A few days ago I blogged the inherent irony of Guardian journalist Martin Wainwright’s comments when interviewed on Israeli radio about the UK riots:
Pictures of any sort of disorder can give a completely false impression and I’m in Birmingham and I can assure you that, you know, if you wanted to come and have a nice meal in the center of Birmingham, you’d have a great evening and the pictures that have gone around the world will be a very damaging influence because through those pictures it appears that this is a warzone.
The blog post was cross-posted on CiF Watch where Wainwright responded in the comments section:
Hello and I hope you are all well. It’s Martin Wainwright here, the Northern Editor of the Guardian who had a very enjoyable chat with Galei Tzahal as mentioned in this post.
I am sorry that the passage picked out should be taken as ‘priceless’ or some sort of evidence of Guardian hypocrisy. The Guardian is not some machine with robots who all think alike. I am 61 and have covered a great deal of violence in my time and I have consistently made the point that media coverage of it almost always gives an exaggerated impression.
I also make this part of talks I give to schools, WIs etc, using the example of Breughel’s The Fall of Icarus and W H Auden’s poem about it which express this point much more eloquently than I ever could.
I have no doubt that the phenomenon applies in Israel. I have yet to visit the country but very much hope to; it is a place which means a great deal to me, both from my upbringing and from my following events there during my adult life.
I hope that your readers will deal more reasonably with the subject than seems to be the case from this brief experience, the first I have had with your website. I am more than happy to ‘chat’ to any of you direct – contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org. Or come and meet me in Leeds, a city whose debt to Jewish people is enormous and has often been mentioned in my journalism and books.
With every warm wish
Wainwright’s response continued on the comments section of the original Backspin blog post:
can you live up to your ‘honest reporting’ tag and tell your readers that in the GT interview I also specifically said that Israel would be used to this sort of thing – the way that media coverage gives an exaggerated impression, not deliberately but because dramatic events are always highlighted at the expense of the everyday context?
While these comments were not heard on the Galei Tzahal interview or published on the online story, we are happy to publish them here. Irrespective of whether or not it is done deliberately (and in The Guardian’s case there is an undeniable anti-Israel agenda at work), Wainwright’s observation on the way that media coverage gives an exaggerated impression proves our point.
Wainwright acknowledges himself that Israel suffers from a lack of everyday context in reporting of the country. Unfortunately for Wainwright, it is his own newspaper that is a prime example of this. The Guardian, however, takes things a step further by deliberately focusing on negative stories that paint an unrepresentative and distorted picture of Israel.
Martin Wainwright’s comments are welcome, not only for their constructive sentiments and positivity towards Israel but also for the simple case of opening a dialogue with someone from The Guardian, a media outlet that has consistently taken a holier-than-thou attitude towards much of the criticism leveled at it from organizations such as HonestReporting as well as those from within the UK’s Jewish community.
We thank Wainwright for contributing to the debate and hope that this is evidence that the viciously anti-Israel agenda of The Guardian is not shared by all of its employees.