In the late 1970s, when I was living in England, The Guardian was the most Soviet friendly of all British broadsheet newspapers, constantly trying to find excuses for Soviet behaviour by implying that the West was morally at least as evil as its adversaries. Apparently The Guardian has learned no lessons from the fall of Communism in 1989.
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (Who is to guard the guards themselves?), the Roman poet Juvenal asked. Would the Cold War have ended sooner if weblogs had existed in the 1970s? This is a question one may ask now that Albert Scardino, a senior editor of British left-wing newspaper The Guardian, resigned after weblogger Scott Burgess revealed on The Daily Ablution that The Guardian had engaged Dilpazier Aslam, a member of Hizb ut Tahrir, an al-Qaeda related organisation, as a trainee journalist and political commentator. On 13 July, Aslam wrote an op-ed piece in The Guardian, stating that the British could not pretend “that the [7/7 London] bombings happened through no responsibility of [their] own.” Burgess’s revelation of Aslam’s membership of HuT that same 13 July was picked up by other bloggers and the mainstream media, which finally led to Aslam being sacked and the resignation of Scardino, who had known about the HuT membership of his trainee.
What possessed these people to think they could turn their paper into a platform for al-Qaeda and get away with it? The answer is arrogance. The same arrogance that characterised so many editors and journalists during the Cold War, when much of the Western press acted as a vehicle for Soviet policy. Journalists could be openly communist and that was accepted, while those who stood for freedom and democracy against the Soviets were regarded as intolerant or extreme. It was not done for the press in Western Europe to side with its own side. On the contrary, anyone who was anti-American was regarded as morally and intellectually superior. In the couple of decades since the Cold War the attitudes of the press have not changed. Their basic instinct is to side with whoever happens to be fighting against America. From worshippers of communism they have now become condoners of terrorism. To even dream of doing so in a country which has experienced terrorism first-hand throughout the war in Northern Ireland only indicates the extent of their arrogance.