Earlier this week, Buzzfeed’s editor-in-chief Janine Gibson accused ‘publications such as the Canary‘ of being part of a ‘targeted online harassment campaign‘ against a US journalist that led to his deportation from Nicaragua:
The claim was that in publishing information first put out by US journalist Max Blumenthal, the Canary had contributed to the ‘doxxing’ of a journalist with alleged close ties to the US government.
The accusation led to the withdrawal of an invitation by the NUJ (National Union of Journalists) to Ms Mendoza to deliver the annual Claudia Jones Lecture for Black History Month – the NUJ had previously maintained its invitation after a number of largely white Guardian journalists complained about it.
The claim also triggered a swift ‘pile-on’ by other ‘MSM’ journalists and those who dislike the independent left media. Nick Cohen, who writes for the Guardian’s sister publication the Observer and who appears to despise the left and pro-Corbyn activists in particular, was prominent and characteristically venomous:
His closing barb “people who want to harass journalists” couldn’t have been a much bigger irony failure – because Buzzfeed’s claim was completely untrue.
The publication issued a retraction:
Max Blumenthal elaborated further in a tweet:
Wyatt Reed, friend & colleague of Carl David Goette-Luciak, sent this damning letter to the Guardian. They refused to publish it just as they refused to link to my article because it exposes their “reporter’s” conflicts of interest & their own malpractice. https://t.co/9dztCTervJ pic.twitter.com/i6V1dWMaSA
— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) October 4, 2018
Wyatt Reed’s letter, which the Guardian did not publish, is partially reproduced below:
In spite of this, as of just now, neither Cohen nor Gibson had retracted their tweets. The SKWAWKBOX wrote to Ms Gibson for comment on the evident irony of triggering online harassment of a journalist by wrongly accusing her publication of a ‘targeted online harassment campaign’:
A similar email was sent to Nick Cohen. Neither has responded so far.
However, Ms Gibson has not been idle this morning. She has retweeted tweeters defending her stance:
So it appears the latest tack is to claim that the Buzzfeed article did not say that ‘Blumenthal doxxed anyone’ and their later comment was merely an ‘update’, not a retraction.
Does that claim stand up? Here is the Buzzfeed headline as of 13.30hrs today:
The Buzzfeed article blares ‘Doxxed‘ in a large font – and the subtitle specifically mentions the Canary. It may not say ‘Blumenthal doxxed anyone’ – but the article it references is Blumenthal’s article. And here’s Ms Gibson’s tweet again, with a link to the ‘doxxing’ article – and to the Canary’s supposed role:
The SKWAWKBOX also contacted the NUJ:
The NUJ withdrew its invitation to the Canary’s Kerry-Anne Mendoza to give the Claudia Jones lecture because of the Canary’s supposed involvement in republishing a Max Blumenthal article that led to the deportation of a US journalist from Nicaragua.
Please provide a response by return to the following:
- Now that Buzzfeed has retracted its allegation and it’s clear neither Blumenthal’s revelations nor the Canary’s use of them had anything to do with the deportation, will you be re-inviting Ms Mendoza?
- Was the decision to withdraw the invitation in any way influenced by the complaints of Guardian members when it was first announced?
- Will the NUJ be issuing an apology to Ms Mendoza?
The NUJ’s response is awaited.
Max Blumenthal described his thoughts on the fiasco in a response to another journalist who had joined in the online pile-on. It makes a fitting finish to this article:
It’s hard to imagine a more complete failure or a more object lesson in the attitude of the mainstream to the ‘upstart’ new-left publications that trouble them than online allegations of online harassment and its supposed consequences that turn out to be false but which lead to a ‘targeted online harassment campaign’.
That the National Union of Journalists acted and withdrew their invitation – to a member of their union – without checking the facts reflects extremely poorly on an organisation that is supposed to defend its members.
The failure of Ms Gibson and Mr Cohen to delete their incorrect tweets and offer unreserved apologies reflects very badly on them but is, in the case of Cohen at least, unsurprising.
Whether the NUJ corrects its hasty error and atones to its smeared member remains to be seen.
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