The Guardian “woefully misjudged” when it published an editorial calling former UK prime minister David Cameron’s pain “privileged,” Guardian readers editor Paul Chadwick commented.
Chadwick weighed in on the controversy over the editorial in a Sept. 22 column. As iMediaEthics previously reported, the column claimed Cameron, whose disabled son died at 6 years old, only had “limited failure and privileged pain.” The editorial was in response to an excerpt of Cameron’s memoir.
Guardian editor-in-chief Katharine Viner told Chadwick she was “personally completely devastated” that the editorial was published. Chadwick also criticized the headline which referred to “the boy in the bubble.”
“Subjectively experienced, suffering is not relative,” Chadwick wrote. “This fact ought to have been enough to prevent the notion encapsulated in the words “privileged pain” from underpinning a critique of Cameron as PM, enough to deter such a critique from becoming an editorial, and enough to stop such an editorial from being published. That it was not enough, at any of those points, has been the cause of troubled reflection.”
Further, Chadwick noted it wasn’t for a lack of editors. Three editors reviewed the editorial before publication, he wrote. Timewise, the Guardian edited the article after publication twice and added the footnote apologizing for it.
For his own part, Chadwick claimed he felt “shame” in the newsroom, and added it was worse because the editorial was unsigned, suggesting it was the newspaper’s point of view.
A Guardian spokesperson declined to comment beyond the column.
UPDATED: 11:02 PM