A poor show from the Guardian

Posted by Tim Ireland at February 18, 2008

Category: Teh Interwebs, The Political Weblog Movement

This entry was posted on
Monday, February 18th, 2008
11:56 am and is filed
under Teh Interwebs, The Political Weblog Movement.

As I noted on Thursday, yes, there was some hostility in the many, many responses to the first and only entry in Max Gogerty’s short-lived travel blog for the Guardian… but reading Andy Pietrasik’s response and this editorial follow-up from Caroline Davies in the sisterly Observer, one might get the impression that there was only hostility aimed only at Max… and with no good reason.

This is a shoddy and pathetic tactic; what you’re seeing here is a bunch of adults putting the spotlight on a teenage boy because they daren’t accept responsibility for their own poor judgement… by pretending that those who are criticising their poor judgement are instead picking on that same teenage boy!

And take a look at this…

Caroline Davies – Hate mail hell of a gap-year blogger (Cyber-bullies who attacked young author are accused of class hatred): Max… was last night alone in India at the beginning of his trip, while his father accused his detractors of class hatred and envy… Some contributors were uneasy over the tone of many comments. One wrote: ‘The amount of hate, envy and hypocrisy that’s been on display here is shocking.’

Let’s take a look at the contributors Caroline uses to justify her ‘accusations of class hatred’ sub-header:

1. Max’s Dad.

2. Some guy called ‘Eleutherios’ who, to date, has only made a single comment on the Guardian website (and just happens to agree 100% with ‘Maxdad’).

I smell a sock-puppet… and I think it stinks that Caroline Davies uses one to support her dishonest argument.

Oh… wait… I think some blind hatred might have sneaked in there. Let me tone it down for you so no-one thinks I’m picking on poor Max Caroline without good reason:

I think it’s a pity that Caroline couldn’t find the time to consider or include this direct response to ‘Eleutherios’ from ‘Fulmerford’ (who, BTW, has contributed to over 40 threads on the Guardian website) in her opinion piece:

Eleutherios, let’s see if you can ‘liberate’ some sense out of this: responding to someone’s comments not with a counter-argument but just by decrying their presumed motivation is a, well, a really shoddy way to debate.

I mean come on! It’s like going: “Smack is bad.” “No it’s not.” “No it is, here’s the reasons.” “Oh you’re just saying that because [you’re] bitter that you don’t take smack.”

Is ‘ad hominem’ just Latin to you?

If you recall, Nadine Dorries played a similar game, by portraying all negative responses to a personal attack of her own as a series of personal attacks.

What ‘Eleutherios’, Andy Pietrasik, Caroline Davies and Paul Gogarty are guilty of is playing the man by pretending that everyone else is playing the man in an effort to stop anyone from looking sideways at the ball.

And in doing so, they put more weight on the shoulders of Max – the boy they’ve strategically cast as a victim and claim to be defending.

Yes, there was a fair degree of trolling and abuse in the original thread. Though the thread was totally out of control by the time I got there, I didn’t regard that abuse to be helpful… but I also think it’s less than helpful when certain parties seek to exploit the abuse that was there, and use it to draw attention away from valid questions and objections.

This defensive play is not designed to protect a teenager… it is designed to protect the reputations of adults who should know better.

Personally, I think it sucks. But I’m obviously a hate-filled lynch-mobbing cyber-bully, so please feel free to ignore me.


  1. bigdaddymerk says
  2. mikkimoose says

    they keep making a big thing about how Maxie went to a Comprehensive. And got 4 As no less.Doubtless this is one of those Comprehensives beloved of government ministers, where entry requires Daddy to own a house nearby, which will cost £1m+.But has anyone worked out which Comprehensive it is, and therefore just how exclusive a Comprehensive it is?

  3. mou says

    On Carolines Observer post, the final sentence:"He has said to me that he doesn't like the media world now. He doesn't want to go into it any more."Is this supposed to make people feel guilty? I say they've done him a favour. If taking criticism (and abuse) affects him that much, then he should stay clear of the media & entertainment industry entirely. And he should certainly reconsider any future thoughts about blogging!!

  4. 5cc says

    Apparently, the school is Fortismere School.The school's Wikipedia entry was changed to include him as a 'Top Guardian travel writer'. Probably not by him though. Or at least I hope not.

  5. Jonathan McCalmont says

    What's fascinating about this is the extent to which the Guardian are trying to muddy the waters.1 – Guardian employ the son of a Guardian writer (who has a PR company devoted to getting people and products into newspapers… in other words passing off advertorials as articles).2 – Guardian Writer's son produces column so terrible, people ask "how did this person get a job writing for the Guardian?"3 – People discover (1) as answer to question in (2).4 – Debate moves on from Max to the Guardian's clearly nepotistic hiring practices.5 – The Guardian Comment is Free AND the Observer put out articles accusing people giving them stick of being bullies.6 – People continue to give the Guardian stick.7 – The Guardian produces an editorial attempting to launch a debate about cyberbullying and pointing to the events of the weekend as evidence of this.In effect, a left wing newspaper are attacking the great unwashed for criticising nepotism, accusing them of being bitter, jealous bullies.It really is beyond the pale. You'd expect that kind of "You're all just jealous of my success!" nonsense from a right wing newspaper but from the Guardian? and in three op-eds in two days? Utterly unreal. They've completely lost the plot.

  6. Katherine says

    I still feel sorry for poor Max. There was a lot of abuse in that thread that he just didn't deserve. Fairly classic online stuff – it wouldn't be said to his face. Whichever school he went to is irrelevant.That said, The Guardian doesn't come out of this well.

  7. Nosemonkey says

    It strikes me that the Guardian have missed the obvious defence with this one – that this wasn't being written for the usual Guardian readership, but to attract the kind of people who enjoy Skins. Hence being written by a writer of Skins, in the style of Skins, with a "skins blog" URL.I doubt Max is much cop as a writer, but I'm pretty certain he followed his brief to the letter. The first rule of writing for any publication is to know your audience and write appropriately. But if you're commissioned to write a piece aimed at braindead teenagers in a newspaper mostly read by self-righteous lefty-liberals and the self-hating middle classes (come on, we're all one or the other and we know it), you follow the brief you're given.As for the nepotism charges – meh. Not convinced. Countless children of journalists end up going into journalism. They all have an advantage in that they have greater knowledge of how the industry works – and it does largely work off who you know and the introductions you can get – but very few freelancers have enough influence to get their kids gigs. All they can do is get them introductions. (And if Max's dad had anything to do with this, he'd surely have tried to get him a gig on the Telegraph – pays more, and has a more appropriate audience demographic…)So, short version: the Guardian tried to tap into a new readership. The Guardian failed. And in the process got far more site traffic than they could possibly have hoped, boosting advertising revenue no end. The Guardian wins, some poor little kid who was only doing his job loses. Go capitalism!

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