Buzzfeed, Cohen wrongly accuse Canary of harassment – but don’t withdraw, leading to… harassment

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:

gibson canary.png

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:


cohen canary.png

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’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’:

sb gibson.png

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:

gibson rts

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:

buzz doxx

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:

gibson canary

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:

  1. 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?
  2. Was the decision to withdraw the invitation in any way influenced by the complaints of Guardian members when it was first announced?
  3. 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:


SKWAWKBOX comment:

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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  1. “what is the point of the BBC if it is frightened of journalism” Nick Cohen. “the BBC is frightened of journalism ” Nick Cohen. “This is how journalists in the MS M respond to those uppity lefties” could be Nick Cohen

  2. Can Nick Cohen go any lower.Give him time and I’m sure he will manage it.There is a well worn path from the Guardian/Observer to the Mail and he is overdue to take it.

    1. Unlikely, I think his role in the Grauniad is to change the direction of its readers. Pro Israel, pro right pro everything the Grauniad used to stand against

  3. The fake news, deeply deceptive, anti-journalism assaults on Kerry-Anne Mendoza, Max Blumenthal and the Canary are despicable on many levels. We are being subjected to.increasingly narrow, autocratic ‘state approved’ corporate and state media reporting and their deepening role as financialised Capitalism’s propagandists.

    We are in very dangerous times indeed, hurting toward deepening authoritarianism, media control/censorship and even a fascistic type of governance and possibly even the engineering of a major war as the Capitalist system collapses and another major financial crash looms large. When state and private vested interests merge to run the economy it is a type of fascism.

    Questioning voices and those seeking a real life, human and wider view of events and socioeconomic conditions are being systematically repressed and silenced. This should be of grave concern to all of us.

  4. Looks like The NUJ had been under pressure from the Graun/Observer to withdraw the invitation to Kerry-Anne and this was the perfect excuse to cave in to that pressure.

    A familiar tale.

  5. An outrage to cave in. I know the NUJ is a shadow of what it was in my day but what a disgrace. Cohen also uses his lies about doxxing to attack Marc Wadsworth again and say he is not a journalist. Well he is.
    Cohen is an offensive and creepy full-time attacker of Jeremy Corbyn and the whole membership of Labour. His warped utterings are not journalism.

  6. Utter clusterfuck from which no one will learn anything because, well, that wasn’t the point. Really pissed off for you, Kerry-Anne.

  7. How does this compare to our own Foreign Secretary getting someone imprisoned for longer in an Iranian jail for wrongly saying she was involved in journalistic activities?

  8. I hate the middle class liberal papers/news sites more than the Tory supporting press. At least they act and know they’re scum whereas the so called left leaning papers act as the acceptable face of the establishment.

  9. The absolute state of Cohen whinging about £500 Wadsworth apparently asked the grauniad to stump up. I very much doubt he asked cohen to pay him from his own wallet.

    ‘He said WE HAD to give’ …Who’s ‘WE’ , cohen?

    Now, I know they couldn’t get an antisemitism charge to stick on Wadsworth, but ffs cohen, stop making it sound like Wadsworth demanded money with menaces…’Loudmouth’ , indeed.

    Rather be a far-left loudmouth journalist than a disdainful gobshite masquerading as a journalist.

  10. The small amount of respect I once held for Buzzfeed withered and blew away as dust after I watched an Australian far-right nutcase rant angrily about the injustices of political correctness. Thanks to a video platform offered by Buzzfeed.

    I thought to myself: ‘You just offered a platform to far-right hate speech. What are you thinking? F*** you Buzzfeed!’

  11. Is there a pattern here? A false accusation is used to discredit another critic of the govt. The accusation is found to be false AFTER summary punishment delivered. It’s now getting to be a mechanical knee jerk set of operations applied without any attempt to even hide it. We know what is being done, and they know we know. We know they do it to “enemies”of the Tories and the status quo. It’s no longer even shocking.

    Given the drift towards a loss of human rights, and totalitarianism, can we afford to allow this to become normalised?

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