Grant, Glenn and The Guardian’s Double Standards
The Guardian (and its outpost twitter) has been getting its knickers in a twist about Grant Shapps, the Tory MP and his self-serving online behaviour. Apparently he has edited his own wikipedia page, making himself look more impressive in the process, using an unacknowledged assumed name.
This goes against wikipedia policy, and the Guardian’s sensitive moral sensibilities. Wiki says if you use an assumed name to edit your own pages you should identify yourself and be transparent about it.
I am not convinced by the Guardian’s stance on this issue for a few reasons. Firstly, I know for a fact that lots of people create and edit their own wikipedia pages without telling anyone who they are. Whilst it can be somewhat tiresome reading so-called ‘encyclopedias’ that read more like facebook profiles or linked in self – promotional blurbs, I think this is only natural. In metrosexual culture, the Big I AM is what internet communication is often about. And if wikipedia is run by the people, for the people, it is going to reflect how the people are.
Secondly, the Guardian has a habit of criticising ‘shallowness’ in others but not acknowledging it in itself. I found it particularly funny that Suzanne Moore recently added ‘narcissistic’ to her list of faults of her feminist nemesis Naomi Wolf. Moore then went on to twitter to receive gushy adulation from her twenty one thousand twitter followers. If anyone criticises her work it’s easy, she can just block them.
This brings me onto the third and final reason why I don’t buy the Guardian’s ‘concern’ about Shapps.
In a piece in the Telegraph Willard Foxton made a careful critique of the Guardian’s new ‘star signing’ Glenn Greenwald. A pundit from the USA, he has been greeted with a mixture of fanboy worship ( for his sharp criticisms of American foreign policy and relatedly his defence of Assange) and horror. The horror seems to have come largely from his Graun colleagues, many of whom lie firmly in the Anti-Assange camp.
‘If even the most basic fact-checking of Greenwald’s article had gone on, someone would have said “hang on Glenn, isn’t this nonsense?” Further, Greenwald has been accused of sock-puppetry in the past, which makes it all the more worrying that – apparently uniquely at The Guardian – he claims he has been given moderating powers over the comments on his pieces.
Greenwald’s blog shares the space and the masthead of the Guardian. To the untrained eye, it is indistinguishable from real, hard, fact-based journalism. Greenwald is entitled to his view that CNNi (but not CNN) is censoring the news to appease Middle Eastern regimes, but it doesn’t stack up at all – and by giving Glenn the authority of the masthead, the branded blog, I feel the Guardian is undermining the excellent hard journalism it produces.
The Guardian has already sacked one of the two high-profile Americansit hired recently; maybe it’s time for Glenn to “draft a piece for Malaysia Matters”, as they say at King’s Place?’
So if the Guardian are so keen to stamp out sock puppetry and unchecked self-promotion maybe they should not be giving Greenwald such free reign.
I am a little worried that giving Greenwald moderating powers over his articles may be an ‘experiment’ on the part of the Graun, and if it ‘works’ they might roll it out to other columnists. I know Julie Bindel would be rubbing her hands with glee if she could control the ‘misogynists’ below the line. And in fact, under Suzanne Moore’s piece about Naomi Wolf’s by now very well-examined Vagina, the moderators were incredibly gung ho with the delete button. Maybe that is a taste of things to, er, come…