The Daily Friend is encouraged by the robust responses from readers to our recent coverage of the presidential election in the United States, with often sharply critical comments being levelled at the opinions and points of view of some of our writers.

Two articles in particular attracted pointed criticism: Jonathan Katzenellenbogen’s piece on what a Joe Biden presidency could mean for South Africa and our relationship with China, and John Kane-Berman’s piece on America’s ‘deplorables’.

Said Susan Sonnenberg of Kane-Berman’s piece: ‘I found this article so ill-considered, even if some of the stats may be correct, so reductive and right wing, so blind to Trump’s enormous list of crimes, misdemeanors and lies and his ghastly giant sized ego that brooks no criticism.’ She concluded by saying she would end her Daily Friend subscription.

A reader with the username v_3 agreed, saying: ‘Never mind Trump and Johnson or US and UK, what has happened to Kane-Berman and IRR? There is so much innuendo, vitriol and demonizing in this Goebbelsstuk that it would take several articles to fact-check and to rebut.’

From the other side of the aisle, ‘Garg’ wrote of Katzenellenbogen’s article that ‘Biden is not the president-elect. The US elections has (sic) not been called or certified yet. Stop with the fake news. Daily Friend is meant to be a more informed and more credible source, even in the opinion sections,’ while Cobus Slabbert said the article showed that the Daily Friend was ‘part of the Global captured fake and misleading MSM’. Leon van der Berg agreed, saying the newspaper was a ‘Wolf in Sheep’s clothing’ because it published what he thought was ‘trash’.

It may surprise some of our critics that neither the Daily Friend nor the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) had a formal position on the US election. Had we had a poll among staff, the vote would have been pretty evenly split, with as many Biden supporters as Trump supporters.

This, in fact, underscores what the Daily Friend holds to be its primary objective: to advance the ‘battle of ideas’ by stimulating and encouraging debate. Like the IRR, we are unashamedly liberal, the foundation of our liberalism being the principles once set out by Helen Suzman: ‘rule of law, universal franchise, free elections, a free press, free association, guaranteed civil rights, and an independent judiciary’.

If the varying reactions to the two pieces on Trump and the US elections are anything to go by, we have done well in encouraging debate and making people think – one of our primary aims. We do not have a position on Biden or Trump (although staff members may have).

It is naturally the prerogative of readers to choose not to read a newspaper because it carries opinions they disagree with. But we will continue to carry pieces that our readers (on whichever side of the US or any other divide they should find themselves on) may disagree with. Good writing and journalism should make us uncomfortable, challenging our biases and certainties. If we stopped publishing opinions out of fear that some readers might disagree with them, we would have failed in placing the Daily Friend at the service of the ‘battle of ideas’.

In this spirit, we encourage readers to engage and share our pieces, even (perhaps especially) if they disagree with them. The surest path to truth and insight is discussion and debate.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. I have the utmost respect for all of the Daily Friend authors and their opinionated articles. Reading the Daily Friend is the highlight of my day. We all have different perceptions on certain subjects and it is your prerogative to agree or disagree. However, what makes the Daily Friend different from other publications?. It is my perception that in most of the articles the author’s opinion is substantiated with facts. And I love that!!!!! Keep up the good work.

  2. Thanks for the clarification, and my apologies for the typo. I am glad the debate is interpreted as debate, and not as criticism. It is perhaps worth mentioning that do I enjoy both John Kane-Berman and Jonathan Katzenellenbogen’s pieces thoroughly in general, and I will not stop my IRR subscription or Daily Friend support purely because I find something here I disagree with. Nor will I stop reading their op-eds, they are of solid quality.

    In fact, I encourage that, as long as it is cognisant of liberalism in the Helen Suzman sense, but more broadly in the classical liberal sense as we are currently politically homeless. And as long as they remain clearly listed as Opinions, as they currently are, and not passed off as news, as opinion pieces often are on legacy media platforms (which I avoid).

    Small point of correction, though: Nobody has won the 2020 US elections yet. Stating this fact does not amount to support for one candidate over the other. It is just a simple fact, nobody has won their election yet. This despite claims in the legacy media – of which I do not consider Daily Friend a part (to your credit). This despite misleading weasel terms like ‘the office of the president-elect’ (there is no such office) or ‘Joe Biden, the president-elect (he has only been crowned president elect by the Associated Press, which does not carry a mandate to call elections). While Joe Biden is the presumptive nominee, least of all by himself, whoever is the president-elect still needs to be certified by the General Services Administration. They have rightfully not certified anyone yet, as their electoral process still has quite a few steps to go through before the winner is declared, or inaugurated.

  3. Yes, DF gives the great platform for everyone to express, with the note they are liberally oriented. Nice and clear. This image of Olympia typewriter at the back sends much stronger message than all of these smart words put up in this announcement/reflection.

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