Monday, July 25, 2005

The Blogosphere Strikes Again

(Hat tip: Instapundit.)

It seems that it just doesn't pay to be an MSM journalist these days. Right in the middle of your composing the paragraph that "gets" that no-good evil conservative, you look behind you -- and find that the Pyjamahadeen has put you in their sights. By the time you get yourself in position to return fire, it's too late.

Dan Rather knows the feeling. So, apparently, does Dilpazier Aslam, the now-former reporter for the London Guardian:

The Guardian has terminated a reporter's one-year training contract after a blogger revealed the writer was a member of a extremist Islamist political party and had not declared his interest to the newspaper when he wrote for its comment pages after the July 7 attacks.

The Guardian's move - according to the newspaper, taken after reporter Dilpazier Aslam refused to resign from the party, Hizb ut- Tahrir - echoes recent media oustings in America, but is the first time a British journalist has been forced to step down after coming under fire from bloggers - independent web diarists.

Scott Burgess, who runs the Daily Ablution blog, revealed Mr Aslam’s ties to Hizb ut-Tahrir, which operates legally in Britain but is banned in several other countries.

Mr Aslam contributed to Hizb ut-Tahrir's website, where he wrote: "fight fire with fire, the state of Israel versus the Khilafah State".

Mr Burgess, a British-based American who had applied for the internship post at the Guardian to which Mr Aslam was appointed, established that the reporter "was working for this group as recently as June of last year."

Writing for The Guardian in the wake of the July 7 London bombs, Mr Aslam described himself as "a Yorkshire lad, born and bred" in a comment piece.

He went on to say Britons should not pretend to be shocked at the events of July 7, in which 56 died, including four suicide bombers.

After the article was published, The Guardian's attention was drawn to a document Hizb ut-Tahrir posted in March 2002, on its British website,

It quotes a passage from the Koran ("kill them wherever you find them...") followed by material arguing: "the Jews are a people of slander...a treacherous people... they fabricate lies and twist words from their right places".

According to The Guardian's statement, Mr Aslam told the editor, Alan Rusbridger, that he was unwilling to leave Hizb ut-Tahrir, and "while he personally repudiated anti-semitism, he did not consider the website material to be promoting violence or to be anti-semitic."

See here for the Guardian's coverage of its own mess, and here for Scott Burgess' response to the whole thing.

As a side issue, was the firing justified? I'd say that depends on whose decision it was to keep Mr. Aslam's political affiliation out of his commentary. If Mr. Aslam never bothered to mention it, well, that's his own fault, and he can't blame the editor for being mad at him.

But if he did mention it, and the editor made the decision not to drop it, then I don't blame him for consulting a lawyer for a wrongful-dismissal action. To be the victim of a CYA manoeuvre is a rotten reason for losing a job.

Frankly, I find the Guardian's somewhat outraged reaction to the whole matter amusing. That this was written by an anonymous "staffer" says much about the paper's attitude towards the blogosphere and its denizens--perhaps they're afraid of losing another staffer?

No matter. The pyjamahadeen is here to stay. And journalists had better get used to it.