Stephen Pollard, editor of the UK’s Jewish Chronicle has levelled his first volley against journalists and bloggers who criticized the newspaper for hosting a blog by Carlos Cortiglia, a white supremacist leader of the British National Party. He’s threatened Jews for Justice for Palestinians with “remedial action” for republishing Hugh Muir’s Guardian story and my own first blog post about the controversy:
I’m disappointed but not remotely surprised that you should choose to post an entirely misleading account of the JC blog written by Carlos Cortiglia and should not bother to check a word of it with anyone at the JC.
…I said that when we were alerted to the man’s BNP membership we barred access to our site. I did not give a specific date – I said last autumn – and I did not say we removed all trace because, patently, we didn’t. It remained in our archive.
Unless you remove the accusation of lying and issue a correction you will leave me with no alternative but to take remedial action.
There are a number of interesting things about this threatening message. First, Pollard acknowledges “a JC blog written by Carlos Cortiglia.” In other words, he’s not, as some other apologists are trying to do, claim that JC had no agency in the matter. Second, Pollard concedes that even after he knew a white supremacist national leader was blogging at JC, he maintained public access to the blogs he wrote. In Muir’s article, the editor claims he did so because the content was “completely innocuous.” Which is rather beside the point. There are passages that Adolf Hitler wrote that were undoubtedly “innocuous.” But would you allow them to see the light of day on your own website once you discovered who the author was? I think not.
The Guardian reporter further states that:
Pollard’s account [is] that he became aware of Cortiglia’s blog and deleted all trace of it “last September”.
Yet in his message demanding a retraction he claims he never said this to Muir. Which leaves one wondering who to believe: an Islamophobic pro-Israel ultranationalist or a reporter for one of England’s most distinguished newspapers. Of course, English libel laws let just about any stinker sue, and standards of proof are much different than here. Which may leave Pollard’s critics in a tough spot if he’s willing to get one of his fellow pro-Israel solicitor friends to take on the case for him. If you’re a UK reader please keep me informed of any developments on that front. I’m especially curious to know how far he takes the legal threat against the Guardian, which is always in the sights of the pro-Israel crowd.
Personally, though I don’t wish a libel lawsuit on anyone, I hope Pollard will sue because it will further expose him and his editorial judgment to ridicule. For example, solicitors will be able to ask him why he felt it was acceptable to allow just about anyone on the internet to read BNP swill on the JC website for eight months. They might also ask why the JC offered an unfettered right to a blog to all takers at the newspaper’s site. And why they did so poor a job of monitoring the identity of these bloggers, allowing them to exploit the JC for their own political advantage.
Pollard has also fired some grapeshot my way as well. But he hasn’t done his homework, as he’s accused me of lying about him and refusing to correct the lies. Besides not understanding the difference between a lie and an error, the JC editor hasn’t even bothered to read my first post in which I note that I made judgments about Cortiglia’s status as a JC blogger based on the fact that the link to Cortiglia’s user page didn’t actually resolve to his own page, but to the main page for the JC’s official bloggers. This led me to believe that Cortiglia was a designated JC blogger. I noted in that post every instance in which I later discovered facts that were discrepant with my initial reporting and I reported those facts as I learned them.
I’ll let you be the judge of what this guy is made of:
…You simply made up a story, that the JC had announced a new columnist – the BNP candidate for mayor. Quite why you would choose to post a lie, which you must have known was a lie – since you made it up – is your problem, not mine.
Your latest post is similarly made up. At no point have I told anyone that we removed the BNP man’s posts in September. You must know this since you will find no record anywhere of me making such a claim. I said that the moment we were alerted to his BNP membership (not by you – I was unaware of your existence until this week), we barred him from posting, which is what happened.
His posts remained in our archive.
I suggest that you preface any posts about me and the JC with the words: “This post is made up and has no basis in fact.”
I won’t preface my posts about him with anything. I’ll just readers see his own words and they can be the judge for themselves of who’s a liar and who’s not.
A further irony of all this is that Pollard and the JC have smeared Rev. Stephen Sizer for posting on his Facebook page a link to an article published at an anti-Semitic site. A UK organization has even filed a formal police complaint against Sizer for doing so. Yet all the while Pollard himself was harboring a white supremacist on the website of the national newspaper of UK Jewry. How do you spell H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-T-E?
UPDATE: To put Stephen Pollard and his credibility in perspective, I’ve just learned that he was sued for libel by a UK Muslim organization which he’d accused of supporting genocide in a column he wrote for The Spectator. As a result of the court case, Pollard and The Spectator published an unreserved apology, paid a penalty, and the court costs of the complainants. This is a guy who calls me a liar!