by the Guardian. That is, he was detained and questioned over journalistic material acquired through illegal means. That’s already happened to the tabloids. Over the past two years of post-phone hacking, post-News of the World harassment of tabloid hacks by the state, 104 people have been arrested, questioned, usually put on unjustly elongated bail, and sometimes imprisoned. These include many journalists but also office secretaries and other non-journalist types, like Mr Miranda, who stand accused of handling illegally acquired material. The 104’s crimes include ‘disclosure of confidential information’ – not that dissimilar to what Greenwald and Miranda have done in terms of getting hold of and publishing Snowden’s illegally leaked confidential material. Yet while the redtop writers rot in legal limbo, Mr Miranda becomes a chattering-class cause célèbre.

To be clear, Brendan O'Neill is not suggesting that it's OK to target journalists and that Greenwald and company deserve the sort of mistreatment that tabloid journalists have received in the past. In fact, Spiked Online and O'Neill opposed the Leveson inquiry that led to the current press regulation proposals before it ever unveiled its proposals for greater state control over journalists. His point is that "the newspaper editors, politicians and concerned tweeters now getting het up about the state’s interference in journalistic activity, about what they call the state’s ‘war on journalism’, are the very same people – the very same – who over the past two years cheered the state harassment of tabloid journalists."

In fact, in December 2012, The Guardian editorialized in favor of accepting most of Leveson's recommendations for press regulation:

One possible starting point for the press and politicians would be to accept the rest of the Leveson report in full. This approach would require the press, in particular, to acknowledge the force and logic of much of his argument and to explain how it proposes to meet his challenges – including the central test of whether it is possible to achieve effective, independent regulation – without the use of statute.

That cheerleading for increased state scrutiny of the press continued into this year. In March, the paper editorialized:

To read some accounts of Monday night's Leveson vote a casual reader could be forgiven for thinking that Britain's press stands at a historic crossroads. One arrow points to freedom, the other to the end of all that Milton, Wilkes and Mill lived and died for.

The truth is rather more mundane. MPs are being asked to choose between two versions of a royal charter – a medieval piece of constitutional nonsense that fudges the issue of statutory regulation. There are good and bad things in both charters, not a straight choice between virtue and evil – and nothing in either to signal the death of press freedom. ...

The Leveson inquiry was a necessary and useful examination of the ethics and standards of the press. The judge's report contained much that was sensible, along with some things that were much more contestable. It is a healthy thing, not a bad thing, that the whole issue of press regulation is the subject of open discussion and scrutiny.

None of this means that The Guardian deserved to have its offices invaded and its computers smashed, let alone that David Miranda, who had nothing to do with the newspaper's editorial stances on any issues, deserved to be detained and robbed by British authorities. What it does mean is that the editors of The Guardian should be seriously reconsidering their earlier cheerful disregard for warnings about the dangers of increasing state authority over the practice of journalism. Ultimately that power will be exercised by the sort of people who use every tool at their disposal to intimidate and abuse.

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  • Sevo||

    They just want to make sure the government chains are ones they find comfortable!
    Wanna bet Greenwald hasn't raised a single gripe about others held in that fiasco?

  • ||

    Nope. Greenwald has principles. For example, see what he's written about Citizen's United.

  • Sevo||

  • Paul.||

    There are good and bad things in both charters, not a straight choice between virtue and evil

    So if you kind of choose a little evil, only one of them profits...

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    That is, he was detained and questioned over journalistic material acquired through illegal means.

    Not terrorism. Just wanted to point that out.

    And yes, I can certainly imagine a British newspaper not fully grasping the value of free press until the state bites it personally in the arse.

  • NSA Luther||

    The Guardian is just alright with me, The Guardian is just alright, oh yeah
    The Guardian is just alright with me, The Guardian is just alright

    I don't care what they may say
    I don't care what they may do
    I don't care what they may say
    The Guardian is just alright, oh yeah
    The Guardian is just alright

  • Anders||

    The Guardian is a hard left statist mouthpiece of the British Labour party. It's editorials have traditionally always been stridently anti-American and anti Israeli (because JOOOOOOOOOOOOOOS).

    They're in this for 2 reasons:

    1 - Circulation: You know how hard it is to keep a newspaper afloat these days
    2 - Anti-US agitation

    WGAS though - the story needs to be written.

    As for Greenwald, he's an Angry Queen and virulently anti-US and anti-JOoooooooos. He's in it for the $$$ and the fame.

    And Assange is some kind of creepy albino monkey rapist in it as some kind of alternative to Cialis.

    Snowden possibly never realized this...

  • NSA Luther||

    you're a racist prick

  • Anders||

    How is any of that racist? Greenwald is a racist prick undoubtedly...

  • ||

    I thought Greenwald was a Jew.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    He is, of the self-hating variety, however.

  • Brandon||

    Had you ever heard of Greenwald before the Snowden thing, or did Stormfront not follow him until then?

  • jesse.in.mb||

    I like the random capitalization of "Angry Queen"

    "Greenwald is an Angry Queen of the New York Angry Queens."
    "Ah I dare say I thought the Angry Queens were out of East Hertfordshire. Curious that."

  • Irish||

    You're a pretty Calm Queen so I assume that you're okay by Anders' standards. It's only the Angry ones that get him riled up.

  • ||

    Forgive my ignorance, but I had the impression that a queen was a homosexual of a certain variety, namely with a predilection for cross dressing and acting feminine. Is that correct?

    I didnt know that jesse considered himself that, calm or angry.

  • jesse.in.mb||

    I don't think it has ever occurred to anyone to call me a queen. I've met a few people who think that every gay guy is a queen, but it's kind of a rare usage now and dates to when the guys who were out were the guys who had a hard time hiding.

    The word always makes me think of Gods and Monsters:

    [on meeting Princess Margaret]
    James Whale: This is my gardener Clayton Boone. He's never met a princess before, only queens.

  • NSA Luther||

  • Brett L||

    Sounds like the ghost of William F. Buckley. "I will sock you in your nose if you keep calling me a cryptofascist you Angry Queen!"

  • Irish||

    I don't know what I just read.

  • Brett L||

    Welcome to the party, pal.

  • ||

    I use this all the time for late arrivals at Army field exercises or deployed "significant acts" and no one ever gets it. Sob.

  • Brett L||

    C'mon, it redefined the action hero genre. And ended Cybil shephard's TV career.

  • PapayaSF||

    Sorry, I need an explanation for that.

  • Dweebston||

    Yeah, seriously, starting with: who?

  • PapayaSF||

    Cybill Shepherd I got, but her TV career has been fine, as far as I can tell.

  • Finrod||

    Looks like the cops have themselves an RV!

  • ||

    Guardian has licked the boot that has been stomping on people for about 100 years.

    Why don't they deserve it again?

  • ||

    Let me expand on this:

    If a tyrannical state, which has been tyrannical for some time...if not forever, gets around to beating up its fan boys isn't this the best possible thing to happen given that real freedom is unlikely to ever happen?

    JD you may want to remove all those exceptions and covets you put into your piece. Just full on cheerlead these scum bags getting eaten by the very monster they helped create.

  • PapayaSF||

    "Extra! Extra! Lefty state-worshipping rag has second thoughts when the boot comes to their own neck! Read all about it!"

  • OldMexican||

    OT: O'Reilly just said that the murder rate in HOUSTON is just as bad as in Chicago or DC because we don't have stop and frisk.

    Ok, what he did was tell Monica Crawley that it is NOT TRUE that more guns mean less crime because "Texas has more lax gun laws but if you look at Houston it still has the same problems in minority areas" blah blah blah.

  • NSA Luther||

    O'Reilly likes things that I can't talk about without losing my job.

  • jesse.in.mb||

    I think we all know that Bill O'Reilly beats hookers. Just look at that explosive temper.*

    So sorry for the Olbermann intro :(

  • jesse.in.mb||

    I think we all know that Bill O'Reilly beats hookers.

    I'm sorry, the squirrels ate my text that should read:

    "I think we all believe in our hearts that he METAPHORICALLY beats hookers."

    I would like to apologize in advance for any hurt feelings my post may have caused. No hookers were harmed in the making of this or any other post by jesse.in.mb.

  • ||

    To be honest that video makes me hate O'Reilly a little less.

    Also isn't the whole premise of the show "Newsroom" to be a fictionalized version of this seat of your pants angry middle aged man anchorman journalism?

    Furthermore isn't Obermann's career based on it as well?

  • Killazontherun||

    Did you see the sexual harassment suit his producer filed that the Smoking Gun got a hold of several years ago? There were some strong insinuations about what O'Reilly likes to dabble into while on vacation in Bangkok.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I never saw O'Reilly at the Poseidon.

    Jus' sayin'

  • Irish||

    Chicago's murder rate actually isn't as bad as people claim because the white, gentrified areas of the city have suburban crime rates despite technically being part of the city. The issue with Chicago is that the murder rate in low income black neighborhoods is unbelievable. It's basically two different cities, a wealthy white city with low crime, and a poor black city with an astronomical murder rate.

  • Anders||

    Well its shooting rate is not exactly good but you are correct. The statistics show that only 1% of shooting victims in Chicago are white and possibly Lake Michigan Queens.

  • Sevo||

    Uh, Queens is on Long Island.

  • jesse.in.mb||

    Do they drive Cadillacs?

  • Sevo||

    In Queens? Only well used ones.

  • Irish||

    You have a sad and frightening obsession with gay men and you keep capitalizing Queens.

    I think the real hate crime here is committed against the English language.

  • PapayaSF||

    Of course, this applies to the entire US as well: Subtract black and Hispanic crime, and our crime rates drop to European levels or below. Sad and politically incorrect, but true.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Well that isn't fair. If we're going to be politically incorrect, you would have to subtract immigrant crime from European totals too.

  • Dweebston||

    Does your handle represent anything special about Antisthenes or is it purely stylistic?

  • Irish||

    Well that isn't fair. If we're going to be politically incorrect, you would have to subtract immigrant crime from European totals too.

    Yes, but immigrants from outside of Europe make up a far smaller percentage of European populations than minority groups make up in America. You can't compare the percentage of Arabs in Sweden, for example, to the percentage of Hispanics in America.

    Most immigrants within European countries are from other European countries. If 80% of American immigrants were Canadian I suspect our crime rates would be lower.

    Plus, it's not just immigrants. A lot of it is the poor education among black people that is the fault of a few things, including modern inner city culture, a lack of opportunity in past generations due to racism, less educated ancestors due to racism and slavery, etc. Most European countries don't have a hugely uneducated underclass due to massive slave populations and forced segregation in the recent past.

  • Sevo||

    "Most immigrants within European countries are from other European countries. If 80% of American immigrants were Canadian I suspect our crime rates would be lower."

    Possibly, but the hypothesis presumes too much; people follow the money. Or, incentives matter.
    If Canada were less prosperous, there might be more immigration to the US. And more of those immigrants might be 'outlaws' who couldn't get what they wanted in Canada.

  • Irish||

    That's obviously true. I'm just saying that where the immigrants come from matters, and people from very poor parts of Mexico are more likely to come from violent backgrounds than someone coming here from Canada.

  • Finrod||

    I've read that if you control for race, the United States and Canada have exactly the same crime levels.

  • ||

    That is, he was detained and questioned over journalistic material acquired through illegal means.

    What law did Miranda break to get the documents?

  • ||

    The same can be said for all the Newscorp stuff. It was cops and insiders who hacked the material then gave/sold it to the tabloids.

  • Dweebston||

    Mild inconvenience to the establishment. Capital offense.

  • wef||

    Actions reveal what the British state enforcers really think: Miranda was not charged with anything. Not a damned thing. The harassment and intimidation are thuggish punishments for annoying the political class, contemporary lese majesty.

  • NSA Luther||

    this looks like a scam. I'll get my friends to investigate.

  • Sevo||

    Have 'em check the tapes; it's all there.

  • NSA Luther||

    Stay HYDRATED

  • NSA Luther||

    Don't Text and Drive

  • NSA Luther||

    Eat your veggies.

  • NSA Luther||

  • ||

    Bryan Cranston is awesome.

  • LarryA||

    Everything that is now being done to the Guardian has already been done to the tabloid press, a hundred times over, and often at the behest of the Guardian.

    Golden Rule of Politics: The power you give to the government to do unto others will soon be used to do unto you.

  • Sevo||

    "Golden Rule of Politics: The power you give to the government to do unto others will soon be used to do unto you."

    And you might find you don't like it one bit.

  • ||

    And how many in the press here are paying attention?

    Did I just read that Bill O is a fan of the wildly unconstitutional thuggery known as stop and frisk?

    What guys like him refuse to acknowledge is that stop and frisk, as being practiced by NYPD on behalf of the progressive elite in the north is indistinguishable from the policing methods of the old Jim Crow south, one of the primary outrages that got their righteousness on 60 years ago. Bloomburg is Bull Connor reincarnated.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    -being practiced by NYPD on behalf of the progressive elite in the north

    I agree with your assessment of Bloomberg's policy, but perhaps you are not aware that it was a left wing legal group (the Center for Constitutional Rights) based in NYC that brought and won the lawsuit against that policy?

  • ||

    It is important to distinguish between classic liberals and progressives. One is not so left, and the other is far enough left to be considered fascist. Two different critters.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    I do not think this will work here. The CCR is progressive, not classic liberal. You may want to rethink your assumptions about the left and right here.

  • MappRapp||

    lol, the whole thing is kinda funny when you think about it.

    www.World-Privacy.com

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