Earlier today, Al Jazeera published my article “What’s gone wrong at the Guardian” about the newspaper’s decision to hire Joshua Treviño, a right-wing ideologue who openly called for Israel to murder unarmed civilians and journalists attempting to sail to Gaza in June 2011 and gloated at the killing of civilians aboard the Mavi Marmara a year earlier.
A few hours after my article appeared, I received a surprising email from the Guardian’s press office:
Josh Trevino is not a correspondent for the Guardian. He is a freelance writer on contract to write opinion pieces. His articles will appear on the Guardian’s Comment is Free section of the site (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/us-edition) along with articles from many other freelance writers.
Thank you in advance for making this correction.
Did I make a mistake in referring to Treviño as a “correspondent” in my Al Jazeera article, and in my original blog post of 15 August, the day his appointment was announced?
If you look at the Guardian’s 15 August press release as it appears now it begins:
Today the Guardian announced the addition of Josh Treviño to its commentary team in the United States. Formerly of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Treviño will be the newest commentator for the Guardian’s growing US politics team through his column On Politics & Persuasion which launches on Monday 20 August.
But that is not what it said on 15 August, when I quoted it. Here is how it began then (emphasis added):
Today the Guardian announced the addition of Josh Treviño to their editorial team. Formerly of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Treviño will be the newest Correspondent for the Guardian’s growing US politics team through his column “On Politics & Persuasion” which launches on Monday, August 20.
Note the disappearance of the terms “editorial team” and “correspondent.” The Guardian also changed the headline from “The Guardian adds Josh Treviño to growing editorial team” to “The Guardian adds Josh Treviño to growing US team.”
The changes are quite clear from this screen capture of a Google search.
It’s really quite astonishing that the Guardian would ask me to make a correction and think it could get away with such a shoddy attempt to cover its tracks.
Embarrassed but unwilling to come clean
Here’s what I think is going on: the Guardian is embarrassed at having hired Treviño after the revelations about his incitement to murder, as well as possible undisclosed conflicts of interest. But instead of taking responsibility for the debacle, editors are trying to distance themselves from him by subterfuge.
It’s very clear that Treviño has been demoted. The Guardian uses dozens, possibly hundreds of freelancers; I’ve even been paid for a couple of articles. It never issued a press release announcing the fact.
Moreover, the original release and the doctored one say:
For future bookings with Treviño, please contact Jennifer Lindenauer
It’s unheard of – as far as I know – for a newspaper to handle media bookings or speaking arrangements for a mere freelancer. This is surely a service only provided to people viewed as integral and prominent parts of the editorial team.
Frankly, I thought that my piece on Al Jazeera would encourage someone at the Guardian – a newspaper I’ve read since childhood and was thrilled to write for – to end this embarrassing deception. So far editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger and US editor-in-chief Janine Gibson have failed to do so.
Instead they are simply digging deeper. The Guardian may consider this post the correction they requested.
Update 19 August 2012
Image of Google search
Screen shot of Google search results for “Today the Guardian announced the addition of Josh Treviño to their editorial team.” View full size
- August 23: Listen: Ali Abunimah on FAIR’s Counterspin about the Guardian and Joshua Treviño
- August 22: How The Guardian’s Joshua Treviño injected anti-Muslim hate into 2010 California senate race
- August 21: Guardian offers bizarre new defense for hiring Islamophobic murder-inciter Joshua Treviño
- August 20: American student shot dead by Israel “deserved” to die says Guardian’s Joshua Treviño
- August 19: Guardian’s Treviño: Only way Mavi Marmara killings could be “better” is if “IDF drew Muhammed on a bulkhead”
- August 18: “What’s gone wrong at The Guardian?” (Al Jazeera)
- August 15: New Guardian team member openly incited Israel to murder Alice Walker and others