DISGUSTING! Guardian online has a pic of Saddam hanging from a rope on its main page

Okay, so you didn’t go looking for it, it was there. A picture of a dead man’s face, with a noose knot beside it.

I’ll grant you that if you’re hypersensitive about seeing pictures which the caption or surrounding text explains is actually that of the face of a corpse, such things are upsetting. Like putting photos of spiders online when you’re an arachnophobe. They should have been more in tune with the sensitivities of some of their online readers.

But, really – that isn’t as graphic as other photos I’ve seen, as in straight after the Boxing Day tsunami for example.

True, and it wasn’t as horrible as the pictures of Udai and Qusai Hussain dead on the floor with bullet holes in their heads either (which the newspapers took it upon themselves to show to the good public on their front pages too). I don’t care what anyone says, that is not something that instills pride in me of the superiority of the democratic west against the murdering barbarians (especially as the terms of reference are clearly confused in such an instance).

I’m not saying the picture of Saddam was the worst image I’ve ever seen, I was just quite annoyed that the Guardian forced me to look at something I had every intention of NOT seeing just because I made the mistake of going to their main page. Believe me, I’ll be learning from that particular mistake.

Yes, you definitely have a point. At least they’ve now moved it off the front – actually, they’re about the only ones I’ve seen who published that particular frame from the cellphone footage.

Dying to know how you’re going to do this. I would bet that it’s a hard thing to predict when a major news outlet is going to expose something of reality on their websites.

Hmmm… I don’t think the author of the OP has a valid point. The author has made too much truck discussing past editorial bias problems with the newspaper for me not to think that they’re projecting some issues into this thread.

An analogy… imagine if I bought a copy of Time Magazine and there was some horrific image in it? Do I have a right to whine? Really? I bought the magazine. I went out of my way to open it’s pages. What’s different about that and deliberatley sitting at a desk, clicking a mouse on some software icons, and eventually ending up at a newspaper website? Other that one medium is paper and the other is electronic? The consumer still made a point of choosing to use the services of the media provider. The consumer has the right to take their business elsewhere in future if they’re unhappy.

And for crying out loud… it was the most famous execution since Caucescu in Romania in 1989. Too many people wanted to see it - at least for a little while. The Guardian did nothing wrong at all in my opinion.

So we’re expected to take what you say as gospel, and this makes you better (or a more trustworthy source) than the Grauniad…how?

On preview, what Boo Boo Foo said. If you want to start a thread about the quality of the Guardian’s reporting in general (with concrete examples rather than hints and allusions), then do so.


I have several points in reply.

Firstly comparing the Guardian to tabloids, then saying you meant ‘they both have an agenda’ is still silly.
English tabloids publish stories about a Princess Diana conspiracy, about Freddie Starr eating a hamster and about a WW2 bomber being found on the Moon. They have daily topless pictures of women and advertise porn services. They give far more space to horoscopes and gossip columns than to foreign news. They are owned by tycoons who have personal financial and political objectives and will sack editors who fail to toe the line.
The Guardian is owned by a trust and has the motto ‘comment is free but facts are sacred’. it was the first English paper to have a corrections editor, dedicated to spotting, correcting and admitting mistakes.

Next comes your anonymous opinion that the Guardian lies about the area of Government policy despite being briefed by you directly.
I can sympathise that there is a reason to stay anonymous on the Internet, but you damage your own case by admitting that there are damning facts and Departmental fuckups that you are keeping secret from the press.
You could also explain what you mean by ‘technically factually true without being in any way factually accurate’.

Sadly I can tell you that I believe the Guardian is far more likely to be truthful than the current Government. I offer Robin Cook’s resignation speech, faithfully reported by the Guardian, as opposed to the Government’s complete assurance that the Iraq war was about WMD’s, especially those ready to fire on UK bases within 45 minutes.

‘This will be a war without support at home or agreement abroad…’
‘I have resigned from the cabinet because I believe that a fundamental principle of Labour’s foreign policy has been violated…’
‘Only a year ago we and the US were part of a coalition against terrorism which was wider and more diverse than I would previously have thought possible. History will be astonished at the diplomatic miscalculations that led so quickly to the disintegration of that powerful coalition…’
‘But the US warning of a bombing campaign that will “shock and awe” makes it likely that casualties will be numbered at the very least in the thousands…’
‘Iraq probably has no weapons of mass destruction in the commonly understood sense of that term - namely, a credible device capable of being delivered against strategic city targets. It probably does still have biological toxins and battlefield chemical munitions. But it has had them since the 1980s when the US sold Saddam the anthrax agents and the then British government built his chemical and munitions factories…’
‘I believe the prevailing mood of the British public is sound. They do not doubt that Saddam Hussein is a brutal dictator. But they are not persuaded he is a clear and present danger to Britain. They want the inspections to be given a chance. And they are suspicious that they are being pushed hurriedly into conflict by a US administration with an agenda of its own. Above all, they are uneasy at Britain taking part in a military adventure without a broader international coalition and against the hostility of many of our traditional allies…’

If you dislike the Grauniad so much, why the fuck were you reading it?

You sound pissed that their writers don’t just meekly print the bullshit your Dept. spouts to justify its incompetence.

Let me guess… CSA or Farm Subsidies?

If it were genuinely lies then write to their Readers’ Editor with concrete examples, and you’ll get a retraction.

Otherwise STFU.

I think my post made clear I didn’t expect anyone to say as gospel, I’m simply saying that I know what is true in my area of government policy, I see what the Guardian says about said area (which is nearly always lies or so close to lies there’s not much difference) ergo my statement that the Guardian is a pack of lies. I don’t care what it’s motto is, the pathway to hell is paved with lots of nice sounding intentions, doesn’t mean it’s a good place.

I will, as you suggest, stop discussing this topic in this thread after I’ve responded to glee.

The Guardian ran a story fairly recently about my policy area that was positive for a change - my colleagues and I were quite surprised. It transpired that it had been written by a new journalist who didn’t realise the paper had an editorial position on my policy and was reported to have been bollocked by one of the editors for putting out a piece that was positive against without him having had a chance to change it. Not fired for failing to toe the line, perhaps, but there is clearly as much a line to toe at the Guardian as there is in other publications, charitable trust or no, and the facts clearly be damned.

Quite so, however it doesn’t stop them printing lies and factual inaccuracies (the two are effectively the same) as well as unbalanced and prejudiced journalism which is often at odds with reality (which is different but just as bad in that it misinforms people). Our press office has many times pointed out their errors and when they blatantly twist the truth, and sometimes they print the letters we send them demonstrating that. They’re duly printed in small type on page 85, usually without any context to indicate why the paper said something that was wrong.

Every organisation in the world fucks up - fact. There is not a single organisation, malevolent or benign, that is run effectively 100% of the time without making a single mistake. Believe it or not it’s quite difficult to govern a country as developed and complex as the UK with it’s 55 million population without things going wrong, or hindsight showing that we didn’t always make the right decision. It’s because of the extremely hard efforts of people like me and my colleagues that this country is in as good shape as it is - and I just know you’re going to start throwing things at me in the form of “what are you talking about, this country is falling to bits!” or some such, but last time I checked no-one was being killed here for speaking out against the Government (in fact you can make a career out of it, look at Richard Littlejohn), people don’t die in the gutter because they can’t afford medical treatment and it’s generally considered wrong to hurt other people, and our almost entirley uncorrupt legal system makes sure people that do are punished as much as they can be - most countries outside of Europe can’t claim the same thing. The fact that the government fucks up, like everyone, doesn’t mean the Guardian is telling the truth about what the government does. We hide these fuck ups because the public outcry against them doesn’t actually fix them.

The media called for the head of Charles Clarke by repeatedly shrieking he was personally responsible for everything that was going wrong in the immigration service, and it got it. Does that mean that the problems in the immigration service are instantly gone? Nope, it means there was a new Home Secretary appointed; that actually changes a lot less than you think, and what it does change isn’t necessarily good - John Reid wasted no time in scoring a few points publicly by saying the Home Office wasn’t “fit for purpose”, thereby damaging the morale or an already beleaguered organisation and consequently probably making things worse. So tell me, did the media’s contribution to the issue of immigration make the situation better or worse in the name of the truth? Please, I’d like to know what you think on this.

I need to make an important distinction, one that is often lost on most people who work outside politics (please pay attention to the letter cases used from this point onwards as it’s very relevant). There is the Government (the body composite of politicians, namely MPs and Lords, who are currently the party in power and act as the main executive - at the moment New Labour headed by Tony Blair) and there is the government (the civil service and subsidiary administrative offices that actually run things). I work in the latter, and I can assure you that we in the civil service have to be truthful and honest at all times because if we don’t we’re nailed to the wall for it (professionally and publicly). Civil servants who are corrupt or lie are very quickly found out and removed or assigned to “special projects” where they can’t do any damage if it’s not possible to get rid of them - knowing you could lose your job is a pretty powerful disincentive against lying. Given the sheer number of monsters who run the private companies and corporations of this planet, happily and very visibily destroying the world for their own benefit and enrichment and getting rewarded for it financially (or in some cases being elected into positions of power) I sleep quite soundly at night knowing that I’m on the right side.

Yes, the Government (the politicians) lie all the time and try and conceal what really happens under the hood because they need the votes to stay in power (and see my point above). The government couldn’t give a shit about being popular, we’re in the business of trying to run things well and we are frequently frustrated by the efforts of our Ministers who won’t accept unpopular but beneficial in the long term options, so instead take popular vote winners that hurt people (like closing hospitals, or firing public sector workers to make the whole things more “efficient”, like that works, or not closing grammar schools, or passing yet more useless criminal justice legislation to appear “tough on crime”).

Case in point - the tax credit system, as it was originally designed by people who knew what they were doing, was a masterpiece of policy and would have effectively redistributed wealth to those who needed it the most from those who can afford to lose it. Then Gordon got involved, as is his right to do so as Chancellor, and after he’d finished tweaking it (and civil servants have to do what the Ministers want in the end, that being what democracy is all about) it was a pale shadow of what is should have been. Yeah is sort of works, but it’s nothing like it would have been if the politicos had kept their snouts out for the sake of feeling like they’d made a contribution. This kind of thing is at the root of why so many things go wrong in government, and if we were to dispense with democratically elected Ministers the country would probably be run a lot more effectively (although I’m sure most people here don’t like the connotations for this).

Contrary to what you might think this wouldn’t automatically mean we’d be living in tyranny - the hospitals, schools and economy are run by people who have to use them, so we tend not to suggest policies that we know will harm the public (although we have no control over what the Ministers will choose to do). Most civil servants aren’t wealthy enough to have substantial private health cover or send our kids to private schools, so it’s in our interest to make the public system work, unlike politicians such as Tony Blair, who sends his children to a school that breaks the rules on admissions by selecting children (knowing they can because they teach the Prime Minister’s children so no-one will pull them up on it), doesn’t give his youngest the MMR jab whilst telling everyone else to (by using private health vacinations that mean you don’t have to) and make sure no-one they care about has to fight in Iraq (but at the same time not being too bothered about making sure the people there aren’t killed in friendly fire, or for lack of working equipment).

I am not denying that the Government lied about Iraq, that the war was a travesty and that our nation is guilty for the deaths of thousands in its involvement. That doesn’t mean that the whole government is a tool of the devil set up to enslave the common people. All the memos and documents that have been leaked since the war show the civil servants/non-political advisors saying “this will be a disaster, don’t do it” but Blair did. Under our system he is elected to act on behalf of the people; had the government (or army) refused to do what he ordered we would have been rightly accused as being unelected faceless officials defying the will of the democratic will of the people - you know this is true, even though it would have saved the lives of countless people. The government would never have suggested invading Iraq as a way of countering terrorism or increasing the security of the country, but it was the Government who makes that decision and they decided we should do it (TB said let it be so, and the majority of MPs voted in support). The fact that TB, as representative of the people, and public opinion were worlds apart on this issue shows how flawed our democratic system is, not that the people who actually run things are untrustworthy. It doesn’t mean I’m a liar, it menas that TB and his regime of Ministers is. Believe the Guardian over me or my colleagues if you wish, but be clear about why you’re doing that because it seems to me like you’re basing that view on faith rather than valid information.

Anyone who comes to work in government very quickly realises the picture painted of it is massively incorrect, and that (for the most part) it mainly consists of dedicated people whose main wish to work there is to make the world a better place. That’s why I joined, and it’s why I’m still there, although my job would be much easier if the media (and specifically the Guardian) weren’t running a smear campaign against the area I work in meaning that the public don’t know the facts and, consequently, don’t always make the most sensible decisions when dealing with my policy. Don’t take my word for it, as a teacher, nurse, police officer, soldier or tax collector what they think. Sure it’s not perfect, but the civil service is mainly staffed by people making far less than those in investment banks and stock trading firms whose sole purpose is to make rich people richer to the detriment of everyone else (name me one downsizing CEO who was acting with the good of others as his primary intention). On the whole I think that makes us the good guys, if such a thing actaully exists.

I’m sorry if my desire to remain anonymous annoys you, but given that I could potentially be fired for stating any views of the Government (not the government) that contradicts the public line I’m clear it’s the right thing to do. Read this for more detail on why I’d be breaking the rules of my profession to say who I am whilst saying what I really think. Given that the latter is more important than the former to me, I’ll stay nameless.

I read it because a lot of the commentary is interesting and insightful, and what it professes supports my own political view (it’s a shame that the Graun is so hypocritical in this respect). I’m pissed that the paper is hypocritical in it’s position that everyone should be truthful, yet isn’t itself. I’m annoyed that this creates an atmosphere and level of public debate that doesn’t allow politicians and the G/government to have constructive dialogue with the public on what needs to be done, as it would make the country a better place if this wasn’t the case. No, I don’t work in either of those policies, and no I won’t say where I do work. My Dept has done that, lots of time, as I said above it doesn’t achieve anything, and certainly doesn’t stop them saying things that aren’t true. I’d invite you to come and work in government and see how it really works before spouting such shit again if you want me to take what you say seriously.

Can I suggest that anyone who wants to further explore anything I’ve said about the tension between truth and politics, and the media’s role in it, reads the Rise of Political Lying by Peter O’Bourne as it’s a very good summary of the real issues in the field of G/government communications. Everything I’ve written here is based on my direct experience of government or the views of my colleagues who have those direct experiences - it’s not the recycling of media opinions. Again, I’m offering dopers the chance for some real low down on what’s going on in the UK government - if you choose to dismiss it or question its or my integrity that’s your call, but don’t say you didn’t have the opportunity.

I’m happy to repost this in another thread, if people feel that would be appropriate.

Your department might operate more effectively if it had a more accurate count of the UK population! :wink:

Oh tsk, my fault for not checking the most recent census. :slight_smile:

I’m not thrilled about turning on my computer in the AM and seeing any dead bodies.

I use the Comcast browser and for about three days I had to look at a picture of James Brown in his coffin.

I turned off CNN on Friday night when they announced that Hussein was dead and that they’d be showing videos after they were scrutinized by the higher ups. Nope, I have no desire to see it.

To the OPer, it’s getting increasingly difficult in this information age to avoid such images. That doesn’t mean that you don’t have a right to complain.

To be fair I’m not totally death phobic, I’m perfectly accepting of the necessity of seeing corpses - I’d just like to get to get a choice in whether I do or not first.

I forgot to say earlier, the way I’ll be avoiding this happening again (in the context of the Guardian) is by not reading that site anymore. I’ve been close do striking it off my list for a while and that was enough to push me over the edge.

You clearly have just as little of an idea about how newspapers work as you think the Guardian does about how your department works.

As one who is required by his chosen profession to see the bona fide video (not the cell version), I must say his death was quite swift and merciful. In that regard it’s a far cry from our American methods.

The grainy picture at the Guardian is really tame, though. How anyone could be offended by it is a mystery to me.

Given that I was told this by someone who works at the Guardian and knew the person involved (fraternisation with the enemy! :eek: ) I think you’re wrong. But thanks all the same for throwing your view in there free of charge.

I understand exactly what you mean. Many news sites tend to have a separate link with a warning first that goes along the lines of: “Warning: The linked images have graphic content that may be upsetting for some.”

For example during some of the media coverage of the devastation in New Orleans from hurricane Katrina, and the tsunami the other year many news websites gave you plenty of advance warning if there were to be images that contained corpses.

For the graphic image to be right there on the website’s splash page is a bit of a surprise and inconsiderate to their readership.

It isn’t a matter of preserving Saddam’s dignity or humanity, he had none to preserve, nor deserved any. Its about how our own.