Latest on the Bella Mackie/Rusbridger Affair

Martin Bright over at the Jewish Chronicle has the latest on the news that anti-Israel biased moderator BellaM (a/k/a Bella Mackie) is actually Isabella Rusbridger, daughter of Guaridan editor, Alan Rusbridger, a scoop that CiF Watch broke last Friday.
According to Martin Bright,

I was subsequently contacted by a senior member of Guardian management who assured me that Ms Mackie was interviewed rigorously and won the job as a moderator three years ago because she was the best candidate. I was also told that it was an old story that Isabella Mackie worked at the Guardian (although perhaps not that she felt it appropriate to parade her partisan views as the anonymous BellaM).

Martin Bright also reports that the following is the official position of the Guardian in response to the JC’s report of our exposing Bella Mackie’s outrageous outpouring of hatred against Melanie Phillips in Two Minutes Hate: Melanie Phillips Bashing on the Ed Husain Thread:

“Staff at the Guardian are actively encouraged to engage with users and curate discussions in threads across the whole site, not only on Comment is Free. The well-understood convention is that staff posting in threads do so in a personal capacity and are permitted to express their own opinions; ‘below-the-line’ engagement in an opinion forum is a different role, and the expectation of impartiality that would apply to the regular work of reporters, editors and moderators does not necessarily pertain. When posting in threads, staff cannot be expected to be automatons sticking to leader lines in this informal context of online debate.
“However, they are expected to abide by the site-wide ‘talk policy’, as any user is; and over and above that, to be mindful that, as they are clearly identified in threads as ‘staff’, they should uphold a high standard of civility and avoid any behaviour that might bring the Guardian’s good name into disrepute.
“In this particular case, the staff member concerned was reminded of these guidelines; but no disciplinary action was judged appropriate or necessary.”

Just in case you’ve  missed it (and that you’re here because of the Dispatches program) this is what Bella Mackie said on the Ed Husain thread:


31 Oct 09, 9:53am

Staff Staff

I imagine she’s like that character in Little Britain who is violently sick every time she hears the words ‘black or gay.’ Except for Melanie, the word would be ‘Muslim.’

And since Jewish conspiracy theory is a bit of a hot topic ask yourself how mindful of the “talk policy” Brian Whitaker, commissioning editor of “Comment is Free”, was when he insinuated in a comment thread that pro-Israel posters are paid agents of the Israeli government fuelling Jewish conspiracy theory in the thread. Here’s an example of the kind of discourse that Whitaker encouraged:

illegalcombatant’s comment 17 Jul 09, 12:18pm
BrianWhit 17 Jul 09, 11:55am
Staff Israeli Foreign Ministry to Hire Shills for Internet Warfare Squad
Thanks for posting that Mr. Whit. There is also the GIYUS organisation that performs an identical role in spreading Jewish-Israeli-Zionist propaganda.
Their site offers the co-called Megaphone software that issues alerts which results in the faithful swarming to sites to spread the “truth” – much as we see regularly on the pages of CiF.
I suppose the name Megaphone says it all – any discourse is invariably very loud and one-way only.

Note that this same poster made the following blatantly antisemitic comment on the Debating the Holocaust Thread (which took 16 hours to be deleted) and whom the Guardian refuses to ban despite a track record of antisemitic comments as exposed in our Ban the Ant thread.


20 Oct 09, 8:42pm
Why is it that we are not allowed to debate the Holocaust?
Why is it that academics who try to do so have their funding cut off or lose their tenures?
Who came up with the 6 million figure?

And IllegalCombatAnt is but one of many examples of commenters that the Guardian refuses to ban. Now if the Guardian tolerates and actively encourages pond life like IllegalCombatAnt then do you really think that it will take disciplinary action against the likes of Bella Mackie or Brian Whitaker?

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