I don’t really read the Spectator but I’ve stumbled upon two recent articles and the massive difference in them makes me take notice.
The Spectator’s journalist Nick Cohen relates to almost uniform critique of Richard Dawkins (from right, left and centre) after his questionable tweet about Muslims trying to introduce segregation at a debate at UCL. Cohen defends Dawkins as far as Dawkins consistency in criticizing any religious group’s attempts at exerting control over the public goes and his consistency in support for victims of religious establishment. And points out that we don’t see Dawkins’s enemies making a stand to defend those who are threatened and assaulted by religious groups – Dawkins himself makes a much better (read: safer) target.
One may or may not agree with the sentiment (I rather do agree) but the story itself is very well written. Well made points, clear thoughts enough wit to make for an interesting debate.
The Spectator commenting on the recent conflict between the government and the Guardian is a completely different story. The gist of the article is a comparison of the current events with the News of the World phone hacking scandal. The Spectator states that the Guardian is showing the hypocritical side by crying outrage at government interference with their dealing with Edward Snowden and the NSA documents when it did not defend Ruppert Murdoch’s journalist a few months back. The comparison seems ludicrous, not just to me, but also many commentators below the article. News of the World’s journalists broke the law for sensation and gory detail, while Guardian’s reporting of the NSA case is clearly in the public interest. The Guardian was also apparently in touch with the government agencies to inform them what material is going to be published and assess which information is really sensitive! In this light what followed (physical destruction of hard drives in the Guardian’s HQ in London to destroy the Snowden files when copies of the material exist in few other locations around the world!) sounds like a farce.
Comparing the apparent intimidation techniques from an embarrassed government (they could have prevented publishing any truly sensitive information – so what are they really afraid to read about in Sunday morning paper?) to an obvious law breaking from a media corporation seems not only thoughtless, but outright provocative. Like someone pointed out, it may just be trolling. Let’s hope.