Joshua Treviño’s freelance “commentator” position at the Guardian ended in nine days over an old “offensive tweet” and an undisclosed “potential conflict of interest,” the Guardian‘s readers’ editor reported Aug. 26.
Treviño, who Elliott identified as “an unashamed American rightwing and Republican polemicist” and a “former speech writer for the George W Bush administration,” had tweeted June 25, 2011 “Dear IDF: If you end up shooting any Americans on the new Gaza flotilla – well, most Americans are cool with that. Including me.”
The tweet was posted more than a year before Treviño started his contract for the Guardian and on a “private account,” Elliott noted but “an extremely powerful campaign..led chiefly by the Electronic Intifada website and heavily supported by the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign and its members” led to Treviño’s August 16 blog in response to complaints over that old tweet.
However, Elliott wrote that the complaints didn’t stop. An Aug. 23 complaint focused on Treviño’s Feb. 28, 2011 blog which was accused of having an undisclosed conflict of interest. Elliott noted that that blog was also “before he was on contract” with the Guardian. Because of that undisclosed conflict of interest — Treviño”quoted the Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak” without disclosing that he was ” a consultant for an agency retained by Malaysian business interests and ran a website called Malaysia Matters,” — the Guardian added a correction and “both Treviño and the Guardian agreed to end the contract.”
The Guardian’s press office issued an Aug. 24 statement about Trevino for having a conflict of interest andThe Guardian’s US editor-in-chief Janine Gibson is quoted as saying:
“Under our guidelines, the relationship between Joshua and the agency should have been disclosed before the piece was published in order to give full clarity to our readers.”
Treviño added in that statement that
“I vigorously affirm that nothing unethical was done and I have been open with the Guardian in this matter. Nevertheless, the Guardian’s guidelines are necessarily broad, and I agree that they must be respected as such.”
The Guardian also added the following “footnote” on Aug. 24 to the story that reads: “We have been made aware that shortly before writing this article the author was a consultant for an agency that had Malaysian business interests and that he ran a website called Malaysia Matters. In keeping with the Guardian‘s editorial code this should have been disclosed.”
We wrote to Trevino seeking further comment, but he declined to comment.