Guardian Watch, Kit, latest

Profile: Guardian Pass Notes

A quick run-down of that bit of the Guardian where ill-informed anonymous authors take cheap pot-shots at easy targets.

Name: Guardian Pass Notes

Age: Launched in 1992, canned in 2005, brought back in 2009. So…either 26 or 22 depending on your math preference.

Purpose: None that I can find.

Where: Down the bottom. Both figuratively and literally. If websites had a back page, it would be around there somewhere. It’s one of the many reasons the Guardian’s banner ads asking for money are getting bigger.

Appearance: A sort of faux questionnaire that’s obviously all been written by the same person.

Well, that sounds like a cheap way to set up your own snide one-liners: Excellent summary, me. That’s exactly what it sounds like and exactly what it is. It’s the journalistic equivalent of cheating at solitaire.

What do they write about? Thankfully they’re mostly confined to the shallow end, everything from Steven Seagal to invisible jeans.

So that’s good right? We don’t want important topics covered so flippantly: No we don’t, which is why it’s so terrible when they’re occasionally allowed out fo their depth to write about Hillary Clinton or Julian Assange.

They cover important intellectual topics this way?!?! You’re right to be shocked, me. This is no format for real serious politics. It’s just cheesy and inappropriate. Like today’s article on the “Intellectual Dark Web”.

…what’s the “intellectual dark web”? It’s a loosely affiliated group of academics and media personalities – from both the left and right – who have been turned away from mainstream venues or no-platformed at universities. It’s essentially a pro-free speech group. Libertarian comedian and podcast host Dave Rubin, a founding member, describes their aim as “fighting for our right to agree to disagree”.

That sounds perfectly reasonable, and an important topic for intellectual debate. I quite agree.

…But is a click-bait fake-interview really the forum to tackle the complex issue of academic censorship? Excellent point, me. And no, no it’s not. When your main concern is pop-culture references and making sure you don’t use words over four syllables long you can accidentally simplify important issues.

So how do they avoid cheap remarks and maintain journalistic integrity? They don’t. They don’t even pretend to respect the ideas of objectivity and neutrality.

How do you mean? Well, in the IWD article, they literally dismiss everyone concerned with “no-platforming” at universities as “just terrible people”, who “combine some form of hardcore libertarianism with an unfortunate manner”, without a word in their defense. This includes respected academics such as Jordan Peterson and Steven Pinker. They don’t even link to their website.

So they don’t consider exclusionary academic consensus to be a troubling issue? Not at all. And people who complain about it are just glory-hogs and idiots. They have youtube channels after all, so being fired for their opinions and turned away from venues doesn’t matter.

That seems rather uneducated and childish. Quite.

I mean, isn’t freedom of speech an important issue facing everyone right across the spectrum of political opinion? Yes. Yes it is. The article sums it up as a “coalition of strange bedfellows”. This is the depth of their analysis.

Is that really it? They also says it’s “unfortunate” that these people are being listened to.

Oh dear. Indeed.

Do say:It’s hard to believe this is allowed in a “serious newspaper.”

Don’t say: “I believe in the importance of high quality investigative journalism and would like to become a Guardian supporter.”


  1. Robbobbobin says

    The Guardian has finally succeeded in its decades-long quest to raise typos to the status of real news and genuine opinion.

    • Robbobbobin says

      Next week on The Billy Graham Show: “The Inspiational Life Story of Saint Katherine Viner”
      Coming Soon: “The Yellowting of Charles Prestwich Scott”
      In Pre-Production: “Mother Theresa, God Bless Her”

  2. gkn says

    Interesting that the most recent Pass Notes column (Dark Web …) had its ‘below the line’ comments section switched off. I read about a dozen comments before its deletion – almost all the comments were highly critical but fair minded, no snide remarks nor any ‘whataboutery’. Generally the liberal left doesn’t know how to deal with this group of thinkers/writers other than generally to demonise them as right wing (see the London Review of Books blog:

  3. Alan says

    “…designed to tell you everything you need to know about a story you don’t need to know about”
    Our good friends at the Guardian protecting us from our inability to think.

  4. John says

    “‘That seems uneducated and childish’: quite.” I agree. It is a primitive mind set. Ideologies based purely on an orthodoxy. Which, in my opinion, is based on sovereignty and hierarchy. Since when has that ever worked out?

  5. Captain Kemlo says

    Now that should have cheered me up no end 😉 Unfortunately, it’s all so bloody true.

  6. Edwige says

    “respected academics such as Jordan Peterson”.

    The same Peterson who occupied the same position at Harvard as Timothy Leary and looks as much of a manufactured personality as Leary was and for much the same purpose?

  7. Fair dinkum says

    Aimed at Murdoch’s victims perhaps?

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      Thanks to his media death-cult’s vicious climate destabilisation denialism, the worst, in my opinion, of his many, many, crimes, all of humanity are victims of Murdochism.

  8. JJA says

    No worse than the hideously bullying columns by Marina Hyde, specialist subject ripping the wings off butterflies with an ‘I’m so witty’ smirk on her face.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      It’s a tough choice, but the Fraudian ‘females’ are indeed, in my opinion, more emetic than the males, with Nougatbrain surely the nadir. Oh, drat-I forgot the narcissist’s narcissist, Hadley Freeman.

      • reinertorheit says

        I see your NewGayRead and Freeman, but I raise the stakes by playing my Julie Bindel card – a so-called ‘journalist’ whose sole material is her never-ending tale of the Cruel World’s Persecution of Julie Bindel.

        • Kaiama says

          Douze pointes for that.
          Were you playing your joker though?

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says

          So, when does the Fraudian make an offer for Melanie Phillips?

          • reinertorheit says

            I hear Jayda Frantzen will be a bit short of the readies, once her sentence ends.

      • Fortunately, Natalie Nougahyde has all the credibility of Julie Birchill. I routinely check my views by seeing if they disagree with hers.

    • Captain Kemlo says

      Ah, Marina Hyde: the thinking man’s presstitute.

      • Stonky says

        Also know as Marina Hyde-Your-Aristocratic-Antecedents

    • Thomas Peterson says

      <He puts down his Jessica Valenti card and wins the game.

      • zoggo says

        Nicely played sir.
        Luckily I wasn’t drinking coffe at the time.

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says

          Unless you are familiar with Murdoch’s Austfailian flag-shit, the ‘Australian’ (The cancer on our country)the names Albrechtsen, Oriel, Savva, Shanahan, Arndt, Overington, Sloan, etc, probably mean nothing to you, but when it comes to Murdochism, the female is often more rabid and nasty than the male.

  9. notheonly1 says

    One step away from the ‘Weekly World News‘. Or maybe there. Or maybe the evolved version of it. But still very much like it. A caricature of what goes for a real newspaper.

  10. Pass notes is so superficial it’s almost certain to be the work of an Oxbridge intern.

  11. Ollie says

    Great. Very funny. Unfortunately, Pass Notes is not the most egregious of The Guardian’s output.

    One or two typos in your article though.

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