Media Lens - Current Alert News analysis and media criticism http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2016.html Tue, 30 Aug 2016 20:45:25 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb 'Propagandising For War' - Gareth Porter Responds To The BBC Today Programme On Syria http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2016/825-propagandising-for-war-the-bbc-today-programme-on-syria.html http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2016/825-propagandising-for-war-the-bbc-today-programme-on-syria.html

A report published by the London School of Economics last month found extreme levels of bias in BBC reporting. The 'impartial' BBC's early evening news was almost five times more likely to depict Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in a negative light. In the time period studied (September 1 - November 1, 2015), no headlines on this key news programme presented Corbyn in a positive light.

But this is a mere drop in the ocean of the corporation's pro-establishment bias. It could hardly be more obvious that BBC news reports, comment pieces and discussions are overwhelmingly hostile to US-UK government enemies like Russia, Iran, Venezuela, North Korea and Syria, and overwhelmingly favourable to the United States and Israel. It has long been clear to us that BBC journalists perceive this, not as bias, but as an accurate depiction of a world that really is divided into well-intentioned Western 'good guys' and their enemies, the 'bad guys'.

On August 20, the BBC website featured a Radio 4 Today programme discussion hosted by former political editor Nick Robinson interviewing BBC World Affairs Editor John Cody Fidler-Simpson and Dr. Karin von Hippel, a former State Department official dealing with US strategy against Islamic State.

The discussion was introduced with the following written text, which was repeated in slightly altered form in Robinson's spoken introduction:

'Exactly five years ago President Obama called on the Syrian President Bashir-Al-Assad to step down but today he is still in power.'

The prominence and repetition of the observation of course conferred great significance. The implication: for the BBC, Obama is not just the leader of another country, he is a kind of World President with the authority to call on other leaders to 'step down'. In reality, Obama made his demand, not in the name of the United Nations, or of the Syrian people, but because, as President George H.W. Bush once declared: 'what we say goes'.

In his introduction, Robinson described a disturbing image that 'has gone viral on social media' of a Syrian child allegedly injured by Russian or Syrian bombing. The child, five-year-old Omran Daqneesh, is depicted sitting between Obama and Putin. Robinson noted that one of these images carried the sarcastic caption: 'Thank you for keeping me safe.' We have found the image but not that caption.

One reasonable interpretation of Robinson's introduction, then: five years ago, Obama called on Assad to go, but 'failed' to follow through in making that happen – 'little Omran', and numerous other Syrian civilians, are continuing to suffer as a result. Adam Johnson writes that the viral picture of Daqneesh has 'amped up calls for direct US intervention against the Syrian government' made by numerous 'laptop bombardiers' 'jumping from one outrage in urgent need of US bombs to the next'. The BBC's Today programme discussion can be understood as a further example of this media herd behaviour.

John Simpson agreed with Robinson that Obama had been keen to avoid 'the kind of dreadful errors' - he meant crimes - that George W. Bush had committed in Iraq, and so had 'wanted to stay out of things'. According to Simpson, Obama's failure to intervene in Syria has been a 'disaster'. After all, Russia recently 'managed to attack Syria with its planes from the airfields of Iran'. As investigative journalist Gareth Porter notes below, the Syrian government in fact invited Russian military support, so Russia can hardly be described as attacking Syria. Simpson, by contrast, argued that Russo-Iranian cooperation was 'a link up which would have caused absolute consternation in the United States, and worldwide, just a few years ago'. In other words, the world's sole superpower has proven powerless to stop the kind of military cooperation it practices the world over all the time – how awful!

Simpson's imperial sympathies have been aired before on the BBC, notably in October 2014:

'The world (well, most of it) wants an active, effective America to act as its policeman, sorting out the problems smaller countries can't face alone.'

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editor@medialens.org (Editor) Alerts 2016 Thu, 25 Aug 2016 11:30:38 +0000
Fifteen Years Of Media Lens - An Appeal For Support http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2016/824-fifteen-years-of-media-lens-an-appeal-for-support.html http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2016/824-fifteen-years-of-media-lens-an-appeal-for-support.html

 

Sci-Fi Surreal

Fifteen years ago this month we sent out our first media alert.

We began Media Lens, not because we believed high quality broadsheets were offset by a morally debased tabloid press; not because the 'left-leaning' liberal press was fine, but the Tory press was dreadful; not because the press as a whole was biased on some issues, or plagued by 'churnalism'. We started Media Lens because the deeper we looked into almost every issue, the more we found that the truth of corporate media performance was actually breath-taking, jaw-dropping, sci-fi surreal. We found that the entire system had evolved and been designed to systematically filter out, reject, marginalise, mock and ignore just about everything and everyone that threatened the elite-run, state-corporate status quo.

This doesn't mean that everything is filtered out – the system must incorporate small doses of diluted or specialised dissent: a Fisk, a Boyle, a Jones or two - to maintain the myth of a 'spectrum' catering for all, heroically defending democracy. And, particularly in the age of non-corporate, web-based whistleblowing, some truths simply cannot be denied.

Our point is that powerful tidal forces both within and without the corporate media are flowing relentlessly against threatening truths, and that this has been enough to stifle challenges to the status quo. These forces are generated by the demands of corporate profit, by state power promoting corporate profit, and by the exigencies of class war (the 1% keeping the 99% away from the levers of power).

If the response that initially drove us to start Media Lens in 2001 was a kind of stunned disbelief, nothing could have prepared us for what followed. For fifteen years we have found ourselves confronting the extraordinary phenomenon of otherwise sane, highly-educated, often amiable human beings commenting from inside a corporate media bubble that excludes almost everything that matters without their even noticing.

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editor@medialens.org (Editor) Alerts 2016 Mon, 25 Jul 2016 07:17:35 +0000
The Great Iraq War Fraud http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2016/823-the-great-iraq-war-fraud.html http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2016/823-the-great-iraq-war-fraud.html

Last week, seven years after the Iraq Inquiry was set up, Sir John Chilcot finally delivered his long-awaited report. Although it stopped short of declaring the Iraq war illegal, and although it failed to examine the real motives for war, the report was not quite the whitewash that had been feared by peace campaigners.

Lindsey German, convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, gave a succinct summary of the Chilcot report, listing four of the main findings (each followed by our own comment):

1. There was no imminent threat to Britain from Saddam Hussein, so war in March 2003 was unnecessary.

In reality: utterly devastated by war, bombing and 12 years of sanctions, Iraq posed no threat whatsoever towards Britain or the US. The idea that there was any kind of threat from this broken, impoverished country was simply a lie; a propaganda fabrication by warmongering cynics and corporate hangers-on eager for a piece of the pie.

2. The existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was presented with a certainty that was not justified. It was never 'beyond doubt' that the weapons existed. None have been found in the subsequent 13 years.

In reality: it was completely clear, beyond any reasonable doubt, that the whole 'weapons of mass destruction' issue was a propaganda fabrication; a way of suggesting a 'threat' where none existed. Iraq only ever possessed battlefield biological and chemical weapons that were of no conceivable threat to the West. Iraq didn't even use them when the West attacked the country in 1991. Not only that, but UN weapons inspectors had overseen the near-complete destruction of even these tinpot devices between 1991-1998; only 'sludge' remained: a known fact. Iraq was of no more threat to the West in 2002-2003 than Thailand or Iceland; that is all that needs to be said. Almost everything else is superfluous: cynical propaganda which was, and is, manipulated by violent Western leaderships that think nothing of smashing other countries to bits for whatever reason they declare 'necessary'.

3. There was a failure of democratic government and accountability, with Blair keeping most of his Cabinet in the dark. This meant that he avoided telling them things which they ought to have known.

In reality: The Americans decided to exploit the dead of September 11 to wage war in the name of power and profit. Blair decided to take part in the crime, come what may, from the start. His whole intention was to make that possible, to trap Iraq into war and to use the UN to apply a veneer of legality to the monstrous crime. One million people paid with their lives, and a whole country was destroyed in the process. Bush at least had an 'excuse'; he was, after all, a hard-right president operating out of a notoriously venal, violent and corrupt Republican 'party'. (As Noam Chomsky has noted, it is wrong to consider it a legitimate party. It is merely a collection of greedy vested interests, qualifying it as a candidate for 'for the most dangerous organization in human history'.) Blair, on the other hand, was prime minister on behalf of a supposedly left-leaning Labour party rooted in supposedly genuine ethical values. His rejection of democracy in the name of war was the perfect culmination of his coup transforming Labour into another power-serving Tory party.

4. George Bush and Blair worked to undermine the authority of the UN.

In reality: Bush and Blair sought to exploit the good name of the UN to provide a cover for their crime. The intention was to use the appearance of diplomacy as propaganda justifying war. If Saddam could be trapped into appearing intransigent in the face of UN resolutions, so much the better for war. Diplomacy was only ever perceived as a means to achieve war, not peace. The whole 'weapons of mass destruction' fraud had been concocted by conspirators intent on war. Why would those same fraudsters attempt to work through the UN to achieve peace? That was the last outcome they wanted.

In an already infamous phrase, Blair told Bush that:

'I will be with you, whatever'.

Those words will haunt Blair to his grave.There is no doubt that his reputation is now in tatters, even in 'mainstream' circles. There have been follow-up calls for him to be punished by being thrown out of the Queen's Privy Council, impeached and put on trial for misleading Parliament, and charged with war crimes.

Unusually for the 'mainstream' press, Andrew Buncombe of the Independent wrote a piece focusing on the death toll in Iraq. As he notes, a study conducted by Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health, published in the prestigious journal The Lancet in 2006, estimated the number of Iraqi dead at around 650,000. Even worse, a report (pdf) last year by Physicians for Social Responsibility estimated the Iraq death toll as around one million. Added to this ghastly pyramid of corpses, the Bush-Blair 'War on Terror' has led to 220,000 dead in Afghanistan and 80,000 in Pakistan. These appalling figures hardly ever appear in the 'mainstream' media. As Les Roberts, one of the Lancet authors, observes, the media is guilty of 'failing to report on uncomfortable truths.'

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editor@medialens.org (Editor) Alerts 2016 Tue, 12 Jul 2016 23:50:10 +0000
Killing Corbyn http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2016/822-killing-corbyn.html http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2016/822-killing-corbyn.html

The 'Brexit' referendum vote, split 52% to 48% in favour of leaving the European Union, has been exploited by the 'mainstream' media to launch yet another assault on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. 'Impartial' BBC News, directed by former Murdoch editor James Harding, has been one of the worst culprits.

Consider the wave of resignations of Labour shadow ministers which was heavily promoted in advance on the front page of the BBC News website: ' "Half" of Labour top team set to resign...the BBC's Laura Kuenssberg understands'. When the Labour resignations started to roll in, Kuenssberg could be heard virtually gloating over Corbyn's predicament:

'A bad day at the office. A very bad day.' (BBC Weekend News, BBC1, June 26, 2016)

She wrote on the BBC website:

'There have been concerns about Jeremy Corbyn's performance for months and months. But it was his role, or lack of role, in the campaign to keep the UK in the EU, and his sacking of Hilary Benn in the middle of the night, that has given members of the shadow cabinet the final reasons to quit.'

The laughably biased reference to 'months and months' and 'final reasons to quit' were intended to portray Labour MPs as exasperated and understandably at the end of their tether. Clearly reaching for some kind of 'smoking gun' to finish Corbyn, Kuenssberg added:

'documents passed to the BBC suggest Jeremy Corbyn's office sought to delay and water down the Labour Remain campaign. Sources suggest that they are evidence of "deliberate sabotage".'

But, as Carlyn Harvey wrote on The Canary website, the 'evidence' – a sparse selection of leaked emails that the BBC deigned not to show to the public - was bogus:

'The emails themselves are not sent from Corbyn's office and are not published in the BBC article. The broadcaster merely handpicks a few select quotes from them, and allows Kuenssberg to let rip in her analysis of the cache.'

Harvey summarised: 'Is this the level of analysis we should tolerate from the BBC?'

Kuenssberg concluded her attempted hit piece by observing that Corbyn 'has had persuasive and vehement backing from the party's members':

'But as the Labour Party reels from Thursday's result, it is not clear that support will be as solid as it was. MPs report that some of their members are contacting them to say they've changed their minds about Mr Corbyn. We'll see. It's possible that within days, both of our two main political parties will be looking for a new leader.'

These anonymous 'MPs' were the same Blairite coup plotters, of course. No balance was included in the original article, no response to the damning allegations, no recognition that these were indeed cynical Blairite plotters seeking any excuse to be rid of Corbyn. Indeed the word 'Blairite' does not appear in Kuenssberg's piece, just as it didn't in a supposedly impartial Observer analysis. Honest commentators, of course, understand that the word 'Blairite' is crucial for anyone trying to make sense of the relentless attacks on Corbyn. Thus, former Guardian journalist Jonathan Cook:

'Corbyn and his supporters want to revive Labour as a party of social justice... This is nothing more than a class war to pave the way for a return of the Blairites to lead Labour.'

The BBC later added balancing comments, after receiving complaints.

The following morning, BBC News misinformed the public that Tom Watson, deputy leader of the Labour Party, had told Corbyn that he must resign. This was false. BBC News quietly retracted the claim without admitting their error. Indeed, as captured by a Labour activist, BBC News had three significantly different headlines in just twenty minutes.

'Labour's Watson tells Corbyn to quit'

became:

'Tom Watson tells Jeremy Corbyn to consider his position'

which became:

'Tom Watson tells Jeremy Corbyn he faces leadership challenge'

It looked as though the BBC's desire to be rid of Corbyn had raced ahead of the facts.

A couple of days earlier, in common with other corporate news media, the BBC pushed a manufactured story about Corbyn being heckled at Gay Pride. The staged incident was also given significant coverage on ITN and Sky News, and even front-page treatment in the Guardian. In fact, as Craig Murray observed, the 'heckler' turned out to be Tom Mauchline who works for the public relations firm Portland Communications. Mauchline had also previously worked on the Liz Kendall campaign for the Labour leadership. Portland's 'strategic counsel' is the notorious Alastair Campbell, Blair's former media chief who helped to sell the illegal invasion-occupation of Iraq. None of this was spelled out in the Guardian report by Heather Stewart, the paper's political editor. Instead, there was a single cryptic line that concealed more than it delivered:

'Allies of the Labour leader said the confrontation at Pride had been staged by anti-Corbyn activists who were attempting to undermine the leader's position'.

There was no further explanation or context. When challenged on Twitter, Stewart responded:

'Story makes clear it was regarded as staged by Corbyn backers; but if part of plot to destabilise him it's news.'

This was a facile reply. Craig Murray himself then asked her:

'1) why does it not make clear that Mauchline is a PR man for Portland Comms? 2) How did you become aware of the story?'

As far as we can see, the Guardian's political editor simply ignored the awkward questions.

Meanwhile, BBC News ran a live feed on their home page with the headline, 'Corbyn crisis and Brexit'. Brexit was almost an afterthought; it certainly seemed to be playing second fiddle to the 'Corbyn crisis'. Anyone seeing this could be forgiven for asking about the BBC News editorial agenda and its setting of priorities. It was as though we were to forget that Prime Minister David Cameron had announced his resignation three days earlier; and that Cameron and the Tory party had led the country into a referendum that had resulted in the FTSE 100 index falling more than 8%, and the pound falling against the dollar by 10%; and that a number of Tories were scrambling to become the new leader, including the warmongering, climate-denying Boris Johnson. But, true to form, BBC News was happy to hammer on about the 'Corbyn crisis'; this despite the fact that 'Labour persuaded two-thirds of its supporters to vote remain'.

It was actually surreal to read a post-Brexit BBC article on June 28, 'Conservative leader: Who might succeed David Cameron?', reminding readers of Johnson's 'unique brand of charisma making him a household name... he is regarded as being an electoral asset', while Michael Gove was 'reforming, if controversial' and 'is still respected on both the Remain and Leave wings of the party'. No serious criticism of either politician was included, despite their deep responsibility for the Brexit crisis. By contrast, as we saw above, the BBC was only too happy to include damning judgements of Corbyn.

Perhaps the worst example of an anti-Corbyn attack, post-Brexit, was in the Mail on Sunday. A piece by Dan Hodges was illustrated by a Photoshopped image of a malevolent vampiric Corbyn in a coffin with the despicable headline, 'Labour MUST kill vampire Jezza'. That this should appear just ten days after Labour MP Jo Cox was brutally murdered is almost beyond belief.

When challenged by readers, Hodges responded with the standard cop-out:

'Sorry, but I don't write the headlines.'

It is true that sub-editors write newspaper headlines. But Hodges could still have indicated that he recognised the callousness and irresponsibility of the headline and photo.

One reader fired off this rational follow-up challenge:

'But are you condoning the headline? Do you agree with it? Or is just no comment from you?'

Hodges did not reply; understandably enough. In March, a tragi-comic announcement was issued: 'Britain's best political columnist DAN HODGES joins the Mail on Sunday.' A lucrative contract for Hodges, to be sure, and one he would be reluctant to jeopardise by criticising his paymasters. 'It's hard to make the sums add up when you are kicking the people who write the cheques', as the BBC's Andrew Marr once observed. (Andrew Marr, 'My Trade - A Short History Of British Journalism', Macmillan, 2004, p.112)

In a blog piece, Craig Murray rightly noted:

'The demonstrable public contempt of the public for the political class has been mirrored these last few days by the demonstrable contempt of the political class for the public. This has been obvious in the response to the Brexit vote, and in the Labour parliamentary party's move against Corbyn. Both are evidence that the political class feel that they should not be directed by a wider public.'

This explains why the corporate media have avoided mentioning that Corbyn won last year's leadership election by a 'landslide', winning 60% of the vote, more than all the rest of the candidates combined. Despite noting that Angela Eagle is the likely leadership contender, the media have also ignored a February YouGov poll that found that 60% of Labour members would vote for Corbyn in a new leadership race, with 15% supporting Hilary Benn and just 6% supporting Angela Eagle.

Murray continued:

'Everybody knows that the Labour parliamentary party is well to the right of both the membership and the trade unions, and has been itching to get rid of Corbyn from day one. For those who have constantly stabbed him in the back for a year to criticise his effectiveness in fighting their opponents is ridiculous.'

Investigative journalist Nafeez Ahmed points out that:

'The latest coup attempt against Jeremy Corbyn within the Labour Party is being led by an elitist Blairite network who have always seen his sudden rise to leadership as a threat to their waning control of the party.'

One significant figure in this Blairite network is Will Straw who set up Left Foot Forward Ltd, a company that runs the country's 'No. 1 left-wing blog' of the same name. Straw is the son of Jack Straw who served as Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary under Tony Blair. Ahmed notes that Will Straw is:

'among a network of longtime Blairite stalwarts trying to "re-found" the Labour Party – a project demolished by Jeremy Corbyn's landslide victory in the Labour leadership elections in September 2015.'

The independent journalist Steve Topple highlights the links between coordinated attacks on Corbyn and a network of Labour figures with direct links to the PR company, Portland Communications (mentioned above). The PR firm was set up in 2001 by a former adviser to Blair. Its clients include the World Economic Forum, the EU, the UK government, Barclays Bank and large companies, including Morrisons and Nestle.

Two weeks ago, the Daily Telegraph reported that:

'Labour rebels hope to topple Jeremy Corbyn in 24-hour blitz after EU referendum'.

The article continued:

'By fanning the flames with front bench resignations and public criticism they think the signatures needed to trigger a leadership race can be gathered within a day.'

BBC News - in particular, its political editor Laura Kuenssberg - continues to play a disreputable role in fanning these flames. In a BBC News article on Tuesday, Kuenssberg pointed to two more Labour figures who have called on Corbyn to resign as 'signs that his backing away from Parliament could be starting to fray.' Extrapolating wildly, she concluded:

'The wave of enthusiasm he built outside Parliament may be starting to recede.'

This is all part of a bigger picture of how the BBC has put 'its full weight behind the Corbyn coup', as Carlyn Harvey notes. Readers may recall that Kuenssberg helped to orchestrate the on-air resignation of a shadow Labour minister earlier this year: another attempt to undermine Corbyn's leadership.

The 'Guardian view' is that the 'Corbyn experiment is effectively over at Westminster'. This casual dismissal comes from the 'liberal' paper which opposed Corbyn from the start, and which makes no mention of the relentless media wrecking campaign against him, including its own ugly role. The 'Corbyn experiment' is an experiment in real democracy; something which the Guardian has sought to destroy. A responsible newspaper would relentlessly expose the truth about society; namely, that 'politics is the shadow cast on society by big business', as the American philosopher John Dewey said.

Nobody should be surprised at the shameful performance of the corporate media, especially BBC News. Any threat to the 'natural order' of power brings the schism between private interests and public interests into sharp focus. The heightened, almost farcical, attacks on Corbyn are thus entirely predictable. Rather than feeling anguished at this state of affairs, we can regard it as a sign of how nervous and vulnerable the establishment is when an awakened public challenges elite power.

DC and DE

 

Update

In our original alert we wrote that 'Attempts to unseat Corbyn have been supported by Left Foot Forward Ltd'. We haven't been able to substantiate this assertion and so have withdrawn it.

July 21, 2016

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editor@medialens.org (Editor) Alerts 2016 Wed, 29 Jun 2016 02:13:36 +0000
The Fairy Tale Of The ‘Self-Questioning’ BBC http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2016/821-the-fairy-tale-of-the-self-questioning-bbc.html http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2016/821-the-fairy-tale-of-the-self-questioning-bbc.html

Last week, climate scientists warned that:

'Atmospheric concentrations of CO2 will shatter the symbolic barrier of 400 parts per million (ppm) this year and will not fall below it in our lifetimes'.

Adding to the sense of urgency, NASA reported that last month was the hottest May on record since modern record-keeping began in 1880. Since October 2015, every month has been globally the hottest ever measured. Meanwhile, scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in the US say that 'future summers could regularly be hotter than the hottest on record'.

Dangerous climate change is not something for the future; it is happening now. Recent climate records have not just been broken but 'obliterated', provoking 'a stunned reaction from climate scientists'. One scientist said:

'The numbers are completely unprecedented. They really stick out like a sore thumb.'

As Noam Chomsky wrote in a sobering new article on humanity's prospects for survival:

'Hardly a day passes without new evidence of how severe the crisis is.'

But the required radical and urgent solutions to the crisis will never be found in the 'mainstream' media, owned and operated by the same corporate and state forces that have driven us to the brink of disaster.

In the US, the next presidential election will be contested by two rich establishment candidates, each of whom would be a disaster for climate stability, global peace and social justice. Here in the UK, establishment elites and their media accomplices are doing all they can to crush any public challenge to the destructive political and economic status quo. Even Sir Michael Lyons, former chair of the BBC, has criticised the BBC for its anti-Corbyn bias:

'There have been some quite extraordinary attacks on the elected leader of the Labour party, quite extraordinary. I can understand why people are worried about whether some of the most senior editorial voices in the BBC have lost their impartiality on this.'

In a recent article, critical theory academic Gavin Lewis notes that BBC News is:

'a twin of Rupert Murdoch's Sky News. Its editorial values are so identical that viewers get exactly the same hierarchy of news stories, at the same time of day, and predominantly from the same ideological viewpoint.'

Coverage of Western policy is, says Lewis, 'driven by a crude, skewed "good guy versus bad guy" narrative formula.' This BBC agenda is shaped by the compelling need of the state broadcaster to serve power. As a result, 'it has aligned itself with deeply undemocratic, unrepresentative forces and values.'

As the writer and activist Steve Rushton observes, the BBC habitually protects power, the monarchy, and an unjust and inequitable class system:

'The BBC should be seen as no less of an old boys' network than any other of the UK's institutions. From the top flights of big business, to the judiciary, to the civil service, to Westminster, the same pattern persists. This problem takes a particularly insidious form in the BBC because of its enormous influence, allowing it both to gloss and to normalise these dynamics not only for its audience in Britain, but around the world.'

Sarah O'Connell, who has worked for BBC News for many years, gives an insider view of the organisation:

'not many national BBC news journalists see enough of life at the "bottom" of society to report on it properly or accurately. If most of my colleagues at the BBC didn't start life with a silver spoon in their mouths, by the time they've served ten years at the BBC (and the longevity and security of a BBC news staff job is recognised industry wide), they've pretty much gained honorary status of the establishment class.'

She continues:

'when you walk into a BBC newsroom you can see and hear the privilege. There are only a few genuinely working class voices. There are hardly any black faces at all.'

As an example, O'Connell describes in disbelief how widespread abuse of the parliamentary expenses system by MPs was essentially ignored by the BBC. When she tried to report the scandal, she was told by BBC News editors that 'this isn't a story, MPs have to eat.' She adds:

'But it was a story. It was one of the biggest political stories of the decade. And the BBC missed it, because, to most of their journalists at that time, the idea of having lunch for £150 on expenses, well, it just wasn't a story, was it? Not when it was exactly the kind of thing BBC news executives might be doing as well.'

And yet, high-profile BBC News professionals are sufficiently schooled in doublethink that they can routinely proclaim their adherence to the highest standards of journalism without batting an eye. For instance, Jon Sopel, BBC North America editor, asserted with metaphorical hand on heart:

'It is our job to test our elected officials, to subject them to scrutiny, to ask the questions the public want answering and hopefully to be fearless in our pursuit of those questions.'

It takes great chutzpah, or overweening pride in institutional BBC myths, to try and get away with such remarks. But it's no surprise to hear boiler-plate guff like this from BBC journalists. After all, the man who leads them from atop BBC News is James Harding, a former Times editor under Rupert Murdoch, who churns out corporate PR-speak piously declaring that BBC journalism has an:

'uncompromising commitment to accuracy, to impartiality, to diversity of opinion, and to the fair treatment of people in the news'.

Harding adds:

'If you make a mistake, you should correct it as soon as you become aware of it – particularly in live and continuous news or on a website.'

But what happens when the BBC's 'mistake' is to relentlessly channel and amplify pro-government and pro-business ideology, day after day? When has this ever been 'corrected' by the BBC?

When Harding migrated from the confines of Murdoch's empire to the confines of UK state broadcasting, he famously urged BBC journalists:

'not to shy away from investigative reporting and difficult issues in the wake of the Jimmy Savile and Lord McAlpine affairs.'

He declared the corporation 'the best news organisation in the world', and he promised a renewed commitment to 'curious, inquisitive journalism in the public interest'. He claimed that he wanted BBC News to devote more resources to 'original journalism' and to focus on 'story-getting'.

But the claim was farcical. When asked whether the BBC would have run with whistle-blower Edward Snowden's revelations, if the news organisation had been approached first, he said no. Why not? Because that would have been 'campaigning' journalism. Just contemplate that for a moment. Presenting the truth of US government deceptions is 'campaigning'!

As Glenn Greenwald wrote:

'his reasoning shows how neutered state-funded media inevitably becomes. Here's one of the biggest stories in journalism of the last decade, one that sparked a worldwide debate about a huge range of issues, spawned movements for legislative reform, ruptured diplomatic relationships, changed global Internet behavior, and won almost every major journalism award in the West. And the director of news and current affairs of BBC says they likely would not have reported the story, one that — in addition to all those other achievements — happened to have enraged the British government to which the BBC must maintain fealty.'

But there is no end to the ideological shibboleths that establishment figures churn out. Tony Hall, the BBC's Director-General, once told an interviewer:

'One of the things that has always amazed me about the BBC is that it is the most self-questioning organisation I've ever worked in. It asks itself questions all the time about whether it's doing the right thing, could we have done that better.'

Jenni Russell, a former BBC editor, returns us to the real world:

'Nothing makes the BBC as nervous as the prospect of its own journalists inquiring into its behaviour. [...] No one in the organisation is ever unaware of the possible damage to the BBC's brand when news starts asking critical questions of the BBC itself. The corporate centre's instinctive response is to block and discourage criticism, and any ambitious editors and executives in news are constantly aware of that. [...] Trying to get a reaction out of senior executives either in news or the corporate centre always sent it into hedgehog mode, making it bristling, fearful and unresponsive.'

To put things in perspective, we need to return to the central topic that opened this media alert: global climate chaos. Consider the powerful message given by journalist Rebecca Solnit to journalism students graduating this year from the University of California, Berkeley:

'For journalists and for human beings generally, the elephant in the room has been there for a long time. It's not even the elephant: the elephant in the room is the room itself, the biosphere in which all life currently known to exist in the universe is enclosed, and on which it all depends, the biosphere now devastated by climate change, with far more change to come. [...] Climate change is here, and it is changing everything. It is bigger than anything else, because it is everything, for the imaginable future.'

Solnit added:

'Future generations are going to curse most of us for distracting ourselves with trivialities as the planet burned. Journalists are in a pivotal place when it comes to the possibilities and the responsibilities in this crisis.'

But relying on journalists in the corporate media, not least the BBC, to exercise such responsibility is a forlorn hope. We should reject the elite media which exists to serve elite interests. Instead, we need to develop and support alternative means of informing and empowering the public in the vital struggle for climate protection, peace and equality.

 

DC

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editor@medialens.org (Editor) Alerts 2016 Tue, 21 Jun 2016 05:53:14 +0000
How The Press Hides The Global Crimes Of The West: Corporate Media Coverage Of Chad http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2016/820-how-the-press-hides-the-global-crimes-of-the-west-corporate-media-coverage-of-chad.html http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2016/820-how-the-press-hides-the-global-crimes-of-the-west-corporate-media-coverage-of-chad.html

Guest Media Alert

By Richard Lance Keeble

One of the essential functions of the corporate media is to marginalise or silence acknowledgement of the history – and continuation – of Western imperial aggression. The coverage of the recent sentencing in Senegal of Hissène Habré, the former dictator of Chad, for crimes against humanity, provides a useful case study.

The verdict could well have presented the opportunity for the media to examine in detail the complicity of the US, UK, France and their major allies in the Middle East and North Africa in the appalling genocide Habré inflicted on Chad during his rule – from 1982 to 1990. After all, Habré had seized power via a CIA-backed coup. As William Blum commented in Rogue State (2002: 152):

'With US support, Habré went on to rule for eight years during which his secret police reportedly killed tens of thousands, tortured as many as 200,000 and disappeared an undetermined number.'

Indeed, while coverage of Chad has been largely missing from the British corporate media, so too was the massive, secret war waged over these eight years by the United States, France and Britain from bases in Chad against Libyan leader Colonel Mu'ammar Gaddafi. (See Targeting Gaddafi: Secret Warfare and the Media, by Richard Lance Keeble, in Mirage in the Desert? Reporting the 'Arab Spring', edited by John Mair and Richard Lance Keeble, Abramis, Bury St Edmunds, 2011, pp 281-296.)

By 1990, with the crisis in the Persian Gulf developing, the French government had tired of Habré's genocidal policies while George Bush senior's administration decided not to frustrate France in exchange for co-operation in its attack on Iraq. And so Habré was secretly toppled and in his place Idriss Déby was installed as the new President of Chad.

Yet the secret Chad coups can only be understood as part of the United States' global imperial strategy. For since 1945, the US has intervened in more than 70 countries – in Africa, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, South America and Asia. Britain, too, has engaged militarily across the globe in virtually every year since 1914. Most of these conflicts are conducted far away from the gaze of the corporate media.

Reporting of the Habré sentencing has been predictably consistent across all the leading newspapers in the UK and US. Thus the focus has been on the jubilant reactions of a few of the victims of Habré's torture and rape, on the comments from some of the human rights organisations involved for many years in the campaign to bring the Chad dictator to justice – and on the fact that it was the first time an African country had prosecuted the former head of another African country for massive human rights abuses. Only a tiny part of the reporting has mentioned the West's role in the genocide. None of the reporting has placed the Chad events in the broader context of US/Western imperial aggression.

The story in the Guardian, by Ruth Maclean, was typical. Some 21 paragraphs were devoted to the report. But only in the last one (appearing almost as an after-thought) was there any mention of US complicity:

'The US State department and the CIA propped up Habré, sending him weapons and money in return for fighting their enemy, Muammar Gaddafi.'

In a follow-up editorial on 1 June 2016, the Guardian again left mentioning the West's role until the last paragraph:

'Many questions still remain unanswered, including several concerning the responsibility or complicity of Western countries, such as France and the US, which actively supported Habré during the cold war years, turning a blind eye to his methods.'

The Telegraph adopted a similar approach. Aislinn Laing, based in Johannesburg, reported briefly:

'Mr Habré, 73, is a former rebel leader who took power by force in Chad in 1982 and was then supported by the US and France to remain at the helm as a bulwark to Muammar Gaddafi in Libya.'

Adam Lusher, in the Independent, devoted just eight words to contextualising the trial:

'Hissène Habré was once backed by America's Cold War-era CIA.'

In the New York Times, buried in par. 24 of a 27-paragraph report by Dionne Searcey are these words:

'Mr. Habré took power during a coup that was covertly aided by the United States, and he received weapons and assistance from France, Israel and the United States to keep Libya, to the north of Chad, and Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, then the Libyan leader, at bay.'

Similarly, in Paul Schemm's 23-paragraph report in the Washington Post, his par. 15 reads:

'Supported by the United States and France in his wars against Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi, Habré was accused of killing up to 40,000 people and torturing hundreds of thousands.'

Neither the Los Angeles Times nor the Belfast Telegraph could find any space to mention the West's complicity.

Intriguingly, the final paragraph in the Guardian's report also included a statement by John Kerry, the US secretary of state, which 'acknowledged his country's complicity':

'As a country committed to the respect for human rights and the pursuit of justice, this is also an opportunity for the United States to reflect on, and learn from, our own connections with past events in Chad.'

But how hypocritical is this rhetoric given the fact that the US today is still supporting human rights offenders across the globe – including the current dictator of Chad, Idriss Déby. Moreover, the Western powers, the US and France in particular, are using Chad as a major base for their covert military operations in Africa.

A number of newspapers have commented on how the case set an important precedent for holding high-profile human rights abusers to account in Africa. Yet there has been little mention of the extraordinary background. For in June 2003, the US actually warned Belgium that it could lose its status as host to Nato's headquarters if the Habré case went ahead on the basis of a 1993 law, which allowed victims to file complaints in Belgium for atrocities committed abroad. Campaigners determined to bring Habré to justice only then shifted their attention to Africa.

William Blum comments in the introduction to Killing Hope (p. 13) on the US's secret wars:

'With a few exceptions, the interventions never made the headlines or the evening TV news. With some, bits and pieces of the stories have popped up here and there, but rarely brought together to form a cohesive and enlightening whole; the fragments usually appear long after the fact, quietly buried within other stories, just as quietly forgotten...'

How perfectly this both predicts and explains the corporate media's coverage of the Chad dictator, Hissène Habré!

 

• Richard Lance Keeble, Professor of Journalism at the University of Lincoln since 2003, has written and edited 36 books. In 2014, he was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Association for Journalism Education.

 

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editor@medialens.org (Editor) Alerts 2016 Thu, 09 Jun 2016 07:28:19 +0000
Anatomy Of A Propaganda Blitz – Part 2: ‘Hitlergate’ http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2016/819-anatomy-of-a-propaganda-blitz-part-2-hitlergate.html http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2016/819-anatomy-of-a-propaganda-blitz-part-2-hitlergate.html

The recent furore surrounding a supposed 'Labour antisemitism crisis' is a classic propaganda blitz of the kind described in Part 1 of this alert.

 

Dramatic New Evidence

As with so many propaganda blitzes, intense media coverage was triggered by 'dramatic new evidence'; namely, the discovery of a graphic posted by Naz Shah two years ago, before she became a Labour MP. The graphic shows a map of the United States with Israel superimposed in the middle, suggesting that a solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict would be to relocate Israel to the US.

Shah's post was highlighted by right-wing political blogger Paul Staines who writes as Guido Fawkes:

'Naz Shah... shared a highly inflammatory graphic arguing in favour of the chilling "transportation" policy two years ago, adding the words "problem solved".'

Jonathan Freedland, comment editor at the Guardian, argued that leftists view Israel as 'a special case, uniquely deserving of hatred', and that this hatred 'lay behind' Shah's call 'for the "transportation" [of Israel to America] - a word with a chilling resonance for Jews'.

In the Observer, Andrew Rawnsley claimed that Shah believed 'that Israelis should be put on "transportation" to America, with all the chilling echoes that has for Jews'.

Guardian assistant editor Michael White reported that Shah had been suspended from the Labour party 'while the context of her antisemitic comments... are thoroughly investigated'. Clearly then, the jury was in - the comments were 'anti-semitic'.

By contrast, Israel-based former Guardian journalist Jonathan Cook, who was given a Martha Gellhorn special award for his work on the Middle East, argued that the map 'was clearly intended to be humorous rather than anti-semitic. I would make a further point. It is also obvious that the true target of the post is the US, not Jews or even Israel – making the anti-semitism claim even more ridiculous'.

Norman Finkelstein, Jewish author of 'The Holocaust Industry' and the son of Holocaust survivors, commented that he had originally posted the graphic on his website in 2014:

'An email correspondent must have sent it. It was, and still is, funny. Were it not for the current political context, nobody would have noticed Shah's reposting of it either. Otherwise, you'd have to be humourless. These sorts of jokes are a commonplace in the U.S. So, we have this joke: Why doesn't Israel become the 51st state? Answer: Because then, it would only have two senators. As crazy as the discourse on Israel is in America, at least we still have a sense of humour. It's inconceivable that any politician in the U.S. would be crucified for posting such a map.'

Finkelstein responded powerfully to the idea that Shah's posting of the image was an endorsement of a 'chilling "transportation" policy':

'Frankly, I find that obscene. It's doubtful these Holocaust-mongers have a clue what the deportations were, or of the horrors that attended them. I remember my late mother describing her deportation. She was in the Warsaw Ghetto. The survivors of the Ghetto Uprising, about 30,000 Jews, were deported to Maijdanek concentration camp. They were herded into railroad cars. My mother was sitting in the railroad car next to a woman who had her child. And the woman – I know it will shock you – the woman suffocated her infant child to death in front of my mother. She suffocated her child, rather than take her to where they were going. That's what it meant to be deported. To compare that to someone posting a light-hearted, innocuous cartoon making a little joke about how Israel is in thrall to the U.S., or vice versa... it's sick. What are they doing? Don't they have any respect for the dead? All these desiccated Labour apparatchiks, dragging the Nazi holocaust through the mud for the sake of their petty jostling for power and position. Have they no shame?'

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editor@medialens.org (Editor) Alerts 2016 Tue, 17 May 2016 05:39:32 +0000
Anatomy Of A Propaganda Blitz - Part 1 http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2016/818-anatomy-of-a-propaganda-blitz-part-1.html http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2016/818-anatomy-of-a-propaganda-blitz-part-1.html

We live in a time when state-corporate interests are cooperating to produce propaganda blitzes intended to raise public support for the demonisation and destruction of establishment enemies.

Below, we will examine five key components of an effective propaganda campaign of this kind.

 

1: Dramatic New Evidence

A propaganda blitz is often launched on the back of 'dramatic new evidence' signifying that an establishment enemy should be viewed as uniquely despicable and targeted with 'action'.

The Blair government's infamous September 2002 dossier on Iraqi WMD contained four mentions of the claim that Iraq was able to deploy WMD against British citizens within 45 minutes of an order being given. But senior intelligence officials revealed that the original 45-minutes claim referred to the length of time it might have taken the Iraqis to fuel and fire a Scud missile or rocket launcher. The original intelligence said nothing about whether Iraq possessed the chemical or biological weapons to use in these weapons. The government had turned a purely hypothetical danger into an immediate and deadly threat.

In 2011, it was claimed that the Libyan government was planning a massacre in Benghazi, exactly the kind of action that Gaddafi knew could trigger Western 'intervention'. Investigative journalist Gareth Porter commented:

'When the Obama administration began its effort to overthrow Gaddafi, it did not call publicly for regime change and instead asserted that it was merely seeking to avert mass killings that administration officials had suggested might approach genocidal levels. But the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), which had been given the lead role in assessing the situation in Libya, found no evidence to support such fears and concluded that it was based on nothing more than "speculative arguments".'

In 2013, the Syrian government was said to have launched a chemical weapons attack in Ghouta, Damascus, just as UN chemical weapons experts were visiting the city. It was claimed that Assad had ordered the crossing of Obama's very clear 'red line' for 'intervention' – a war that would have destroyed the Syrian government and quite possibly resulted in Assad's violent death. Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh reported on the Ghouta attack:

'The quick announcement that Bashar al-Assad did it is simply not true.'

Western dissidents are subject to continuous smears but also full-on propaganda blitzes of this kind.

In 2012, after WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange requested asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, the corporate media rose up as one to denounce him as a vile 'narcissist' and buffoon. Always 'controversial', journalists now presented Assange as a fully-fledged hate figure.

In 2013, a single comment in an interview caused large numbers of journalists across the 'spectrum' to conclude that Russell Brand – then promoting a vocal form of anti-corporate dissent - was a 'vicious sexist', 'narcissist' and 'idiot'. The intensity of the attacks on him, which are ongoing, eventually resulted in Brand withdrawing from the public eye.

It is hardly in doubt that Assange, Brand and others are being targeted by state-corporate propagandists because they are challenging state-corporate power. How else can we explain the fact that criticism of the many hundreds of journalists and MPs who have repeatedly agitated and voted for wars that have wrecked whole countries is off the agenda? It is not even that criticism of Assange, Brand and co is disproportionate; there is very often no criticism at all of people who have brought death, injury and displacement to literally millions of human beings. But when Brand joked about his then girlfriend: 'When I was asked to edit an issue of the New Statesman I said yes because it was a beautiful woman asking me', these words were viewed as infinitely more deserving of vicious attack right across the media 'spectrum' than political actions destroying whole countries.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has also, of course, been subject to a relentless, almost surreal, year-long propaganda campaign. As we will see in Part 2, this has most recently taken the form of accusations that 'Labour now seems to be a party that attracts antisemites like flies to a cesspit.'

Propaganda blitzes are fast-moving attacks intended to inflict maximum damage. State-corporate propagandists know that media attention will quickly move on from the claim of 'dramatic new evidence', so the durability of the claim is not a key concern. Marginalised media blogs and rare 'mainstream' articles may quickly expose the hype, but most corporate media will not notice and will not learn the lesson that similar claims should be received with extreme caution in future. A prime example was the campaign justifying war on Libya in 2011, which faced minimal corporate media scepticism just eight years after the obvious deception on Iraq.

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editor@medialens.org (Editor) Alerts 2016 Thu, 12 May 2016 09:26:22 +0000
Corbyn's Millions - Blair's Millions http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2016/817-corbyn-s-millions-blair-s-millions.html http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2016/817-corbyn-s-millions-blair-s-millions.html

While 'social media' like Facebook and Twitter are forms of corporate media, it is unarguable that they and other web-based outlets have helped empower a serious challenge to traditional print and broadcast journalism. For the first time in history, uncompromised non-corporate voices are able to instantly challenge the filtered 'mainstream' version of events. This certainly helps explain the rise of Labour's Jeremy Corbyn, Podemos in Spain, and now Bernie Sanders in the US.

A key lesson learned by many people over the last few years is that supposedly neutral corporate media in fact have an unlimited capacity for finding fault with the actions and opinions of perceived enemies of elite power, just as they have an unlimited capacity for pardoning loyal servants.

The point was emphasised by an April 12 article in the Telegraph titled:

'Jeremy Corbyn's £3million state-funded salary and pension revealed.'

Telegraph journalists Kate McCann and Steven Swinford found great and damning significance in the fact that:

'Jeremy Corbyn has made more than £3million from the state in the past 30 years, according to official records. The Labour leader has made more than £1.5million in salary as an MP and will benefit from a generous £1.6million pension when he retires.'

The Telegraph quoted 'A senior backbench Labour MP', who said the scale of his earnings 'was "remarkable" in the wake of Mr Corbyn's criticism of David Cameron over his own tax affairs'.

In fact, Corbyn had earned the equivalent of a £45,000 a year salary. This, we were to believe, was a scandal. Former Guardian journalist Jonathan Cook commented:

'In other words, this is a complete non-story. He's an MP and he received the benefits due an MP. If there's a problem with that, then the Telegraph ought to be campaigning against MPs' salaries.'

As Cook noted, the Telegraph thereby revealed 'it is just a propaganda sheet for the business class':

'The only scandal here is that the Telegraph can write a story like this and still be considered a newspaper rather than a muck-raking comic. This example may be extreme, but behind it lie the same motives of class-interest that have driven the hundreds of other hatchet jobs on Corbyn over the past year, published in every British newspaper including supposedly liberal publications like the Guardian.'

The good news is that this 'mainstream' backlash - Sanders has received identical treatment in the US press - has also been exposed by media activists, further demolishing corporate media credibility.

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editor@medialens.org (Editor) Alerts 2016 Wed, 20 Apr 2016 08:07:46 +0000
Last Chance President - Bernie Sanders And The Corporate Media http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2016/816-last-chance-president.html http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2016/816-last-chance-president.html

The comedian Billy Connolly once observed that politicians aren't like the rest of us. They don't look like us, don't sound like us, and they rarely talk about issues that matter deeply to mere voters.

Senator Bernie Sanders, candidate for the Democrat's US Presidential nomination, on the other hand, does look and talk like 'ordinary' people. He is the kind of smart, straight-talking, Jewish New Yorker celebrated by shows like Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

If the liberal commentariat is to be believed, leftist enthusiasm for Bernie is sharply curbed by the very fact that he's Jewish. In the Guardian last week, Rafael Behr, who is also Jewish, wrote:

'There have been enough reports in recent weeks of Labour councillors and candidates peddling antisemitic mumbo-jumbo – Jews as puppet-masters behind 9/11, Isis and global capitalism – to suggest the party has an infestation on its hands.'

An 'infestation', no less! The link to Labour officials 'peddling antisemitic mumbo-jumbo' took the reader to a piece by Behr's own comment editor at the Guardian, Jonathan Freedland, also Jewish, who wrote last month:

'Thanks to Corbyn, the Labour party is expanding, attracting many leftists who would previously have rejected it or been rejected by it. Among those are people with hostile views of Jews.'

In reality, leftists embrace Sanders for the same reason they resist Behr and Freedland. Sanders talks honestly about corporate (not Jewish 'puppet-masters') control of society; Behr and Freedland do not. Sanders talks about the causes of vast and shameful inequality in the world's wealthiest country. He talks about corporate media bias rooted in advertiser funding. He talks about 'whether or not we think it's proper for the United States to go around overthrowing governments'. Behr and Freedland, and a long list of Guardian corporate apologists, do not talk honestly about these issues.

Every movement has its haters, of course, but in our experience when serious left commentators critique these liberal journalists, it has flat zero – nothing! - to do with ethnicity, race, creed or religion.

Sanders' recent discussion with Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks (TYT) show was an astonishing departure from standard, six-second soundbite politics. Imagine a high-profile UK politician talking like this about the media:

'First of all, we're talking about the corporate media, right?... We need to break through the fog of the corporate media, which does everything that they can to keep us entertained without addressing the real issues. I'm on the corporate media every single day and you don't know how hard it is just to try to demand that we begin to talk about the real issues. They really do not want to. They talk about everything under the sun, but not the real issues.'

Sanders is not arguing that the corporate media is merely biased, or unbalanced, in reporting issues; he is arguing that it never talks about real issues. He offers a jaw-dropping example:

'Here's the story. I have been mayor for eight years, Congressman for sixteen, a US Senator for nine years. Do you know how many times people in the media have said: "Bernie, what are you going to do to end poverty in America? This is an outrage! We have 47 million people in poverty, what are you going to do about it, Bernie?" The answer is zero. Not once.'

The remarkable result, as Sanders notes:

'Concepts of income and wealth inequality, concepts of justice, learning what goes on around the rest of the world [are] never talked about in the corporate media.'

So what is going on? Why won't corporate media discuss real issues. Sanders explains:

'I had to write a letter to the presidents of all of the networks to tell them that on their Sunday shows they never talk about climate change. Almost never talk about it. Why? Well, does it have to do with the fact that they get a lot of coal company and oil company money advertising? I think it does. They don't talk about it.'

He adds:

'I want a vigorous effort to address climate change. I mean, I am very worried. I talk to these scientists. This planet is in serious danger. You can't cuddle up to the fossil fuel industry; you've got to take them on.'

It seems incredible, but in fact Sanders is correct on climate coverage. The not-for-profit Media Matters for America reported that, despite ever-worsening warnings of the dangers and a long list of broken temperature and other records, media coverage actually declined in 2015:

'In 2015, ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox collectively aired approximately 146 minutes of climate change coverage on their evening and Sunday news shows, which was eight minutes less than the networks aired in 2014. This five percent drop in coverage occurred even though 2015 was a year full of significant actions to address climate change, including the EPA finalizing the Clean Power Plan, the first-ever federal limits on carbon pollution from power plants; President Obama rejecting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, citing the need to fight climate change; Pope Francis releasing the first-ever papal encyclical on climate change; and leaders from 195 countries agreeing to a landmark accord to lower greenhouse gas emissions at the United Nations climate summit in Paris.'

In mid-March, corporate media described how climate scientists were now warning of nothing less than a 'climate emergency'. The Guardian reported:

'February smashed a century of global temperature records by a "stunning" margin, according to data released by Nasa. The unprecedented leap led scientists, usually wary of highlighting a single month's temperature, to label the new record a "shocker" and warn of a "climate emergency".'

When famously dispassionate climate scientists use this kind of language, it's time to start paying attention. Assuming you care about the life-expectancy of your children and grandchildren, and indeed of yourself.

According to the Nexis media search engine, the term 'climate emergency' was mentioned about a dozen times between March 14 and March 21. The term has not been used since. A subsequent, March 22, Guardian piece mentioned merely that scientists had been 'alarmed' by the recent record heat.

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editor@medialens.org (Editor) Alerts 2016 Fri, 08 Apr 2016 06:50:27 +0000
Kunduz Killers Go Free http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2016/815-kunduz-killers-go-free.html http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2016/815-kunduz-killers-go-free.html

On the night of October 3, 2015, a United States Air Force AC-130 gunship repeatedly attacked a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan. Forty-two people were killed and dozens wounded. The US military plane had conducted five strafing runs over the course of more than an hour despite MSF pleas to Afghan, US and Nato officials to call off the attack.

As we reported at the time, MSF were unequivocal in their condemnation of the American attack. The hospital was 'intentionally targeted' in 'a premeditated massacre'; it was a 'war crime'. The medical charity rejected US assurances of three inquiries by the US, Nato and the Afghan government. MSF demanded instead an independent international investigation. It was to no avail. The US ignored public outrage and went ahead with its standard whitewashing procedures when it commits war crimes that get exposed. The outcome was announced on March 18. BBC News reported:

'The US military has disciplined more than a dozen service members after an air strike on a Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) hospital in Afghanistan killed 42 people last year.

'The Pentagon has acknowledged that the clinic was targeted by mistake, but no personnel will face criminal charges.'

Note that the BBC wording – 'the Pentagon has acknowledged that the clinic was targeted by mistake' – is deceptive bias. The BBC made no mention that MSF had presented strong evidence that the clinic was 'deliberately targeted', that the attack was a 'war crime', and that there was an urgent need for an independent inquiry.

The BBC continued:

'the sanctions, which were not made public, were mostly administrative.

'Some received formal reprimands while others were suspended from duty.

'Both officers and enlisted personnel were disciplined, but no generals were punished.'

MSF said that they would not comment until the Pentagon makes the details of its report public. (At the time of writing, this has yet to happen).

On the morning of March 18, we noted that the BBC's report was, for a while at least, linked from the front page of its news website. But it was soon removed from this prominent position and instead buried deep in the international news section. This is not unusual when reporting the crimes of the West; if they are reported at all.

Our subsequent online searches revealed just four low-key, relatively brief newspaper reports in the British press that US personnel had been 'punished' for the Kunduz bombing: in the Independent, the Daily Mail, the Telegraph and the Guardian. The Telegraph reported that the Pentagon would shortly 'publish a version of its report on the attack. It will be redacted to remove classified material.' In other words: anything too embarrassing or damaging to US interests.

A few days later, on March 23, a tiny news item on page 34 of The Times carried the headline 'US commander sorry for hospital attack'. The entirety of the piece, all of 61 words, was this:

'The new commander of US-Nato forces in Afghanistan has apologised for a mistaken attack on a hospital in Kunduz last October that killed 42 people. General John Nicholson of the US army went to the northern city to meet relatives of those who died at the hospital run by the charity Médecins Sans Frontières. He said the incident was a "horrible tragedy".'

As ever, Western atrocities are described as 'tragedy' rather than 'war crime'. No other UK national newspaper, as far as we could see, even reported General Nicholson's 'apology'.

The New York Times did better, and included this telling quote from Zabiullah Niazi, a nurse who had lost an eye, a finger and the use of one hand, as well as suffering other injuries in the US attack:

'They hit us six months ago and are apologizing now. The head of the provincial council and other officials who said we accept the apology, they wouldn't have said it if they had lost their own son and eaten ashes, as we did.'

According to Mr. Niazi, General Nicholson did not even appear at an arranged meeting in the governor's office with two survivors and male members of victims' families. Instead, he made a speech in a packed auditorium where family members and survivors did not get a chance to speak. As a further sign of the tightly stage-managed proceedings, the general's wife stopped by 'for one minute to say hello and express sorrow', said Mr Niazi. She spent more time – five minutes - with female survivors and family members in a separate room.

The general's 'apology' was similarly dismissed by an Afghani doctor whose brother, also a doctor, was killed in the US attack. Dr. Karim Bajaouri said:

'They are asking forgiveness for killing civilians?! They're only making an apology? First they fire on civilians and then apologize. Personally, I don't need such apologies, I do not accept them. Our moral wounds cannot be healed this way.'

The Guardian made a recent passing reference to Kunduz in an article by Simon Tisdall, an assistant editor and foreign affairs columnist. The focus of the piece was on Afghanistan as an election issue in the US Presidential race:

'The fact that the most memorable US contribution to the battle for Kunduz was the destruction of a Médecins Sans Frontières hospital with the loss of at least 22 lives, none of them insurgents, only emphasised how hapless and haphazard the US mission in Afghanistan has become.'

(Oddly, Tisdall's article was originally published on October 15, 2015, but then updated on March 29, 2016; presumably to include the above line.)

Once again, compliant 'liberal' journalism is marked by its readiness to label war crimes as merely 'hapless' and 'haphazard'.

In the wake of the Pentagon's accouncement of 'punishments' for the Kunduz killers, an article on the Foreign Policy website noted:

'Human rights advocates denounced the U.S. military's decision not to file criminal charges against troops'.

Andrea Prasow of Human Rights Watch told Foreign Policy:

'It's incredibly disappointing and discouraging. We have come up with our own analysis of the case, and we think there should be a criminal investigation.'

As Prasow observed, the American military 'has a vested interest in protecting its own'.

HRW added:

'For good reason the victims' family members will see this as both an injustice and an insult: the US military investigated itself and decided no crimes had been committed'.

The statement continued:

'The failure to criminally investigate senior officials liable for the attack is not only an affront to the lives lost at the MSF hospital, but a blow against the rule of law in Afghanistan and elsewhere.'

Such comments contrast starkly with the bland indifference of the 'liberal' press.

Summing up, then, the reaction to the Pentagon's 'punishment' of the Kunduz killers in the 'mainstream' press was as instructive as ever. True to form, we found not a single editorial or column denouncing this latest US whitewashing of US crimes.

Then again, it is standard practice for the Western media to mock Official Enemies, while being blind to the crimes of 'our' own Glorious Leaders.

DC and DE

 

Suggested Action

If you decide to contact a journalist in response to our alert, please keep the tone civil. We do not condone abusive language.

Please forward any replies to us:
editor@medialens.org

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editor@medialens.org (Editor) Alerts 2016 Thu, 31 Mar 2016 00:41:33 +0000