Jewish Chronicle hosts BNP blogger
Hugh Muir, Diary, guardian.co.uk
With their party in laughable disarray, most members of Nick Griffin’s far-right BNP seem content to keep their heads down. But others have careers to build and division to sow. Thus, even in this period of hibernation, they seek a profile. One such is Carlos Cortiglia, who needs to put himself about, not least because he is standing as the party’s mayoral candidate for London. But platforms are hard to find. What to do? His solution has been nothing if not canny; he has been blogging on the Jewish Chronicle. It was easy, for until recently the paper had a system where any reader could set up their own blog and publish their thoughts. He penned at least three blog posts there, all moderate by the standards of JC bloggers, in fact “completely innocuous” as described by editor Stephen Pollard. Unacceptable nevertheless. For although it boasts a Jewish councillor in Essex, the BNP never seems far from the whiff of antisemitism. Griffin, we know, received a conviction in 1998 for distributing material likely to incite racial hatred, and in the course of the prosecution made statements denying the Holocaust. Recently antisemitism appeared to fuel a row between activists on the south coast. “Hitler had a purpose with the Jews,” tweeted one local organiser approvingly. That’s the least offensive quote I could find. The BNP and the Chronicle were never a good fit.
• Cortiglia’s blog project endured until Wednesday when the Muslim Public Affairs Committee put out a story claiming that the BNP man had been hired as a columnist. He never was. But a screenshot taken that morning shows his name at the top of the list of JC bloggers. Google’s cache records that his words were still available then. One blog was dated 23 November. That conflicts with Pollard’s account that he became aware of Cortiglia’s blog and deleted all trace of it “last September” [see Correction below]. Still, by Wednesday afternoon the purge was indeed complete and the site amended to explain that only approved people can blog for the Chronicle. Exposed and discarded, Carlos is silenced. But not for long.
• We know him. For isn’t this the same Carlos Cortiglia quoted in the Argentinian newspaper La Nación in 2006 saying “Y me siento muy ligado emocionalmente a la República Argentina. En 1982 me ofrecí como voluntario para ir a las Islas Malvinas”? Which means, as we pointed out last September: “I feel very connected emotionally to Argentina. In 1982 I volunteered to go to the Falkland Islands.” That sort of comment means he is unlikely to win a British election or score very well as regards his patriotism. Still, he would probably get along with Sean Penn.
Guardian Corrrection and clarifications
In a Diary item about the presence of blogs by Carlos Cortiglia, the BNP’s mayoral candidate, on the Jewish Chronicle website we stated that the blogs were still available on 23 November. We went on to say that this “conflicts” with the account of the Jewish Chronicle’s editor, Stephen Pollard, “that he became aware of Cortiglia’s blog and deleted all trace of it ‘last September'”. To clarify: he told the Guardian’s reporter that “in September we were alerted to the fact that Cortiglia had set up a user blog and the moment we were told, we blocked him and changed [the] entire system”. Mr Pollard has asked us to point out that this was not meant to imply that all traces of the blogs had been deleted in September – in fact the measure he took at that time was to block Cortiglia’s access. He ordered the blogs to be deleted more recently.
Carlos Cortiglieri still blogging on JC site November 15th 2011
Screenshot of Jewish Chronicle, 18th April 2012,
clearly showing its inclusion of a blog by BNP member Carlos Cortiglia, right-hand side.
Richard Silverstein, Tikun Olam
Stephen Sizer reports that the UK national Jewish community’s Jewish Chronicle has offered [see first Update below] a blog-column to Carlos Cortiglia, a leader of the British National Party, the nation’s leading white supremacist political party. Cortiglia is the BNP candidate in the London mayoral race.
I asked Electronic Intifada’s Asa Winstanley to put BNP’s politics in a U.S. context, and whether it could be compared to the Tea Party. He replied that BNP carries more political weight, but its politics are more extreme:
Although they have moved towards a focus on Islamophobia and the counterjihad movement in recent years, their background is in the more traditional European neo-Nazi context and the National Front…
They used to be solidly anti-Semitic and it’s said [their national leader, Nick] Griffin used to deny the Holocaust. In recent years and especially since 9/11, they’ve decided they hate Muslims more than Jews or blacks so have put the focus on agitating against Muslims…
As part of their appeal to unite against Islam, they’ve made more recent attempts to distance themselves from anti-Semitism (although it can’t be far underneath the surface). Interestingly they are also now very pro-Israel.
This seems part of the growing convergence of the European far-right and pro-Israel ultranationalists. A perfect representative of this is of course Anders Breivik, who’s just gone on trial for murdering 77 young Norwegians. I’ve also written here about a group of Russian neo-Nazis who were welcomed to the Knesset by two far-right Jewish MKs. The operative concept here seems to be that the enemy of my Muslim enemy is my friend, even if he’s a Nazi.
But white supremacists? Is this how low the mainstream UK Jewish leadership are prepared to go? To make common cause with those who only a decade or so ago admired Adolf Hitler and denied the Holocaust?
On a somewhat related subject, Electronic Intifada reports that the faux progressive UK Jewish rights group, Engage, surreptitiously accepted funding from the UK Jewish Board of Deputies in order to mount an anti-BDS campaign. All the while Engage touted itself as an independent Jewish progressive voice, when it was a paid shill of the monied pro-Israel interests of the UK Jewish leadership. When you’ve been doing this as long as I have you develop a sense of smell about groups like this. They make a pretence of believing one thing and do something entirely different. Engage is one, as is StandWithUs.
UPDATE: I emailed the Jewish Chronicle editor asking about Cortiglia’s status as a JC blogger. No one replied, but Ben White has noticed that the BNP leader’s posts are no longer publicly available on the site. So the response to my inquiry must’ve been to take the posts down. Their approach seems to hush this up so the embarrassment will not be too public. Hopefully, we can disabuse them of that notion.
Another JC reader notes that apparently any JC reader can set up their own personal blog on the newspaper’s website, which is what Cortiglia did. I’ve corrected my post title and text accordingly. Finally, Cortiglia’s four posts were still available using these links (here and here). Whether or not Cortiglia was a featured blogger or a reader-blogger on the JC site, the fact remains that they published four of his posts, made them publicly accessible for eight months, and gave him a platform he wouldn’t otherwise have enjoyed.
UPDATE I: The JC has totally removed Cortiglia’s four blog posts, but we have screenshots for every one. The JC editor, Stephen Pollard, is lying when he told the Guardian’s Hug Muir that Cortiglia’s blog was taken down in September. The accompanying screenshot disproves this, as the four posts were on the site and freely accessible till yesterday. Such lies only exacerbate the offense of the JC hosting BNP PR for eight months. I don’t understand why, when faced with embarrassment, people don’t admit to the offense and move on. Lying only focuses more attention on the matter.
Richard Silverstein, Tikun Olam
In today’s Guardian, Hugh Muir gives the first MSM coverage to the story of the UK Jewish Chronicle’s hosting a blog written by Carlos Cortiglia, a national leader of the white supremacist British National Party. Over eight months, the UK national Jewish newspaper had featured the blog of Cortiglia, who’d written at least four posts, one as recently as last November. The blog was only removed after I wrote a message to the editor asking why they were publishing the BNP leader. I received no reply to my query. The posts disappeared a few hours later.
When he was asked by the Guardian, Stephen Pollard, the JC editor lied, claiming he’d taken down Cortiglia’s blog “in September” (the month he first posted at the JC site). JC screenshots prove his posts were publicly accessible until April 18th.
I don’t mind if someone makes a mistake and owns up to it. But when they lie to make themselves appear blameless, it only draws more attention to the mistake. When the editor of the JC lies so blatantly and so pathetically, well, it’s downright embarrassing. Not that the paper’s Jewish readers will care. They’ll find 1,000 ways to excuse this fashlah* and forgive him for it.
On Twitter, JC defenders have argued that publication of Cortiglia’s blog was “inadvertent,” to which I’ve replied publishing it for a week or even a month might be inadvertent. But eight months cannot be called inadvertent. They’ve also claimed that JC had no responsibility for the error since it was Cortiglia who created his blog and published his pieces there. Which somehow ignores the problem that he was publishing not at his own site, but at the JC.
[* From a previous Tikun Olam blog: ‘In idiomatic Hebrew, fashlah (which I presume derives from Arabic as so many of the most colorful phrases in Hebrew do) means a major screw-up.’]
Jewish Chronicle editor threatens lawsuits over white supremacist blog it hosted
Richard Silverstein, Tikun Olam
Stephen Pollard, editor of the UK’s Jewish Chronicle has levelled his first volley against journalists and bloggers who criticized the newspaper for hosting a blog by Carlos Cortiglia, a white supremacist leader of the British National Party. He’s threatened Jews for Justice for Palestinians with “remedial action” for republishing Hugh Muir’s Guardian story and my own first blog post about the controversy:
I’m disappointed but not remotely surprised that you should choose to post an entirely misleading account of the JC blog written by Carlos Cortiglia and should not bother to check a word of it with anyone at the JC.
…I said that when we were alerted to the man’s BNP membership we barred access to our site. I did not give a specific date – I said last autumn – and I did not say we removed all trace because, patently, we didn’t. It remained in our archive.
Unless you remove the accusation of lying and issue a correction you will leave me with no alternative but to take remedial action.
There are a number of interesting things about this threatening message. First, Pollard acknowledges “a JC blog written by Carlos Cortiglia.” In other words, he’s not, as some other apologists are trying to do, claim that JC had no agency in the matter. Second, Pollard concedes that even after he knew a white supremacist national leader was blogging at JC, he maintained public access to the blogs he wrote. In Muir’s article, the editor claims he did so because the content was “completely innocuous.” Which is rather beside the point. There are passages that Adolf Hitler wrote that were undoubtedly “innocuous.” But would you allow them to see the light of day on your own website once you discovered who the author was? I think not.
The Guardian reporter further states that:
Pollard’s account [is] that he became aware of Cortiglia’s blog and deleted all trace of it “last September”.
Yet in his message demanding a retraction he claims he never said this to Muir. Which leaves one wondering who to believe: an Islamophobic pro-Israel ultranationalist or a reporter for one of England’s most distinguished newspapers. Of course, English libel laws let just about any stinker sue, and standards of proof are much different than here. Which may leave Pollard’s critics in a tough spot if he’s willing to get one of his fellow pro-Israel solicitor friends to take on the case for him. If you’re a UK reader please keep me informed of any developments on that front. I’m especially curious to know how far he takes the legal threat against the Guardian, which is always in the sights of the pro-Israel crowd.
Personally, though I don’t wish a libel lawsuit on anyone, I hope Muir will sue because it will further expose him and his editorial judgment to ridicule. For example, solicitors will be able to ask him why he felt it was acceptable to allow just about anyone on the internet to read BNP swill on the JC website for eight months. They might also ask why the JC offered an unfettered right to a blog to all takers at the newspaper’s site. And why they did so poor a job of monitoring the identity of these bloggers, allowing them to exploit the JC for their own political advantage.
Pollard has also fired some grapeshot my way as well. But he hasn’t done his homework, as he’s accused me of lying about him and refusing to correct the lies. Besides not understanding the difference between a lie and an error, the JC editor hasn’t even bothered to read my first post in which I note that I made judgments about Cortiglia’s status as a JC blogger based on the fact that the link to Cortiglia’s user page didn’t actually resolve to his own page, but to the main page for the JC’s official bloggers. This led me to believe that Cortiglia was a designated JC blogger. I noted in that post every instance in which I later discovered facts that were discrepant with my initial reporting and I reported those facts as I learned them.
I’ll let you be the judge of what this guy is made of:
…You simply made up a story, that the JC had announced a new columnist – the BNP candidate for mayor. Quite why you would choose to post a lie, which you must have known was a lie – since you made it up – is your problem, not mine.
Your latest post is similarly made up. At no point have I told anyone that we removed the BNP man’s posts in September. You must know this since you will find no record anywhere of me making such a claim. I said that the moment we were alerted to his BNP membership (not by you – I was unaware of your existence until this week), we barred him from posting, which is what happened.
His posts remained in our archive.
I suggest that you preface any posts about me and the JC with the words: “This post is made up and has no basis in fact.” “
I won’t preface my posts about him with anything. I’ll just [let] readers see his own words and they can be the judge for themselves of who’s a liar and who’s not.
A further irony of all this is that Pollard and the JC have smeared Rev. Stephen Sizer for posting on his Facebook page a link to an article published at an anti-Semitic site. A UK organization has even filed a formal police complaint against Sizer for doing so. Yet all the while Pollard himself was harboring a white supremacist on the website of the national newspaper of UK Jewry. How do you spell H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-T-E?