featured, Guardian Watch, Kit, Russia

Panama Papers cause Guardian to collapse into self-parody

by Kit

Capture of the Guardian's totally accidentally misleading headline.

Capture of the Guardian’s totally accidentally misleading headline.

You’d be forgiven for thinking, given the above picture, that the Panama Papers had something to do with Vladimir Putin. Maybe he was a kingpin of the whole thing. Maybe he was, at least, among the 12 world leaders implicated in various shady financial practices – along with Petro Poroshenko, the saviour of Ukrainian democracy, and the King of Saudi Arabia (dad of the recent Légion d’Honneur winner).

Luke Harding, a bastion of ethical journalism (and not at all a paranoid lunatic), has churned out 2 articles totaling over 5000 words, each using the word “Putin”, almost as often as they use the phrases “allegedly”, “speculation suggests”, “has been described as” and “may have been”.

Neither of his articles mentions by name any of the 12 world leaders, past and present, actually identified in the documents, nor do they mention David Cameron’s dad, who is also in there. No, they focus on a cellist friend of Putin’s, talk about his daughter’s marriage, and include an awful lot of diagrams with big arrows that point at pictures of…Vladimir Putin. This is, apparently, all evidence of…something.

…I’m not sure what, but it will probably be discussed at length in the “book” Luke Harding is probably planning to publish in a couple of weeks. That’s if the NSA don’t delete it all while he’s typing.

The only important, or even true, phrase Harding uses appears at the very top of this article:

…the president’s name does not appear in any of the records…

That’s a minor detail of course, I mean, they have a video: “How to hide $1 billion”. The title screen is, you guessed it, a photo of Putin. Presumably because he is SO GOOD at hiding his billions that, unlike Petro Poroshenko and David Cameron’s dad:

…the president’s name does not appear in any of the records

So there you go. The Guardian falls into self parody, pasting up a massive picture, a misleading headline and 5000 words (that Harding presumably copied from someone else), at the merest suggestion of a tenuous connection to the Russian president.

It’s a bit odd, really.


  1. BobSays says

    Hallelujah…thank you people of ‘Off Guardian’, who I just accidently discovered, because of irritation over this very Guardian Panama Papers graphic. The real Guardian has this absurd graphic all over their site and any comments are most definitely closed about it. The Guardian is now absolutely censored for their more obvious propaganda like this, they will not have any legitimate criticism of it.
    Why is Putin the star of their graphic? He’s not even mentioned in papers…Why isn’t Cameron, or that Icelandic PM – that no one has heard of but is seriously complicit to point of resigning – on the Guardian’s graphic?
    Wouldn’t that make a little more sense?
    Nope – Guardian is going for the Putin smear by association tactic, I have no dog in this fight, but I really don’t appreciate being treated as this stupid by a media outlet long claiming a ‘mora’l voice.
    Have read The Guardian on and off since 90’s – but it has now deteriorated to point of being more or less a BBC clone, all fuzzy centre left advocacy for distraction identity politics, and pro the neoliberal status quo on any serious and consequential public policy issues. This Panama Papers graphic is last straw for me – Guardian is now unreadable to me, as this is absolutely shameless, and effectively, US State Department Neocon propaganda pushing Putin as the international bad guy, yet again – The Guardian now treats its own consumer base with complete contempt.

  2. EnglishBob says

    Does anyone have an opinion on why they are still not allowing comment on any of the panama stuff ?

  3. James Carless says

    I don’t normally swear but after reading this hack’s nonsense I find it increasingly difficult not to exclaim uk Harding.

  4. FTReader says

    Sad to see that among the Guardian readership are so many who will go to any lengths to defend a vicious dictator, who is now in the process of taking over control of hos country’s archives and building a private army for himself. It’s quite clear that Putin is the beneficiary of the cellist’s millions even if his name isn’t mentioned.

    • dagwood says

      How is it ‘quite clear’? Where is the clarity?

    • waterloo says

      how do you know that Putin is the beneficiary, are you in Guardian too?
      Please use ONLY the facts.

    • danvolodar says

      Private army
      So, it’s “private” because it answers directly to the President, rather than to the President via the Prime Minister (who is appointed by the President)? WOW.

  5. reddy says

    panama papers never listed americans looters rather than others….america is biggest lier..only americans are honest ppl on this earth useless idiots..fuck off u son of bitch obama n his country ppl

  6. Erelis says

    “Mr. Brady, it is the duty of a newspaper to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable”.

    From what I can tell, the Guardian and many mass media outlets around the world are intent on afflicting Putin but strangely neglecting their own local, national reprobates. The only local UK person the Guardian wants to afflict is rumored to be dead. Once this propaganda reaches half life, I suspect this Panama caper will go away until something salacious can be made up about the villain of the day.

    • Jen says

      Correction, there is one live UK citizen The Guardian wants to afflict, and that’s the current UK Labour Party leader. Odd that The Guardian didn’t try to connect him to Vladimir Putin but maybe Tintin Harding is not that imaginative enough to dream up some implausible link between the two that he can then flog endlessly.

    • Terry Kelly says

      After reading the Guardian for 40 years I stopped about 4 months ago and I do not regret it.

  7. I see most of you believe the “news outlets” are focusing on BadGuy Putin because they want to make him and Russia look bad. While this is likely a factor it is probably a minor one: Distracting you from those 12 western dictators who were actually named and a whole range of other criminal and more importantly corporations is probably a much higher priority. We can’t have people know that very big banks like DNB, Nordea and so on actually offered offshore accounts as a “unofficial” service to rich clients and we can’t have people know that their “elected” leaders are corrupt criminals. Also, check your bed before you go to sleep, there may be a Rusky under it who’s just waiting for you to go to bed so he can bite you in the toe.

    • The puzzling thing is that there is really no need to distract from this list since almost everyone named in it is an easily disposable player in the game. A Who’sWho of has-beens, never-wheres and Soros hate-figures, as we point out here in another article.

  8. tezla valve says

    I thought this article would get a mention, here. Since when has the Guardian taken an interest in investigative journalism? Highly suspicious.

    • Satire? Since when did the Guardian indulge in satire any more than it does investigative journalism. It does have some very good guest articles but it’s mainstream editorials are usually slightly if not totally – weird!

  9. Laguerre says

    I see Craig Murray’s site has been trashed and is not accessible. Curious that it’s just after he published a widely-read article about the Panama papers, the first to point out the obvious problems with the story.

  10. Dak says

    Well Putins wealth suffered a lot, they first claimed his wealth is 200 BILLION $, another figure was around 60, probably some more figures I missed, Poor man now has nothing, but luckily his “childhood friend” has offshore account and some other people he may or may not know, maybe they will help 🙁
    You know you are truly desperate when despite both massive, perhaps unseen before, propaganda against Putin and Russia, claims of hundreds of billions in fortune, dozen palaces etc and all western intel all you could find is that some people Putin might or might mot know have offshore accounts, all combined nowhere near amount you claimed. GOtta work with you have I guess

    • Božidar says

      This is why I do not read Guardian anymore. Really poor journalism.

      • Macon Richardson says

        When did you stop reading The Guardian? (Any answer later than “1964” would be very, very telling.)

        • Hahaha. Like! There are some people who were writing for the Guardian worth reading, NOT Polly Toynbee who strives to go from slightly rum to highly ridiculous but Aditya Chakrabotty and Seumus Milne and occasionally George Monbiot could write good articles.

  11. These Panama Papers are a bit contrived & might be a False Flag of sorts released now for a particular reason which I think was possibly to deflect attention from Turkey & its documented support of ISIS which should mean ejection from NATO etc etc

    Something is wrong with this Panama thing ??

  12. Sarah Bill says

    No article has never been so rubbish as this one. President Putin’s or Assad’s names are no where in the list of head of states indulging in such corruption. But as usual, accusations are flying around to score political grudges. Putin and Assad trashed the West on the battle field and the losers are firing back camouflaged under the name of mysterious law firm in Panama. What a ruthless attempt by wicked people for a wicked agenda! But here is the thing – the world is much smarter than they had been expecting to buy their trashes. Absolutely sickening!

    • I don’t quite understand what your point is.

      Do you disagree that it is highly dishonest to plaster Putin’s face all over the media, when he is not named in the leaked documents, and then not mention by name any of the people who ARE named?

      • maria says

        Hi Kit, how do i contact you? I really like your article. And i think what you express here is totally true. No proof why blame?

      • Dak says

        louis is a braindead idi0t with no life and a regular tr0ll

        • Dak says

          also another thing, that blog is ran by even bigger nutcase and Russia hater than Harding who runs several anti Russia blogs and one supposedly “pro Russia”, he used pro Russian blog to post dumb sh|t than mock it on his anti Russian blogs as it was real until Anatoly Karlin caught that all those blogs were owned by same person, he tried to deny it and still does but ownership doesnt lie

      • David Harrison says

        So how long have you been working for the Pro-Putin propaganda machine?

        • Božidar says

          Dear David Harrison, I find it very interesting that you put an equation mark between disatisfation with bad journalism and pro-Putin propaganda. It is so that what is told tells more about the teller than about anything else, isn’t it?


    • Liked your article Louisproyect, funny that you should be accused by Dak of being an anti Russian troll. Are you a different Louis from the one Dak mentions, if so, do tell.

  13. Unbiblical Chord says

    I fear many commenters here are being deeply unfair to Luke Harding. Manifestly the poor hack is afflicted by a severe case of putinoia and is constantly preoccupied with how to avoid, any day now, a death by polonium-210 poisoning. So properly one has to feel deep sympathy for such a bloke who fears martyrdom to such an extent he doesn’t even dare drop by the local pub or cafe for a drink or a sandwich. #Putinoia

  14. Following the Guardians article about TYT interview with Bernie Sanders, I posted this on Facebook a couple of days ago, I really can’t understand what’s happened to the Guardians protection of “liberal values . . . free from commercial or political interference”
    “What a condescending piece of prose by the Guardian about TYT and especially Cenk Uygur. I’ve commented before about the Guardians growing mealy mouthed appeasement of the right wing establishment. I had hoped that following the end of Rusbridgers tenure as editor and his unprincipled establishment grovelling, that tendency would stop and the paper would return to its’ former principles.
    No such luck, it’s become worse.
    The establishment moles have infiltrated the publication and it has become an instrument of the status quo, if not, in some ways of right wing philosophy.
    But the cold wind is blowing up the backsides of the status quo, with highly intelligent right minded commentators of the calibre of Cenk and Ana Kasparian heading the vanguard on social media.The public is becoming aware of endemic social injustice and there is a strengthening unity of opposition to it, making ready for major social change.
    You can be sure change is afoot, so much dissenting commentary is now published daily, detailing growing injustices caused by the increasing incompatibility between rampant capitalism and pseudo democracy. I should comment by the way, I’m not a 35 year old revolutionary, I’m a 72 year old and totally fascinated to see the start of destruction of social injustice that’s so prevalent in western society.”

    • The present editor and chief has connection to Haretz a zionist left leaning zionist rag and he is also co editor of the NYT so that on its own will possibly explain the further deteriorating of the Guardians ability to deliver honest journalism.

      • The current editor in chief at The Guardian is a woman. She’s called Katherine Viner. As well as her work in journalism, Viner is known for a play called ‘My Name Is Rachel Corrie’ a play edited from the writings and emails of Rachel Corrie, an American activist who was killed by a bulldozer operated by the Israeli Army in Rafah, Gaza in 2003…

    • richard horton says

      The Guardian pre 04 was pretty damn good,head and shoulders above any other newspaper.Now it is shite.Propaganda straight from Zion,just like the NY lying times,Wapoo,and every,as in every,MSM other garbage site.
      Look at their support for the bubbleheaded hell bitch,the most flawed candidate in history,with absolutely nothing but lies,criminal activity,and disaster after disaster as politician and states person.
      And the kid glove treatment of crazy Cruz,Mr.ineligible,as nutty as they come.
      They want no part of Sanders or Trump.

      • EnglishBob says

        Is funny, many Jews and Israel supporters take the opposite view, that the G is actually anti them

  15. O Lucky Man! says

    Ok, so I had to go take a look at this. All I can say is that the extended lifestyle blog that is the Guardian should really consider dropping its attempts to do serious news stories. It has all the appearance of a superannuated Man from U.N.C.L.E year book annual circa 1968. Do da kidz really prefer their “news” laid out like a comic book these days? Plenty of lovingly styled pictures of the super-villain to glower at for those who can’t be arsed to actually read too much of the annoyingly over-a-paragraph-long storyline that, let’s face it, should really be edited down into a nicely italicised sentence or two to tuck under the pictures to fit the mood. I mean they even take time to praise the “retro” graphics that accompany a piece in a German paper for F***’s sake! I mean what is this? Colouring book nursery hour?

    I give up on this. The story is actually about the deep and corrupt nature of the western financial system that we have built and tolerated all these years. The utter failure of our governments through the generations who would have had some power to work towards eradicating this deep and hidden perversion of our collective will. Instead their collusion and tolerance of it has allowed it to become fatally entangled at the heart of how our world is organised. Money like blood sucked into the mouths of the greedy fat shadow beasts. Our debt based money system as pure corruption. Filthy, secretive, debased. Yes, they’re all in it together.

    Yet what do we get. Oh! Oh! He did it, he did it! Playground level ignorance and prejudicial diversion masquerading as adult communication? “It’s just a parade of propaganda isn’t it? Just a festival of ignorance!” Yes, even all of it, really everywhere now.

    • It has all the appearance of a superannuated Man from U.N.C.L.E year book annual circa 1968.

      Brilliant! 😀 We should have this on our front page.

    • I liked you response so much I think I’ll copy and paste onto Guardian’s own share buttons. Would you mind so much?

  16. fiddlestix says

    Not a single US govt official involved, take a lesson rest of the world.
    (••) / ( ••)>⌐■-■ / (⌐■_■)
    ‘MURRRRICA!!!!11! F**K YEAH!!!!

    • DomesticExtremist says

      More interesting, increasingly so these days, is what you are not allowed to comment on.

      Add to that a hyper-active moderation policy.

      Yet still they struggle to keep cynical commenteers down.

  17. Secret Agent says

    I was disappointed but not surprised that the comments section for this story in the Graun was closed. It would have been a field day.

  18. Guest says

    Thank you Off Guardian for responding to this. This article nails the Guardian completely. Not a word is wasted on this blatant smear of Putin. Excellent

  19. DavidKNZ says

    I suspect this will be the first of many media assaults on Putin..

    Konstantin Kosachev “It is likely that our opponents lack some real arguments and have to use their last reserve ‘artillery’ – attacks on our president’s personality and attempts to destabilize the country and push away any potential allies through discrediting the head of our state,”

    I mean, if it wasn’t for the ever vigilant Guardian. I would not have known about Putin and Wendi Deng
    Next they will be speculating what else Tony Blair and Putin have in common..
    Hope its not communicable
    Shades of the Profumo debacle decades ago..

    • Jen says

      If The Guardian speculates enough on Tony Blair’s links with Putin, Tony Blair might actually end up being arrested.

    • Helen Highwater says

      Thanks David. Luke Harding is a joke. Have you read the blistering article by Julian Assange about Hardings paranoid adventures in Moscow? Its hilarious.
      Interesting that our NZ newspapers haven’t taken up the “Putin did it “cry.Wonder how much further we’ll slip down the corruption index after all this comes out.

    • Dak says

      You are right, I wont bother to post the link but and spoil this brilliant article with that filth but you can look it up yourself on youtube, new video from Discovery hipster edition Testtube called Why Russians like Putin, published today and its the most mor0nic collection of various western propaganda about Putin including that he has $80K golden toiled, I kid you not, truly desperate. Its a massive propaganda campaign that started in April

  20. Jen says

    I have a feeling that if Tintin Harding had actually bothered to follow that $2 billion trail (for once in his life, instead of following other people’s work and claiming it as his own), he would have ended up knocking on Kevin Bacon’s front door.

  21. Yonatan says

    The UK is renowned for its very strong libel laws. Ian Cameron, David Cameron’s father, is dead so there is no fear of a libel suit from him. Are any other UK persons mentioned? It appears not. How very, very convenient.

  22. Peter Schmidt says

    There are also 800 Australians on the list as well. I haven’t seen it reported as Malcolm Turnbull’s friends, yet many of them must be his friends. Our PM was a Goldman Sachs’ employee before.

    • ZeGermanHunn says

      Sorry having to do the pedant here.
      Ulfkotte is not currently a “top journalist”, actually he is not at least anyway a journalist since years.
      So your statement is misleading in two ways:
      -He is describing from his work for the right-wing FAZ, which ended in 2003. (And calls the FAZ in his book a part of a socialistic conspiration what is at least weird, but rather very telling about his extreme position)
      – He is a decade ago renegade, no current insider
      -CIA is not involved much, just one more debile Ulfkotte reductionism. They deliver maybe discredit data among others for publishing, if someone doesn’t comply to their interests.

      And all interesting parts in his book are not from him but copy-pastes f.i. from the work of Uwe Krüger https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uwe_Kr%C3%BCger, which is much more valuable to read and free from crazy radical-right-radical propaganda, announcing Scharia in germany within 10 years and discovering an intentional muslim plan outbirthing the europeans and comparing it with taking over europe after deploying an neutron bomb.

      If you read Kruegers work you understand how embedded journalism by transatlantic networking structure works, even without beeing in a combat zobe like in irac earlier.

      Reading stuff like from Ulffkotte will contrary to that make your brain stall and and get aggressive, because world is more complex than simplest ulffkotte-style bullshit makes you believe.
      Don’t get caught by fascists trying to take profit from our failing elites. Our elites will be happy. They fear only leftist movements adressing their interests without beeing weakened by disuniting from xenophobia or social arrogance.

  23. Reblogged this on TheFlippinTruth and commented:

    My exact thoughts when I opened the Guardian this morning. I hope Putin takes out a libel case against them.

  24. Good piece. Great bit of writing. I read Harding’s piece and then came straight here to see if there was some sort of reply…I was not disappointed.

    DavidKNZ…thanks for sharing your link also.

  25. G Chapman says

    You’d be forgiven for thinking this entire leak was all about Vladimir Putin. Luke Harding even mentions that Mossack Fonseca has very strong UK ties, but never dares venture anywhere near exposing some of our very own crooks.

  26. sidney says

    If you follow this link, https://panamapapers.icij.org/20160403-putin-russia-offshore-network.html, it is all about putin. some choice quotes:
    – “It’s possible Roldugin, who has publicly claimed not to be a businessman, is not the true beneficiary of these riches. Instead, the evidence in the files suggests Roldugin is acting as a front man for a network of Putin loyalists – and perhaps for Putin himself.” – conjecture?
    – “For years there have been reports – mainly from whistleblowers – about Putin’s secret wealth. ” – who, Luke Harding?
    – “Nowhere in the Mossack Fonseca files is the name of the Russian president, a former KGB spymaster, actually mentioned… It’s inconceivable, though, that the network could have existed without the knowledge and support of Putin, said Karen Dawisha, a U.S. political scientist who has written extensively about Putin and his regime.”
    – “He takes what he wants,” said Dawisha. “When you are the president of Russia you don’t need a written contract. You are the law.” – need I say more?
    – and so on, and so on…

    craig murray also provide some interesting information as to who some of the funder of International Consortium of Investigative Journalists are.

    • passerby says

      From The Guardian:

      Asked about the offshore companies linked to him last week, Rodulgin said: “Guys, to be honest I am not ready to give comments now … These are delicate issues. I was connected to this business a long time ago. Before ‘perestroika’. It happened … And then it started growing and such things happened. The House of Music [in St Petersburg] is subsidised from this money.”

      That would date the construction of these Panamanian businesses before 1985.

  27. Seamus Padraig says

    And once again, the comboxes under the article are conveniently turned off!

  28. Brad Benson says

    Nailed him again! Good article, short and sweet with a great punchline. This guy Harding is really writing a book?

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