Monday, May 11, 2009

A Sign of The Times

I’ve written before about the decline in simple journalistic standards and fact checking at the newspaper which purports to be Britain’s 'newspaper of record'.

The Times comment/editorial section, has in the last few years, been more interested in acting as the last remaining propaganda outlet of British neo-conservatism, than in getting simple facts right.

In today's paper there is a comment piece entitled 'The Pope is deeply suspect in Jewish eyes', written by Stephen Pollard.

You would have thought that an article attacking the Pope (pictured above), would at least get the man's real name right. It doesn't.

The article refers to the Pope as 'Thomas Ratzinger'.

His name is Joseph Alois Ratzinger.

It beggars belief that no one who dealt with this article knew the Pope‘s real name or bothered to check it.

But then again, judging by the comment/editorial section's previous form on getting facts right, perhaps not.

(Hat tip for spotting this one to Martin Meenagh).

UPDATE. Oh dear. It's not been a very good day for neocon writers at The Times has it?

As David Lindsay says, lets hope he takes the rest of Policy Exchange and the Henry Jackson Society with him as he leaves Parliament.

FURTHER UPDATE: The Times has amended the article in question so that the Pope is now 'Joseph Ratzinger'. But the erroneous information highlighted by Martin Meenagh
in the comments section below is still up there.

What a day of unmitigated embarrassment at Britain's 'newspaper of record'. The excellent Guido Fawkes reports:

Why has a regular Times T2 columnist had a piece called ‘How Not To Spend It’, which was due to be published today, pulled by The Times. The reason? Might be sensitive, given MPs spending habits. The columnist?
Could it be that the columnist is Sarah Vine? Also known as Mrs Gove.....

Neo-cons not very happy about this blog post, it seems.

I receive a sneering email overnight from 'anonymous' to draw my attention to a blog post of last night by Pollard's little pal and fellow neocon smear merchant Oliver Kamm in which he accuses me (falsely) of using quotations from Cicero and Mahatma Gandhi from the internet without checking them. You can imagine the exchange of emails which preceded the blog post, can't you?


Martin Meenagh said...

I might also point out that it says he was in the Wehrmacht (he wasn't--it was the Luftwaffe flakhelfer)--that he visited an SS gravesite--he didn't, he visited a German grave with SS men in it as a German in France, and condemned the SS--and that he baulked at going to Yad Vashem, which he didn't. It also fails to mention how his father was anti-Nazi, and notes a prayer for the conversion of Jewish people which does cause offence but which actually involves catholics praying for people to be catholic, in Latin. I do acknowledge the shakiness of my ground on that last point.

Apart from that, there are two paragraphs and a by-line that don't have a mistake in them. Ah well, British journalism at its best....

Anonymous said...

You couldn't make it up.
So Stephen Pollard did.

jock mctrousers said...

'The Pope is deeply suspect in Jewish eyes'

Next thing we'll find that the Vatican is developing WMDs or 'the bomb', and so moves up the list of candidates for humanitarian bombing.

Talking of journalistic standards, so slightly on topic, the Morning Star in the last few days had yet another piece by 'leftist' (yes an Israeli who supports a jewish state can be a 'leftist'- sarcasm) Knesset member Uri Avnery, who does a weekly column for them - he managed to slip in the information that Iran is developing a nuclear bomb as if it was proven and common knowledge ( rather than completely discredited by the best authorities). This is par for the course for the Morning Star; they always quote the lowest figure for casualties in Iraq from Iraq Body Count; and their editorials still, when they mention it, talk of Serb expansionism and Milosevic the 'butcher of the Balkans - amongst other things. Still, at least they support the continuation of violence in N. Ireland towards a goal that is seemingly supported by next to no-one in Ireland. And at least they've kept supporting the Labour party (albeit critically) when everyone else has given up on them. In other words the Morning Star needs a big kick up the arse! You wouldn't honestly expect much from the Times would you? Nick Davies 'Flat Earth News' is very good on the state of the British Press - recommend highly.

Undergroundman said...

The problem with neoconservatives is that they have a creed, a politically correct line, into which all the facts must be straitjacketed: in short they are not journalists but hack propagandists.

The Times is nothing more than a crude propaganda rag these days.

The aim of militant Zionists is always to ramp up the myth of a unique Jewish victim community, a model now being copied by militant Islamists who are claiming uniquely victimhood in order to advance nationalistic goals.

Norman Davies in Europe at War had it right when he wisely concluded ,

"The essence of victimisation is to be the object of other people's bad conduct. Victims do not do:they are done to. As such they deserve pity and comfort. But they cannot automatically be ascribed virtue, which they may or may not possess'.

The Pope is not "anti-semitic", though some members of the clergy in Poland are just as some rabbis are bigoted and mullaha and imams are in The Muslim faith. This is because they are, after all, human.

The ways Pollard goes on is as if some nations are collectively guilty of crimes, something that should be levelled neither at Germany no more than it should at Israel.

Terrible crimes were committed against Germans during WW2, just as they were to people of the Jewish faith or background who were citizens and nationals of their own countries.

That's what war does to people, it fractures people along pre=existing fault lines to hate those seen to pose an existential threat to the other.

Neoconservatives are masters at chosing to patronise selected nationalisms in order to advance power interests. Whether like Melanie Philips it means you're either for Israel and democracy or for 'Islamist totalitarianism'.

A notion taken up Michael Gove and other dolts who write of Islamism as being some 'seamless totalitarian threat' akin to Hitler's Germany or Stalin's Soviet Union.

A propaganda trope deployed by the ex-dissident Adam Michnik in Poland
to justify the invasion of Iraq as if it were the natural progression after defeating Communism in Poland.

Michnik deduces all this on the simple basis that the Polish Communist regime was prepared to use anti-semitism to rid it of opponents and so that any nation ostensibly standing up for Israel and democracy and bringing regime change to the Middle East is justified.

Presumably because Arabs or Muslims are not capable of democracy, one reason why Michnik has supported Oriana Fallaci who charmingly desribes Muslims as rats.

The Irony is bleak. But proving 'we' are victimised because of 'Them' is a stable of propaganda depending upon whether one has already decided upon and for what reason one's sympathy must lie/

This is the technique of the lobbyist for the USA to make a decisive intervention on their side as victims rather than their side who are the real victimisers and thus 'nationalists'

It's a media technique used by lunatic nationalists from Moldova to Georgia, all those who believe that by telling people want they want to hear that one can come down decisively on the side on one nation if it co-incides with their Great Power interests.

Pollard's article is an example of one of the most pernicious developments of the modern mass media and online blogging and commentary: the propagation of cheap one dimensional outrage which eschews complexity and demands idiotic nationalistic partisanship.

Clearly, it's the opposite of what the Pope would define as Catholicism or the universal church.

But since the interpretations of Human Rights now provide the pretext for manipulation and the arena for hypocrisy and universal enforcement through war, it's not surprising that the Pope annoys messianic neoconservatives, ex=Trotskists and those who've substituted Christianity with secular salvationist myths.

Ho ho very satirical said...

You couldn't make it up.Indeed you couldn't. Neil Clark complaining about sloppy standards and poor fact-checking in journalism is a bit like Stalin complaining that Hitler was victimising the Poles a bit too much.

Still, it offers irresistible entertainment to the rest of us.

Neil Clark said...

wow, our first Pollardite troll!
didn't take you very long did it!
the 'irresistible entertainment' is provided by a hapless writer who wrote a piece attacking the Pope without even getting his name right and who's got one or two other important things wrong too. All in Britain's 'newspaper of record'.

Laugh? I haven't laughed this much in years.

karl: great post.

martin: i think we should give Pollard credit for one thing- at least he got the Pope's religion right.

Neil Clark said...

'sloppy standards and fact-checking'
are you referring, ho ho, to those journos who faithfully parroted the 'Iraq has WMD' line and who now write of 'Iran's nuclear weapons programme as if it is a matter of fact?
It's the very fact that I do check my facts and don't deal in lies that Pollard and his little gang of neocon fanatics have spent so much of their time attacking me and trying to smear me.
But then you'd know all about that, wouldn't you.

Martin Meenagh said...

Oh, one more thing--that 'Bishop' Williamson stuff. He was passed through a ceremony whilst outside the church. He has been indefinitely suspended, until he stops this denial stuff, and if any of the other half a million members of the Society of St Pius X want to try it they can be referred to the Pope's very strong letter of regret and apology for not moving sooner to stamp this sort of thing out. Bishop Williamson is not currently a Bishop and may not speak in the way he did again.

I also checked the prayer that was mentioned--a good friday prayer with Hebrew equivalents that was changed in 1959, and again in 1962, and again in 1970, and again recently, each time attempting the clarify a Latin term that was apt to be misinterpreted--perfidis, meaning 'without faith' rather than 'perfidious' meaning 'of bad faith' or treacherous.

Just in case anyone is reading the article and wanted some footnotes.

Ho ho very satirical said...

'sloppy standards and fact-checking'
are you referring, ho ho, to those journos who faithfully parroted the 'Iraq has WMD' line and who now write of 'Iran's nuclear weapons programme as if it is a matter of fact?
No, I'm referring to the well-tested proverb about glass houses and throwing stones.

I daresay there's another proverb about the person who called everyone he disagreed with a "neocon" until he woke up one day to find that the term had become utterly meaningless because it was so widely misapplied.

Neil Clark said...

thanks for that info, Martin.

Ho ho: the proverb about glass houses and stones is best applied to Pollard. He's the one who has been throwing stones. He can't stop. I haven't mentioned him for over a year, but if he wants to throw stones at me, he'll get one back.
as for the neo-con jibe, Pollard is a self-described neo-con. He wrote an article about attending the launch of the Henry Jackson Society in which he said he was quite happy to be called a neocon.

Better luck with yr next post.

Neil Clark said...

to the last 'anonymous' troll who has tried to post two comments here:
nice attempt to change the subject, but this post is about an article which appeared in yesterday's Times- Britain's 'newspaper of record'- which attacked the Pope but couldn't even get his name right (as well as getting other important things wrong too, as Martin Meenagh mentions above).

Mr Pollard's little cyber pal, whose blog you frequent, a man who rounds on people whose views he disapproves of for making the most minor spelling mistake or gramatical error, has yet to comment on this fiasco. I wonder why? Instead he, oh so predictably, publishes a blog post attacking the person who brought this fiasco to light.

and a question for you 'anonymous'? Why do you call yourself 'sid' on Mr Pollard's little cyber pal's blog and 'anonymous' here?

ps don't you think your time would be better employed by emailing Mr Pollard to ask where he got the name 'Thomas Ratzinger' from?

Oliver Kampf said...

It appears that Mr Pollard has regurgitated a factoid propagated by an obscure genocide denying Serb outfit.

This is not a trivial offence, it is a matter of great importance.

Because I say so.

Oliver Kampf (Leader writer of a very serious newspaper)

Oliver Kram said...

Being a very important little man, who has many interlocuters in very high places, I must point out that my porcine faced chum, Pollard, fails to evince any lack of perspicacity in this matter.


olching said...

Haha. This has been entertaining. Good work, Neil. Fatty little Pollard is so bad, he borders on the amusing. Kamm on the other hand is a deeply vicious individual.

PJD said...

Interesting, if you search for "Thomas Ratzinger" on Google it comes up with quite a few hits. It appears this misnaming of the pontiff stems articles about a BBC documentary in 2006 which was about him allegedly cover up child abuse by priests while he was a Bishop.

It makes you wonder where Pollard had copied this error from as his article doesn't mention child abuse.

Anonymous said...

Nope, not here either. You just don't seem to want to give your sources for Cicero and Gandhi. Surely you should be prepared to state your sources in any case, but particularly when it will allow you to prove that your nemesis has been lying about you. Why don't you take this chance to defeat him?

Neil Clark said...

PJD: Good work, interesting post.

'anonymous': perhaps you could ask your dear friend Oliver Kamm to comment on PJD's suggestions. Or even Mr Pollard?
Interesting isn't it. Kamm never, ever responds to any allegations made about him, or inquiries, however polite, for him to reveal his sources, yet he and his cyber trolls expect others to automatically respond to allegations made by him. Sorry, it doesn't work like that. You can send me in another 750 emails tonight, but you're wasting your time.

Anonymous said...

I didn't ask you to respond to allegations, I asked you what your sources were for your quotes from Cicero and Gandhi. You refuse to do that, so I guess Kamm is right in saying you copied them down from the Internet. If only you'd give your sources I could add them to your Wikipedia entry to balance Kamm's claims and prove that he's wrong. It's a shame I can't do that, isn't it?

Neil Clark said...

'anonymous' or can I call you

when i put this post up i said to a friend that two things would happen.
1. a blog post would appear accusing me of something by Oliver Kamm.
2. my wikipedia page would be maliciously edited, with an attempt made to get Kamm's said blog post quoted on the page.

You are oh, so predictable.

And very, very sad.

Anonymous said...

Your Wikipedia entry hasn't been maliciously edited. It's been edited with a reference to a recognised publication stating that you copied down quotes from the Internet without checking them. That's true, isn't it?

Neil Clark said...

"Your Wikipedia entry hasn't been maliciously edited. It's been edited with a reference to a recognised publication"

'a recognised publication'?

the smear blog of a extremely embittered and very vicious little man who has spent three and a half years attacking me for critically reviewing a book!

you're very, very sad. But also very, very funny.

Neil Clark said...

by the way 'anonymous' or should i call you

as you seem to be pretty keen on editing wikipedia, perhaps you could let us know whether you intend to edit Mr Oliver Kamm's page to include the info rergarding the purchase, in December 2007, of quite a large number of shares by the hedge-fund company he was a co-founder of in a company whose subsidiary own the controversially privatised Ferronickeli nickel plant in Kosovo?

You can find the relevant links on the post above this one.

the sources are all kosher, the main report coming from Reuters, so no problem on that ground and seeing that Mr Kamm has written plenty of Kosovo and on the 'humanitarian' intervention there, and on Milosevic's 'genocidal aggression', but neglected to mention the financial interests of WMG Advisors in the the region, it is I believe highly relevant information.

Will you be adding the info? A simple yes, or no, will suffice. If not, then I think we can all draw our own conclusions. In any case, even if you don't make the edit I'm sure some diligent wikipedia editor do in the future, as to coin a phrase, it is surely a matter of public interest.

Dominic said...


Even by the exceptionally low standards of Pollard, that is a vile, dishonest and defamatory piece.

Anonymous said...

Kamm accuses Neil of "cut and paste" but Kamm's entire viewpoint is a cut and paste of neo-conservativism.

Anonymous said...

I did answer your question but you refused to post it. Free speech is frowned on here obviously.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Clark,

I represent Harvard University. We are looking for a Professor of Classics. As you have found a quote from Cicero that no other scholar has ever found, you are obviously the only candidate for the job.

Neil Clark said...

'anonymous', or may I call you (or perhaps, just '212'?
it's very kind of you but I'm afraid you are wrong when you say that I have found a quote from Cicero that no one else has found, so I am not the only candidate for the job. In any case, I'm told that Harvard operates a pretty draconian non-smoking policy on university property so working there doesn't really appeal. thanks all the same.