'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Friday, November 18, 2005

Something You Don't See Everyday 

I don't know if anyone else has been following this story but a couple of weeks ago the Guardian interviewed Chomsky in response to Chomsky being named the world's "top intellectual" by a poll conducted by some British magazines. The interview turned out to be a hatchet job complete with out-and-out fabrications and quotes taken out of context, the kind of hatchet job one often encounters when a hard leftist makes an appearance in the corporate press. Alexander Cockburn has a good analysis of the smear.

Normally the story would end here, and it's certainly a story we've witnessed before; however, in this case, the Guardian has issued what amounts to a full retraction and has pulled the interview from its web site. They've retracted every major claim made in the original article. For example, if you found it odd that the interviewer alleged that Chomsky had placed scare quotes around "massacre" when referring to Srebrenica without actually providing a citation, here's the Guardian's retraction:

Principal among these was a statement by Ms Brockes that in referring to atrocities committed at Srebrenica during the Bosnian war he had placed the word "massacre" in quotation marks. This suggested, particularly when taken with other comments by Ms Brockes, that Prof Chomsky considered the word inappropriate or that he had denied that there had been a massacre. Prof Chomsky has been obliged to point out that he has never said or believed any such thing. The Guardian has no evidence whatsoever to the contrary and retracts the statement with an unreserved apology to Prof Chomsky.

Maybe the editors were worried about those notoriously nutty British libel laws...

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