CiF Watch “When Pigs Fly” Edition: The Guardian treats Melanie Phillips fairly

In November of 2009, CiF Watch exposed (Guardian moderator) “BellaM” engaging in an ad hominem attack on Melanie Phillips in her capacity as a Guardian staff member: 

As we noted, “Her comment spurred post after post of mouth-frothing denunciation of Melanie Phillips in the now infamous Ed Husain thread that we reported on in our post Two Minutes Hate: Melanie Phillips bashing on the Ed Husain thread.”

Further, we noted, the the real name of “BellaM” turned out to be Isabella Mackie, and that Mackie was the maiden name of the wife of none other than Guardian editor, Alan Rusbridger.  Isabella Mackie used her mother’s surname when taking a job at the Guardian’s website to disguise the fact that she was the daughter of the paper’s editor, Alan Rusbridger.

As The Jewish Chronicle reported at the time, the Guardian issued an official statement acknowledging that BellaM’s actions were inappropriate and noted that they “reminded BellaM of the paper’s guidelines that staff posting on the site ‘should uphold a high standard of civility and avoid any behaviour that might bring the Guardian’s good name into disrepute'”. [emphasis mine]

So, given this background, it was intriguing to see the Guardian’s recent report on Phillips’ counter-attack against those (in the blogosphere and on Twitter) attaching some sort of significance to the fact that she was mentioned in the purported manifesto of Norway terrorist, Anders Behring Breivik – a list which also includes Winston Churchill, Bernard Lewis, Edmund Burke, Thomas Jefferson, Mahatma Gandhi, John Locke, and George Orwell.

The story quotes Phillips:

“A concerned reader has sent me a post by Sunny Hundal on the Liberal Conspiracy blog,” Phillips wrote. “Hundal brings us what he clearly considers to be the most important news about the Norwegian atrocity. This is that, in the ‘manifesto’ reportedly published by the terrorist suspect Anders Behring Breivik, two of my articles are quoted.

“Golly. Is Hundal suggesting that my writing provoked the mass murder of some 93 Norwegians? Doubtless with one eye on the law of libel, he piously avers: ‘There is no suggestion that his actions were inspired by Melanie Phillips, nor am I making that claim’.”

Phillips is further quoted:

“”In fact, there are only two references to me or my work in its 1,500 pages … Why has he singled me out in this way? It looks like yet another crude attempt to smear me. … The supposed beliefs of Norway massacre’s perpetrator has got the left in general wetting itself in delirium at this apparently heaven-sent opportunity to take down those who fight for life, liberty and western civilisation against those who would destroy it.”

So, yes, the Guardian quoted Phillips fairly, and didn’t in any way legitimize the lunacy of suggestions that her writings somehow influenced the Norway shooter’s actions.

Finally, however, not mentioned in the otherwise fair piece was the fact that the blog in question, Liberal Conspiracy, which smeared Phillips, also just happens to be part of the elite group of partner blogs within the Guardian’s Comment Network, and the particular blogger at Liberal Conspiracy who wrote the post, Sunny Hundal, also just happens to be a Guardian contributor.

I can only wonder what BellaM thinks of all of this.            


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