The Guardian: Accusers and Purveyors of Fake News

Part Two — Complicity in Propaganda

This second part of a four part essay examines and explains The Guardian’s complicity in state-corporate propaganda through an introduction of Herman and Chomsky’s Propaganda Model. It then examines The Guardian’s output in relation to the model’s five filters.

Part One, examined and explained:

· the dangers of exaggerating the impact of Big Data and Fake News on recent elections

· how and why The Guardian are exaggerating the influence of Big Data and Fake News

Part Three will outline, examine and explain

· some basic principles of journalism, and how The Guardian frequently fails to meet those principles

Finally, Part Four will outline, examine and explain:

· examples to support the claim that The Guardian is a frequent purveyor of Fake News (of course, not all the time, but so frequently as to be extremely problematic)

· what profoundly improved systems of journalism could lead to.


The Guardian have an incentive to discuss Fake News beyond its actual significance, not just because it’s news in itself (which it is), but because new media models, start-ups and websites (and existing ones) challenge their authority as self-proclaimed bastions of fearless, independent, truthful journalism which allegedly calls the powerful to account.

From the December 2016 article, ‘What is fake news? How to spot it and what you can do to stop it Fake News’
Average Daily Circulation, National Newspapers, July 2015 Source: Media Reform Coalition

Editors at The Guardian seem to genuinely think that their work is clear of bias. They consistently reject the criticisms of echo-chambering of authority, over-reliance on official sources, muting of elite/corporate interest criticism, maintaining a limited spectrum of debate, or fearing flak for publishing outside of accepted boundaries or against powerful people. They refuse to accept that the stories they run are not sufficiently self-critical or ‘beholden’ to corporate bias.

It is seemingly beneath them to engage in debate or dialogue around claims that they are purveyors of establishment bias. Instead, the claims go practically unexamined, or, instead, ridiculed. And if The Guardian is not willing to even consider the potential for bias and how it affects their reporting, then they’re far more likely to be guilty of it.

For The Guardian to question whether they might have been complicit in actually producing Fake News is simply and firmly out of their spectrum of debate. In fact — if you consider The Guardian’s business structure and model, and its place within the Propaganda Model as outlined in 1988 by Herman and Chomsky in Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, it simply does not exist as an area that a Guardian journalist can realistically focus.

The Propaganda Model proposed that mainstream media produces journalism that generally passes through at least one of the five main filters, or is arguably filtered out entirely. These filters are:

“(I) the size, concentrated ownership, owner wealth, and profit orientation of the dominant mass-media firms; (2) advertising as the primary income source of the mass media; (3) the reliance of the media on information provided by government, business, and “experts” funded and approved by these primary sources and agents of power; (4) “flak” as a means of disciplining the media; and (5) “anticommunism” as a national religion and control mechanism”

The First Filter: “The size, concentrated ownership, owner wealth, and profit orientation of the dominant mass-media firms”

The Guardian says about their journalism and ownership:

“Because the Guardian is not beholden to profit-seeking shareholders or a billionaire owner, we can pursue stories without fear of where they might take us, free from commercial and political influence.”

And

“And our unique ownership structure means no one can tell us to censor or drop a story.”

It’s important, when examining The Guardian through the propaganda model filters to note that the core purpose of the Scott Trust makes clear that The Guardian is a “profit-seeking enterprise”. The Guardian don’t have any qualms about admitting this in their articles. However, what they do seem to have a problem with is admitting that their ownership and structure is not as unique as you might think.

They like to give the impression of still being part of the Scott Trust (this entire fluff piece doesn’t mention the fact that they’re a limited company once), but they are actually a limited company, Scott Trust Ltd, which they have been since 2008. A November 2017 Long Read by Katherine Viner only semi-alludes to the corporate structure by mention of the term shareholder.

While admittedly Scott Trust Ltd is not ran or set-up like most Limited companies (e.g. no dividend payments to shareholders) and The Guardian is not ran like many other newspapers, The Guardian and the Observer is still owned by Guardian Media Group which itself is owned by Scott Trust Ltd. And the board members in both companies hold significant links to major corporations and industry players as Nafeez Ahmed points out in his Insurge Intelligence report from March 2015. Thus, The Guardian’s ownership structure is a realistic potential cause for corporate bias in their journalistic output.

The Second Filter: “Advertising as the primary income source of the mass media”

The Guardian more obviously belongs to the Propaganda Model because their existence as a newspaper is so heavily ad-revenue based. As of 2014, The Guardian said that around half of all revenues come from advertising. Recently, in Editor-in-Chief, Katherine Viner’s, plea for financial support on October 26th 2017, she reports that advertising now accounts for less than half of The Guardian’s revenues. This is certainly positive news, because the less ad-reliant The Guardian are, the more truly independent their journalism can be. But it’s unclear how long-term the increase in membership and paid support will remain for, or whether it will have a shelf-life.

And The Guardian’s courting of readers (e.g. for members and for donations) is also part of a longer-term strategy to actually encourage advertisement funding. As is outlined in a Business Insider article by Jake Kanter, Guardian Media Group’s Chief Executive, David Pemsel, “calls this the “anonymous-to-known” strategy, allowing — as Kanter paraphrases Pemsel in his article — “The Guardian to have more meaningful conversations with advertisers”.

Pemsel is also quoted in the same article as saying:

“Understanding the behaviour of regular readers and knowing more about them constitutes probably the single defining metric for the business”

So The Guardian is still heavily dependent on advertisements and intends to remain heavily reliant on advertisement. Despite assertions otherwise, it’s almost impossible to argue that a model that actively seeks and relies on advertisers would not significantly affect their likelihood of producing corporate friendly pieces or even spiking corporate critical pieces entirely.

One of the background pictures to Viner’s October 26th article

As Media Lens pointed out in 2001:

“Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR — www.fair.org) reports that in a 2000 Pew Centre for the People & the Press poll of 287 US reporters, editors and news executives, about one-third of respondents, said that news that would “hurt the financial interests” of the media organization or an advertiser goes unreported. Forty-one percent said they themselves have avoided stories, or softened their tone, to benefit their media company’s interests.”

More recently, in 2015, The Telegraph reported, based on disclosure from a Guardian insider, that The Guardian had, in July the previous year, changed a headline to a story on their website and later removed the story altogether to satisfy Apple who had set conditions not to have their advertising featured near negative stories. It is worth noting, in the interests of fairness, that The Guardian, as you might expect, strongly denied these allegations.

The Third Filter: “The reliance of the media on information provided by government, business, and “experts” funded and approved by these primary sources and agents of power”

The Guardian also produce work that frequently passes through the third Propaganda Model filter in so much as they rely too heavily on official sources and access to them, and rely too heavily on establishment friendly experts. As Herman and Chomsky say in Manufacturing Consent:

“In effect, the large bureaucracies of the powerful subsidise the mass media, and gain special access by their contribution to reducing the media’s costs of acquiring the raw materials of, and producing, news.
The large entities that provide this subsidy become “routine” news sources and have privileged access to the gates. Non-routine sources must struggle for access, and may be ignored by the arbitrary decisions of the gatekeepers.”

Journalists all too frequently rely on government sources or on experts who are often carefully chosen to express ‘acceptable’ opinion or fall within the acceptable boundaries of debate. Some dissidents might easily hold expert credentials in terms of knowledge, experience of skills, but since their views are problematic to most corporate and establishment interests, they rarely get an opportunity to be heard.

Scott Ritter held such expert credentials as a former chief UNSCOM weapons inspector, but was rarely given a voice during the lead to the Iraq War as he was categorically opposed to it and felt that the support for intervention was evidentially scarce.

If Scott Ritter had been given more attention as an expert by The Guardian and other news media, perhaps the illegal war that resulted in hundreds and thousands of deaths and the destabilisation of much of the Middle East could have been avoided. As David Edwards and David Cromwell(of Media Lens) point out in Tell me Lies: Propaganda and Media Distortion in the Attack on Iraq, Iraq was mentioned in 7,118 articles between 1 January and 6 June 2003 and 961 of those articles also mentioned weapons of mass destruction. However, out of those articles, Scott Ritter only received twelve mentions.

(This is also supportive evidence of the fifth Propaganda Model filter which I will examine further into this essay, and should help to demonstrate how the filters interact with one another).

The establishment often go so far as to try and rig the game by setting up and financing think tanks that are often represented in disproportionately high frequency in media as experts.

FAIR have looked at the citations of think tanks by major newspapers and TV and radio in the US over much of the last two decades. In 2013, they found that centre-right think thanks continued to “dominate the spectrum”, with 46% of citations coming from overall centrist think thanks, with left leaning think tanks receiving only 19% of citations, but often with opinions far more in tune with public opinion. More concerning, as Michael Dolny notes in 1998 for FAIR, is how frequently spokespeople for think tanks are represented as experts in reports but not identified as representing their respective think thank, nor do the reports make the ideological views or funding streams of the think tank sufficiently clear when they are named.

Experts, often representing think tanks, are frequently quoted without disclosure of industry ties and potential areas of bias. Charles Duelfer, former Head of the Iraq Survey Group, is mentioned in a whole host of different Guardian articles. He was responsible for an Iraq Survey Group report which largely put to bed the argument that Saddam Hussain was developing WMDs, but, importantly, left enough of a window for neoconservatives, hawks, and Eustonites like Oliver Kamm, to attempt to justify an appalling and immoral war. But as Scott Ritter says, in his Guardian article of 2004:

“Charles Duelfer has to date provided no documentation to back up his assertion regarding Saddam’s “intent”. Nor has he produced any confession from Saddam Hussein or any senior Iraqi official regarding the same. What has been offered is a compilation of hearsay and conjecture linked to unnamed sources whose identities remain shrouded in secrecy.”

Duelfer, it should also be noted, was someone who fully supported the Iraq War in the prelude to it and was not sceptical of the evidence presented in relation to claims that Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction. He is quoted in an Observer article entitled ‘Should we go to war against Saddam’ in March 2002 as saying:

“What you are seeing now is consistent with what the President has been saying since 11 September. We have good reason to believe that Saddam Hussein’s weapon programs, chemical, biological and nuclear, is ongoing.”

In 2013, Duelfer was used by The Guardian as an expert voice three times around the link to the alleged use of chemical weapons and Assad in Syria (I will examine more of The Guardian’s reporting about the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria in the next essay).

The Guardian says in their August 2013 report:

“Charles Duelfer, a former US chief weapons inspector, said: “[Video] reports of doctors treating these people, that’s real data.”

At no point is there any challenge or follow up discussion to Duelfer’s claim about using videos as data, particularly in relation to how footage can be and has been doctored by multiple sides during the Syrian Civil war and how caution should be taken over an over-reliance on such videos and how to interpret them, particularly because opposing factions in wars will increasingly seek to rely on propagandised videos to support their cause.

When the media take a non-sceptical approach to these sorts of statements, and we then add to that highly-emotive edited footage of such ‘treatment’ of alleged chemical attacks or other alleged atrocities, a level of public permissiveness can be sought for aggressive military intervention under a humanitarian guise that we have repeatedly seen to have done historically far more bad than good.

As for Duelfer himself, he has arguably been used for the last two decades as an influential instrument of state by the US, whether he’s aware of it or not. Unfortunately, The Guardian and other media sources he’s mentioned in or featured in rarely disclose this, nor do they discuss, for example, his continued industry ties (in terms of current, historic and future projects and funding), and, therefore, a realistic and potential source of bias. Public Accountability note:

“Duelfer is chairman of and special advisor to the CEO of Omnis, a consulting firm with a national security and intelligence focus. Omnis was part of team of contractors assembled by SAIC that in December 2007 won a 5-year contract worth up to $1 billion with the Defense Intelligence Agency. Other clients are not disclosed on its website. According to Duelfer’s bio on the firm’s website, he is also currently “consulting on a range of intelligence and security management topics.”

That’s a war-related focus of the third filter in action, but there are plenty of other examples of how it works. For example, in an October 2016 article in the Morning Star, Ian Sinclair, provides an insightful examination of how the propaganda model works in action in relation to The Guardian’s coverage between October 15th and October 20th 2016 about a possible third runway at Heathrow Airport. Of the third filter he writes:

“The first report sets the tone — a survey of parliamentary opinion… The report is anchored by the findings of the Airports Commission led by Sir Howard Davies, a former director-general of the Confederation of British Industry, which backs Heathrow expansion, and whether the expansion of Gatwick airport is a viable alternative.
It also explains that the SNP, trade unions, businesses, airlines and many MPs support Heathrow expansion. In opposition are MPs representing constituencies close to Heathrow (though no reason is given for their opposition).”

And, of the overall reportage from that period, he says:

“Powerful actors such as MPs, businesses, unions and the commission headed by the pro-business Davies are given space to put forward their views.”

A recent article by Jane Merrick in The Observer highlights former Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon’s aggressive and inappropriate sexual behaviour towards her during her time as a political reporter for the Daily Mail. Written by the former Political Editor for the Independent on Sunday, the article also serves as a perfect example of how the third filter in the propaganda model works in practice to dictate an elite-friendly output. In it, she writes:

“At the time, I was a 29-year-old junior political reporter at the Daily Mail. He was a Conservative backbencher in his 50s and, as a member of the Treasury select committee and a former minister under Margaret Thatcher and John Major, a useful contact to take out for lunch. As a political journalist, I went out for lunch with MPs as often as three times a week. It was part of the job.”
“I did not report Fallon to the Conservative whips, because I — as someone who had only been in the lobby for two years — was worried I would be blacklisted as untrustworthy. In Westminster, where power and loyalties are hard currency, I feared making enemies”
“He had violated what should have been a healthy working relationship, turning it into something seedy and unpleasant.”

Of course, Fallon’s alleged behaviour is absolutely newsworthy and reprehensible. But so too are the implications of Merrick’s disclosures about journalism and how a model too reliant on access from official sources for information and too chummy with those sources cannot be trusted to call power to question when it needs to be. There was an opportunity to keep power in check that had arisen fourteen years earlier, but fear of losing access or being tarnished as not trustworthy enough to be provide selected titbits from politicians and other insiders, was a significant factor that resulted in Fallon climbing up the political ladder unscathed by his behaviour.

The Fourth Filter: “Flak as a means of disciplining the media”

It’s also likely that fear of flak, the fourth filter in the propaganda model, would also have been a consideration that may have led to Fallon’s alleged behaviour not being reported on at the time.

Flak is important and very much affects The Guardian. Firstly, they are burdened by their country of publishing’s regressive libel laws. In 2008, the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner reported that libel laws in the UK “served to discourage critical media reporting on matters of serious public interest, adversely affecting the ability of scholars and journalists to publish their work, including through the phenomenon known as libel tourism.”

But is that enough of an excuse for not taking changes? I do think that we should cut them a lot of slack — the ridiculous libel case brought against Simon Singh is a good example of how problematic libel laws can be on newspapers in the UK. But the point of the Propaganda Model is not about cutting slack but that the news passes through its filters regardless, and libel laws are further evidence of how effective flak can be to manufacture consent.

It’s also worth stressing that The Guardian frequently describe their journalism as fearless, and though it can be in places, there also seems to be evidence when fear is a definitive and controlling factor over what they publish or don’t. For example, Bruce Whitehead writes in an article entitled ‘Trust and Libel Law’ in Journalism and Public Trust for Media Wise about an investigative article he had put together about an unsavoury revolving door between the Department for Trade and Industry and British American Tobacco that was pulled by The Guardian before publication:

“The Guardian announced they wouldn’t be running the story because there wasn’t enough evidence of wrongdoing. The fact was, none of this deplorable unethical conduct was actually illegal, despite it flying in the face of civil service rules on conflicts of interest. But surely that was the whole point? The fact that it WASN’T illegal?”

The article was eventually published in Private Eye because they considered it newsworthy under public interest grounds.

From a November 2016 Guardian US briefing

Articles critical of Israel are sanitised or fail to see publication in The Guardian, often because of their fear and concern around flak from the Israel lobby. Jonathan Cook suggests fear of flak was a primary reason for The Guardian deciding against publishing his article about Israel’s chief state pathologist, Yehuda Hiss’s link to repeated unauthorised removals of organs, black-market organ sales, and around allegations that the Israeli army were possibly supplying Arab corpses for organ harvesting. Cook’s article speculated on what measures are in place or could be put in place to ensure accountability, particularly under a system of occupation.

The Fifth Filter: “[Fear/fervour] as a national religion and control mechanism”

The fifth filter was revised to be considered more as a filter of ideology. This is arguably an embedded or entrenched way of seeing the world particularly in the perception of abstract or finite enemies, including terrorism, socialism or seeing selected foreign states or heads of states as bogeymen, for example.

For The Guardian and most newspapers, the bogeymen change depending on foreign and domestic policy. In recent years, articles with a heavily slanted anti-Assad and anti-Putin focus have featured increasingly frequently. Putin is now arguably The Guardian’s no. 1 bogeyman, with frequent accusations and inferences of Russian interference in the US election and EU Referendum that often serve as better examples of clutching at straws than a solid provision of evidence.

As Herman and Chomsky write of the fifth filter in Manufacturing Consent:

“It should be noted that when [anti-Putinist/ Assadist/ Gaddafiist/ Hussainist/ Bin Ladenist/ Milosevicist etc.]* fervour is aroused, the demand for serious evidence in support of claims of “[their]” abuses is suspended, and charlatans can thrive as evidential sources. Defectors, informers, and assorted other opportunists move to centre stage as “experts,” and they remain there even after exposure as highly unreliable, if not downright liars.”

I have replaced anti-communism in the excerpt with more recent examples of where this ideology filter been disastrous in terms of generating or seeking to generate a permissible atmosphere for engaging in aggressive and often illegal acts of war, along with the theft of resources for corporate interests.

It’s also worth noting that the fifth filter could be extended further to not just focus on what is published, but also what is not published or the general balance of articles during that time. It’s also important to understand that the filters can and do interact with one another. For example, articles deemed to be in defence of the bogeymen de jour are more likely to fail to see the light of day at all such is the ideological “fervour aroused” and the potential fear of flak from not towing the line, coupled with the reliance on official sources of information not outside of the generally accepted spectrum of debate.

In Flat Earth News, Nick Davies details how the Observer, in 2002, prior to the American and British backed and led invasion of Iraq, rejected to publish a story (or variations of) by Ed Vulliamy, that included revelations from a former CIA Analyst, Mel Goodman, who was willing to be named and go on record to say that that the British and American governments were not telling the truth about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction, and to say that the CIA’s evidence suggested Saddam Hussain had no WMDs. That story (or variations of it) was rejected on seven different occasions by the Observer’s editor at the time, Roger Alton, who was reported to have said the week before the Observer’s op-ed supporting military intervention in Iraq and accepting the dubious claims of weapons of mass destruction: “We’ve got to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Americans.”

To be clear, I have used the term bogeyman and bogeymen not to denigrate from genuine human rights abuses and atrocities that many, if not all, of those listed people have committed, but because they so quickly change from official or unofficial ally to official or unofficial enemy depending on Western foreign policy and how much they are willing to play ball to Western (and mainly American) corporate interests; and because of how the risk posed either to our countries or their own population can and is exaggerated or downplayed, particularly in the press, for the nefarious purposes of Western governments.

Another example of the fifth filter in action, also interacting with other filters, is The Guardian’s frequent claims that the DNC emails were obtained through hacking and that the hacks are strongly linked to the Kremlin. This may be the likely case, but it was far from categorically the case when they were first reporting on it last year. If The Guardian were not operating within the propaganda model, one would expect them to be far more cautious of uncritically accepting the claims of unnamed sources from official agencies which have been known to lie consistently about foreign powers. This is especially the case when such claims are published without acknowledging evidence pointing to the contrary, such as claims by Craig Murray who says that the DNC emails were leaked and provided to him, of which he subsequently provided to WikiLeaks. Murray’s claim, to my understanding, is mentioned in just one Guardian article, from December 2016, where he is quoted:

“I know who leaked them… I’ve met the person who leaked them, and they are certainly not Russian and it’s an insider. It’s a leak, not a hack; the two are different things.
“If what the CIA are saying is true, and the CIA’s statement refers to people who are known to be linked to the Russian state, they would have arrested someone if it was someone inside the United States.
“America has not been shy about arresting whistleblowers and it’s not been shy about extraditing hackers. They plainly have no knowledge whatsoever.”

From then on, The Guardian frequently states either in headlines or in the stories themselves that the DNC emails were hacked, and frequently reports on the hack being Kremlin linked.

That The Guardian published Craig Murray’s claims in one article does not demonstrate that they are not complicit within the propaganda model — far from it — it demonstrates that tiny flickers of dissenting views are largely drowned out in output.

It’s not just Craig Murray who has suggested that the DNC Emails were leaked and not hacked. It is also a former NSA Whistleblower, William Binney, who co-authored a detailed memo to President Trump on the subject too. Google search results on the subject show up only two Guardian articles with any reference to him.

I am not saying that the emails were not hacked. And if they were hacked, I’m not saying that the Russian state was not behind it. I don’t know. Increasingly the evidence suggests that the emails were hacked. But I do think that there were enough claims and questions to say otherwise. And, even if the emails were hacked, there were enough claims or questions put forward that the hack might not have been Kremlin ordered or backed.

These questions and counter-narratives merited at least being properly heard in The Guardian and other mainstream press. But they weren’t. In such circumstances, journalists should allow the public to decide based on the merits of fairly presented evidence.

Whether the DNC emails were hacked or not and whether that hack was Kremlin linked is still far from clear to me, particularly as most of the intelligence being assessed comes from official sources in the first place.

As Sam Biddle says in a December 2016 Intercept article (admittedly firmly believing the DNC emails were hacked):

“There’s a lot of evidence from the attack on the table, mostly detailing how the hack was perpetrated, and possibly the language of the perpetrators. It certainly remains plausible that Russians hacked the DNC, and remains possible that Russia itself ordered it. But the refrain of Russian attribution has been repeated so regularly and so emphatically that it’s become easy to forget that no one has ever truly proven the claim.”

Part 3 of this essay, will provide much more evidence of these filters (particularly the fifth filter) in action, linked to breaches of basic journalistic principles.


As for individual journalists and whether their work has helped to manufacture consent, the frequent line offered is something along the lines of “my editor has never asked me to make changes to a piece”, but those journalists never give much thought to why that might be (e.g. whether they might be subconsciously self-censoring).

As George Orwell wrote in 1944:

“Circus dogs jump when the trainer cracks the whip. But the really well-trained dog is the one that turns somersaults when there is no whip.”

And as Upton Sinclair said in 1908:

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

When we talk about Fake News, this lack of introspection is important to consider, because it is likely to be a key reason as to why established newspapers like The Guardian have seen generally over the last few decades dwindling regular readership (although admittedly The Guardian claim a significant overall improvement in the past two years), because they criticise or allude to other sources of news as being Fake News, whilst being complicit in the sophisticated (and unsophisticated) production of a type of elite-interest propaganda.

It really should be astonishing that The Guardian or Observer barely mention their potential complicity in media bias, in particular their belonging to the Propaganda Model. Yet, the model and the very term ‘manufacturing consent’ have barely been mentioned within those newspapers since 2001. A quick search of the term ‘propaganda model’ on The Guardian website showed just 9 articles which included that term since 2001. A Google search of Guardian articles using the term ‘manufacturing consent’ showed only 44 articles since 2001.

Google search results of the respective terms from The Guardian website

If you consider The Guardian publish approximately 750,000 “pieces of content” every three months (or at least did from January 2010 to end of March 2010) then these represent a ridiculously low number of articles in which the terms are discussed. It should be truly shocking, but sadly I am not shocked. That’s the sorry state of their self-proclaimed “fearless” and “independent” journalism.

At least with other newspapers you can more arguably tell that the writers and editors know they’re being partisan and dishonest. The Guardian often hides behind an imaginary veneer of quality journalism. Yes, some of it is still excellent and quality journalism, but too much of it isn’t, and the only way to address their fundamental journalistic deficit would be — like with most corporate media — to overhaul their entire organisation and set-up and put rigid systems in its place. To say they are reluctant to do this would be a huge understatement.

For a start they would have to recognise their previous and current regular failings before any new mission platitudes can be taken seriously. However, according to the Editor in Chief, recent increases in readership at The Guardian can be attributed to readers knowing it as “rigorous and fair”. This is far from the case as I will explain in Part 3 where I will outline and examine what good principles of journalism should be and how The Guardian frequently fails in meeting those principles.

From Editor in Chief, Katherine Viner’s article, ‘a mission for journalism in a time of crisis’

Often when I criticise The Guardian, friends immediately jump to its defence using what I consider to be a disingenuous argument of asking me to look at most of the alternatives and compare them. They demand that I compare The Guardian’s general output to well-circulated Right-leaning newspapers like the Daily Mail. They then make the argument akin to “at least The Guardian’s output is more comparatively liberal”.

To me, this is plainly daft. Let me be clear: criticising comparatively Left-leaning outlets, showing their areas of weakness, and highlighting where they could improve, is not, in any way, the same as supporting Right-leaning newspapers. I don’t need to pick a side. Even if I did need to pick a side, after doing so, I’m not then precluded from criticising it or trying to improve it.

Like with most mainstream news sources, The Guardian has an ownership and structure alongside an ad-reliant business model that produces elite-friendly output. Like with most mainstream news sources, The Guardian frequently fails to hold power to account or offer sufficient right of reply, and relies too heavily on establishment voices and establishment friendly experts. Like with most mainstream news sources, The Guardian maintains a narrow spectrum of debate with limitations on dissenting voices. Like with most mainstream news sources, The Guardian’s journalism is frequently distorted by fervour and ideology, meaning, for example, that reports on our own government’s (and ally’s) official enemies are lacking in balance, fairness or basic fact-checks.

This is clearly not what journalism should be.


This essay has been edited since first published to remove some introductory paragraphs, mainly because I thought they were a bit boring and distracting to the overall piece.