Media Lens - Current Alert News analysis and media criticism http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2014.html Thu, 30 Oct 2014 18:00:53 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb The Establishment - Andrew Marr And Owen Jones http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2014/778-the-establishment-andrew-marr-and-owen-jones.html http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2014/778-the-establishment-andrew-marr-and-owen-jones.html

Picture the scene: No.10 Downing Street, September 16: 'a gentlemen's-club-style reception room, given factitious poshness by two marble pillars'. The event: a book launch party hosted by Prime Minister David Cameron himself to 'mark the publication' of a political novel, 'Head of State', by the BBC's senior interviewer and former political editor, Andrew Marr.

Reporting for the Independent, eyewitness John Walsh saw the significance:

'To see how the establishment operates, you really needed to be at this week's launch party for Andrew Marr's new book.'

Walsh noted that the room was packed with political and media bigwigs:

'Jeremy Hunt, George Osborne, Yvette Cooper. Journalists talked to each other, eyes busily flickering, desperate not to miss anything. Beside the bar stood Jason Cowley, editor of the New Statesman.'

The BBC's creative director, Alan Yentob, was there. So, too, was Lord Chadlington, or Peter Gummer - brother of John Selwyn Gummer, or Lord Deben, former chairman of the Conservative Party - who 'has long-standing links' to David Cameron, is President of the Prime Minister's Witney Conservative constituency association and 'lives in a manor house that neighbours Mr Cameron's Oxfordshire home'. Chadlington is also chief executive of Huntsworth, a major public relations firm. In 2011, Cameron bought a plot of land from Chadlington for £140,000, the latter having donated £10,000 to Cameron personally to fund his 2005 run for the Conservative leadership.

John Walsh describes Lord Chadlington 'as the link between Marr and David Cameron', adding of Marr's fictional debut:

'It was [Chadlington] who gave Marr the central idea for the plot; his name is on the book's copyright page; there's an introductory note about him by Marr, and another one by himself, delivering his imprimatur.'

If that sounds chummy, so, too, did Cameron, commenting in his speech at the book launch:

'I haven't read Andy's book yet, but I gather it's about political assassination. After the week I've had, that sounds like a very welcome idea...'

One wonders just how favoured Marr must be to receive such gracious treatment from the unlovely Tory grandees he is supposed to be holding to account.

Remarkably, an awkward question managed to breach the bonhomie. Liz Thomson, co-editor of the website 'Book-Brunch', asked Marr if having Cameron host the book launch 'mightn't compromise his position as impartial political interviewer for the BBC'. (Private Eye, Books & Bookmen column, Issue 1376, 19 September - 2 October, 2014)

According to Private Eye magazine, Marr became 'very defensive indeed'. Marr's wife, Jackie Ashley – Guardian columnist and daughter of Lord Ashley of Stoke – buttonholed Thomson, declaring, 'you've ruined my evening'. Ashley subsequently 'resumed the harangue, calling [Thomson] 'despicable' and 'a B-I-T-C-H'.

It says plenty about the state of modern journalism that Ashley was appalled that one of the BBC's most senior political journalists should be asked the one question that cried out to be raised. Or perhaps she would think nothing of her husband having his book launch party hosted by Putin, or Assad, or Maduro. Or, more to the point, of a leading Russian journalist teaming up with Putin in the same way.

Ironically, in his book, 'My Trade', Marr was happy to discuss the issue:

'If you really talk with a politician about their in tray, and the problems of rival departments, or of dodgy past initiatives, it is hard to avoid seeing things their way. The same perspective that gives you insight, also blunts your hostility... then you drift closer to them emotionally and may very well flinch from putting the boot in when they have failed in some way.' (Andrew Marr, 'My Trade - A Short History of British Journalism,' Macmillan, London, 2004, p.184)

Also ironically, the problem was explored in a WikiLeaks cable from the US Embassy in London to Hilary Clinton:

'On the public diplomacy side, I hope you can take some time out to tape an interview with leading British journalist Andrew Marr, to be broadcast on his Sunday morning BBC TV talk show... It would be a powerful way for you to set out our priorities for Afghanistan/Pakistan, and underline our premier partnership with the United Kingdom. Marr is a congenial and knowledgeable interviewer who will offer maximum impact for your investment of time.'

It is not, then, that Marr is biased towards the Conservatives. Indeed, in 2005, the former BBC reporter and producer, Tim Luckhurst, wrote in the Daily Mail:

'Andrew Marr has dismayed licence-payers with apologias for New Labour in general and Tony Blair in particular... Such conscientious rewriting of history deserves a place in George Orwell's 1984, not on a national television station funded by the taxpayer.' (Luckhurst, 'As John Humphrys announces his retirement. The giant the BBC hasn't got the guts to replace,' Daily Mail, May 3, 2005)

A wry comment piece in the Evening Standard was 'amazed' by the launch party: 'we simply had no idea that Marr and Cameron were such close chums'. After all:

'it just doesn't seem that long ago that Marr and his wife... were staunch allies of Cameron's rivals, hosting intimate dinner parties for Labourites Tony Blair, David Miliband and Tessa Jowell. Blair even returned the favour by having the pair over at Chequers, back when he had the keys'.

Historian Walter Karp observed:

'It is a bitter irony of source journalism that the most esteemed journalists are precisely the most servile. For it is by making themselves useful to the powerful that they gain access to the "best" sources.' (Quoted Sharon Beder, Global Spin, Green Books, 1997, p.199)

True. And notice that the BBC is not owned - no gimlet-eyed media mogul is either available, or required, to pressure Marr to obey rules that are perfectly understood for all that they are unwritten.

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editor@medialens.org (Editor) Alerts 2014 Tue, 14 Oct 2014 12:29:21 +0000
The Comic Book Simplicity Of Propaganda http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2014/777-the-comic-book-simplicity-of-propaganda.html http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2014/777-the-comic-book-simplicity-of-propaganda.html

The referendum campaign on Scottish independence heightened many people's awareness of the pro-elite bias of the 'mainstream' news media. The grassroots power of social media in exposing and countering this bias was heartening to see. But the issue of independence for Scotland is just one of many where the traditional media consistently favour establishment power.

The essential feature of corporate media performance is that elite interests are routinely favoured and protected, while serious public dissent is minimised and marginalised. The BBC, the biggest and arguably the most globally respected news organisation, is far from being an exception. Indeed, on any issue that matters, its consistently biased news coverage - propped up, by a horrible irony, with the financial support of the public whose interests it so often crushes - means that BBC News is surely the most insidious propaganda outlet today.

Consider, for example, the way BBC editors and journalists constantly portray Nato as an organisation that maintains peace and security. During the recent Nato summit in Wales, newsreader Sophie Raworth dutifully told viewers of BBC News at Ten:

'Nato leaders will have to try to tackle the growing threat of the Islamist extremists in Iraq and Syria, and decide what steps to take next. (September 4, 2014)

As we have since seen, the 'steps' that were taken 'next' meant a third war waged by the West in Iraq in just 24 years.

The same edition of BBC News at Ten relayed, uncontested, this ideological assertion from Nato Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen:

'Surrounded by an arc of crisis, our alliance, our transatlantic community, represents an island of security, stability and prosperity.'

In fact, the truth is almost precisely the reverse of Rasmussen's assertion. Nato is a source of insecurity, instability, war and violence afflicting much of the world. True to form, BBC News kept well clear of that documented truth. Nor did it even remind its audience of the awkward fact that Rasmussen, when he was Danish prime minister, had once said:

'Iraq has WMDs. It is not something we think, it is something we know.'

That was embarrassing enough. But also off the agenda was any critical awareness that the Nato summit's opening ceremony was replete with military grandeur and pomposity of the sort that would have elicited ridicule from journalists if it had taken place in North Korea, Iran or some other state-designated 'enemy'. Media Lens challenges you to watch this charade without dissolving into laughter or switching it off before reaching the end.

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editor@medialens.org (Editor) Alerts 2014 Thu, 02 Oct 2014 04:36:00 +0000
The Purpose And The Pretence - Bombing Isis http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2014/776-the-purpose-and.html http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2014/776-the-purpose-and.html

 

Tom Bradby, ITV News political editor, nutshelled the media zeitgeist in a single tweet:

'I am not at all religious, but I can't help feeling there may be a seventh circle of hell reserved somewhere for Jihadi John [the killer of James Foley, Steven Sotloff and David Haines].'

For 'Jihadi John' and the West's close allies in Saudi Arabia, perhaps, where 'scheduled beheading reflects authorities' callous disregard to human rights', according to Amnesty International.

Bradby's comment indicates just how rapidly Isis has come to represent nothing less than Pure Evil for the state-corporate media. Or as Mehdi Hasan, political director of Huffington Post, commented (without irony):

'Isis, in other words, is evil. Scum. The worst of the worst. Unique, to borrow Obama's phrase, in its brutality.'

Traditionally, claims that an Official Enemy is uniquely Evil rise to a deafening crescendo just prior to an attack on that enemy. In late 2002, a former intelligence officer told John Pilger that the flood of government terror warnings at the time were 'a softening up process' ahead of an attack on Iraq and 'a lying game on a huge scale'. (Pilger, 'Lies, damned lies, and government terror warnings,' Daily Mirror, December 3, 2002)

Sure enough, the US and various unsavoury allies this week began a bombing campaign ostensibly against Isis in Syria. As Jonathan Cook notes, the attack has taken place without a UN Security Council resolution or any serious argument that the US is acting in self-defence:

'That makes it a crime of aggression, defined at Nuremberg as "the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole".'

Compared to Obama - now embarking on his seventh war - George W. Bush appears a paragon of virtue, having at least troubled with UN resolutions. Bush commented in March 2003:

'The world needs [Saddam Hussein] to answer a single question: Has the Iraqi regime fully and unconditionally disarmed as required by Resolution 1441? Or has it not?'

Early reports estimated that eight Syrian civilians had been killed in the latest bombing raids by US militants. The BBC buried a reference to the killings in a ten-word sentence in the middle of a news report:

'Eight civilians, including three children, were reported to have died.'

Bad enough that civilians 'died', but how much worse if they had been killed by Britain's leading ally.

A September 4 search of the Nexis media database for mentions of 'Isis' (Islamic State) and its alternative title, 'Isil', found the following mentions:

January 1 - May 31, 2014, CNN mentioned 'Isis/Isil' 110 times.

June 1 - August 31, 2014, CNN mentioned 'Isis/Isil' 1,465 times.

Between these same dates, the New York Times mentioned 'Isis/Isil' 89 times and 389 times, respectively. (David Peterson, email to Media Lens, September 4, 2014)

Much of this coverage has of course focused on Isis beheadings, massacres and other crimes - self-declared and alleged - in Iraq and Syria.

Absent from most media coverage is the recognition that these conflicts have been characterised by appalling violence on all sides. A curious omission, given that the same media have focused intensively on gruesome atrocities committed, for example, by the pro-Assad 'shabiha' militia in Syria, alleged to have been responsible for the May 2012 Houla massacre.

In the last three years, Lexis media database finds 933 UK national newspaper articles mentioning 'shabiha'. In the last twelve months, there have been just 28 mentions, with 19 this year (Media Lens search, September 15, 2014). Yet another Damascene conversion, it would seem, just as the Western state-corporate media crosshairs moved from Assad to Isis.

Similarly, while it is true that Sunni forces, including Isis, have committed horrific crimes in Iraq, Sunnis have also suffered terribly. A recent New York Times headline made the point: 'Sunnis in Iraq Often See Their Government as the Bigger Threat.' The report explained:

'Iraq's Sunnis vividly recall how militias linked to the governing Shiite parties staged attacks against Sunnis during the worst years of the sectarian conflict last decade, often in cooperation with Iraq's military and police forces, or while wearing their uniforms.

'Mr. Maliki [former Iraqi president] was criticized for his inability or unwillingness to dismantle the groups, hardening Sunni mistrust of the government.'

Investigative journalist Scott Peterson added some background:

'From the indiscriminate bombing of Sunni areas... to large numbers of languishing detainees, many Sunnis say the roots of discontent are obvious, and have resulted in support for groups as radical as IS.'

While the tit-for-tat nature of Sunni-Shia tortures, disappearances and massacres was extensively covered during the US-UK occupation, it is rarely mentioned now in media condemnations of Isis.

In fact, arguing that the West should 'degrade and ultimately destroy' Isis on the basis of its human rights record, without mentioning the context, is like arguing that Britain and America should have been wiped out for their conventional and atomic bombing of cities packed with civilians in the Second World War without mentioning German and Japanese crimes. Indeed, to be consistent, the West should be arguing that much of the Middle East and all members of the 'coalition of the willing' should be degraded and destroyed for committing atrocities.

In reality, of course, the attack on Isis is not about preventing atrocities. As Glenn Greenwald notes, 'the U.S. does not bomb countries for humanitarian objectives. Humanitarianism is the pretense, not the purpose'.

We wonder if state-corporate propagandists are able to reflect on the irony that even before two US journalists were murdered, the US had sent bombers half-way around the world to kill Isis fighters. And yet, over the last three years, the West has tirelessly condemned the actions of the Syrian government in a literal war for survival against Isis and other foreign-backed 'rebel' groups, on Syrian soil – a war that is alleged to have cost 190,000 lives, including 50,000 Syrian government forces. Certainly Assad's troops have committed appalling war crimes. But one can barely imagine the scale of the US reaction if Isis had wreaked even a tiny fraction of this death and destruction on its homeland and forces, much less threatened its very survival.

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editor@medialens.org (Editor) Alerts 2014 Wed, 24 Sep 2014 10:59:41 +0000
‘Dark Omens’ And ‘Horror Shows’: Scottish Independence, Power And Propaganda http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2014/774-dark-omens-and-horror-shows-scottish-independence-power-and-propaganda.html http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2014/774-dark-omens-and-horror-shows-scottish-independence-power-and-propaganda.html

Established power hates uncertainty, especially any threat to its grip on the political, economic and financial levers that control society. And so it is with elite fears that the United Kingdom, formed by the 1707 Acts of Union, could be on the verge of unravelling.

No informed commentator doubts that elite interests will do all they can to maintain hegemony in an independent Scotland, should that historic shift occur following the referendum of September 18. But if it does happen, there will likely be significant consequences for the Trident nuclear missile system, the future of the NHS and the welfare state, education, climate policy, energy generation and other industry sectors, the media and many additional issues; not just in Scotland, but beyond, including Nato and the European Union. There is clearly a lot at stake and established power is concerned.

Just over a week ago, to the consternation of Westminster elites and their cheerleaders in media circles, a YouGov opinion poll showed that the 'Yes' vote (51%) had edged ahead of 'No' (49%) for the first time in the campaign, having at one point trailed by 22%. The Observer noted 'signs of panic and recrimination among unionist ranks', adding that 'the no campaign is desperately searching for ways to seize back the initiative'. The panic was marked by 'intensive cross-party talks' and underpinned George Osborne's announcement on the BBC Andrew Marr show on September 7 that 'a plan of action to give more powers to Scotland' in the event of a No vote would be detailed in the coming days.

Confusion reigned in the Unionist camp, and in media reporting of their befuddlement. According to the rules governing the referendum, the UK and Scottish governments are forbidden from publishing anything which might affect the outcome during the so-called 'purdah period' of 28 days leading up to September 18. So, how to reconcile the opportunistic 'promise' during purdah to grant Scotland new powers following a 'No' vote? BBC News dutifully reported the government sleight-of-hand that:

'the offer would come from the pro-Union parties, not the government itself.'

Voters, then, were supposed to swallow the fiction that the announcement came, not from the UK government represented by Chancellor George Osborne, but from the pro-Union parties represented by senior Tory minister George Osborne!

However, Alastair Darling, leader of the pro-Union 'Better Together' campaign, told Sky News that all new powers for Scotland had already been placed on the table before the purdah period. What had been announced was 'merely... a timetable for when the Scottish Parliament could expect to be given the limited powers already forthcoming.'

Thus, an announcement setting out a timetable for enhanced powers was completely above board and not at all designed to influence the very close vote on independence. This was establishment sophistry and a deeply cynical manipulation of the voters.

Media manipulation was exposed in stark form when Nick Robinson, the BBC's political editor, was rumbled by viewers able to compare his highly selective editing of an Alex Salmond press conference last Thursday with what had actually transpired. Robinson had asked Salmond a two-part question about supposedly solid claims made by company bosses and bankers -  'men who are responsible for billions of pounds of profits' - that independence would damage the Scottish economy. Not only did the full version of the encounter demonstrate that Salmond responded comprehensively, but he turned the tables on Robinson by calling into question the BBC's role as an 'impartial' public broadcaster. The self-serving report that was broadcast that night by Robinson on BBC News at Ten did not reflect the encounter which the political editor summed up misleadingly as:

'He didn't answer, but he did attack the reporting.' 

The distorted BBC News reporting was picked up on social media and no doubt encapsulated what many viewers and listeners, particularly in Scotland, have been observing for months, if not years. One reader wrote an excellent email to us in which he said:

'Honestly, this is just ONE example of pathetic bias which more and more Scots are seeing through. I've long been a follower of your site, and I make a point of reading each and every alert. This is the first time I've taken to contacting you, and as I said, I imagine lots of others will be doing just that on the same subject.

'I've seen so much media bias with BBC Scotland since the turn of the year, but it's now getting to laughable proportions. And now that we have the entire London press-mafia crawling all over it too, it's daily headline news - all doom and gloom about how Scotland will fail, Scotland will be bankrupt, there's no more oil left, jobs will go, etc etc. It's been diabolical.'

The BBC's dismissive response to the public complaints about Robinson's skewed report concluded with the usual worn-out boilerplate text:

'the overall report [was] balanced and impartial, in line with our editorial guidelines.'

It is not only the bias in BBC News reporting that has alienated so many people, but the way the public broadcaster fails to adequately address public complaints - on any number of issues.

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editor@medialens.org (Editor) Alerts 2014 Mon, 15 Sep 2014 00:06:55 +0000
Damascene Conversions - Isis, Assad And The Bombing Of Iraq http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2014/773-damascene-conversions.html http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2014/773-damascene-conversions.html

This time last year, Western corporate media were focused on a single, grave threat to human life and civilised values. An endless stream of atrocity claims – some real, some fabricated with 'evidence' posted on YouTube - depicted President Assad of Syria as the latest incarnation of Milosevic, Saddam Hussein, bin Laden, Gaddafi: namely, the Official Enemy to be targeted for destruction.

Once again, 'quality' media generated a sense of inevitability – this Enemy was also so monstrous that the US-UK alliance had to 'intervene', to 'act'. It later transpired that the plan was to 'completely eradicate any military capabilities Assad had'.

The massacre claims were part of a rolling propaganda barrage intended to clear a path through public opposition to an attack. It was a close copy of the 1991 Gulf War media campaign described by the late historian Howard Zinn:

'The American population was bombarded the way the Iraqi population was bombarded. It was a war against us, a war of lies and disinformation and omission of history. That kind of war, overwhelming and devastating, waged here in the US while the Gulf War was waged over there.' (Zinn, Power, History and Warfare, Open Magazine Pamphlet Series, No. 8, 1991, p.12)

This summer, the Assad atrocity stories splashed across newspaper front pages and TV broadcasts for so long have mysteriously dried up. If the BBC website looked like this last year, it now looks like this, this and this. The Independent published an article with a title that would have been unthinkable even a few months ago:

'Putin may have been right about Syria all along - Many cautioned against the earlier insistence of the Obama administration that Assad must go'

Has the man universally loathed and reviled by corporate commentators undergone an appropriately Damascene conversion? A more prosaic explanation was supplied by the Financial Times:

'US and allies must join Assad to defeat Isis [Islamic State], warns British MP' (Sam Jones, Financial Times, August 21, 2014)

The MP in question, Sir Malcolm Rifkind - chairman of parliament's intelligence and security committee, and a former foreign secretary - declared:

'"[Isis] need to be eliminated and we should not be squeamish about how we do it... Sometimes you have to develop relationships with people who are extremely nasty in order to get rid of people who are even nastier."'

One year ago, Rifkind called for a 'military strike' on Syria of 'a significant kind':

'If we don't make that effort to punish and deter, then these actions will indeed continue.'

Richard Dannatt, former head of the British army, observed last month:

'The old saying "my enemy's enemy is my friend" has begun to have some resonance with our relationship in Iran and I think it is going to have to have some resonance with our relationship with Assad.'

Again, unthinkable in the recent past, when Media Lens was smeared as 'pro-Assad' for challenging obviously suspect, warmongering claims.

Fighters hailed by the media last year as heroic 'rebels' opposing Assad's army are now decidedly 'jihadists'. In 2012, the New York Times reported:

'Most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad are going to hard-line Islamic jihadists...'.

Assad, it seems, is yesterday's 'bad guy' - Isis is the new 'threat'. On this, almost every media commentator appears to agree. A Guardian leader of August 11, commented:

'President Obama had no real alternative to the air strikes he ordered last week against Islamic State (Isis) forces... Quite apart from the threat to the future of Iraq as a whole, the US and Britain have a humanitarian duty to the endangered minorities, and a debt of honour to the Kurds.'

It is pretty remarkable that journalists are still able to believe (presumably dismissing Gaza as a blip) that US-UK foreign policy is guided by notions of 'duty' and 'honour'. The UK's leading 'liberal-left' newspaper is apparently not appalled by the prospect that the killers of half a million children through sanctions and in excess of one million people as a result of the 2003 invasion are once again affecting to 'help' Iraq. Why, because the editors can perceive 'ignorance and incompetence' in Western actions but not self-interested criminality. Thus, for the Guardian, 'America is right to intervene.'

The editors offered the vaguest of nods in the direction of one of the great bloodbaths of modern times:

'After all that has passed in recent years, hesitation about any kind of intervention in the Middle East is entirely understandable. But the desperate plight of the Iraqi minorities and the potentially very serious threat to the Kurds surely warrants a fundamental reconsideration.'

Alternatively, 'all that has passed in recent years' might provoke 'a fundamental reconsideration' of the idea that the US-UK alliance is guided by concern for the plight of Iraqi minorities.

As Steve Coll wrote in The New Yorker last month:

'ExxonMobil and Chevron are among the many oil and gas firms large and small drilling in Kurdistan under contracts that compensate the companies for their political risk-taking with unusually favorable terms.'

Coll added sardonically:

'It's not about oil. After you've written that on the blackboard five hundred times, watch Rachel Maddow's documentary "Why We Did It" for a highly sophisticated yet pointed journalistic take on how the world oil economy has figured from the start as a silent partner in the Iraq fiasco.'

The conclusion:

'Obama's defense of Erbil is effectively the defense of an undeclared Kurdish oil state whose sources of geopolitical appeal - as a long-term, non-Russian supplier of oil and gas to Europe, for example - are best not spoken of in polite or naïve company...'

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editor@medialens.org (Editor) Alerts 2014 Mon, 01 Sep 2014 11:17:50 +0000
'Disgustingly Biased' - The Corporate Media On The Gaza Massacre http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2014/772-gaza-massacre.html http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2014/772-gaza-massacre.html

Soon after Malaysian Airlines MH17 crashed near Donetsk, Ukraine on July 18, killing 298 people, the BBC website quickly, and rightly, set up a 'LIVE' feed with rolling reports and commentary on the disaster. This was clearly an important and dramatic event involving horrific loss of life with serious political implications. The public would, of course, be searching for the latest news.

However, since July 8, ten days prior to the crash, Israeli armed forces had been bombarding the trapped civilian population of Gaza with airstrikes, drone strikes and naval shelling. As the massive Israeli assault ramped up on July 9, the World section of the BBC News website had this as its headline:

'Israel under renewed Hamas attack'

By July 18, around 300 people had been killed in Gaza, 80% of them civilians. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a key political issue of our time, one that was clearly developing by the minute after July 8. And yet at no point had the BBC set up a 'LIVE' feed with rolling news.

That finally changed on July 20 after so many days in which so many Palestinians had been killed. Why July 20? The answer appears to be found in the fourth entry of the live feed under the title 'Breaking News':

'Some 13 Israeli soldiers were killed overnight in Gaza, news agencies, quoting Israeli military sources, say. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to address the nation shortly.'

Despite this small number of military deaths compared to the Palestinian toll, it seems clear that the killing of the Israeli troops triggered the BBC live feed. It focused intensely on these deaths, with entries of this kind:

'Ben White, writer tweets: Israel has lost more soldiers in a 3 day old ground offensive than it did during Cast Lead & Pillar of Defense combined (12).'

And:

'View to the Mid East, a writer in Ashdod, Israel tweets: One of the soldiers who was killed in Gaza tonight prays at the same synagogue I go to. Grew up in the same neighbourhood.'

The feed incorporated no less than five photographs from two funerals of the Israeli soldiers but none from the far more numerous Palestinian funerals (one picture showed Palestinian relatives collecting a body from a morgue), with these captions:

'Friends and relatives of Israeli Sergeant Adar Barsano mourn during his funeral at the military cemetery in the northern Israeli city of Nahariya.'

And:

'Sagit Greenberg, the wife of Israeli soldier Maj Amotz Greenberg, mourns during his funeral in the central town of Hod Hasharon.'

Obviously, Israeli suffering also merits compassion, but these military deaths were overshadowed by a far higher loss of Palestinian lives, most of them civilian men, women and children. The toll currently stands at 746 Palestinians killed and 4,640 wounded. Israel has suffered 32 military and two civilian deaths. One foreign worker from Thailand has also been killed.

In the following days (and at time of writing) the live feed was cancelled; a period that has seen hundreds of Palestinian deaths and a handful of Israeli military deaths.

For some time on the morning of July 21, the sole Gaza content on the BBC News home page was 'Breaking News' of an 'Israeli soldier missing in Gaza'.

Remarkably, on the morning of July 23, when 18 Palestinians were killed, the BBC set up a live feed for the wrecked Italian cruise liner Costa Concordia, which showed the ship being towed to Genoa. There was no live feed for Gaza.

The BBC has supplied names, ages, pictures and emotive background stories of the Malaysian air crash victims while, with rare exceptions, Palestinian dead have been presented as nameless figures, briefly mentioned, then forgotten.

The level of BBC bias was emphasised by an article headline that placed inverted commas around the siege in Gaza, as if it were a matter for debate: "Palestinian PM says lift Gaza 'siege' as part of ceasefire". The BBC subsequently changed the title, but a tweet promoting the article with the original wording remains.

The BBC has also implied that 'Rockets fired from Gaza' are comparable to 'Gaza targets hit by Israel'. Readers are to understand that attempted attacks by unguided, low-tech rockets are comparable to actual bombings by state of the art bombs, missiles and shells. The BBC's source? 'Israel Defence Forces.'

On July 21, BBC News at Ten presenter Huw Edwards asked a colleague live on air:

'...the Israelis saying they'll carry on as long as necessary to stop the Hamas rocket attacks. Do you detect any signs at all that there's a hope of a coming together in the next few days or weeks, or not?'

In other words, BBC News presented Hamas rocket attacks as the stumbling block to peace, exactly conforming to Israeli state propaganda.

In a report on the same edition of News at Ten, the BBC's world affairs editor, John Fidler-Simpson CBE, asserted that 'one reason why casualties on the two sides are so out of proportion' is because 'Israel has developed the world's most effective anti-missile defence'.

This suggested a more or less equal fight with Israel simply better able to protect itself. Fidler-Simpson added:

'The Iron Dome system's ability to knock Hamas missiles out of the sky has been a remarkable achievement for Israel during this crisis. The success rate is quite phenomenal.'

Back in the real world, weapons experts Ted Postol of MIT and Richard Lloyd of Tesla Laboratory, argue that claims for Iron Dome are wildly exaggerated, estimating a success rate of less than 5 per cent. Peter Coy of BloombergBusinessweek comments:

'Lloyd e-mailed me a copy of a 28-page analysis that's the most detailed critique yet of the holes in the Iron Dome system - holes so big that, if he's right, would justify calling it Iron Sieve.'

BBC bias has also been typified by its downplaying, or complete blanking, of large-scale demonstrations in several UK cities protesting BBC coverage. As activist Jonathon Shafi noted of the BBC's lack of interest:

'It is misinformation of the worst, and it is an insult to journalism.'

After the four Palestinian Bakr boys, aged between 9 and 11, were killed by an Israeli shell, the New York Times headline on July 16 read:

'Boys Drawn to Gaza Beach, and Into Center of Mideast Strife'

This worked well to obscure the truth that the boys had been killed while playing football on a beach. Artist Amir Schiby produced a wonderful, moving tribute to the Bakr boys.

Even indisputable evidence here and here that Israel had fired on hospitals in Gaza, major war crimes, brought little outrage from politicians and media. Jonathan Whittall, Head of Humanitarian Analysis at Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF), reminded the world (citing MSF General Director Christopher Stokes on the crisis in Libya in 2012):

'Our role is to provide medical care to war casualties and sick detainees, not to repeatedly treat the same patients between torture sessions.'

Despite the unequal battle and high civilian death toll, no high-profile advocates of the West's 'responsibility to protect' ('R2P') civilians in Iraq, Libya and Syria have been calling for 'intervention'.

We asked passionate 'R2Pers' like David Aaronovitch, Jonathan Freedland and Menzies Campbell if they felt 'we must do something'. They did not reply. Freedland commented in a BBC interview that the death toll was 'very lopsided' – a polite euphemism for a massacre that, according to Unicef, has claimed 10 children per day. E-International Relations website reports:

'While the conflict has generated near blanket international media coverage it has been strangely ignored by the three most prominent and vociferous organisations established to promote the idea of "The Responsibility to Protect", namely The International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect (ICRtoP), the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (GCR2P) and the Asia Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (APCR2P)...

'Since the operation began these groups have published myriad tweets, posts and articles – on issues ranging from the rights of women, the treatment of refugees, mass atrocity cries and the provision of medical aid... Yet, coverage of the crisis in Gaza has been negligible.'

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editor@medialens.org (Editor) Alerts 2014 Thu, 24 Jul 2014 11:01:58 +0000
A Tale Of Two Titans – Jon Snow of C4 News And Jeremy Bowen of BBC News http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2014/771-a-tale-of-two-titans-jon-snow-of-c4-news-and-jeremy-bowen-of-bbc-news.html http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2014/771-a-tale-of-two-titans-jon-snow-of-c4-news-and-jeremy-bowen-of-bbc-news.html

On July 4, Independence Day in the United States, Channel 4 News broadcast a Jon Snow interview with Hillary Clinton, former US Secretary of State and presumed presidential candidate. For a self-proclaimed 'pinko liberal' like Snow, this was a glorious opportunity to ask hard-hitting questions about US foreign policy and Clinton's own role in shoring up the American Empire.

In the event, the interview was largely a series of soft questions, culminating in a cosy epilogue about Clinton looking forward to being a granny. As John Hilley of the Zenpolitics blog observed, it was 'a safely-moderated version [of what] passes for "probing journalism".'

'Where', asked Hilley, 'was the serious indictment of US-directed murder and mayhem in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt and Syria? What of Washington's protection of terror state Saudi Arabia?'

Why did Snow ask Clinton a loaded question about the West's supposed 'failure' to press Israel on illegal settlements; as though the US, in particular, is a hapless and helpless bystander to Israel's major international crimes?

Hilley continued:

'why didn't Snow highlight America's role as a principal and criminal supporter of Israel, and specify the $3 billion a year it gifts the Israeli state to continue its brutal military occupation? Why didn't he call out the US as a fundamental cause of the problem, and grill Clinton on her own complicit part in that "failure"?'

Also deeply unimpressed by Snow's performance was Media Lens reader Ed Murray. He sent the journalist a scathing email in which he described the interview as 'a party political broadcast on behalf of the American Imperialist Party.'

We highlighted Murray's email via Twitter:

'An uncomfortable email for @jonsnowC4 to read - which he will likely ignore or brush away.'

Snow chose the second option:

'Intriguingly, Media Lens post delightfully critical material, but no option to reply!'

This was a peculiar, clodhopping response from a veteran journalist with, one might think, the skills to navigate resources and dig out information. But somehow Snow had missed that Media Lens has a messageboard where he is welcome to post, an email address to contact us, and a lively Facebook page. He could have replied to our 'delightfully critical material' on Twitter. He could even have responded via his own Channel 4 blog which reaches a national, indeed global, audience. Instead, he went for another diversionary tactic:

'Media Lens: 18,000 Tweets; 14,000 followers/ JSnow 8,500 Tweets 424,000 folowers:If only you were more constructive, you might help!'

This turgid display of Twitter willy-waving was, as more polite and erudite readers pointed out, merely argumentum ad populum. By Snow's logic, perhaps we should bow down before the political wisdom of Justin Bieber (27,200 tweets and 52.7 million followers) or perhaps the remarkably tweet-efficient Beyoncé (only 8 tweets, but a stonking 13.4 million followers).  

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editor@medialens.org (Editor) Alerts 2014 Fri, 11 Jul 2014 00:58:33 +0000
Some Deaths Really Matter – The Disproportionate Coverage of Israeli And Palestinian Killings http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2014/770-some-deaths-really-matter-the-disproportionate-coverage-of-israeli-and-palestinian-killings.html http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2014/770-some-deaths-really-matter-the-disproportionate-coverage-of-israeli-and-palestinian-killings.html

Israeli deaths matter much more than Palestinian deaths. This has long been a distinguishing feature of Western news media reporting on the Middle East. The recent blanket coverage afforded to the brutal killing of three Israeli teenagers highlights this immutable fact.

Channel 4's Alex Thomson offered a rare glimmer of dissent:

'Curious to watch UK media living down to the Palestinian claim that 1 Israeli life is worth 1000 Palestinian lives.'

Major broadcasters, such as BBC News, devoted headlines and extended reports to the deaths, and included heart-rending interviews with grieving relatives in Israel. The Guardian ran live coverage of the funerals for more than nine hours. But when has this ever happened for Palestinian victims of Israeli terror?

A reader challenged the Guardian journalist leading the live coverage:

'@Haroon_Siddique Did I somehow miss @guardian's live-tweeting of Palestinian victims' funerals & eulogies?' 

Several nudges elicited the standard display of hand-washing:

'I'm not an editor so don't take decisions on future coverage.'

An extensive list of news stories and video reports appeared on the BBC website describing how Israel is 'united in grief', alongside stories titled, 'Netanyahu: "Wide and deep chasm" between Israel and enemies', 'Thousands gather for Israeli teenagers' funerals', 'Grief and anger after Israel teenager deaths', and 'On road where teens vanished'.

These all strongly, and rightly, expressed the broadcaster's empathy with the fact that something terrible had happened. But when has the BBC ever expressed this level of concern for the deaths of Palestinian teenagers? The question matters because consistent empathic bias has the effect of humanising Israelis for the public and dehumanising Palestinians. This is an extremely lethal form of media propaganda with real consequences for human suffering.

A Guardian editorial noted that the killings 'had shocked [Israel] to the core'. Western leaders had also expressed solidarity - an outpouring of concern that contrasted with the reaction to Palestinian deaths, which 'so often pass with barely a murmur'. But that was all the Guardian editors had to say.

The missing, ugly reality is that over the last 13 years, on average, one Palestinian child has been killed by Israel every 3 days. Since the outbreak of the second Intifada in September 2000, 1,523 Palestinian children have been killed by Israel's occupation forces. Over the same time period, 129 Israeli children have been killed. Thus, the ratio of Palestinian children to Israeli children killed is more than ten to one. You would be forgiven for not having the slightest inkling of this from Western media coverage. Even in the past few days, in reporting the massive Israeli operation to find the teenagers, only the briefest of nods has been given to the 'five Palestinians, including a number of minors, [who were] killed' in the process.

Following the tragic discovery of the bodies of the three Israeli teenagers, corporate journalism gave headline attention to President Obama's condemnation of 'this senseless act of terror against innocent youth'. Significant coverage was given to the shocked reaction of prime minister David Cameron who said:

'This was an appalling and inexcusable act of terror perpetrated against young teenagers. Britain will stand with Israel as it seeks to bring to justice those responsible.'

But when have Obama or Cameron ever condemned the killing of Palestinian youths or children by Israelis in this vehement way?

We can easily see the contrast in media treatment of Israeli and Palestinian deaths by observing the lack of coverage, and the silence of Western leaders, about two young Palestinians, Nadim Nuwara, 17, and Muhammad Abu al-Thahir, 16, who were shot dead by Israeli security forces in May. The BBC did not entirely ignore the killings. But the deaths were presented as a murky event in which the truth was strongly disputed:

'A human rights group has released a video it says shows two teenage Palestinians being shot dead by Israeli security forces at a protest last week.' (Our emphasis.)

The BBC report was quick to present the Israeli viewpoint upfront:

'But the Israeli military said the video had been edited and did not document the "violent nature" of the incident.

'It also questioned a claim that live ammunition had been fired at the boys.'

A few days later, the Israeli military ordered the removal of the CCTV cameras that had captured the killings. The security cameras belonged to Fakher Sayed who ran a nearby carpentry shop. And the interest in this from BBC News and the rest of the corporate media? Zero, as far as we can tell.

Every violent death is a tragedy. But the disproportionate coverage given to Israeli and Palestinian deaths is symptomatic of a deep-rooted, pro-Israel bias. Why is it so extreme? Because of the intense pressure brought to bear on the media by the powerful Israeli lobby, and by allied US-UK interests strongly favouring Israel. As one senior anonymous BBC editor once put it:

'We wait in fear for the phone call from the Israelis.'

 

DC & DE

 

SUGGESTED ACTION

The goal of Media Lens is to promote rationality, compassion and respect for others. If you do write to journalists, we strongly urge you to maintain a polite, non-aggressive and non-abusive tone.

Please consider signing this petition set up at Change.org by activist Mark Nadim:

'Highlight the 1,500 Palestinian Children Killed by Israeli 'Defence' Force since 2000, and Restraint and Peacemaking rather than Condoning 'Inevitable' Collective Death Sentence!'

Write to:

Paul Royall, editor of BBC News at Ten, and BBC News at Six
Email: paul.royall@bbc.co.uk
Twitter: @paulroyall

Please blind-copy us in on any exchanges or forward them to us later at:
editor@medialens.org

Finally, we would like to thank everyone who kindly responded to our recent appeal for funds. There were too many people to thank individually, but we really do appreciate your support.

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editor@medialens.org (Editor) Alerts 2014 Wed, 02 Jul 2014 02:27:35 +0000
'Gosh, Are They Still At It?' An Appeal For Support http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2014/768-gosh-are-they-still-at-it.html http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2014/768-gosh-are-they-still-at-it.html

A Media Lens reader quipped recently that he had discovered a solution to the climate crisis. Simply harnessing the energy produced by Orwell turning in his grave would provide a limitless source of cheap, clean energy.

The comment was prompted by the decidedly Orwellian news that the Guardian's Jonathan Freedland had been awarded the Orwell Prize for political writing. Orwell must have been spinning like a top to have his name linked with a journalist who works so hard to sell Western 'intervention'. In March 1999, Freedland wrote:

'How did the British left get so lost? How have its leading lights ended up as the voices of isolationism? How did it come to this...? Why is it the hard left - rather than the isolationist right - who have become the champions of moral indifference? For, make no mistake, that's what opposition to Nato's attempt to Clobba Slobba (as the Sun puts it) amounts to... either the West could try to halt the greatest campaign of barbarism in Europe since 1945 - or it could do nothing.' (Jonathan Freedland, 'The left needs to wake up to the real world. This war is a just one,' The Guardian, March 26, 1999)

In a 2005 article on Iraq titled, 'The war's silver lining', Freedland commented:

'Tony Blair is not gloating. He could - but he prefers to appear magnanimous in what he hopes is victory. In our Guardian interview yesterday, he was handed a perfect opportunity to crow. He was talking about what he called 'the ripple of change' now spreading through the Middle East, the slow, but noticeable movement towards democracy in a region where that commodity has long been in short supply. I asked him whether the stone in the water that had caused this ripple was the regime change in Iraq.

'He could have said yes...'

On March 22, 2011, with Nato bombing underway in Libya, Freedland focused on how 'in a global, interdependent world we have a "responsibility to protect" each other'. The article was titled:

'Though the risks are very real, the case for intervention remains strong - Not to respond to Gaddafi's chilling threats would leave us morally culpable, but action in Libya is fraught with danger.'

Ignoring the resultant chaos, Freedland wheeled out the same arguments in response to the Syrian crisis in 2012:

'The 2003 invasion of Iraq has tainted for a generation the idea once known as "liberal interventionism".... We have new problems now. Fail to see that and we make the people of Homs pay the price for the mistake we made in Baghdad.'

Despite this continuous warmongering, Freedland is deemed a sober, restrained commentator by his corporate peers. Ostensibly at the opposite end of the media 'spectrum' from the Guardian, David Aaronovitch of The Times responded to Freedland's winning of the Orwell Prize: 'Congratulations, J. My favourite award!'

Aaronovitch featured in many of our early alerts after we started Media Lens in July 2001. Like Freedland, he is a militant advocate for Western 'intervention', including the 'Clobba Slobba' war, famously declaring his willingness to join the fight himself (Aaronovitch, 'My country needs me,' The Independent, April 6, 1999). Aaronovitch also supported the case for Western attacks on Iraq, Libya and Syria. This month, he once again called on 'us' to bomb Iraq:

'We must do everything short of putting boots on the ground to help the Kurds to defend themselves against Isis and similar groups.' (Aaronovitch, 'Forget the past. Iraqi Kurds need our help now; The 2003 invasion is irrelevant to what is happening in Mosul now. What matters is preventing the advance of Isis,' The Times, June 12, 2014)

Despite their enthusiasm for 'intervention', neither Freedland nor Aaronovitch has ever proposed bombing Israel for its enormous crimes against the captive Palestinian population - a fine example of Orwellian 'doublethink'. Freedland merely shakes his head sadly and asks if Israelis and Palestinians will be 'locked in a battle that drags on and on, perhaps till the end of time?'

 

Yes, We're Still At It

That warmongers like Aaronovitch and Freedland can still hold down senior positions in the media means there is a desperate need for analysis that punctures the façade of liberal journalism.

A key problem is that corporate journalists cannot or will not criticise either their own employers or potential future employers. Like all corporate employees, journalists who criticise their industry are unlikely to be embraced by any media corporation. This is why Freedland, Aaronovitch, the Guardian and the Independent are almost never subjected to honest criticism from a left perspective. On the contrary, aspirant left writers bend over backwards to praise corporate journalists and media, as do ambitious executives in every industry.

Last month, environment writer Paul Kingsnorth tweeted in mock surprise about Media Lens:

'Gosh, are they still at it?'

Over ten years ago, when Media Lens was but a toddler, Kingsnorth had been on the staff of The Ecologist where we had a regular 'Media Watch' column. The editors quickly tired of what was perceived as our relentless 'attacks' on the liberal media, notably the Guardian. Surely there were 'better' targets – the Mail, the Sun, The Times and so on? The end came when we wrote critically about the Guardian's John Vidal, a friend and ally of the magazine. We were making life difficult for their pals at the Guardian – the supposed flagship of environmental journalism – and perhaps an outlet they themselves aspired to write for.

By contrast, many of our readers understand our stance perfectly. One wrote to us earlier this year:

'many of your criticisms are aimed at the so called liberal media such as the Guardian because if they can't get it right who can?'

We even received an email from a Guardian insider who told us he had worked on its Environment section which he had seen turn into 'the vehicle for corporate greenwash that it represents today.' With careful understatement, he added a more general observation about the paper:

'It may well be too late for the Guardian as a news organisation'.

He praised Media Lens:

'[I] recognise the integrity and courage that you have demonstrated, particularly in the face of so much criticism, much of it, sadly, from liberal journalists, some of whom really should have known better, not to mention the brilliant journalistic exposes and fine writing on the murky world of modern journalism.'

Thirteen years after Media Lens was set up, we are indeed 'still at it'; and in no small part because of the financial support we receive from many hundreds of people every month. We originally worked in what spare time we could find away from other, paid employment before sufficient income allowed both editors to go full-time on Media Lens: first David Edwards (in 2003) and then David Cromwell (in 2010). We are 100% reliant on public support; we take no funding from other sources (nor do we seek it). We are immensely grateful to everyone who sends us donations, large or small, whether one-off or regular amounts.

As regular readers will know, around once a week we send out a media alert – an in-depth analysis of a vital issue ignored or badly skewed in the corporate media. Every day, we post frequent observations, comments and useful links via our message board, Twitter feed and Facebook page. We also publish occasional Cogitations on more spiritual, philosophical themes. Everything we do is free of charge. If you feel you are in a position to support us, we would be very grateful for any donation you are able to make via one of the available methods outlined on our Donate page.

Whether you are able to send a donation or not, we value the contributions you make with your feedback, suggestions and in sharing our work with others.

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editor@medialens.org (Editor) Alerts 2014 Tue, 24 Jun 2014 11:17:44 +0000
Blair: Bombing Iraq Better. Again http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2014/767-blair-bombing-iraq-better-again.html http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2014/767-blair-bombing-iraq-better-again.html

By David Cromwell and David Edwards

Over the weekend, the British media was awash with the blood-splattered Tony Blair's self-serving attempts to justify the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003. The coverage was sparked by a new essay in which Blair claimed that the chaos in Iraq was the 'predictable and malign effect' of the West having 'watched Syria descend into the abyss' without bombing Assad. Blair advocated yet more Western violence, more bombing:

'On the immediate challenge President Obama is right to put all options on the table in respect of Iraq, including military strikes on the extremists...'

Par for the course, the liberal wing of the corporate media, notably the Guardian and BBC News, led with Blair's sophistry. (See image, courtesy of News Unspun).

Blair told Andrew Marr on BBC1 that:

'washing our hands of the current problem would not make it go away'.

The choice of phrase is telling. The image of Blair attempting to wash away the blood of one million Iraqis is indelible.

The Guardian's editors performed painful contortions to present an illusion of reasoned analysis, declaring that Blair's essay was both 'thoughtful' and 'wrong-headed'. Robert Fisk's response to Blair was rather different:

'How do they get away with these lies?' 

In the Guardian editorial, titled 'a case of blame and shame', the key phrase was:

'If there has to be a hierarchy of blame for Iraq, however, it must surely begin with Saddam.'

Of course, 'surely'! But only if the Guardian's editors feel compelled to keep selling one core ideological message to its audience. Namely, that, although mistakes do happen, such as 'deficiencies' in the West's occupation of Iraq, US-UK foreign policy is basically well-intentioned. That, in a nutshell, is why the Guardian is part of the liberal establishment bedrock.

The Guardian forgot to mention that Saddam Hussein achieved power with the assistance of the CIA. They forgot to mention that the West supported him through his worst crimes, supplying the technology that allowed him to launch chemical weapons attacks during the Iran-Iraq war, protecting him in the United Nations and the press, and so on.

Like an addict unable to let go of just one more fix, the paper said:

'The situation may not demand, but it certainly invites, intervention.'

The Independent, that other great white hope of British liberal journalism, was no better. An editorial asked: 'Would intervention now work?', adding that it 'may become inevitable because of the threat to Israel and Turkey, a Nato ally.' The paper bemoaned, outrageously, that it had come to this because 'some sort of decisive Western action in Syria, famously defeated in the House of Commons, might have prevented Isis from gaining the strength it has.' In fact, bombing Assad would have massively empowered Isis, one of his major enemies.

The editors complained that there was now:

'no appetite for intervention anywhere, no matter how compelling the arguments.'

The pathetic hand-wringing continued:

'Our failures in Iraq have inoculated Western electorates against any desire to repeat the experiment, no matter that an invasion of Iraq now could be more truthfully termed a "liberation" for the Iraqi people, and an act to save many more lives throughout the Middle East, than the one Mr Blair and Mr Bush presided over 11 years ago. Their failures do mean we cannot act now.'

Ah, this time it really will be a 'liberation', whereas last time, as even London mayor Boris Johnson notes:

'It looks to me as though the Americans were motivated by a general strategic desire to control one of the biggest oil exporters in the world...'

Johnson, who voted for the war and describes it as merely a 'tragic mistake', is concerned not with the criminality and bloodshed but the ability to sell wars in future:

'Blair is now undermining the very cause he advocates – the possibility of serious and effective intervention.'

Amol Rajan, the Independent's editor, boasted of 'our proud record on coverage of Iraq'.

We responded:

'Sorry, we have analysed the Independent's performance closely. Your record was and is shameful. Where to start?' 

We could do worse than by reminding him of his own paper's editorial at the war's launch (when Simon Kelner was the editor):

'The debate about...this war is over...the time has come "to support our troops".' ('When democracies do battle with a despot, they must hold on to their moral superiority', Independent, March 20, 2003)

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editor@medialens.org (Editor) Alerts 2014 Mon, 16 Jun 2014 06:28:36 +0000
The Great White 'Nope' - Genevieve Jacobs, Paul Mason and Alain De Botton http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2014/766-the-great-white-nope.html http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2014/766-the-great-white-nope.html

By David Edwards

 

When corporations own the news and advertisers 'sponsor' the shows, journalists know they are above all answerable to the company managers and allied interests who pay their salaries. The mere public, especially voices of dissent, can be treated with indifference, even contempt. Journalists have power without responsibility, and they know it.

On March 6, the fast-talking presenter of ABC Radio Triple 6's Mornings with Genevieve Jacobs in Canberra described the shameful suffering of indigenous Australians exposed by John Pilger's important film, Utopia.

'What veteran filmmaker John Pilger had to present for his film was in many ways a Third World country, a place where there is despair and dispossession, desperate injustice.'

Jacobs quoted football legend and 'Australian of the year', Adam Goodes, on 'mainstream' Australia's response to Pilger's film:

'Our response, our muted response, is a disgrace. It is disturbing and hurtful that we just don't evidently care all that much.'

Jacobs then interviewed Pilger, asking him:

'So what does that say about the state of the national debate?'

It was a good question, one that would soon return to haunt the questioner.

Like so many journalists responding to so much serious criticism, Jacobs breezily insisted that her organisation was different, it had embraced all points of view: 'John, that's a debate we're very aware of here in Canberra... I think we're well aware of that, John!' she told Pilger repeatedly, who exposed the usual, key flaw in the argument:

'Intensely discussed, yes, you're absolutely right. But discussed in the narrowest terms.'

This recalled the sublime moment when Noam Chomsky rendered a brash young Andrew Marr temporarily speechless, after the BBC interviewer had commented of the Gulf War:

'There was a great debate about whether there should have been a negotiated settlement.'

Chomsky interrupted: 'No, sorry, no, that's not [the] debate...'

Jacobs, though, was insistent:

'Certainly here in Canberra we do have that discussion vigorously and often... I have spoken to people in the studio... I think that has been widely discussed.'

Given that the issues had in fact been endlessly discussed, what on earth was the point of Pilger's film? Jacobs asked again:

'That's my question though – what do you bring that is new to this?'

Pilger replied: 'Well, have you seen the film?'

Jacobs: 'I haven't seen the film, but...'

Like her audience, Jacobs knew exactly what was coming next:

'Well then, how can we...? This is the problem, you see. And forgive me for raising it. How can you have a discussion with me about a film you haven't seen?... You say you're having a lot of debate there, but you apparently haven't watched the film that we're supposed to be talking about!'

Pilger's voice dropped and slowed as he circled the flailing interviewer like a 'Saltie' croc:

'I'm giving you the opportunity to explain to me and your listeners why you haven't, why you haven't watched the film before you discuss with the filmmaker the film?'

Jacobs explained that she hadn't seen the film 'because my producer suggested to me this morning that it would be a really good idea to discuss this'. But there was no place to hide:

'You run a programme, and with all respect to you, that's what Adam Goodes is talking about - that people like you cannot be bothered! And that's what he's writing about. Don't you find this so exquisitely ironic?'

Jacobs instantly shut down the debate and turned to emailed comments sent in by listeners. Would these be favourable to the guest who had just sunk the host? Jacobs blurted:

'Gus says to me, "Doesn't 'Triple 6' ever get tired of having people on the radio to lecture us about how racist we are? Didn't we say sorry? Are we going to move on?"'

And by way of balance:

'Rob says, "While I don't disagree with Pilger on many issues he's tackled over the years, his holier than thou, patronising tone alienates those who support his efforts and hardens the attitudes of those who don't."'

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editor@medialens.org (Editor) Alerts 2014 Wed, 11 Jun 2014 07:11:46 +0000