Ms Brockes's misrepresentation of Prof Chomsky's views on Srebrenica stemmed from her misunderstanding of his support for Ms Johnstone. Neither Prof Chomsky nor Ms Johnstone have ever denied the fact of the massacre.
Brockes of course did not 'misunderstand.' It is conceivable she was confused upon entering Chomsky's office, but she brought the subject up - she claims, and Chomsky concurs, and no one doubts, that an 'interview' actually took place in which Johnstone's book was discussed - and Chomsky explained the matter to her at length. She was working for the Guardian, which is not a shoestring outfit; there was nothing to prevent her from reading Johnstone's book or calling Johnstone on the telephone if for some reason she remained bemused after Chomsky's explanation. It is beyond belief that her fabrication of a question she never asked could be the result of incomprehension rather than deliberate deceit.
(Sadly the Guardian failed to retract Brockes' fictional assertion that the content of Thomas Diechmann's article regard the ITN Fikrit Alic photo, the subject of a libel suit, was 'proven' unfactual 'in a court of law.' This statement of Brockes' is simply and plainly a lie.)
Even in the most egregious cases of fraud and calculated distortion, this recourse to 'incompetence' as an alibi for malice aforethought appears to be increasingly respectable, a kind of ceremonial gesture of surrender considered adequate by gentleman's agreement among the professional conmen of the press, the fashionable form in which wrong is confessed without an acceptance of liability. A default position of ineptitude is now the courtesy intellectuals and middle managers grant one another in accordance with liberal etiquette, the complement to the requirement to treat one's interlocutors, however fatuous and sinister their assertions, as creatures constitutionally imbued with unblemished good faith, and to begin every rebuttal with 'I see the point you are trying to make...'. This plague of unrelieved incompetence, of which the elite clerks of our meritocracy are ever more frequently boasting, accomplishes the perpetual self-absolution of the intrinsically blameless class, a class whose every motion is the work of one invisible hand or other, who set themselves against an as essentially and inherently guilty world, for deliberation and intention itself, in the magic market utopia where all good comes of riding the benevolent winds and waves of market forces and all evil arises from concerted, purposeful action - consumers are virtuous, producers sinister - is slowly taking on the whiff of culpability. The very notion of responsibility - - the mere suggestion that an Oxford educated journalist at a prestigious newspaper could possibly produce her product in any fashion other than the utterly accidental, buffeted by the benevolent tides in which she immerses herself with redemptive faith - is increasingly incommensurate with the portrait the intellectual and middle manager offers of herself, as a member of a class which is but the expression of that selfperpetuating machine of social and ideological order, individually no better trained and no more skilled in their functions - and thus of whom no more expertise or proficiency can be expected - than if they were the inbred, uneducated, dull witted, lethargic inheritors of their positions by caste birthright.