The Editor and the Blog- A Grim Fairy Tale

Once upon a time there was an Editor of a department in a national newspaper who wanted to run a political blog.  Ostensibly it purported to encourage a wide array of opinions about current events, which should result in reasoned discussion.  In pursuance of that, the Editor gave it a title which indicated that almost anything went in the service of such discussion provided that it broke no laws; that the blog would be balanced and fair in what it printed; that there would be no pre-moderation so as to encourage a better flow of discussion.  There were some safeguards in the running of it – a set of rules (subsequently, it seemed, more honoured in the breach than in the observance), and there would be post-moderation and posters would be able to complain about posts which they believed were incitatory, hateful or just plain insulting.
On the face of it this seemed like paradise on earth for any contributor who was interested in politics and discussion with like-minded people.  However all was not what it seemed.
This Editor’s blog had a hidden agenda which soon became less so, although she argued that there was nothing of the sort.  She conceived the blog as a veritable knight in shining armour to argue the cause of her special “project”, one group of people, whose government’s behaviour was and is still barbaric towards them but who are very accomplished at pulling the wool over people’s eyes.  They paint their people as perennial victims, but this government is manipulative and encourages its people’s belligerent self-pity. The leaders down the decades have used their people’s plight to line their own pockets and to make their political bones.
This Editor wanted to prove to her superiors that the new blog would be popular, and she knew that success or failure in the world of blogging is measured by the numbers of hits to articles, so she decided that it would take up cudgels on behalf of these people.  Under her it did so with a single-mindedness and narrow-mindedness which smacked of fanaticism.  Rather than arguing for them for their own sake and to better their lives,  the Editor deliberately used their circumstances, much as their leaders had done before her, to perpetrate calumnies against their neighbour.  She knew that there was a deep seam of hatred for the people of her “project’s” neighbouring state which she could mine and make money for her employers for so doing.
This state, to which the Editor showed such single-minded opposition, had grown out of the ashes of mass genocide against its people, and was internationally recognised in its own right and because of the extraordinary contribution it had made to science, ecology, technology and medicine in the world at large in spite of the continuing attacks against it.
The Editor’s “project” had been at war with its neighbour intermittently for over sixty years and in spite of losing each war it obstinately refused to make a lasting peace which would ultimately give it a share in its neighbour’s prosperity.  The Editor ignored all this, however, because it suited her purpose not to acknowledge the truth of it.  Instead she invited the leaders of her “project”, who had been complicit in acts of terror and the suicide murders of the civilians of the neighbouring state and in the killing of their own people to accomplish that grisly end, to perpetuate the same calumnies on her blog.
All good journalistic standards steadily declined.  Biased speculation and opinion was presented as hard fact to an audience which knew little about what was under discussion, but seemed to have been woken up and attracted to the blog by the shrill condemnation of that one state in the area.  Most of the writers ignored the context of the long series of wars, preferring rather to appeal to the emotions of a steadily growing caucus of contributors who also bought in too readily to the self-pitying narrative of the Editor’s adopted “project”.”
A casual surfer who lacked the capability to think critically and who knew nothing about the area would happen on this blog and come to believe that the one state which caused such pain to the Editor’s “project” was the worst evil in the world.  The Editor was not in the least concerned about this, untrue though it was.  Rather she welcomed it because it increased the emotion surrounding the articles and resulted in more hits to them.
The Editor went further and further along this road to calumny and perdition and took more and more liberties with people’s perceptions.  As well as inviting known terrorists to write for the blog, she found the occasional citizen of the state which she believed had caused her “project” such trouble, who was either so desperate to make his/her bones as a “writer” or so caught up in his/her own mental turmoil and confusion that he/she agreed to write for her condemning his/her own people.  This, the Editor believed, validated her selective and one-sided approach.
However, there began to be growing criticism of her blog’s selective interpretation of thoughts presented as facts.   In a vain attempt to counter this, the Editor occasionally commissioned articles from people from the neighbouring state that her blog so vilified.   Her audience of posters, who, remember, were attracted to her blog because it offered them an outlet for the hatred they felt for that one state and towards its people, lined up to spew that hatred out against them.   Certain other posters tried to counter the hatred with more reasoned arguments and rarely with the same invective, but often their posts were removed and the hate-filled posts remained.
A war happened between the Editor’s adopted “project” (which over the years had been shelling the civilians of its neighbour causing widespread terror and physical and psychological damage) and the state that her blog so single-mindedly condemned.  The “project”, having fallen into the trap of believing its own overblown rhetoric and bitten off more than it could chew, increased the shelling, and when its neighbour retaliated, hid among its civilians and which led to the deaths of far too many of them.
The blog, however, accused the neighbouring state of deliberately attacking women and children, printed lie after lie and continued to do so even after these lies had been refuted by objective third party evidence.   No side is blameless in a war, but no one side is completely to blame either. The Editor, however, conveniently ignored that simple truth, probably because it did not fit in with her views.  Her “project”, according to what she approved for print, was the object of the genocidal intentions of its neighbour.  Among the articles on the blog was even a eulogy for a perpetrator of suicide terror against her “project’s” neighbour.
Of course sensible and clear sighted people tried to counter these lies and even succeeded to a small extent, but the Editor had sole charge and stacked the cards heavily against them.  The posts against the neighbouring state became more and more vitriolic and personalised against the state’s population for being what they were, rather than confining themselves to criticism of the state for what its government did.  Posters who argued against them were arbitrarily censored (moderated) and/or had their posting rights withdrawn.  Worse, more and more contributors to the blog minimised the harm that their vitriol could do to the state’s supporters around the world and, encouraged by this, commenters to these articles wrote increasingly hate-filled posts.  The numbers of physical attacks against the state’s supporters increased.
The Editor’s blog had become the equivalent of Goebbels’ “Big Lie.”  She had deliberately encouraged the publication of untruths and had relied upon the vacuity of the contributions to her blog, coupled with the obvious biases of many who responded to them, to support her tendentious opinions about the neighbouring state to her “project.”   Hers was the main responsibility for cranking up hatred of that state’s people and its supporters all over the world, and that was all the more reprehensible because she had deliberately set out to do so.
However, all was not lost.  The internet could work against this Editor as well as for her. Other blogs were set up to counter the vitriol put out by this Editor but without the corresponding hatred for her “project” and, being balanced and intelligent, grew in number and excellence.
Those who put up these blogs were convinced that in the end the tide would turn and in due course it began to do so.
As more and more truthful accounts about the manipulativeness of the Editor’s “project” were circulated, intelligent people began boycotting her blog.  The Editor was deeply wounded. After an initial attempt to attract more hits, the blog was left with a nucleus of inarticulate haters who eventually set upon each other.  The Editor-in-Chief moved the Editor to another department because he was afraid she might sue him if he sacked her.
Ultimately, the Editor was so consumed with bitterness that she lost her basic skills   She was made redundant, lost her accommodation because she was too consumed with hatred to insure her mortgage payments, and took to drink.   She was last seen in a Salvation Army hostel.

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