Those of you with a memory longer than those interesting socks your boss is wearing this morning may remember that I pointed out in May that Rafael Ramos, La Vanguardia’s correspondent in London, appeared to be semi-literate, prone to invention, and a plagiarist. When I complained to the paper’s ombudsman, Josep Maria Casasús, he emailed me back asking for my personal details (ID, name, address, phone), URLs that were already present in my blurb (I got the impression the web was new to him), and finally rang me and asked me who I was. I supplied all the information requested and thought justice would take its course, as it does each time La Vanguardia misspells the name of small street in Camprodon. That was three months ago, so Mr Casasús presumably came to the conclusion that I would shut up and go away.
Meanwhile Ramos continues inventing and copying with a verve that suggests he thinks his readers are even stupider than he is himself. It’s fine with me that his review of two newish Orwell biographies contains direct translations of, and free fantasy on, the easier bits of the Guardian review. (Sometimes he gets it wrong in his hurry: the Grauniad quotes VS Pritchett as describing Orwell as the wintry conscience of his generation. Not like Rafael to lose an adjective.) What I can’t figure is how he’s going to extricate himself from the elephant trap he’s digging. For it is now crystal clear to everyone that Gilligan is going to be out on his ear very shortly, not Blair, not Campbell, and probably not even Hoon. Clear to everyone, that is, except La Vanguardia’s readers. That’s because Mr Ramos’ strategy is to omit to mention the difficulties Gilligan is in, while increasing the volume of lies directed at the British government.
I’ve got to rush off in half an hour to visit my technology partner, The Man With the Iron Head, so we’ll just bat an eyelash at the headline of his court report (not opinion piece) this morning: “The chief of British espionage takes responsibility for the errors in the Iraq dossier in order to support Blair.”
Eh? Now, I’ve read the panegyrics with which La Vanguardia welcomed first the Stalinists and then the Fascists in the 30s, but I reckon it is quite unusual nowadays for mainstream papers in democratic countries to publish information that is completely untrue. However much you hate Blair, if you’re honest and reasonably well-informed you’ll have little alternative but to concur with the following:
- John Scarlett is not the head of British espionage.
- Scarlett in his evidence took responsibility for the report and explicitly stated that he did not regard it as containing errors.
- There has been no suggestion at all by anyone that Scarlett – a professional civil servant as opposed to a political appointee – wants to save Blair’s skin or has anything to gain by lying to do so.
Ramos likes to hold up Orwell as a paragon of left-wing decency, against which Tony “Goebbels” Blair is to be judged. If he had actually read anything about the man or by him (apart from 1984 and Animal Farm, both conveniently translated into Spanish) he would know that:
- Charlie Chaplin was shopped to the security services by Orwell because the latter seems to have believed that the defence of democratic liberties against totalitarian and nihilist terror might require the temporary curtailment of the liberty to chip away at those liberties.
- Orwell observed something to the effect that history ended in 1936 and that everything thereafter was propaganda. If we omit consideration of all the things that make a writer worth reading, then it may be that Ramos is closer to his hero than he realises.
Blair and his government are facing rigorous public examination. It’s called accountability and it comes with the job. It happened to Jayson Blair, it’s happening to Andrew Gilligan, and it’s time Ramos, Casasús, and La Vanguardia found out what it means.
update 2003/08/27 20:20
Well I never! A message from Mr Casasús just came through telling me he’s dealing with my complaint!
- Who ombuds the ombudsman?
Josep Maria Casasús, the La Vanguardia ombudsman to whom I complained almost four months ago re Rafael Ramos, wrote back last
- When’s La Vanguardia going to fire Rafael Ramos?
I read the guy briefly a couple of years ago while I was learning Spanish and asked La Vanguaria’s ombudsman and
- Rafael Ramos
Many thanks to Stefan Geens for the plug on the fine MemeFirst re Kaleboel’s long battle with Rafael Ramos, La Vanguardia’s
- Rafael Ramos update
Still no reaction from La Vanguardia re my query of last Wednesday, documented here. Are ethics something of a sore point
- Casasús and the curse of the French
It sounds like Josep Maria Casasús, alleged ombudsman for La Vanguardia, is going around telling folks that I’m an American secret