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I say things on Twitter


To the pathetic, unprofessional and obnoxious journalist Andrew Anthony of The Guardian, caught in his lie

Over the weekend, I read a note in The Guardian written by one Andrew Anthony that contained the idiot stupid claim, all too often used up North, that coca is the same as cocaine. Therefore this post entitled "For the 1000th time, coca is not cocaine" was written, basically because I'm bored stiff with the ignorance shown up North on the subject. Soon after publishing, the post was picked up very quickly by a different Guardian reporter who covers LatAm, at which point I asked her (almost immediately, evidenced here) if she'd mind getting in contact with her employer and getting a correction done. This she did, and notified me that she'd got the correction to happen. Fortunately, all this is evidenced, timestamps and dates and everything, over at Twitter (here, scroll down to the December 1st entries, or start here for a large part of the conversation that covers most of the exchange).

So basically, 1) Andrew Anthony published bullshit about coca and cocaine 2) I pointed that out 3) the post got picked up by the right person 4) the correction got made quickly. This is a good thing and as a result I updated the Sunday post just after the correction happened to note that the Guardian had corrected and got its facts closer to the truth (not spot on fwiw, still stereotyping all Peru/Andean indigenous as "The Incas", but at least acceptable).

Cut to yesterday, and it seems that Andrew Anthony likes himself far too much to have anything bad on the interwebnetpipes, because he wrote me this mail.


I notice that you have an entry on your website under the heading "For the 1000th time, Coca is not cocaine".

You then go on to write:

"Yeah, that's just what we need, another so-called expert regurgitating the stupid. Listen Andrew Anthony, it's really simple"

before explaining the difference between coca and cocaine

OK, for the 1000th time, freelance writers in British newspapers are not responsible for the headlines, standfirsts, captions or fact boxes that appear alongside their pieces.

I did not write the fact box containing the egregious error about coca and cocaine. It was stuck on the end of my piece by the editors, no doubt after an intern had written it. I had no knowledge of it and no control over it. I have as much responsibility for that mistake, in other words, as you do. It's really that simple.

I know it always helps to have an identifiable person on whom to hang righteous anger, but you've got the wrong one. And, by the way, where does the "so-called expert" come from? I was writing a piece about the changing social profile of cocaine in Britain. I wasn't making any claims for knowledge beyond that. So let's see if this interweb thing is worth the time and you amend your entry accordingly as the Guardian did after I notified them of their error.
I then replied, telling him that he was a liar and a pointing out he was writing under a byline. I then gave him opportunity to retract. He then replied with another mail that was even more obnoxious than the first one you see above and repeated his obvious lie.

So let's be clear about two things:

1) He is a liar. He didn't correct the article, the article was corrected for him. The error was pointed out by your author. Little did he know that the error wasn't picked up by some other place but the very person who called him out on it, so when he tried the bullyboy tactics and tried to claim he was the one who corrected the article, I just started laughing.

2) He is utterly unprofessional. Even if he didn't write the bottom boxes of the article, he bylined the note and as any professional reporter or journalist knows, the responsibility for the content of any article cannot be shifted to copywriters, editors or sub-eds; if it's published under your name it's your responsibility, period. If he can't be bothered to proof the stories that go out under his byline before they go to press, that's his problem and nobody else's.

So here's your apology, Andrew Anthony: Go fuck yourself you two faced liar, stupid twat, excuse for a journalist and arrogant, high-handed piece of shit.

PS: Already getting feedback on this post, so to cover a Q already answered twice yes, I could show the other mails in the exchange (and will if necessary at a later date) but I tried to keep this post concise. It could have become very long and lost the main thrust otherwise.