The editors of MediaLens – a website aimed at exposing propaganda in mainstream media reporting – has claimed that the Times has threatened to take legal action against the site for publishing an email from the Times’ chief foreign commentator Bronwen Maddox and allegedly encouraging MediaLens readers to send ‘threatening emails’ to the writer.
The original piece ‘Selling The Fireball’, which sparked the attention of Times Newspapers’ legal manager Alastair Brett, questioned Maddox’s commentary on Iran’s relationship with Europe and the US.
Readers were asked to email Maddox – as well as Ian Black, Middle East editor of the Guardian, which also had its coverage challenged – with the following disclaimer:
“The goal of Media Lens is to promote rationality, compassion and respect for others. If you do write to journalists, we strongly urge you to maintain a polite, non-aggressive and non-abusive tone.”
According to Peter Wilby writing on Guardian.co.uk, the Times became concerned by “vexatious and threatening emails from visitors to Media Lens” received by Maddox.
“My job is to stop journalists having their time wasted like this. It’s not proper behaviour for Media Lens to give out people’s emails and make a mess of their inboxes,” Brett is reported as saying.
Excerpts from an email sent by the columnist have since been removed from the site after threats of legal and police action from Times Newspapers made on June 28 and July 2.
“We have sought legal advice and, having essentially zero resources for fighting a court case, feel we have no choice but to delete Maddox’s email from our media alert, ‘Selling The Fireball’, as demanded. . . We will have more to say about this in due course, as will others,” says a message on the site’s homepage.