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10 Jun, 2019 23:59

Caving in to groupthink? Journalist flip-flops on ‘best book’ on US imperialism by Max Blumenthal

Caving in to groupthink? Journalist flip-flops on ‘best book’ on US imperialism by Max Blumenthal

British journalist Grace Blakeley gave a glowing review of fellow reporter Max Blumenthal’s new book on US foreign policy, only to retract her comments a day later claiming she had been “made aware” of his “apologism for Assad.”

Blakeley initially raved about Blumenthal’s book, ‘The Management of Savagery’, a look at how US imperialism fuels terrorism and ultra-nationalism around the world. She even called it “the best book I've read all year” and described its contents as an “excoriating indictment of US, British and French imperialism in the Middle East.”

But the impressed journalist had a sudden change of heart on Monday and deleted the tweet. She then informed her followers that she had been informed of Blumenthal’s “apologism” for Syrian President Bashar Assad.

It seems that ex-Trotskyist writer James Bloodworth had taken a screenshot of Blakeley's original tweet and attempted to shame her with a thread condemning Blumenthal as “pro-Assad, pro-Maduro, pro-Putin,” warning that there was “literally nothing redeemable” about him.

Blumenthal’s wrongthink is evidently a serious crime in the eyes of Bloodworth, who didn’t bother to provide any evidence of Blumenthal’s alleged “pro-Assad” writings. But Blakeley instantly took Bloodworth’s Twitter smears at face value, caved to pressure, and denounced a fellow writer.

The furor prompted other writers to weigh in, with journalist Aaron Maté wondering how Blumenthal’s work could so quickly go from the “best book of the year” to the trash heap all “because a Twitter smear artist falsified the author’s views.” In another tweet, Maté said the episode was a “window into how bullying & groupthink shape discourse on issues like Syria.”

Writer Katie Halper told Blakeley she shouldn't “cave to the pressure” to denounce Blumenthal, arguing that the smear tactic was just an attempt to create “guilt by association.”

Investigative reporter Asa Winstanley tweeted in bafflement at how a smear “by a blue-tick nobody on Twitter is better evidence” than Blakeley's reading of the entire book with her own eyes.

But some wondered whether Blakeley had even read the book, since if she had, it should have given her a clear view of Blumenthal’s opinions on Syria without the input from Twitter.

Blumenthal himself wondered, if he really was an “apologist” for Assad, why Blakeley hadn’t managed to detect that on the pages of his book.

Journalist Bryan MacDonald didn't mince his words, saying Blakeley probably thought better of praising the book because it might have a negative effect on “her status” among mainstream UK and US media elites.

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