25March2017

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‘The Stupidest And Most Extreme Section Of The British Left’

An Appeal For Your Support From Media Lens

In a media alert earlier this year, we described our under-resourced challenges of the corporate media as 'jousting with toothpicks'. Although the analogy was light-hearted, the work of Media Lens is serious and would not be possible without your support.

Our alerts and books are regularly cited and praised by readers, including journalists, academics and activists; but especially by so-called ordinary people who recognise that the corporate news media keeps the public ignorant about much that is important. People instinctively recognise that we are being force-fed a diet of elite-friendly propaganda, and they appreciate it when the 'babbling brook of bullshit' is sampled, tested and rigorously exposed.

The journalist and filmmaker John Pilger refers to us as 'the cyber guardians of honest journalism', adding:

'The creators of Media Lens, David Edwards and David Cromwell, assisted by their webmaster, Olly Maw, have had such an extraordinary influence since they set up the site in 2001 that, without their meticulous and humane analysis, the full gravity of the debacles of Iraq and Afghanistan might have been consigned to bad journalism's first draft of bad history.'

David McQueen, a lecturer in journalism at Bournemouth University, has evaluated the role of BBC News, ten years on from its disgraceful echo-chamber 'reporting' of state propaganda that paved the way to the invasion of Iraq:

'[John] Simpson and other media pundits who gave credence to the government's claims on WMD a decade ago have yet to apologise for their role in building the case for invasion...The analysis by Media Lens, contemptuously dismissed by Simpson and others at the time, proved to be far more accurate than any of the heavily-resourced BBC investigations.' 

He continues:

'Yet dissenting voices that challenged the government's phoney claims were almost entirely marginalised in the mainstream media in the build-up to the invasion. [...] This tendency has been all too apparent in the retrospective reports and investigations on Iraq. News reports marking the anniversary have included respectful interviews with Tony Blair, who was allowed a lengthy defence of his war, while members of the anti-war coalition who brought a million protestors onto the street have, as before the war, found it difficult to access the airwaves.'

Even media we are supposed to applaud as the most critically aware - including Channel 4 News, the Independent and the Guardian - played a crucial role in selling government lies and propaganda. Despite much self-serving rhetoric, they did almost nothing to seriously challenge the US-UK governments' case for war. Amazingly, for example, the widely-available evidence that (pressure cookers aside) Iraq had destroyed its weapons of mass destruction by December 1998 was simply ignored. The reality and seriousness of an obviously non-credible and indeed non-existent 'threat' was taken on trust and endlessly boosted (see our books, Guardians of Power and Newspeak in the 21st Century). There was also virtually nothing about how such propaganda campaigns fit into a long history of manipulating and diverting public opinion to pursue foreign policy that is driven by destructive geostrategic and corporate interests; all under cover of 'us' being the perennial 'good guys' in world affairs.

The tragic outcome of the corporate media's role in the elite power system is that over one million Iraqis now lie dead, with four million refugees having fled their homes, and a nation struggling to cope with a myriad of problems including devastated health care, education, housing, unemployment and crushed hopes for the future.

 

A Murdoch Minion Wags A Warning Finger

In our safari through the corporate media jungle we have continued to shake the trees of comfortably-ensconced journalists. Take the Murdoch-employed David Aaronovitch of The Times, for instance, the pro-Iraq war propagandist who said, and instantly forgot that he'd said, 'those weapons [WMD] had better be there', otherwise he would 'never believe another thing that I am told by our government, or that of the US ever again.'

Last year, Aaronovitch responded to Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald's expression of support for Media Lens by reminding him that we are 'Kooks'. He warned Greenwald darkly of the likely consequences for his reputation of publicly defending our work: 'Your funeral.'

In parting, Aaronovitch helpfully advised: 'One last piece of information. You have signed up alongside the stupidest and most extreme section of the British left. Enjoy.'

In the face of this kind of corporate flak, we are very grateful to everyone who follows our work, with many sending thoughtful and articulate feedback as well as kind words of encouragement.

In the last year, Media Lens has dissected corporate media performance on a host of topics including climate change, Iraq, the death of Hugo Chávez, the case for challenging corporate journalism, Israel and Palestine, WikiLeaks, Syria, Libya, the pharmaceuticals industry, US imperialism, the Leveson inquiry, North Korea, the NHS and Iran. We also publish Cogitations which look at the philosophy and spirituality underpinning our work, issues which are so often ignored and even derided by progressive commentators.

We were asked recently by author and journalist Ian Sinclair to contribute to a roundtable discussion for Peace News on the pros and cons of working with, or in, the 'mainstream' media. We first pointed out that we should dispense with the misleading term 'mainstream'. Why? Because the corporate media is a powerful but mostly extremist fringe that supports the humanly-catastrophic goals of a ruthless, unaccountable elite. This system is not in business to alert humanity to the real risk of climate catastrophe and the need for immediate action to avert disaster. The corporate media has a proven, indeed astonishing, track record of suppressing public awareness on these crucial issues.

For years, left and green activists have argued that we should work with, or within, corporate media to reach a wider public. And for a long time the argument seemed reasonable. But after decades of accelerating planetary devastation and rapidly declining democracy, the argument has weakened to the point of collapse. By a process of carefully-rationed corporate 'inclusion', the honesty, vitality and truth of both the greens and the left have been contained, trivialised and stifled.

But while the internet remains relatively open, there is a brief window to break away from the corporate media, to build something honest, radical and publicly accountable. The first step is to build public motivation and momentum for this shift by exposing the corporate media for what it is. Climate crisis is already upon us, with much worse likely to come. The stakes almost literally could not be higher.

Especially in this time of financial crisis and 'austerity', we owe a huge debt of gratitude to anyone who feels able to send us a one-off or regular donation. It is not something we take for granted. As a result of your past generosity, both editors have been able to leave full-time employment in order to devote ourselves 100% to Media Lens.

Perhaps inevitably, with people reassessing their financial commitments, donations to Media Lens have dropped a little in the last year or two. As things stand, we estimate that we have sufficient funds to take us into 2014. Beyond that, the outlook is less certain for us.

We are therefore asking you, if you are financially able to do so, to please consider supporting our work, either through a one-off donation or by signing up to send Media Lens £1, £2, £5, £10 or more a month. If you still buy newspapers, perhaps you would even consider dropping your subsidy to the corporate media and supporting Media Lens instead. Donations can be made from the UK, as well as worldwide, using one of the methods at this webpage.

 

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.

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