The Guardian’s Confessions

The Guardian, one of the few newspapers in the world I respect, did something recently that was very cool. So cool that I think all newspapers should do this. Congress should do this. Judges should do this. Maybe even everybody should do this. (I said maybe we should. I actually have no plans to do this.) They published a list of their worst mistakes throughout the course of their existence, which goes back to about 1820, I think.
They backed the Confederacy during the American Civil War, that was a pretty bad one. They were quite unsympathetic to the Irish during their potato famine. They ran the Titanic story on page 9 and not the front page, totally failing to account for how popular the Titanic would become as a theme for movies. When Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in 1914, they basically said “Eh, no big deal, this isn’t going to cause any major repercussions,” they probably figured out within a year or two of trench warfare and mustard gas that they’d guessed wrong.
But the one that most people are talking about, the one about which they’ve only changed their minds recently, was their support for the Balfour Declaration in 1917, which said that Britain supported a home for the Jews in Palestine, which they were at the moment busy stealing from the Turks. It led to a lot of Jews coming in, and they eventually did establish a nation there in 1948, after kicking the British out. The rest, as they say, is history, which is kind of a dumb phrase when you think about it, because the whole thing is history.
Anyway, looking at Israel today, it is no surprise that the Guardian regrets that stance.

But, I don’t want to get bogged down on any one issue. My broader point is that it was forthright and refreshingly honest, and perhaps cathartic, for the Guardian to publish such a list. I hope the idea catches on.

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