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Mon Aug 25, 2014, 07:29 PM

Is The Guardian "fauxgressive"?

Last edited Mon Aug 25, 2014, 08:09 PM - Edit history (1)

Clearly there are limits to the professional integrity and ethical depth of any for-profit news organization, so we should be realistic about the sort of content the media generates. For instance, we can't blame them for covering irrelevant trivia while giving short shrift to highly significant events that maybe don't have a lot of sex appeal or emotional gravity. After all, people don't freely choose to bore themselves, and simply won't read that latter content in any major numbers.

That's pragmatic and acceptable, though still a problem. But it's much harder to defend choices that seem to be almost joyously corrupt - beyond any bounds of pragmatic strategy. Behaviors that eviscerate the very meaning of information and turn it into a hollow set of button-pushing words and phrases to titillate and feed egos, compulsively seeking out the lowest common denominator and always plumbing the lowest depths of the human condition.

I've found the Guardian (online version) to be a useful source of information for quite some time, and had thought it was an example of a pragmatic news outfit that wasn't immune to media shallowness but still had a more or less journalistic agenda. But I'm finding that opinion harder to justify lately, the farther its editorial coverage of events strays from reality and reason - specifically where it concerns the Middle East, the United States, and President Obama.

I can laugh at my own country's foibles when overseas media focus (a little too defensively) on various US cultural failings, and I get where they're coming from when they argue from a US-skeptic position on foreign policy, but it starts to seem a little perverse when they boil down every question to binary extremes and then treat "counterpoints" as arguing the exact same indefensible positions using different rationalizations. In other words, to treat debates not as questions of substance, but of finding excuses for predetermined positions that may not be deviated from. "I think Barack Obama is evil because he's too tall!" "Well, I strongly disagree - I think Barack Obama is evil because he's too short!" I find that attitude to be frankly insane, illiberal, and light-years away from what I'd thought Guardian was about.

One day it's arguing that the US should not be involved in the Middle East because we're an imperialist hell-machine operated by Nazi death-monkeys who can't be trusted to breathe air outside the accursed realm from whence we came, and the next day it's arguing that our failure to be involved in the Middle East enough proves we're a society of Marie Antoinettes fat-assedly lounging on our platinum furniture, completely aloof as the world burns down around us, and we should get off our asses and rescue the world. And these are the two acceptable positions on foreign policy in the Guardian editorial board, not even reached as conclusions of analysis, but treated as premises from which all other "facts" are to be derived. The same goes for President Obama, of course - the editorialists are concerned with debating whether he is a contemptible bastard for intervening in the world, or a contemptible bastard for not intervening in the world, and no finer distinctions are acknowledged. I certainly don't recall the last time there was a "He's doing the right thing" option bubble on the implied multiple-choice.

But my disagreements with these positions aren't even really the central issue, because one could always rationalize mind-numbingly stupid or outrageous editorials as "clickbait" intended to stir controversy and generate more business. That alone is actually pretty hard to justify when the issues being trolled are so important, but it's at least rationally possible to say that the discussions being engendered are useful to some decent purpose. But - and maybe this isn't new, but I'm just now running into it - these kinds of articles in particular appear to be jealously guarded from audience criticism, with critical comments on the website removed from them as quickly and diligently as if you were posting them in China.

Not even sarcastic, snide, dismissively critical comments, but even straightforward point-by-point factual criticisms of the content. Which raises the question (which apparently also cannot be asked in Guardian comments) what the point of having comments is if they're going to have that attitude. It also raises the question of what the Guardian is if that's what they're now up to - posting blatantly propagandistic, morally bankrupt and factually vacuous troll articles pandering to the basest instincts of audiences and then denying even the token recognition of a socially-oriented mission that would come from letting it be criticized.

The only conclusion I can come to is that Guardian is, and maybe has been for a while, fauxgressive - basically a camouflaged parasite organization that skims the most trivial face elements of progressive politics off the top and pastes them Jeepers Creepers-style over a generically corrupt or even deeply hostile agenda. I'm sure British people would chuckle at my naivete for even having thought in the first place that Guardian was for real, but there aren't a lot of options out there for global journalism these days, and I'm disappointed to be so rudely disillusioned.

Update: I would add that Guardian attitude toward criticism is especially galling given how it lets Putinbots run roughshod throughout its online content, spreading conspiracy theories and bigoted rants just shy of something you'd see on Stormfront or Infowars. It really raises a lot of urgent questions, but they won't tolerate those questions being asked on their website.
1 vote, 0 passes | Time left: Unlimited
Guardian is the epitome of journalistic integrity and progressive values.
0 (0%)
Guardian compromises journalistic integrity and progressive values, but only to a pragmatic degree.
0 (0%)
Guardian is a fauxgressive media organization with only superficial interest in journalistic integrity or progressive values.
1 (100%)
Guardian is thoroughly fauxgressive and you're a fool for thinking they were real.
0 (0%)
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Reply Is The Guardian "fauxgressive"? (Original post)
True Blue Door Aug 2014 OP
kiva Aug 2014 #1
True Blue Door Aug 2014 #2

Response to True Blue Door (Original post)

Mon Aug 25, 2014, 08:08 PM

1. I think part of the Guardian's online

problem is the prevalence of blog posts that look (appearance only) like articles. I'm not sure they are running those things through the same rigor checks as their standard articles.

Even the Comment is Free section has more integrity than some of the bizarre stuff I've seen lately, and yes, I found myself deeply disappointed in what I was reading last week - but they were all either blog posts or editorial articles (and let's face it, an editorial is just another way of saying 'in my opinion').

It would be helpful if you could link to some of the articles you are criticizing - the "no comments allowed" stuff.

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Response to kiva (Reply #1)

Mon Aug 25, 2014, 09:52 PM

2. What I've seen is too much for me to dismiss.

My patience has been tried for a long time by Guardian's online editorials. Here's the most recent example:


Most of the comments hew pretty closely to the central ideology of the editorial - i.e., virulently, religiously anti-Obama and anti-American - but criticize the editorial from the position that the author's arguments are anti-Obama and anti-American in the wrong way rather than having anything fundamentally wrong with the premise. I do notice one comment that rejects the premise, albeit without saying a word about the editorial itself, just responding to another comment.

Some of the commenters also appear to be Assad dictatorship trolls, and are pretty blatant about it, but their comments are left up - same as with Putin trolls in articles about Ukraine. They leave up any level of egregious, heinous shit, but criticisms I tried to post about the editorial itself were quickly and efficiently removed, over and over.

It's really not the way that an organization concerned with journalism would operate a comment section. It is the way that a thoroughly corrupt business would operate a comment section though.

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