Alan Rusbridger: the Graun’s Net Zero Climate Journalism

Of all the mainstream media the Guardian is probably the most fervent in its espousal of the cause of catastrophic climate change, (or “Global Heating” as its journalists are obliged to call it) and, since its conversion into an international on-line medium covering the US and Australia, possibly the most influential. And the person who converted the once rather staid centre left newspaper into a hub of hysterical handwringing climate porn was Alan Rusbridger, Guardian editor from 1995 to May 2015. 

Rusbridger joined the Guardian in 1979 and was successively the Diary writer, Royal reporter, and TV critic for the Observer (now integrated with the Guardian as its Sunday edition, but then a separate newspaper.) He launched the paper’s Weekend Supplement and became Features Editor before being elected editor-in-chief by his colleagues.

During his period as editor the Guardian had two notable scoops, publishing Edward Snowden’s revelations about illegal US and British government surveillance in 2013, and above all Wikileaks’ Iraq War logs in 2010. The latter was one of the biggest scoops of recent decades, but Rusbridger’s Wiki entry has just this to say:

In the film “The Fifth Estate” (2013), about The Guardian‘s former association with the Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, Rusbridger was portrayed by Peter Capaldi.

Given these two radical blows for freedom of information aimed at the Military-Intelligence complex, it is surprising to find that Rusbridger is anything but a radical, and is described by colleagues as “apolitical.”

In an interview with Rob Brown in the Independent in 1997 Rusbridger declared:

“The process of modernisation on The Guardian has reflected the process of modernisation in the Labour Party. We’ve reached the same conclusions by separate routes… the old Guardian, like Old Labour, opposed lots of things the Tories did which we’d now think weren’t terribly bad in retrospect … I mean, a lot of the trade union stuff doesn’t seem as horrendous now as it seemed at the time.”

and went on to say that in the late eighties the Guardian was “stuck in a very Old Labour mindset and basically pissing in the wind. Now we are read by the people in power”.

(By “trade union stuff” he presumably means Thatcher’s closure of the coal mining industry in order to destroy the power of the National Union of Mineworkers. A British commenter at WattsUpWithThat, the excellent site of the politically conservative Antony Watts, once stated that his father, whose job involved visiting coal mines, knew which mines were due for closure by the stocks of pit props. By putting expensive pit props on the books of a mine the government could declare it economically unviable and therefore close it. O Homewood, O Montford – where are the accountants when we need them?)

Where was I?

Rob Brown sums up:

The Guardian … was a quite different paper when Jim Callaghan was in Number 10. Once sombre and grey, it has lightened up and broadened its appeal considerably. Rusbridger himself now openly mocks the“brown bread and sandals brigade”who formed the bulk of the paper’s readership back then. The twenty-somethings who today increasingly dominate New Guardian’s newsroom, he points out, “are proud of working for what they see as a rather hip metropolitan paper”.

Fifteen years later, an article by Peter Wilby in the New Statesman comes to a similar conclusion about Rusbridger:

Though he is assumed to share the values (or prejudices) of metropolitan left-liberals, he doesn’t often venture a political opinion. While reading English at Magdalene College, Cambridge, in the early 1970s, he … did not join the university paper because, he says, it was too political. When I asked him to define his political position, he described himself as “progressive”, a label also claimed, as I pointed out, by the Daily Mail columnist Melanie Phillips. [a conservative journalist, and climate sceptic.] 

…the very left-wing Richard Gott, a historian of Latin America who was then features editor … recalls: “I thought him very, very middlebrow. He had no political interests of any kind. When he was a writer, I asked him to investigate Amnesty International and where it got its funding. He came back with a wishy-washy piece that had nothing about its funding. He went to New Zealand when it was in the throes of Rogernomics [Thatcherite policies introduced by Roger Douglas, a Labour finance minister]. He rang up and said there was a Gay Pride march on. That was his level of interest in things.”

On one subject, Rusbridger has proved to be in the forefront of radical thought, and that’s catastrophic climate change. So how did it happen that the Guardian became the world’s most fervent media promoter of climate hysteria?

Unfortunately his blog is no help. (I’ve come across some zombie blogs in my time, but this was the first one I’ve seen with 29 posts, no comments, and just two “Likes,” one of which was mine when I clicked on the other one to find out who it was.)

Almost all the posts are about music (Rusbridger is a passionate amateur pianist) the exceptions being the two latest, two years ago, one of which was a plug for his book “Breaking News:” The article – a “summary of the book’s arguments” – does mention climate change twice, but without enlightening us as to Rusbridger’s passionate espousal of the subject:

In a world of fake news and information chaos, we need more journalism…I started sketching it out in 2016 against the backdrop of the most consequential referendum in modern British history: the in-out decision over the U.K.’s membership in the European Union. Like the crisis with our weather systems, this is a crisis in the climate of information. In its own way, it has the potential to be just as deadly.

[Really? Under Rusbridger’s editorship the Guardian has assured us that “the crisis with our weather systems” will kill millions and produce hundreds of millions of climate refugees. Brexit hasn’t been quite that bad, surely?]

After a short rant about the Brexit vote he goes on to identify climate change as:  the other momentous issue of our times, never far from our minds.”

Let’s suppose that global warming is the most important issue of our generation. It dwarfs all others if only because, assuming the overwhelming majority of scientists are even approximately right ,excessive warming has the potential to be a calamitous, even existential, threat to our species. That’s a big story, however you look at it. 

He then laments the lack of coverage given to climate change in the media and says:

Meanwhile, on social media, I can and do find authoritative voices talking good sense on Brexit and climate change — and by “good sense” I don’t just mean people who share my opinion. I find … scientists, European academics, economists, and environmental thinkers in constant debate. Their tone tends to a conversation rather than a lecture. Unlike many journalists, they listen as well as talk. They respond to each other. They supply links and sources. Their modus operandi is not “take my word for it,” but “here’s my evidence.”

…in constant debate. Their tone tends to a conversation…”What debate? What conversation? What social media is he talking about? Not the many climate related websites with which the Guardian has been associated, like Carbon Brief, where there is absolutely no debate. 

At the time of writing their five latest blog posts published over the past six days have garnered zero comments. Our last five posts have garnered 170 comments. But then our blog isn’t written by professional blogwriters whose salaries are paid by dead American billionaires. 

Rusbridger was more forthcoming about his enthusiasm for climate catastrophe back in 2012 in his role as chairman of a debate entitled “Is our journalism up to the debate over energy and climate change?” held to launch Greenpeace’s Energydesk website, in association with theFrontline Club. Fifteen hours of my life disappeared transcribing this world-shattering event for Alex Cull’s excellent site MyTranscriptBox.

I just looked up Greenpeace Energydesk, which ended up being hosted by the Ecologist magazine. Its last post dates from February 2017. Their Twitter account, which had eleven followers, announced in 2017 that Energydesk is now Unearthed. Eleven followers is three less than the number of people who spoke from the platform at their opening gala. 

TheFrontline Clubis a tiny charity with an expenditure in 2019 of hardly more than a third of a million pounds.

During the year the Honorary Chief Executive of the Charity was Vaughan Smith who was also the original settlor of FCCT. He is also 100% Frontline Television News Ltd and has a sole trader business called Ellingham Land. Vaughan Smith, his wife Pranvera Smith and Mario Armani are joint owners of The Frontline Club Ltd. Vaughan Smith and Mario Armani are considered Key Management Personnel of the Trust. 

From Wikipaedia:

Henry Vaughan Lockhart Smith (born 22 July 1963) is an English restaurateur, sustainable farmer, and freelance video journalist. He ran the freelance agency Frontline News TV and founded the Frontline Club in London. The Guardian has described him as “a former army officer, journalist adventurer and rightwing libertarian.”[1]

[the link to the Guardian article embedded in that quote leads us into fascinating territory. Anyone who on hearing the word “sustainable” feels like reaching for his Browning should hold his fire in the case of the estimable Mr Vaughan Smith. Anyone who thinks that Syria, Assange, Trump and everything else we ruminate upon in these pages is not relevant to climate should not click on that link.] 

Mario Armani, as you might expect, is into fashion:

With over 30 years experience in hospitality, I assist creating, building & delivering commercially successful brands. Looking after the Corrigan Collection: Bentley’s Swallow Street, Corrigan’s Mayfair, Bentley’s Harrods. His consultancy portfolio includes: Sports Invest; Kia Joorabchian Football Manager restaurant Collection; Director Sakenohana Mayfair & Hakkasan Ltd Evgeny Lebedev (Evening Standard) Frontline Charitable Trust, London Journalist Club, Ellingham Hall & farm; Founder – Vaughan Smith. 

Swallow Street, Mayfair, Harrods, Lebedev…

Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner, that I love.. 

…the stink of P.G.Wodehouse territory. The bookshops and art galleries of W1 and SW1 that greet you obsequiously even if you’re obviously skint. “I can’t define civilisation” said Lord Clark, introducing his TV series on the subject, “but (indicating the Paris skyline) I know it when I see it.” I feel the same about South Moulton Street and points south. God rot it.

Where was I?

I do recommend my transcript of this event as a work of comic faction of the highest order. Rusbridger was hired to chair this Greenpeace event, and so dominated the proceedings that he left hardly any time for the other participants to get a word in. For a fan of Chopin and Debussy he sure is gabby. This is the first third or so of his introductory remarks on that memorable evening (my bolds):

Alan Rusbridger: Good evening, can everybody hear me? Are these mikes working? Thank you all for coming to this debate. The subject of the discussion this evening is whether journalism is up to the debate about energy and climate change. I was very happy to come along and chair this when asked to do so, and I was happy to do so, not because I know an immense amount about the subject – I don’t –I’m a very generalist editor of a very generalist paper, but I do think it is probably the most important question of our age. 

And when Angus asked me, coming up the stairs, “Is this a sort of area of special advocacy?” my answer is: it feels as though it has been, in terms of the resources that we’ve put into this on the Guardian.About ten, twelve years ago we had one science correspondent and one environment correspondent, and I would look at the resources that we put into covering Westminster or football or culture, and I thought: this is somehow all wrong. And I think we’ve now got – I’m looking at James [Randerson] -but we’ve got about 8 to 10 people who now cover science and environment. They’re all staggeringly bright, they’ve all got two or three degrees.We’ve built an environment side which is now very large, it has about 2.4 million users a month. It’s growing at about 20% a year which is very nice. You don’t often hear about growth in newspapers these days– and the way we’ve done that is to step outside our own comfort zone and link up with 20 other, 28 other experts, blogs, networks, of people who really know about the environment on four continents, and we’ve now built up a really sizeable body of people who cover it for the Guardian, and we’ve got about 100,000 followers on Twitter, so in terms of the investment that we put into it, it feels like a large investment.

But at the end of the summer I went to see – did anybody else go and seeTen Billionat the Royal Court? [Silence in the room. Nobody did] Which was this extraordinary evening that really shouldn’t have worked at all. It was Stephen Emmott, a scientist, who is – I hope he wouldn’t mind me saying – not a brilliant speaker. It was on the stage of the Royal, the Upstairs Room at the Royal Court, with a minimal set, it was just his study had been recreated on the set, and it’s not a very interesting study. He didn’t have very interesting props, the graphics were so-so, and it was basically just a lecture. And yet it was the most gripping and enthralling and frightening thing that I’d seen all year.And it roamed around land and population and water and warming, and although it was only a tiny audience – there were only about ninety people in the theatre each evening, it really packed a punch – and the critics came out saying this was the most disturbing thing they’d seen all year, and reached an audience that maybe had become a bit immune to it. And I think that, I went back to work the next day feeling a bit depressed because often it takes things like theatrical productions or films – the Al Gore film – to find fresh ways of dealing with this subject. And so the question is really a challenge to journalism tonight – what is it, if it’s true that journalism is not quite failing to, to achieve the impact that this subject should have, why is that?

they’ve all got two or three degrees.” Hasn’t he heard that anything above1.5 degrees will destroy the planet?

On Stephen Emmott, I recommend this by Alex Cull and me (not currently available while Ben updates his site)

and this, at WattsUpWithThat

and these articles at my late blog

Emmott, a loony doing blue sky thinking for Microsoft, charmed not only the editor of the Guardian, but the BBC, Penguin Books (Science) the Science Museum, the Royal Court Theatre (with a grant from the European Union) the Carnegie Council and the Avignon Theatre Festival with his message that we’re fucked. Fucked I say. Yes, well and truly fucked. It’s a scientist that says so. Emmott ran pentabytes of microsoft data through microsoft computers and every time he message came back that we’re FUCKED. Which message Penguin (Science) published in BIG LETTERS the same size as they used for their recent tomes by loony adult prodigy Greta Thunberg and loony ex-Royal Court Thespian Climate Scientist Professor Chris “Cry me a Cryosphere” Rapley. 

Last time I was in London my ex-favourite bookshop next to my old university featured a special stand with their favourite climate titles next to the cash desk. Of which Thunberg’s and Rapley’s works, published by Penguin Science, both of which are written in BIG LETTERS, four or so lines to a page, like a Noddy book.

(As a kid of five years old I loved Noddy Books. I wanted to own them all. But I grew up, as kids do, and ten years later I used to sometimes invest my pocket money in Penguin science books, which were then called Pelicans. There was no computerised stock control in those days, so W.H. Smith stocked everything, so I could read Medawar on evolution, or E.P. Thompson on Marxism, and no-one could stop me. That ended when Penguin was bought by a Canadian paper magnate who increased the size of the paperbacks so they no longer fitted in your pocket, and reduced the quality of the paper, so they fell apart before you’d read them. And W.H. Smith discovered computerised stock control, so a nerdish adolescent could no longer be tempted by anything more challenging than the latest instalment of Lord of the Thrones.. or Greta Spanks Noddy for his Consumption of Fossil Fuels..)

Where was I?

There’s a lot more one might say about Rusbridger and global climate freaking out and wetting yourself. Somewhere (and alas I’ve mislaid the reference) Rusbridger explains: 

“In environment, we’ve created a network of experts who are very happy to sit on the Guardian website because they get international exposure. We get a more comprehensive account of environmental matters, they get a bigger audience, and we share the revenue. It’s a kind of mutualised relationship.”

I have a comment to make on this statement. It involves Animal Farm and Pigs and Humans and maybe Rusbridger and Schubert and Julian Assange and Luke Harding and … But it can wait.

21 Comments

  1. Nothing but the briefest of mentions about the NEW climate dictionary, now used worldwide thanks to the Guardian and its ex-editor. Nor of the episodic shrinkage of the paper, now a Berliner – was nothing learnt from JFK’s use of this word?

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  2. It is interesting to consider how the world has changed since 1984-85,when the UK miners went on strike. In those days, the bien-pensant Guardianistas and the Labour Party were on the side of the striking miners. Now, they would be denouncing the existence of a coal mining industry in the UK, which would logically entail still supporting the strike. Although I do wonder on which side of the fence Jeremy Corbyn would be sitting. Curiously enough, in both situations, they would express energetic condemnation of “scabs”, but for different reasons. In 1984, it was for breaking the strike. Today, it would be for continuing to mine coal.

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  3. The Guardian remains a puzzle to me. Increasingly of late it has, very properly, reported stories critical of the EU (e.g. today’s on the failure of its vaccination programme, which the EU insisted on taking over from the member states, then screwed up); stories about the unreliability of renewable power generation and the ridiculously high costs incurred by the National Grid of late; stories about ecological damage and environmental catastrophe caused by (and this is a beauty – combination of EU failure and climate hysteria) EU rules encouraging the chopping down of healthy forests to provide wood chips to burn, deemed to be “green” energy; etc, etc, almost ad nauseam.

    Yet the people behind the Guardian never seem to join the dots, and continue to proselytise in respect of the very issues that have led to these problems.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Back in 2008, while researching how Greenpeace and its hangers-on worked to intimidate opponents of off-shore wind-power developments, in particular the environmentally disastrous Swansea Bay scheme, I came across the following gem. It helped me understand, at least in part, the roots of Grauniadian eco-tosh.

    Sunday Telegraph, 22 April 2004:

    “A private equity house backed by Paul Myners, the Guardian Media Group chairman, and Sir David Frost, the broadcaster, is about to turn wind into money.

    “Englefield Capital is set to sell its stake in Zephyr Investments, Britain?s biggest wind energy provider, for more than three times what it paid for the business just three years ago.

    “In February 2004 Englefield, RWE Innogy and the First Islamic Investment Bank paid around £33m each to buy into Zephyr, the green energy investment fund, which then bought out RWE’s existing wind energy sites and its development portfolio.

    “It is understood that Englefield has now instructed Lexicon, the corporate finance boutique, to find a buyer for its one-third stake in Zephyr. The company has £330m of debt and is thought to be worth around £650m: Englefield could net more than £100m from a sale.”

    By 2008, Paul Myners went on to help fund Gordon Brown’s LP leadership campaign, become a finance minister in Wee Gordy’s government and, later but PDQ, Baron Myners.

    See: http://www.swap.org.uk/index.asp?pageid=86553

    (I’ve always despised the Grauniad with the relish most lefties reserve for the Daily Mail. Though I’m no lover of the latter either, it’s indubitably the better rag.)

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  5. Climate was clearly astro-turf, since the “climate crisis” only exists as a mental health crisis. The question is how did it turn into a mental health crisis of the ruling classes?
    Grauniad played a role in this, and this essay gives some insights into the mechanics.

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  6. Re: the Guardian. It was my paper of choice for a long time. Not that I bought it every day. I was limited to Saturdays and train journeys. The Guardian had the distinction of having the hardest cryptic crossword. The Telegraph was doable. The Times was a bit harder. The Guardian weekday cryptic was harder still, and the Saturday version… well, I never finished one. That alone gave it a cachet which told me I was reading the paper for smartypants.

    I still have the Guardian of Saturday May 3rd 1997 up in the loft. I kept it – as I saw it – as an historical document. That wine went sour in the end I guess.

    Unfortunately the environment coverage killed it for me. For a while you can engage in Gell-Mann amnesia, but ultimately you come to realise that if the stuff you know about is wrong, it’s quite likely that the stuff you don’t know about is wrong too. (Caveat: thinking you know stuff is no guarantee that you do know stuff.)

    @ Mark it sounds as if the environment coverage has improved. A pity it came too late for me. Visiting the Guardian is now for me like a trip to the dentists.

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  7. Re: the Guardian & climate hysteria – had to rack my brain/google search to remember the name – Dana (atom bomb) Nuccitelli
    having googled above I found this from 2015 – https://davidsuzuki.org/story/deniers-are-all-over-the-map-climate-realists-all-over-the-world/

    partial quote –
    “Nuccitelli and fellow researchers Rasmus Benestad, Stephan Lewandowsky, Katharine Hayhoe, Hans Olav Hygen, Rob van Dorland and John Cook note that about 97 per cent of experts worldwide agree on a cohesive, science-based theory of global warming, but those who don’t “are all over the map, even contradicting each other. The one thing they seem to have in common is methodological flaws like cherry picking, curve fitting, ignoring inconvenient data, and disregarding known physics.””

    how times have changed (not)

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  8. Also at the Frontline Club in 2012 was the terrific meeting Trouble at the BBC – Savile, management and public trust which I attended. On 7th November, so just five weeks after the Greenpeace effort, which had faded completely from memory if it was ever there. In the row behind me, right behind me, Liz MacKean was sitting with Meirion Jones, who I just mentioned because of his reluctant vaccine optimism in the other Cliscep 19th January post. Strange or what? They were rightly voluble on what had happened with Savile. Olenka Frenkiel, another journalist whom I really respect, was sitting in the front row and I was able to talk to her and others afterwards. I also met one-on-one with Vaughan Smith to discuss the wiki idea in those days or before.

    Which means what? I have no idea. But I’ve been to a number of events at Frontline, including a fascinating one on Iraq, post 2003, and another where I chatted to Dominic Lawson and Melanie Phillips, if briefly and for the only time in my short life! Paul Mason, pre his Corbyn cheerleader phase, cheerfully as panel chariman accepted a comment from me on the financial crisis some time after 2008, then took a book from me concerning Bretton Woods and the US characters who ‘traded with the enemy’, ie Hitler, which he never returned! And I’ve had some great meals in the restaurant. By no means an unfamiliar place. Run on a shoestring and impressive. Until one gets to the pushing of climate alarmism no doubt.

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  9. funny what you find from google after above search “False Balance And “Pause” Dominated IPCC Coverage-from 2013” – https://www.mediamatters.org/washington-post/study-media-sowed-doubt-coverage-un-climate-report

    liked this bit at the end –
    “Using Short-Term Temperature Trends To Draw Conclusions Is Misleading. Using the short time period of 1998-2012 is “very sensitive to the beginning and end dates and do[es] not in general reflect long-term climate trends” due to natural variability, according to the IPCC. Further, it added, “Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850,” and temperatures are expected to keep rising in the long run. As a blog run by climate scientists, Real Climate, explained, “Those who have these [IPCC] data before their eyes can recognise immediately how misguided the big media attention for the ‘wiggles’ of the curves towards the end has been.”

    Liked by 1 person

  10. And from those humble beginnings at the Guardian, the whole Global Warming crusade did arise, and grew into the Paris Accord, the greater ambition of 1.5C and now the world drive to achieve Zero Carbon. The latest breakthrough comes as the leader of the free world commits to the climate agenda and celebrates his virtue with a unique commemorative coin:

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  11. Something I’ve realised doing this kind of study is that the traditional psychological interpretation of left and right-wing attitudes no longer works. You have to view the positions of newspapers or other political actors in terms of class interest. For example, left wingers are supposed to be more tolerant, open-minded, curious, open to new ideas etc. than conservatives. Yet the Daily Mail, so despised by Guardian readers, is far more open-minded and tolerant in its treatment of Covid- or climate scepticism than the Guardian, which seems to be psychologically hardwired to defend the official narrative, even of the despised Johnson government.

    Guardian readers despise Mail readers, in a way they don’t hate the left-leaning working class Mirror or the right-leaning working class Sun. This can only be because they are closer in class terms. Guardian readers are the office know-alls, while their more self-effacing, less thrusting colleagues read the Mail. The three main characters in “The Office” are potential Guardian readers – the offensive David Brent character, plus the sensible one and the loony one. The characters in the background glued to their computer screens are Mail readers.

    The miners’ strike mentioned by Man in a Barrel above is a good illustration. Post war, when the Labour Party had a million members and the support of half the voters, middle class Guardian readers would have had numerous contacts with the organised working class. They both started work in their teens, for a start, and the office would be in the next building to the factory. Removing the upper middle class from their homes and classmates for three years and sending them to college in another city creates a caste, as surely as if you sent a whole generation of the middle class to the colonies. Doctors and lawyers need a specialised education. The rest of us would have been fine with public libraries and the Third Programme.

    Guardian readers see themselves as being “on the left,” but they had more in common with the radical, thinking conservatives around Mrs Thatcher than they did with the miners. When your opposition to conservatism is based on the vision of the Tories as fox-hunting toffs, and your sympathy for the working class is based on their suffering and powerlessness, then you’re bound to feel confused when faced with Arthur Scargill and Sir Keith Joseph. You could probably trace the rise of environmentalism plus gender politics and the rest to a desperate need of Guardian readers to clutch at something leftwing that doesn’t involve the working classes.

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  12. ALAN KENDALL
    I think the new climate dictionary was the work of Rusbridger’s successor Ms Viner. It would have been impossible under a previous generation (mine and yours) which has actually read 1984, and not merely heard of it.

    JIT
    I often spend a couple of weeks a year in a household that has the Guardian delivered, and it’s striking how different the paper edition is from the on-line version. It’s probably a question of different search methods – thumbing through sixty pages of physical stuff is quite unlike scrolling down a screen, which, come to think of it, is more similar to the ancient Greek experience of unrolling a papyrus. In the paper edition the obsession with climate hysteria was invisible -if there was an environment section I missed it. On the other hand, browsing through paper I casually read a lot of stuff I’d ignore on the screen, and the climate story was there, but casually embedded in articles on quite different subjects, like a background noise. On the screen the climate stories are all gathered together in a hard core, so to speak, and they stay up for weeks or months. It’s as if the old paper you hide in the attic keeps finding its way back in the paper rack with the Radio Times.

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  13. Picking up on Geoff’s point about how middle class socialists are alienated from other members of society, how about this tweet from Paul Mason about not allowing divergent views to be permitted

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  14. All justified by the fascist label it’s worth noting. Strangely I was just trying to check when Predicting the Crash had taken place at the Frontline Club, with Gillian Tett and co on the panel. It was 6th November 2008. Paul Mason was indeed there but Andrew Walker was chairing. Memory playing tricks – and Frontline seem to have lost the video I once watched.

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  15. MAN IN A BARREL
    I first noticed how the Guardian’s disdain for the working class turned to hatred on their live coverage of the Brexit vote. Their journalist (Sparrow?) was making comments every hour or so of the form: “This is the victory of Last Night of the Proms over Glastonbury.” etc. The mask of chumminess of a privileged middle class which likes to believe itself classless suddenly fell, revealing a very old fashioned snobbery.

    It’s a very dangerous development, as the Democrats seemed to realise in the fuss over Clinton’s remark about “deplorables.” Similarly, a Labour party dignitary had to resign over a remark about a house with a George Cross flag in the window and a white van in the drive – an event which would be mystifying to anyone not aware of the strong unconscious currents of class consciousness under the surface.

    There used to be a whole bunch of commenters of both the left and the right who were good at analysing this kind of thing (Orwell being the most notable.) Clive James, and Simon Hoggart at the Guardian were among the last of that breed that I’m aware of. Spiked! and the Spectator try to keep the tradition going, but they seem to have disappeared from the rest of the intelligent press.

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  16. The Guardian is still our weekday paper of choice. When I taught at UEA I read it assiduously to discover what “the other lot” were thinking and what my students might try to trip me up about. Since retiring, I feel less compelled to keep myself as informed. Today I mainly skip-read and sometimes just headlines. I am interested to learn that there is a significant difference between the on-line and paper editions. I only have consulted the on-line version when my attention has been drawn to a specific item that I didn’t pay sufficient attention to. The difference between paper and online versions may explain a lot. I never have felt that the paper edition was as bad as people here and over at BH have commonly maintained. Are they just reading the online version? But why do I still subscribe? Firstly, just habit, but more importantly “she who must be listened to” likes the crossword. E-Nuff said.

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  17. ALAN KENDALL
    A paper is a habit, like walking the dog, and none the worse for that. Online is different for many reasons, one being the rabbithole effect of clicking on links and no longer knowing who or what you’re reading. The other is the effect of not clicking on links, and thinking you’re reading something evidence-based because of all the stuff underlined in blue, when you’re simply reading opinions backed up by more opinions.

    Having read it for fifty years (a quarter of the paper’s existence) I’ve got used to its curious centrist bias. It takes the left wing view on all questions where there are ethical concerns, but will censor itself rather than ally itself with effective action. It was against apartheid, but could never bring itself to admit the role of the Cuban air force in overthrowing it; it was against the Vietnam war, but remained shockingly silent during the genocidal Kissinger bombing of Hanoi; it was against the Iraq war, but censored all mention of Ron Paul, the only anti war candidate in 2004, until someone discovered that Paul had once edited a magazine that once published an article by someone who was once associated with the Ku Klux Klan.

    Since Luke Harding and David Leigh have been there it has become the mouthpiece of the Military/Intelligence Complex, parroting the official position of the Army’s 77th Brigade. The other day they were repeating with a straight face the story of how Putin will put Novichok in your underpants. And the people who should be raging against it, the generation raised on Beyond the Fringe and Monty Python, are all faithful readers.

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  18. Here in the states, many of us characterize what is going as “communism” or “socialism “.
    I think what Geoff just posted is a great example of why those popular names are not applicable labels anymore.
    I’m not certain what the best name is, but “they” are now effectively in charge in the West.

    Liked by 1 person

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