- Published: Monday, 05 May 2014 14:50
05 May 2014
Over the years an unwelcome retinue of stalkers appeared at my heels. Only a few stand out. Just why I suffer from stalkers is a mystery: I am no Brad Pitt or Justin Bieber.
My latest stalker is Mr. Andrew MacGregor Marshall. This former Reuters bureau chief is infamous in Thailand for maligning the Thai Royal Family, his combative and insulting misconduct on social media, and his infatuation with prostitution.
Writing such a dispatch as this is a displeasurable experience. It feels like dirty work. Something that causes one to wash hands and the keyboard after it is finished. The subject is what it is.
This is not to imply that any of the women depicted in the following photographs with Marshall are prostitutes. These are merely party images. Marshall posts photographs of real prostitutes on his Facebook page. Examples are included later in the dispatch.
Marshall has shared more than 5,000 personal images on Facebook. When Marshall is not partying his way through Asia, he insults total strangers.
A typical Marshall Facebook post:
Some say that Marshall was not always unhinged. Friends of mine previously read his work and complimented him, but they soon stopped.
As a war correspondent, Marshall was a failure. Not one piece of writing, not one photograph, not one video, survived the test of posterity. Marshall and I were covering the same war at the same time, and I did not know that he existed. I did read the work of other war correspondents. Despite my long periods in Iraq, I never noticed Marshall.
Marshall's greatest claim to fame is excavating the WikiLeaks cables courtesy of former US soldier Bradley “Chelsea” Manning, who received a 35 year prison sentence for his efforts.
After Marshall departed Baghdad, he dug into the stolen diplomatic cables pertaining to Thailand and he staked a claim as if he had discovered a new natural law. The WikiLeaks cables are available to anyone via a simple web search. Marshall contends that his interpretations and analyses of US State Department cables revolutionize the study of Thai society and politics.
Marshall does not tolerate those who disagree with his interpretations. He is infamous for combative conduct on social media.
Marshall has no evidence that the handicapped subject was a terrorist. This is a case of defamation atop mockery.
It is best to ignore stalkers, but given their prominence, a few must be addressed. In this case, Andrew MacGregor Marshall is an internationally known former news correspondent who published false and defamatory comments about my work and person at least a hundred times. If the publisher of Marshall's forthcoming book incorporates such commentary, a lawsuit could ensue. Fair warning.
In addition to being a former Reuters bureau chief, Marshall occasionally publishes on a freelance basis on CNN and Foreign Affairs. He is quoted in articles published on the BBC from time to time.
Stalkers are normally just individuals, but stalkers in the age of the Internet can be organized cheerleaders who orchestrate followers. For the purposes of this dispatch, a stalker is an individual or a group that doggedly pursues another, repetitively demanding acknowledgement, often stooping to character assassination.
Typical of Marshall’s followers, the poster below endorses violence against me because I am guilty of "smeering Yingluck and the reds in the cheapest ways possible." The bizarre thing is that Marshall and his followers claim that I malign the Reds when I observe that they use violence, when the Reds themselves often threaten violence, then extol the bloodshed in true Hezbollah style. For an independent writer to observe that the Reds employ violence when they wage politics is no smear. The fact is, the Reds murder people.
Marshall started off politely. He did not receive the reciprocal attention from me that he demanded. I read a bit of his work on Thailand and I found it dull, but I never said this publicly, or privately. I forgot his name until he began throwing temper tantrums in my direction, month after month, beginning in December 2013.
Marshall’s messages to me became abusive, to the point where I blocked him on Facebook. This is a rare step for me. It was a shame to see a former Reuters bureau chief conduct himself this way.
Marshall then whipped up a storm of like-minded, equally profane readers on his Facebook page and Twitter. Marshall and his fan club support terrorism. We have no common ground.
When he is not partying or insulting strangers, Marshall loves to talk about prostitutes, usually under the guise of journalism. Marshall will seize any pretext to publish images of bar girls.
Of course Marshall rationalizes his frequent use of bar girl imagery. My words are not intended to disparage bar girls, but to illustrate Marshall's behavior. Mentioning bar girls and Marshall in the same sentence is not fair to bar girls.
Marshall’s readers are different than most who come to my pages. Many of Marshall’s readers who reside in Thailand waste an inordinate amount of time talking about prostitutes and seedy topics. In short, many appear to fit the profile of what are called “sexpats” here, and they are very different from the expatriates and the Thai patriots on my pages.
Prostitutes are never far from the minds of Marshall or members of his fan club. Many of them cannot write two sentences without scratching readers’ eyes with obscenities.
There is another Reuters journalist by the name of Andrew R. C. Marshall. Andrew R. C. Marshall recently shared a Pulitzer for work co-produced in Thailand. Both Andrew Marshalls worked for Reuters in Thailand. The Pulitzer Prize-winning Marshall is a different man. The former journalist Marshall who obsesses about bar girls is Scottish. Needless to say, this leads to confusion.
When Marshall first tried to communicate with me, I was busy in Turkey studying the Syrian war. Marshall wanted my endorsement for his forthcoming book, and he forwarded an excerpt. He did not directly ask for my endorsement but that was clearly his intent. I believe that he wanted a comment to include on his book jacket.
Marshall was a wage earner at Reuters for 17 years, including a stint in Baghdad, so he may have felt that professional etiquette required that I cease research on Syria, and pay full attention to his writing about Thailand, which he apparently did while residing in Singapore and Cambodia.
There are a thousand books that I would like to read by authors who have “been there and done that." There was no time to labor through a disjointed manuscript about Thailand from a vulgar expatriate who had not stepped foot in the Kingdom in years. I read a few pages and he lost me. Aside from his barroom research, most of Marshall's work is secondhand. There was no chance that I would endorse his book.
Individuals and organizations who have acknowledged or endorsed my work range from The New York Times, The Boston Herald, The Los Angeles Times, CNN, BBC, NPR, ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, PBS, Bruce Willis, Gary Sinise, Joe Galloway, Tom Ricks, Michael Barone, General David Petraeus, Ripley’s Believe it or Not!, numerous scientific papers, the Smithsonian's Air & Space, many books, and a thousand others in dozens of countries and languages.
This is not to boast. My interest is in serious people doing serious work, not in a malicious former journalist who insults the handicapped and who cannot keep his mind and tongue off of dance poles. Through the wonders of social media, checking with people who know him leads to persistent allegations of drug use including methamphetamines and mushrooms.
Marshall published pictures of himself getting a tattoo. Former friends say he claimed to be on a quest for spirituality. He named himself “Zenjournalist.”
Marshall often attacks total strangers. Perhaps he does it for the accolades of taking on someone with a higher profile. Perhaps Marshall is a bully who enjoys picking on others who cannot fight back. Perhaps the bitterness of his divorce from Reuters and his exile in Cambodia are too much to bear. After Marshall lost his Reuters badge, doors did not open like they opened before. After all, the doors did not open for a party animal expat. They opened for Reuters. When Marshall lost his job, he lost access.
Marshall's total Facebook and Twitter followers number about 32,000. Considering his antics, that is a respectable following, though actual interaction is trivial. My total is about 210,000 with brisk interaction. Some posts reach over a million people. Clearly Marshall is angered that an independent writer with no affiliations can reach a vaster audience than a former journalist who was a bureau chief for a global media monster.
The limited reach of his social media readership is due to his own, self-absorbed posts. Marshall the party animal continues to slosh around, posting selfies as if he is in high school:
Marshall does not grasp that one reason he cannot build a serious readership or a larger audience could be due to his immaturity. Marshall is more than forty years-old. Without his Reuters badge, what is Marshall? He is no journalist. He is not an author. He is not an academic. Was the fission between Reuters and Marshall so explosive that the fallout leaves him radioactive and unemployable? What caused his personality change?
Now that Marshall is unemployed, attacking high profile subjects like the King of Thailand might seem a wise strategy. Such malfeasance has real world consequences.
When the mysterious or the unexplained happens in Thailand, such as the murder of a high profile activist, it is often said to be the work of an “invisible hand." On many occasions during nocturnal attacks on peaceful protestors this year in Bangkok, Whistleblower guards fought back against unseen perpetrators. Victims died.
This tweet is indicative of the way that Marshall's mind works. He does not pass up the opportunity to mock a handicapped man:
This stunned many readers:
A member of Marshall's fan club defended by doubling down:
We expect a Reuters journalist to be like this:
Not like this:
Marshall cannot seem to help himself. He often derides victims for physical handicaps, or for obesity, or because they do not meet his standard for personal beauty.
Marshall the former journalist demanded that I debate him. It is noteworthy that he did not ask privately, which would have been the professional approach. Instead, Marshall attempted to create a public spectacle. This is a pattern for Marshall.
When Marshall’s work in Thailand became too whacky, Reuters washed their hands of him. Marshall countered, claiming that he resigned as a matter of conscience. A former friend said he would crash parties, often in a cold sweat, shaking, bewildered. Friends began to abandon him due to his verbal abuse.
Marshall is not setting himself up for future success. Marshall has little expertise of commercial value, and Marshall has badmouthed virtually everybody in Thailand, with an inclusive vitriol spanning all hues of the political spectrum. Marshall has no network, no serious sources. Clearly Marshall is self-destructive, but nothing underscores this more than Marshall's true claim to fame: When Marshall is not obsessing over bar girls, insulting the unattractive and mocking the handicapped, Marshall insults the Royal Family of the Kingdom of Thailand.
It is not just boorish to disparage the Thai Royal Family here, it is illegal, and it profoundly upsets good Thai people. Those who do not reside in the Kingdom, or who have not spent considerable time here, cannot understand the fervency of the personality cult of His Majesty the King.
The personality cult of the King of Thailand is pervasive, and it is as potent as a system of religious belief, though it is important to note that the Thai do not worship their King as a deity. They know that he is a man, and the Thai are familiar with many gods. But foreigners often misinterpret the love that the Thai feel for their King, and the nearest phenomenon that they can compare it to, is a profound religious belief.
Marshall's criticisms of the Thai Royal Family are personal, speculative, abusive, and dismissive, and they are light years beyond sober observations. Marshall does not seek to inform but to incite.
Some Muslims are provoked to furious anger over any slight directed at the Prophet Mohammed, or any disrespect for Allah. Fatal riots are not uncommon. This is the closest comparison that I can draw, though the personality cult of the King is not as volatile. Muslims and Christians in Thailand deeply revere the King, in part because of his support for religious freedoms. Mocking His Majesty the King will not incur a death sentence, but fines and incarceration are common. For foreigners who disparage the Thai Royalty, banishment, expulsion and blacklisting typically follow a stretch in prison.
For the Thai people, His Majesty the King is more than a beloved Grandfather. The Thai people deeply love him and he has been a very good king for Thailand. Marshall's insults are supremely disrespectful, incredibly inconsiderate, and deeply wounding. What Marshall does on a small scale on social media, abusing and insulting strangers, he also does on a vaster scale, insulting and antagonizing an entire culture, belittling the Thai Royalty, and the Thai people.
But what better way to explain getting booted from Reuters, where Marshall worked for 17 years and was a bureau chief? Marshall could simply write words that he knew his bosses would never publish, statements that are illegal in Thailand, allegations that would get him, and Reuters, banned and blacklisted, and he could claim that he resigned as a matter of conscience.
Thai laws on lèse majesté may seem draconian by Western standards, but foreigners who wish to remain in the kingdom comply with them. By way of comparison, in America most political commentary is protected by the First Amendment. Americans can say almost anything that is not false and defamatory, with the exception of threatening the life of the president.
Americans can castigate our president for his policies or his behavior, and no one will pay much attention. But if someone threatens the life of the president, he can expect a visit from the Secret Service. Prosecution is common. So we can say that America enjoys freedom of speech, up to a point.
In the US, lawsuits over defamation are common. Some litigants lose everything that they own, including future earnings. In Thailand, the Royal Family cannot sue its own subjects, so laws prohibiting lèse majesté are the remedy.
Under Thai laws of lèse majesté, criticism of the King and the Royal Family is off-limits. It is important to note that only the monarchy is so protected. While it may be rude to call the Prime Minister of Thailand a hooker, it is not prevented. This actually happens every day, even though it is defamatory and untrue. There are typically no consequences. Like America, Thailand enjoys much freedom of speech. Up to a point.
These laws on lèse majesté are, moreover, a matter for the Thai people to address in their own time. Simple respect dictates that foreigners avoid commenting on them. All countries and cultures have taboos which should not be violated. It goes without saying that Marshall should not abuse such laws to whitewash his manipulations.
Note that Marshall set up his dispute with Reuters in the most public way possible. In a standard Marshall maneuver, he tried to pit Reuters against the Kingdom, transgressing the laws against lèse majesté as a publicity stunt to garner attention for his book.
Marshall’s book is allegedly scheduled for release in October. He knows that his odds of success are small. He knows that audiences rarely read his work, they read the work of Reuters, or the work of a “former Reuters bureau chief.” Marshall does not have a standalone name that will translate into book sales. His writing skills are generic. So generic that nobody can recall a single piece that Marshall wrote during his time in Baghdad.
There is no mass audience for speculations about the succession in Thailand, a subject about which Marshall is obsessed. While it is an important subject for the Thai, and there is an academic niche market addressing what may happen in Thailand in the future, Marshall lacks credentials and credibility as an academic.
Marshall’s banishment from the Kingdom of Thailand was his own manufactured stunt to cover his downfall from Reuters. If his actions were not a stunt, and he did not intend to damage the reputation of Reuters for his own personal gain, Marshall could have quietly resigned, departed the Kingdom, and gone on his way. But true to form, Marshall fomented yet another spectacle.
Marshall needs to get a hold of himself. I will not debate a poor writer who was manipulative with Reuters and who habitually insults and mocks the handicapped.
Marshall mocked the health of the 86 year-old King of Thailand.
The King has been a blessing to this country. Mocking him for ill health is sickening.