The Guardian today announced its dismissal of columnist Joshua Treviño just nine days after hiring him, citing Treviño’s failure to disclose an important conflict of interest pursuant to The Guardian‘s editorial code. But Treviño’s dismissal also shows that a new precedent has been set.
According to The Electronic Intifada, responsible for first challenging The Guardian‘s decision to hire Treviño, the “announcement came as outrage from Guardian readers continued to grow over his history of incitement and hate speech directed against Palestinian solidarity activists, Muslims and others.” Though The Guardian chose to disingenuously pin its decision on Treviño’s shady work for Malaysian government officials and their allies, it is also a fact that the criticism the liberal newspaper drew from thousands of readers around the world pushed The Guardian to drop Treviño for good.
Hugo Schwyzer, a writer and teacher who occasionally contributes to Jezebel, called the criticism “an online takedown of a controversial writer” in the following tweet:
But this is far from an “online takedown” and Treviño is far from a “controversial writer” who, according to The Guardian, offers an “important perspective”. No. This is the precedent you have helped set. There is a price to pay for encouraging state-sponsored violence against unarmed civilians, for being “cool” with shooting Americans with alternate political beliefs, and for mocking Muslims with bigotry and hate speech. Similarly, there is a price to pay for dishonest and shady journalism.
An “online takedown” sounds malicious. What is malicious is the way Treviño endangers the lives of millions around the world with his Islamophobic and staunchly anti-Palestinian views. What is malicious is the way Treviño attempts to hide his long history of incitement and foul play from even his employers. There is just no room for any of this, and The Guardian has hopefully realized this.
You have set the bar high. There will certainly come many more Treviño-minded writers jockeying for a spot in the mainstream news world. But their prospects shouldn’t be so high. Before they know it, they’ll be back to step one wondering how they were exposed and dismissed so quickly.