Tuesday 28 August 2012


 Without protests it would not have happened …

Guardian dumps Joshua Treviño

Submitted by Ali Abunimah
Citing his failure to disclose a major conflict of interest, The Guardian has dumped Joshua Treviño, nine days after it announced it had hired him as a columnist.
The announcement came as outrage from Guardian readers continued to grow over his history of incitement and hate speech directed against Palestinian solidarity activists, Muslims and others.
In a joint statement with Treviño, The Guardian said:
Joshua Treviño wrote a piece for the Guardian on February 28, 2011 titled “Peter King has hearings, but is he listening?” The Guardian recently learned that shortly before writing this article the author was a consultant for an agency that had Malaysian business interests and that he ran a website called Malaysia Matters. In keeping with the Guardian’s editorial code this should have been disclosed.
“Under our guidelines, the relationship between Joshua and the agency should have been disclosed before the piece was published in order to give full clarity to our readers,” said Janine Gibson, editor-in-chief, Guardian US.”
I vigorously affirm that nothing unethical was done and I have been open with the Guardian in this matter. Nevertheless, the Guardian’s guidelines are necessarily broad, and I agree that they must be respected as such,” said Joshua Treviño.
We have therefore mutually agreed to go our separate ways and wish each other the best of luck.
I had raised the issue of Treviño’s conflicts of interest in my 18 August Al Jazeera article “What’s gone wrong at The Guardian:
According to The Guardian’s own editorial code, journalists and commentators must disclose outside work and organisational affiliations that could pose a conflict of interest. Treviño, as has been disclosed, works as a paid consultant to Republican candidates for elected office. But there’s much more readers deserve to know.
In July 2011, Treviño was caught in a curious controversy where a website in Malaysia accused him and another US blogger of running a website named Malaysia Matters, allegedly secretly paid for by Malaysia’s prime minister and another politician in order to improve their image. Treviño told reporter Ben Smith, then of Politico, that the story was “completely false”. But Smith stated that Treviño “misdirected” him.
While Smith was unable to get to the bottom of the murky financial arrangements behind Malaysia Matters, he revealed that, in 2008, Treviño had approached a number of prominent US bloggers, “offering them a free ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ Malaysian junket, paid for, he [Treviño] said in an email at the time, by business interests associated with Malaysian politics.”
When challenged on this rather odd activity for a journalist, Treviño wrote to Smith: “I also offer people paid trips to Israel” – as if that were the most normal thing in the world for a blogger to do.
Do Treviño’s new bosses at The Guardian know this? Do they know on whose behalf Treviño – a former member of the advisory board of Act for Israel - is writing? And more importantly, are they planning to tell their readers?
There is more information from Sarawak Report whose investigations were key to revealing Treviño’s Malaysian connections.
The Guardian has done the right thing. It may have cited the conflict of interest in order to save face, but that reason was certainly enough to call into question the decision to hire Treviño. Treviño’s dishonesty was also on display in hismendacious “clarification” of his tweets calling for violence and gloating over the deaths of unarmed civilians, which The Guardian has yet to correct. That is pending business.
But everyone who contacted The Guardian to express their views on its disastrous judgment should be pleased with this outcome. The Guardian should reflect deeply on this debacle and work to rebuild readers’ trust.

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