Note to Peter Beaumont Re Civility, Honest Engagement and telling readers to F*** Off

RE:How do we escape the hysteria that threatens to erode public debate? by Peter Beaumont
Hi Mr. Beaumont
Do you remember what you said about me and other Media Lens message board participants in 2006?
“It is a closed and distorting little world that selects and twists its facts to suit its arguments, a curious willy-waving exercise… Think a train spotters' club run by Uncle Joe Stalin.” (Peter Beaumont, ‘Microscope on Medialens,’ The Observer, June 18, 2006) 
You closed that essay by saying
"And so, Gabriele Zamparini, Joe Emersberger, Mr Bombastic, David Cromwell and David Edwards, David Sketchley, Rasputin, and Informationist, email if you must; my finger will be ready on the delete button."
Assuming you don't simply delete this email, do you not see a contradiction in the language you used then and now saying
"The blogosphere, increasingly fuelled by toxic language, is hindering honest engagement rather than encouraging it "
Joe Emersberger


I might have added that Beaumont also accused me (and many others all at once) of being "controlling Politburo lefties who insist that the only acceptable version of the truth is theirs alone and that everybody else should march to the same step and sing the same (old party) song. "

Standards for accuracy and honesty obviously drop through the floor when journalists assail those outside their corporate club. 

My exchange in 2006 with Roger Alton, Beaumont's boss at the Observer at the time, is also revealing of the standards for "civility" that are maintained by media professionals when dealing with mere readers:

Mr. Alton: 

In response to a polite and thoughtful letter by Dave Watton to Peter 

Beaumont you responded 

"This is utter bollocks — the piece wasn't compromised. It was fine. 

Please stop bothering people about such junk." 

What do hope to achieve with such rudeness? Do you expect people to use 

such a tone with you? Do you deny that an institution that deeply impacts 

the public should be accountable to the public? 

Joe Emersberger 


We are wholly accountable; but I am not going to compromise the abilities 

of the journalists who work here. As you perfectly know, you are not 

interested in a debate, you and your friends and media lens are trying to 

fuck up decent hard-working men and women who are trying to tell the truth. 

So do fuck off 


Interesting that you maintain you are accountable while using language like that. I don't imagine many MP's respond to polite letters that way, nor do I suppose you speak to your superiors or important advertisers that way.



Similarly I wonder if Beaumont was trying to encourage honest engagement when, in reply to a very polite email from a reader, Beaumont said "piss off now like a good boy to your Chomsky". 


The reader responded to Beaumont's abuse by saying

"You don't seem prepared to engage seriously…"

Beaumont's reply:

"No I'm not. So kindly fuck off."

It shows not only breathtaking hypocrisy that Beaumont would pontificate in his column about "toxic language" and "honest engagement", it shows how completely certain he is that his readers are irrelevant and incapable of exposing his hypocrisy. Unfortunately, readers are close to irrelvant to the corporate media. Readers are the audience being sold to advertisers – the product much more than they are the customers. That was dramaticaly highighted in 2010 when Roger Alton was runnig the UK Independent.

In response to an article by Bruce Anderson that advocated the torture of children. 

(Bruce Anderson: "We not only have a right to use torture. We have a duty" Feb 15, 2010)

Alton replied to complaints from readers with his usual abusiveness. However, his tone changed markedly when those readers whom he had brushed off and insulted began contacting advertisers and copying Alton on their correspendence. It is quite clear to whom corporate journalists and editors are "wholly accountable".


Leave a comment