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The Comment Awards Fiasco

The issue of press freedom has been making headlines in recent days—for all the wrong reasons. Murdered journalists are a visceral reminder of the risks that many around the world take to tell the truth. It is one of the reasons that whenever I am asked to judge media awards, I say yes. Over the years, I have judged the Foreign Press Association Awards, the Society of Editors’ National Press Awards and, most recently, Editorial Intelligence’s Comment Awards, now in its 10th year. I am happy to read dozens of articles, to spend time really thinking about who should be shortlisted, get the accolades and so on because it seems important to honor great journalism, to give credit to those scribblers who make a difference through their writing. 

Mainstream media (MSM) and, indeed, many new media outlets are a crucial part of our public square. It is true that, in recent years, the much derided MSM regularly stands accused of self-congratulatory smugness. All the more reason to shake up any complacency by congratulating those whose writing cuts through, that enlightens, entertains, drags us screaming out of our comfort zones. At a time when screeching tweets can replace well-argued analysis, and trolling is given as much credence as thoughtful commentary, finding ways of encouraging stand-out commentators on all sides of the political spectrum who share their thoughts in trying to make sense of a world riven by change and challenge is a worthy cause. With the brutal tragedy of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder as a backdrop, publicly acknowledging the achievements of journalists is one modest way of pressing home why a free press matters. Which is why the tawdry tale of how identity politics has turned the 2018 Comment Awards into a vehicle to attack nominated journalists is rather tragic and self-defeating.

Firstly, two of the shortlisted nominees for the Society and Diversity award, Guardian journalists Gary Younge and Nesrine Malik, demanded that they were removed from the shortlist, because Times columnist Melanie Phillips appeared on the same list. We have become accustomed to people refusing to share platforms with others. But refusing to be on the same shortlist? They argued that shortlisting Phillips “legitimizes her offensive attacks on immigrants…and Muslimsand that her body of work…amounts to bigotry and divisiveness.” I don’t agree, but I accept that it’s fair comment if that is what those journalists believe. But to conclude that they don’t even want their name next to hers on a list compiled in good faith by the awards’ judges? That seems itself to be an example of divisiveness and a snub to one form of diversity: that of diverse opinion.

To ask to have your names removed after the shortlists are drawn up also insults the judges. Those very same judges who selected Younge and Malik’s work as worthy of acclaim thought Phillips’s was, too. As the Comment Awards’ Julia Hobsbawm noted: Melanie Phillips was eligible to be nominated, and she was judged fairly… The judging can’t be undone.I assume that the two objecting journalists have no problem with the judging process per se, as both won Comment Awards last year and didn’t object then. So, their objections this year, framed as, “To nominate a columnist who holds such views undermines the integrity of the award itself,” can only imply that certain writers should not be nominated at all.

Both writers stressed that we would like to draw a clear distinction between those viewpoints with which we disagree and those which we fundamentally object to.” However, should nominees act as gatekeepers in deciding who else is considered worthy of acclaim, based on their fundamental objections rather than the quality of journalism and the judges’ decisions? One fears that this logic may see a spate of novelists refusing to be nominated for the Booker Prize without vetting which of their fellow writers might appear on the list, and what political opinions they hold.  Are all awards organizers to be issued with a blacklist of those who fall foul of what others might find offensive? And who exactly will judge, a priori, which views are fundamentally objectionable, and to whom?

Inevitably, in an era of social media contagion, the issue didn’t stop there. The subsequent Twitter comments drew support from a range of eminent journalists who one might have hoped would be more concerned with celebrating press freedom rather than virtue signaling. However, a wide group of people, from former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger to Al-Jazeera’s Mehdi Hasan, were happy to line up against Melanie Phillips even being considered for an award.

And thenguess what? Another retrospective identity controversy emerged. Helen Belcher, co-founder of charity Trans Media Watch (and a Liberal Democrat candidate), announced that she wanted to be removed from the Comment Awards judging panel over the nomination of another Times columnist, Janice Turner, after attending the judging meeting. Turner has been shortlisted for the Commentator of the Year category, after a vote by all judges (including Belcher). Belcher subsequently declared that As soon as the shortlists were published, I asked for my name to be removed as a judge. The Comment Awards have refused to do this.And they are right to refuse. Belcher had cast her vote; the demand that because she didn’t like the outcome of that vote, she could demand that the Comment Awards rewrite history, shows a high degree of entitled intolerance and little regard for a democratic process. 

With no sense of irony, Belcher whinged that: The values I thought underpinned the Society and Diversity award were inclusion and diversity. Instead, the only values that seem to have mattered are controversy and changing the debate.'” Yet it is Belcher who is not prepared to accept the inclusion of a nominee because she is offended by Turner’s views. It is Belcher who stirred up controversy by accusing Turner of transphobia and worse. True, Belcher doesn’t seem interested in “changing the debate,” but more in silencing it.   

In today’s toxic media wars, it seems that by claiming to speak on behalf of an identity group or in defense of the marginalized, one is given a green light to lash out in the most vituperative way. In a slanderous blog post, Belcher explained her objection to Turner being shortlisted by writing: Since The Times started printing such pieces [on trans issues], starting with one by Turner in September 2017, I have heard of more trans suicides than at any point since 2012.Not only is this claim not backed up by any figures or other evidence, it is the age-old excuse of draconian censors: Your journalism is too dangerous to go into print. Turner herself has written the allegation is the most upsetting accusation I’ve faced in 30 years.” Thank goodness she faced down such threatening abuse to carry on writing her hugely important columns. Her place on the shortlist is well deserved.   

Meanwhile, in a much-shared article on social media approving of Malik and Younge’s stance, titled Comment is white: far-right extremism’s subversion of the British media,” Nafeez Ahmed objected not only to the nomination of Melanie Phillips but also another Times columnist, Daniel Finkelstein (for the Brexit category), because the shortlisting of both figures provides alarming insights into how a global network of neo-fascists have attempted quite deliberately…to gather mainstream legitimacy for their xenophobic discourses; and how a self-soothingly complacent white-dominated media has functioned as a subservient, willing collaborator in this process…illustrat[ing] the functioning of white supremacism as a structure.”

Traducing two longstanding, widely published journalists as part of a global network of neo-fascistsis insultingly ludicrous (both writers are Jewish). Moreover, the article’s malign attempt to set up white opinion formers against brown and black journalistsis a far more egregiously racializing of journalism than any contentious nominations at a media award. While Younge and Malik can’t be blamed for such conspiratorial venom in their name, it’s perhaps a pity they haven’t been as quick to distance themselves from this divisive, racially inflammatory comment as they were in denouncing their fellow comment writer Melanie Phillips. 

No doubt, for Ahmed and those who have approvingly retweeted his rant, my whitenessdisqualifies me from commenting. However, to note, in the category in which I judged, I voted for three writers whose views I fundamentally disagree with, but whose comment pieces were brilliantly written and made me think anew about issues. Two of those writers happen to be black, but as their ethnicity wasn’t a consideration when I read their articles, it seems more a concession to racial thinking that I should even note that fact. But perhaps it illustrates that when judging the quality of commentary, skin color is irrelevant. And of course, Malik and Younge were shortlisted precisely due to the quality of their writing, not as BAME representatives. If this is the Comment Awards’ white supremacism as a structure,” as Ahmed alleges, it is singularly unsuccessful in its outcome. 

One might be tempted to see these shenanigans as a minor media spat, confined to London’s cosmopolitan commentariat. But sadly it is a snapshot of a broader censorious atmosphere in relation to views that don’t neatly fit into today’s prevailing orthodoxies on any number of identity-related issues. The toxic I Find that Offensivedefault position, the ring-fencing of certain topics as beyond discussion, the delegitimizing of anyone who doesn’t conform, is inevitably eating away at democratic debate more broadly. The bile that has been heaped on a single journalist for going against the trans activists’ script on the Gender Recognition Act is replicated in academia, political parties, and a whole manner of public institutions.

The price for even raising the debate is to be labelled a bigot and to have one’s reputation trashed. A forthcoming academic panel debate that I am participating in (Immigration and Diversity Politics: A Challenge to Liberal Democracy?) was retitled after an initial twitterstorm, but even then a group of academics have written a letter on Open Democracy objecting to the premise of the event, the framing of which is described as white supremacist discourse based on racist presumptions.” It is actually based on academic disagreements about ethnicity and diversity. While I personally disagree with some of the premises embraced by my fellow panelistswe do not speak with one voice—and will say so at the event, to label participants as racist for even agreeing to speak can only chill discussion on thorny, difficult questions of which there are many facing society today. 

Which is why a free press is essential for allowing such tricky issues to be mulled over and commented on from a wide variety of perspectives. If Donald Trump’s attacks on the media take the form of shouting fake newsat any journalists who don’t flatter his narrative, the equally chilling identitarian mirror image are those who shout “offense,” “white supremacism,” “transphobia” at those who skeptically query intersectional narratives. The unpleasant bullying of anyone who demurs from a range of subjectively drawn red lines can only lead to a nervousness about what it is now considered acceptable to write, publish, comment on.  

This climate is already causing too much media damage. Last year, Jonathan Kay chose to resign as editor of a Canadian magazine, The Walrus, after writing an article in the National Post defending the right to debate cultural appropriation, and expressing exasperation at the stifling attitudes of his contemporaries. His piece was in response to the fury faced by Hal Niedzviecki, who was also forced to resign (and apologize) as editor of the Writers’ Union of Canada’s publication, Write magazine, after writing an article defending the unauthorized use of indigenous knowledge and traditions.”

More recently, the esteemed editor of the New York Review of Books, Ian Buruma, was forced out for daring to commission an essay by Jian Ghomeshi, a Canadian broadcaster, about his fall from grace. (Ghomeshi was accused and then acquitted in a court of law of sexual assault a few years ago, but his reputation was ruined.) Buruma’s crimethat disgracefully led to monumental pile-on led by other journalists and publicationswas that he published an article that deviated from the correct #MeToo script. But if contemporary journalism blows in the wind of ideological fads and political fashions,” as Colin Marshall described it in his excellent account of events for Quillette, we may be left with sanitized, anodyne, gutless writing, while allowing important commentators to be sacked, reviled and slandered.

Which is why the particular denouement in the Comment Awards story is so dispiriting. The Times has announced: We have been disappointed by the treatment some of our columnists have received for being shortlisted for these awards. We do not wish to be part of this process.This means that the nine Times journalists nominated for 12 prizes, including Caitlin Moran, Jenni Russell, Matthew Parris and Hugo Rifkind, have been told not to attend the awards ceremony. But to no-platform the awards seems a wrong-headed approach that simply looks like flouncing off in the face of opposition. Instead, Times editor John Witherow should be proudly trumpeting all his shortlisted comment writers and cheering them on. 

The Comment Awards organizers have stayed calm in the midst of all these slings and arrows, continually stressing: Editorial Intelligence, which puts on the Comment Awards, believes in freedom of expression…The votes are cast and counted for this year’s winners and will be announced as planned on 16 November.I for one will be there to cheer the shortlisted nominees and winnerswhether they are there or notand will do so as a proud salute to all those who continue to speak truth to power, whether their opponents are authoritarian regimes, or over-sensitive, woke proponents of identity politics. Press freedom is far too precious to boycott.

 

Claire Fox is the director of the Academy of Ideas and the author of I Find That Offensive. Follower her on Twitter at @fox_claire.

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69 Comments

  1. Why is immature reaction gaining greater influence in society, so much so that even party leaders (of all colours) pander to it? Is this an ongoing cycle of society, to swing between the mature and the immature, one of them progressing us whilst the other would regress us back to childhood (or further, to Hobbes’ State of Nature given half a chance), or are we now caught in a downward spiral created by aspect of our society (and which is inescapable until to recognise and correct that faulty aspect)?

    When I look at so many people today, I see a direction that has more in common with those who locked up Galileo than with Galileo himself…

    • Heike says

      I believe it to be because if they shout down and censor the opposition, they can then pretend that there IS no opposition. Everyone will get their news from a uniform hivemind of journalists who will reshape society into utopia.

      A very large number of journalists are deeply invested in the idea that society can be torn down and recreated as a utopia. They feel actively threatened by statements contradicting that view, and will not stop at anything to destroy the threat.

      On one hand we have people who believe that utopia is impossible, and on the other we have people who believe that creating utopia is the highest (perhaps only) moral priority. The first group believes the second group is deluded in their belief that utopia is possible; the second group believes the first group is immoral for opposing their efforts to create one at any cost.

      If the worst happens and they ever win, we already know what will happen. Every time it starts off as a utopian vision. However, some people do not want to go along. More and more force is necessary to get them to fall in line. Sooner, rather than later, you end up with a Stalin, Pol Pot or Mao. They see people as a metallurgist sees iron ore. To leftists, people in the way of their vision are impurities to be removed before forging their utopia. Clay to be molded. Human dust to be brushed around.

      • Constantin says

        Thank you for a well thought and precisely articulated comment. “If any man have ears to hear, let him hear!” 🙁

      • Damian O'Connor says

        Heike. Nail, on the head, hit squarely.

        Damian O’Connor
        Author of ‘A Short Guide to the History of South Africa.’

      • Asenath Waite says

        I think your statement is pretty much accurate. These people refuse to accept the fact that we are animals like all other animals. On an evolutionary timescale, we’ve just barely come down from the trees at this point. We can’t organize society in a way that ignores this truth.

        • Alan D White says

          Postmodernism teaches the young there is no “one truth”. You are entitled to believe the story you prefer to believe and if that gets you a good grade from the professor, so much the better.

    • Circuses and Bread says

      @Leap

      Why? Because politics is a mental illness. Take an otherwise rational person, put them in a position of defending their political tribe, and watch them become a stark raving, amoral idiot.

    • TarsTarkas says

      Immature hysterical reaction is gaining influence because it works. Every time a dissenter is howled down, the movement gains strength. And the greatest wrath that is exhibited is of course directed at any member of the mob who deviates in the slightest from the ever-morphing narrative. This wrath is being encouraged because it is a moneymaker for many media outlets. Witness the Guardian. Which leads to the bigger problem: The adults in the room, especially the owners of those media outlets. I can’t believe that most if not all of them realize that the SJW mob is nuts and very capable of turning on them. But because their business model depends on outrage, they not only aid and abet it but in many cases actually try to lead the mob. They lack the courage to #Walkaway.

    • Just FYI: Galileo was locked up (in a palace) for delving into theology he didn’t have authority to delve into, and for presenting his theory as fact. He wasn’t in trouble for his theory in se.

    • kamakirinoko says

      What is this pathetic scrambling and petty squabbling about prizes? Don’t you people have stories to write instead of dashing off screeds, equivalent to washroom graffiti from this schoolyard gang about a competing schoolyard gang?

      I’d say to all of you: grow the fuck up and divert the energies from your sputtering diatribes against one another on that most pathetic of platforms, Twitter, to doing some actual work at being journalists.

      I’ve never seen so much childish pettifogging in my life.

    • Paulo says

      Listen to the last five minutes of the interview of Dave Rubin with Janice Fiamengo, then read the Wikipedia entry on Female Intrasexual Competition (it’s not long), then consider the hypothesis that these new social media are perfect for the tactics and styles that are described there (and used by both sexes on the Internet), and maybe you have the beginning of an answer. Jeez, I never thought of saying something like this a few years ago!
      But having seen Karen Straight video about neoteny on YouTube, I tend to think it’s more about juvenilization of society in general and not so much infatilization, or maybe both…
      If I dared saying this to my friends they would call me misogynistic, but I’ve been called so many things by now that I really don’t care anymore…

      • Paulo says

        I meant to wrote ‘infantilization and not so much femininization’… I wish Quillette would let us edit comments!

  2. wolandscat says

    Gary Younge’s articles are regularly added to my ‘Peak Guardian’ list. This is for pseudo-journalism by people whose worldview revolves around victimhood and identity, and refuse to look at history in even vaguely objective terms. The Guardian has numerous such offenders and in recent years has betrayed its origins and history of providing quality journalism. It is now mainly a haven for Leftist ideology. Although it does still have John Crace who is always good value…

    • George G says

      I got suckered into reading The Grievance when Frankie Boyle began writing a column for them a few years back, his columns were great and still worth a look in the archives for. Crace is good too. However Nesserine Malik & Afua Hirsh would make even Der Stürmer blush with the brazenness of their bigotry.

      • Damian O'Connor says

        I gave up with Afua Hirsch when she declared that Nelson should come down off his column. To have someone as historically illiterate as that writing for a national newspaper is a real shame.

        Damian O’Connor
        Author of ‘A Short Guide to the History of South Africa.’

    • George G says

      @wolandscat

      may I humbly submit for your consideration: a contender for your peak Guardian list,

      https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/im-pansexual-here-are-the-five-biggest-misconceptions-about-my-sexuality-10480878.html

      although not technically on the Grievance it actually manages to outdo them for naval gazing narcissism, and once you read down to point 5 if you can read that without laughing at the sheer virtual signalling hypocrisy of what said your a stronger person than i

      • tim s says

        To not laugh would be a Herculean task. The virtue signalling is off the charts.

        • Damian O'Connor says

          You would need a heart of stone not to laugh.

          Damian O’Connor
          Author of ‘A Short Guide to the History of South Africa.’

        • V 2.0 says

          This reads like Swiftian satire (though sadly its not). Thanks for the laugh. I have to check out the Guardian more often. They are always good for a bit of inadvertent comedy

        • George G says

          @ Saru

          that is a good one, can I be the first to denounce that article as trainsphobic…. I’ll get my coat.

      • wolandscat says

        I’m creating a ‘peak Independent’ list as I write this …

      • I’d say everything in the Independent would qualify for somebody’s peak Guardian list at some point in time. In fact, I quite like the idea of having a regular Quillette feature: “this week’s peak Guardian” in which readers can contribute their favourite contenders and one can poke gentle fun at the more preposterous virtue signalling and grievance mongering. On the other hand we in Australia already have Tim Blair for that.

      • Lee Floyd says

        This is a total winner. Thank you. Pansexual. Good God.

    • wolandscat says

      Here are the author names from my current peak Guardian list:

      – Gary Younge +++
      – Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff
      – Kehinde Andrews
      – Julie Bindel
      – Alison Flood
      – Nesrine Malik
      – Minnie Driver (yep)
      – Afua Hirsch+++
      – Stephen McLaren
      – Simon Tisdall (but I think an exception…)
      – Caroline Hill and Jasmin Beckett
      – David Olusoga
      – Hadley Freeman
      – Amelia Gentleman
      – Lili Loofbourow
      – Kris Manjapra
      – Frances Ryan

      • Daniel says

        wolandscat,
        Time for some virtue signaling of my own: I haven’t heard of any of them.

        There. I’ve established by sanity bona fides.

    • Lee Floyd says

      I had to stop reading the Guardian. A shame, because I admired it and having read it for 40 plus years felt it generally trod a centrist path. With the loss of Rusbridger and the elevation of the new (female) editor, quite a lot changed, and quite quickly. We were treated to a succession of privileged black and Asian journos victim bleating; if they were women, this was cause for yet more misandry. Race, sexuality and creed became a driving force behind not just the op eds but in the main news items where the political leanings of the writers, always and for ever left leaning (that’s why I read it, I am a little ashamed to admit – I am as stuck in the echo chamber as the next man/ woman/ non binary human) began to attack their readership……usually, this manifested itself as an attack on me and people like me. White, professional and majority taxpayers. So, like Reagan, I didn’t so much leave the Guardian – and the Labour Party – as it/ they left me….
      As a long term strategy for societal change, this seems short sighted. But then I guess it’s easier for Younge and co. to bleat than to act.

  3. Jezza says

    Thank you for the information so brilliantly presented in this article Its fluent, measured and graceful style reminds me of – I was about be silly and say “Like what we had when I was a boy ” – but I won’t be flippant because clear reasoned expression is a cornerstone of our civilization. Thank you again.

    • Agreed: lovely writing, wonderfully clear use of language; and in the service of a rational and principled stance. Best thing I’ll get all day.

  4. The Guardian, or as I now call it, The Daily Beggar, has moved firmly onto grievance politics ground, and they are finding it to be fertile ground. Even with the backing of The Scott Trust, The Daily Beggar was in a death spiral which would have resulted in bankruptcy by now if they hadn’t made the move into the American market.

    Their begging is working, as their subscription income has rocketed, stabilising the company. The Daily Beggar now panders to the Grievance Brigade in a way alien to them when I was growing up in the UK. At that time, The Daily Beggar was concerned with class struggle, alas, no longer.

    There is no Grievance Nag onto which The Daily Beggar will not jump. It is now, genuinely, their reason for existence.

    Incidentally, I have an overseas subscription to The Times of London, ( a superb newspaper ), as well as subscribing to Quillette. The commentary section of The Times is excellent, and I always look forward to reading Niall Ferguson, now of Stanford University, in particular. I’m disappointed The Times is boycotting the award ceremony, it would have been better if they had attended and not given the infantile clowns at The Daily Beggar any form of victory.

    • Carl Craven says

      “The Daily Beggar”
      And I thought I was the only one.

    • George G says

      I’ve always felt the way The Grievance was funded was an apt metaphor for its attitude and behaviour. They are essentially a spoiled teenager shouting F$%^ you Dad at all the institutions and ideals of previous generations,and only able to do so by begging and living of the wealth entrusted to them by those generations with the Scott Trust.

      • Paul Ellis says

        They’re also incorporated in the Cayman Islands. Nice one. There’s nothing like paying your dues to society, eh?

  5. Midway through this piece the hyperbole of the outraged became so deafening, I had to skip to the end. Thank you, Claire Fox, for writing this piece and for committing to continue judging for press awards. As you say, “Press freedom is far too precious to boycott.”

  6. urbanleprechaun says

    Eserine Malik is one of the most reprehensibly racist journalists I know of. Gary Younge not so.Malik is the one who should have been sacked.

    • Multiple Dimensions of Being says

      Younge is a real journalist. Malik is not.

  7. NickG says

    We are reaping the ‘benefits’ of the success of long march through the institutions together with early stages of the multicultural ‘utopia’ bought to us by the relentless procession of The Great Replacement.

    As we progress further into these sunny uplands we can expect more of the same.

  8. “If Donald Trump’s attacks on the media take the form of shouting “fake news” at any journalists who don’t flatter his narrative…”

    Or … or …. maybe The Donald has this one right. If “Mainstream Media” are overseen and directed by an outrage mob, if their articles, editors, awards, acceptable topics, and viewpoints are given to them by ignorant hordes who think in 140-character bags of flaming crap, then “fake news” isn’t merely accurate.

    It’s polite understatement.

    Maybe a less circumspect and frank analysis would be “pandering, pusillanimous propagandists”.

  9. Heike says

    The New York Times wonders why Trump considers the media the enemy. That seems strange, since one of his biggest reasons for that notion could be…the New York Times.

    “[Trump] is not rounding people up and murdering them without any due process.”

    Ready for Goldberg’s reply? Sit back:

    “He would certainly like to.”

    Seriously — that was her reply.

    The newswoman.

    That gets you a job at The New York Times.

    The smoking gun video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYA5GNj4DUE

    Just watch that video and tell me they can write a story about Trump without injecting their personal politics into it. She is literally making things up and attributing them to someone. Some journalist!

  10. peterschaeffer says

    The situation is actually worse than the author alleges. Real crimes are ignored and/or covered up, while fake crimes are treating an worse than genocide. The following is from

    “Who will speak for the Huddersfield girls?”

    “Britain is a country where a politician putting his hand on a middle-class woman’s knee causes more outrage than the sexual abuse of scores of working-class girls by men from Pakistani backgrounds.

    This is the conclusion we must draw from the #MeToo scandals of the past year. Or rather from the striking disparity between what becomes a #MeToo scandal and what doesn’t. A posh journalist having her knee brushed by a politician causes media meltdown, Twitterstorms about ‘the patriarchy’, and soul-searching in parliament about men’s wicked behaviour, while the exploitation and rape of working-class girls in towns like Huddersfield provokes little more than an awkward tut of disapproval.”

    Read it all (in Spiked). The Guardian Left is a repulsive, disgusting thing.

    • Sydney says

      @petershaeffer,

      Thanks for straightening some priorities here. UK’s correct-thinking creative class should be sounding this alarm and aligning itself with Tommy Robinson instead of wasting its energy on this awards silliness.

    • @peterschaeffer

      thanks for pointing this out. There are very serious crimes against women being perpetrated daily but what seems to “outrage” people? A knee touch, a stupid comment, a suggestion.

      I am incredibly bothered that rapists can retain visiting rights to children they’ve fathered through rape (convicted rape) in several state in the US. This bothers me to the core.

      Yet a woman gets ogled because she wore very revealing clothing and that man has to lose his job. Not cool.

      It seems that a recent trend has been to condemn men with the highest punishment for minor offenses and for the truly grotesque offenses slap them on the wrist.

      This makes no sense to me.

    • I’d say the reaction to Melanie Phillip’s nomination – or rather the reasons given for objecting to her nomination – reveal why real crimes get ignored.

  11. Farris says

    Excellent article! The author, like most, is coming to the realization that fair, balanced or meritorious means racist, xenophobic, transphobic, misogynistic, ect…
    Apparently journalism is being practiced by the “wrong kind of people”.

  12. Rupert Stubbs says

    I still read The Guardian (as well as The Times) in order to get more of a sense of what is being talked about. And some columnists are definitely worth reading (Lucy Mangan) – as well as their cookery articles… The one I simply can no longer bear to even glance at is Polly Toynbee, whose columns appear to be written as a satirical joke by Private Eye.

    However, nothing is worse than the appallingly one-sided Daily Telegraph, which seems to have given up any attempt to give people unbiased news.

  13. iaincsmacdonald says

    how did anyone for the Graun get on the list? The epitome of entitled, tone deaf upper white PC drivel.

    • codadmin says

      Except, many of the most hateful articles spewed in the Guardian, are from minorities. Younge is one example of a racist who clearly hates white people.

  14. All this is very obvious from the outside as it is not so cleverly hidden. Any semi-intelligent reader picks up on “thou shall not deviate from the orthodoxy” by simple observation. One example is there can be no dissent on climate change orthodoxy in the MSM. It’s a bit too clever as to be totally counterproductive. You cannot trust climate change reporting when the wildest incorrect claims are parroted without any critical review at all. Immigration is absolutely hopeless, it’s like you are reading activist NGO press releases.

    Trust in the media declines, so the answer is to police correct think more carefully. Effect, meet cause. Social media shaming and the mobs are a cancer. I thought social media was going to democratize differing views, instead it has been used to form a totalitarian state of opinions.

    • Maybe because democracy isn’t really a “best approach,” as it fails merit, and it suggests an ignorant person is as worthy of a voice as a well informed person.
      Social media is ugly because the thoughts of most people are ugly or without merit. Hoping for social media to provide insights is a bit like hoping dreams are revelatory.
      Hard work and hard thinking produce quality insights and wisdom; yapping not so much.

      • Paul Ellis says

        But who guards the guardians? I’ve never seen a convincing answer to that question, and therefore, for matters that will have a profound effect on the whole population of a country, the whole population must be consulted and everyone’s vote counted as equal.

        Of course, when you do that you find out what the hoi-polloi actually think, and that can come as a nasty surprise to the bien pensant and Brahmins, as the recent UK and Scottish referenda have revealed.

    • Lee Floyd says

      Your last point is telling, I think. Perhaps because it is so instantaneous- or because some people can spew without thought- the hopes of social media, and the thoughtless , like Zuckerberg, have failed utterly. The Big Z still makes it as a billionaire, though. Not all is lost, apparently.

  15. Pingback: How identity politics has turned the 2018 Comment Awards into a vehicle to attack nominated journalists. - TPOok

  16. codadmin says

    To the left, Jewish conservatives like Melanie Phillips are white first, Jewish second.

    If she was a leftist and they could score political points, she wound be Jewish first and her whiteness would never be mentioned.

    The same rule applies to black people. They are black when leftists, but mere conservatives when not.

  17. We would be better served by more investigative journalism than the entertainment type (“xyz said or did abc” — just reporting the facts and statements made). While news is supposed to report what happened, lack of context in a global news world results in lots of facts that aren’t always helpful to understanding. And repeating or allowing another to say X without questioning X is just gossip pretending to be journalism.

  18. Mike Hession says

    Excellent and thoughtful article. The amount of Virtue signaling is getting out of hand with these folks. Your piece cuts right to the facts.

  19. It’s amazing the extent to which the Left now goes to control the narrative. I used to take The Guardian seriously a few years ago, but now it’s entrenched nonsense…. a lot of it, anyway. I read it to keep up to date with what the Loony Left are pushing.

    I went to the March for Men in Melbourne a few months ago, and what was written about the march in The Guardian was pure garbage. I’d say 20% was correct. It’s one thing to see yet another “gender wage gap” article but quite another to know — because you were there — that an article is pure propaganda and gatekeeping.

    • Peter from Oz says

      ”It’s amazing the extent to which the Left now goes to control the narrative”
      That is why they are so upset at the victory of Donald Trump. They thought that they had the narrative in such close control that the Donald didn’t have a chance. But it is obvious that the people don’t buy the so-called orthodox view. The real orthodox view is that of the centre-right/centre left paradigm which has no time for PC claptrap.

  20. luke glanford says

    I was not even aware of these awards – but after reading this I’m sad to hear of the toxic issues plaguing our journalism.

  21. Pierre Pendre says

    We haven’t got as far yet as plumber or pizza delivery driver of the year although the French honour the skills of their Ouvriers de France.

    The point about these prizes – this or that of the year, Oscars, Emmies, Grammies, Bookers, Baftas or even Pulitzers – is that no one cares about them other than the narcissists who compete for them and get them on the basis of Buggin’s turn. For them to start dictating whom they’ll appear with on the shortlists is beginning to stray beyond parody. That opinion journalists who share the same ethical status as lawyers should discover such delicate scruples IS beyond parody.

    I can understand that an employee of the Guardian might have objections to losing a bauble which is irrelevant to 99% of the population to Melanie Phillips; she is after all a renegade Guardianista who became an apostate against everything the paper stands for. But really, journalists – I was one for 40 years – should take themselves a little less seriously as most other people do on their behalf.

    No one doubts the importance to democracy of the freedom of the press and in countries which do not enjoy democracy, journalists often live under permanent harassment and genuine threat of death. A number of them are actually killed. They don’t get awards because awards don’t exist in those sorts of societies. Not a single Western journalist runs any risk greater than a lawyer’s letter in the exercise of their trade.

    Journalism is a peculiar business. It’s commercial. It’s essential to our political wellbeing and is recognised as the Fourth Estate despite its lack of official constitutional standing but it’s practitioners aren’t called hacks for nothing. The media will happily sacrifice their claimed principles when it means putting the boot into people they don’t like, and not just politicians. “Opinion is free but facts are sacred” is essentially a joke in partisan newsrooms.

    We need the media and we all learn how to read our media, their quirks, their spins, their obsessions and some sort of sense usually appears from the competing ways that different news outlets treat the same event. But who is Hack of the Year is something that rightly passes us by and we’re not sorry if that indifference hurts their feelings.

  22. Paulo says

    Whenever I hear or read these New Leftists, Post Modernists (or Pre New Middle Ageists) call facist, bigot, homophobic, etc etc etc, I think to myself ‘well, when all you’ve got as a tool is a hammer, everything to you looks like a nail’.

  23. james mawdsley says

    The Gary Younge who thinks the anti semitism in the Labour party is made up, that Gary Younge?

  24. ga gamba says

    I appreciate Ms Fox’s account of the events, yet by devoting much thought and even soul searching its plays right into the hands of censors such as Younge and Malik. “Only our views deserve a platform.” Such a childish demand. The easiest way to deal with those demanding to be removed is to remove them immediately. “OK, you’re out.” Don’t try to reason with them. If you like, inform them that henceforth their work will no longer be considered for future Editorial Intelligence Comment Awards, Society and Diversity category or not. “Permanently.”

    The behaviour of Ms Belcher is especially reprehensible. She’s a judge and she judged. She performed a role she agreed to and the results stand. “No, it stands. Take comfort you won’t be asked again,” is the way to handle her.

    But really, c’mon now, these awards for writing (and performing too) are all a bit silly and self-congratulatory. If controversies such as this hasten their demise then it’ll be a welcome outcome. The awards giving industry must be one of the fastest growing. You don’t need to fabricate a facade of meaning to justify the want to have a party, though I find many of these events are paid for by corporate sponsors, which only goes to show the cultural elite are too stingy to pay for their own nibbles and plonk. Be assured plenty of people such as plumbers and electricians routinely get together for a night’s fun without guilt nor the need to shower their peers with praise and prizes; they spent their own money doing so.

    Lastly, Nesrine Malik is a rubbish pundit. Perhaps she was mistaken for Kenan Malik who’s far better.

  25. Paul Ellis says

    “…we would like to draw a clear distinction between those viewpoints with which we disagree and those which we fundamentally object to.”

    Let’s try: “those to which we fundamentally object”, shall we? Ah, the dear old Graun. It always had typos, but I’m old enough to remember when its journalists could write with reasonable style, and Peter Preston could edit.

  26. CONNER M STEACY says

    As usual this type of attempted censorship has backfired. I have googled Melanie Phillips, whom I’ve never heard of, and found her views to be reasonable. She calls herself a liberal who has been “mugged by reality”. Exactly!

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