Propaganda during World War I: An Illustrated Account

By Terje Meloy
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These stories are not unique cases from a remote war. The same methods are constantly rinsed and repeated, the mentality in our ruling elites is the same, and the risk of a major conflict is as great today as in 1914.

These examples concentrate mostly on British/American perception management and propaganda. First of all, because they are masters of the art, and secondly, as victors they still dominate the narrative.

Arthur Ponsonby and Falsehood in Wartime

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After the Great War came a huge backlash of disillusion and revulsion. Calmly analysed, most of what had been told in the war turned out to be lies and half-truths. «Falsehood in War-time, Containing an Assortment of Lies Circulated Throughout the Nations During the Great War» was the title of a book published in 1928. Written by Arthur, Ponsonby, it discussed 20 instances of lies in wartime.

The contents of the book can be summed up in the Ten Commandments of War Propaganda:

  1. We do not want war.
  2. The opposite party alone is guilty of war.
  3. The enemy is the face of the devil.
  4. We defend a noble cause, not our own interest.
  5. The enemy systematically commits cruelties; our mishaps are involuntary.
  6. The enemy uses forbidden weapons.
  7. We suffer small losses, those of the enemy are enormous.
  8. Artists and intellectuals back our cause.
  9. Our cause is sacred.
  10. All who doubt our propaganda, are traitors.

The Enemy Is the Face of the Devil

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The perception of German atrocities in World War 1 has had is up and downs during the decades.  They ‘Huns’ were indeed quite ruthless, and freely executed several thousand suspected franc-tireurs and hostages when they invaded Belgium and Northern France in 1914.

However, the theme of barbaric, nun-raping, baby-bayonetting Huns was so carried to excess by the Entente propaganda machine that there came a backlash in public opinion after the war. By the 1920s, the disillusionment with the war and its aftermath was so great that all of these stories were dismissed as atrocity propaganda, which again would backfire in 1939, when there was reluctance to believe stories of – this time real – massive German atrocities.

The same theme was used more recently, with the infamous tale of «Iraqis ripping babies from incubators in Kuwaiti hospitals», in the warm-up to the Gulf War in 1990. Before the US Congress, a young woman in tears testified how she as a nurse in Kuwait witnessed Iraqi soldiers ripping prematurely born babies out of their incubators, leaving them to die on the floor. The story was later repeated by an equally moved President George HW Bush.

The public later found out that the woman was in fact not a nurse, but the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to Washington, and the story was concocted as part of the propaganda effort by the PR-Agency Hill & Knowlton.

Mussolini Changes His Mind — Italy Should Join the War

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Italy at first stayed neutral, then chose to join the Entente. This turned out to be a really bad decision, killing a generation of young men, and with not many gains to show for it in the peace treaties.

The decision was partially helped by subsidies from English and French intelligence to the Italian press. The Italian journalist Benito Mussolini (picture: in white coat, arrested during a scuffle with police in 1914) had a change of heart, and went from a leading socialist and war opponent to a fierce advocate of Italy joining the war.

According to a note written in November 1922 by the French secret services in Rome, Mussolini (who was described in another note from the same service as «an agent of the French Embassy in Rome») had in 1914 collected ten million francs «to support Italy’s war alongside the allied powers». In 1915, he was one of the founders the Fascist movement, which later took power in 1922.

The Difference Between Declared War Aims and Real Ones

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In August 1914, when an almost unanimous German parliament voted yes to war, it was presented to the German public as a defensive Schutzkrieg against conniving enemies. With the exception of one member, Karl Liebknecht, the entire 110-member delegation from the Social Democratic Party bowed to the war euphoria and voted yes to war loans.

The perception presented to the public during the first few years of fighting, was of a Germany fighting a defensive war for survival, not a scheme for imperial aggrandizement. But in reality, already in September 1914, in the first few weeks of the war, a secret plan for an extensive redrawing of Europe’s borders was prepared for Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg, the Septemberprogramm (see map).

After the Brest-Litovsk separate peace with the Bolsheviks in 1917, the eastern part of these war aims were achieved, where Germany occupied or created puppet governments in Poland, Ukraine, the Caucasus and Baltic areas, and created a dependent state in Finland.

Although a victory, this led to great disillusionment in the German liberal-left, which so far had supported a war to preserve the country. Now he myth of a defensive war was exposed as a lie, and the treaty showed it to be a war for imperial expansion.

The Sinking of the Lusitania

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In May 1915 the British Government was in trouble. The European war was not going well. Instead of reacting to aggressive British blockades by begging for mercy, Germany was sinking more and more British ships with her U-boats.

The Lusitania was sunk by a German submarine on Friday May 7 1915, 12 miles off the coast of Ireland, killing 1198 people. The ship was running at two-thirds speed and in a straight line, rather than the recommended zigzag used to avoid torpedoes. The passengers were mostly US citizens (including millionaire Alfred Vanderbilt).

Her cargo consisted mostly of undeclared weapons and explosives, a fact finally confirmed in 1960, and which explained why she sank so fast. She was bound for the UK, sailing all alone, inexplicably without escort from the Royal Navy and right into a known U-boat hunting ground.

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No members of the press even considered asking why Lusitania had been steaming so slowly and in a straight line, or why the British Admiralty had chosen to withhold the usual naval escort.

The numerous travel warnings posted by the German government in US newspapers, warning people they traveled on British shipping into British waters at their peril, was left out of the narrative. The German explanation, that the Lusitania was a legitimate target because she carried armaments, was dismissed out of hand.

And totally forgotten was the aggressive policy of starving Germany to its knees that had prompted the U-boat campaign in the first place. After the war began in 1914, Britain immediately began a naval blockade of Germany. Since even food was classified as “contraband,” the Germans had to ration food. By all estimates, several hundred thousand people ultimately died of starvation due to the blockade.

The sinking of the Lusitania was one of the main causes that brought the United States into the war, saving the war for the British.

An Inconvenient Peace Offer: “What Does He Want to Butt In for?”

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In July 1915, Pope Benedict XV published the apostolic exhortation «To the Peoples Now at War and to Their Rulers.» Two years later, in 1917, this became The seven-point plan, a peace note presented to the warring parties. It was based on a peace linked to justice rather than military conquest, cessation of hostilities, a reduction of armaments, a guaranteed freedom of the seas, international arbitration, and Belgium restored to independence and guaranteed «against any power whatsoever.» (But it tacitly implied that Germany would gain some territory in the east).

The initiative failed: Although the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary) were positive to the mediation after three years of exhausting war, no one on the Entente side showed any interest. (The collapse of the Russian imperial government a few months later reduced the German willingness to negotiate.) Britain did not even show the Holy See the common courtesy of a proper reply. The French and Italian replies were hostile, and the rejection on behalf of the alliance was made by president Woodrow Wilson of the United States, who had initially remarked of the pope’s proposal: “What does he want to butt in for?»

The decision to reject any proposal from the Vatican was already decided in 1915. The threat was that a peace mediation from someone like the Pope might create so much pressure from a war-weary populace that it might just gather enough momentum to force the powers to accept.

The secret Treaty of London (1915), committing Italy to the Entente (Britain, France and Russia) contained a clause, article 15, where Italy is given carte blanche to do whatever is deemed necessary to silence the Church: «France, Great Britain and Russia shall support such opposition as Italy may make to any proposal in the direction of introducing a representative of the Holy See in any peace negotiations or negotiations for the settlement of questions raised by the present war» .

From Women’s Liberation to a Tool for the State

articles-a-womans-place-ww1-impact-of-war-2-dt-emmeline-pankhurst.jpgEmmeline Pankhurst addressing a pro-war rally in 1914

There is nothing new about liberal social reformers falling into lockstep when the country goes to war.

British Emmeline Pankhurst was the most prominent member in the Women’s Suffrage movement. She founded the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) in 1902. After a remarkable and highly radical campaign for women’s rights, including hunger strikes, arson and window smashings, the group changed from a reformist program to a hard right reactionary nationalism as soon as the war broke out.

In 1914-15, bands of women roamed the cities of England handing out white feathers of cowardice to men wearing civilian clothes. The ‘White Feather Brigade’ was established by admiral Charles Fitzgerald, a war hawk who wished to see Britain institute mandatory military service. The campaign spread through the country with astonishing rapidity.

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The highly successful White Feather campaign, shaming British men to enlist.

Not unconnected, the WSPU successfully carried out secret negotiations with the government, and on the 10th August 1914, the government announced it was releasing all suffragettes from prison. After receiving a £2,000 grant from the government, the WSPU organised a pro-war demonstration in London. Members carried banners with slogans such as «We Demand the Right to Serve» and «Let None Be Kaiser’s Cat’s Paws».

Pankhurst founded the Women’s Party in 1917. Excerpts from the program:

(1) A fight to the finish with Germany.

(2) More vigorous war measures to include drastic food rationing, more communal kitchens to reduce waste, and the closing down of nonessential industries to release labour for work on the land and in the factories.

(3) A clean sweep of all officials of enemy blood or connections from Government departments. Peace terms to include the dismemberment of the Hapsburg Empire.

(8) Irish Home Rule to be denied.

In the Suffrage Movement’s defense, many members chose a different and more honorable stance, like her daughter Sylvia Pankhurst. In 1915, Sylvia gave her enthusiastic support to the International Women’s Peace Congress, and she later became a leading international voice in the resistance to Mussolini’s attack on Ethiopia.

Edith Cavell – Nurse (And a Hundred Years Later, a Spy After All)

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Few incidents created bigger outrage in the First World War than when the British nurse Edith Cavellwas executed by firing squad for helping Allied soldiers escape occupied Belgium. In the trial, she admitted to leading a people smuggling network.

But the German charges also claimed that Cavell was a spy, sending sensitive intelligence through the same network, a claim which was strongly denied by both Cavell and the British government.

The government’s insistence on her innocence was taken as implicitly true in Britain, and she became a symbol for victims of Hunnic habitual cruelty. This perception also had great impact on public opinion in the still neutral United States. The implicit presumption of innocence lingered for a many years, and was a useful propaganda tool for many decades.

In a BBC-program in 2015, a hundred years after Cavell’s death, Stella Rimington, former head of the MI5, revealed that she had discovered documents in Belgian archives indicating that Cavell was in fact a spy.

This is of course a limited hangout. MI5 would have known this all along, being Cavell’s boss, but naturally chose to keep quiet about it, since the idea of her innocence was so convenient.

Rimington said her evidence showed «that the Cavell organisation was a two-pronged affair» and that espionage was the other part of its clandestine mission.

The documents included an account by Herman Capiau, a young Belgian mining engineer who had brought the first British soldiers to Cavell in 1914 and was an important member of her network.

He wrote: «Whenever it was possible to send interesting intelligence on military operations, this information was forwarded to the English intelligence service punctually and rapidly.»

Capiau referred to information about a German trench system, the location of munitions dumps and the whereabouts of aircraft.

Since she was in fact guilty, it would make her case similar to the famous spy Mata Hari, who was unceremoniously executed by the French in 1917, without any international outcry. Of course, Cavell’s case is worse, since she used a humanitarian cover for her activities, putting all medical personnel under suspicion.

Most of Our Opinions Are Formed by Men We Have Never Heard of

After the United States joined the war in 1917, president Wilson founded a government agency, The Committee on Public Information, to drum up support in public opinion for the US Crusade for Freedom©.

A young man, Edward Bernays,  started working for it, and quickly learned his trade there. He later became known as «the father of public relations», and a pioneer in the modern PR-industry, where he, among other things, arranged the media part of the CIA-regime change operation in Guatemala in 1954. The full quote from him is as follows:

«The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.»

The Invasion of 1910 — A Book Commissioned to Tell the Public Who the Next Enemy Is

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Describing an imagined German invasion of England, the book The Invasion of 1910 was written by William le Queux on commission from the press magnate Lord Northcliffe and serialized in his newspaper the Daily Mail in 1906. After the detente with France and friendlier relations with Russia, British elites circles agreed on who the next likely enemy would be. But the British public still wasn’t ‘with the program’, and a large campaign was started to prepare them mentally. In the years 1906-1914, a torrent of books and articles on the terrible Hun menace poured out from a number of authors, including Arthur Conan Doyle.

Bits by Bits a War Memorial Day Gets a New Meaning

14027266043_a3a49cb221_z.jpgCadets march in the 2014 ANZAC day parade (Picture: Flickr/Chris Phutully)

World War 1 was a bloody affair for the Commonwealth countries. Most Australian country towns or even small villages have a cenotaph or monument with a shockingly long list of local men lost in WW1. ANZAC-day  (on 25th of April, the anniversary of the Anglo-French campaign to conquer Gallipoli and the Dardanelles, where Australia played a part) was decided as a holiday in 1921 to commemorate these war dead, in a rather sombre spirit. The holiday and ceremony was a quiet affair for most of last century, apart from the usual right-wing forces trying to capitalize on it. It reached it’s nadir in the late 1970s, after the Vietnam war.

A marked change started in the 1990s, with a concerted and very well funded campaign from the government to militarize Australian history. Now the ceremonies are huge, military-political events, full of pathos, cant and sentimentality.  By spending huge sums to connect the public idea of Australianness to a glorification of its military glory, it seems Australian participation, like in 1914 by choice, in the next bloody world war is inevitable – nothing learned Down Under.

Neutral Countries Are the Winners

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This Swiss cartoon by Karl Czerpien, is captioned «The wooing of the Neutrals», where orators from the warring countries are trying to entice neutrals to join them. The different alliances spent large efforts to tangle neutral countries into their imperialistic intrigues (see the case of Italy above). For smaller neutral countries, war between the great powers is always a dangerous time, but by trying to stay neutral, they are rather better off than by joining an alliance. A lesson for our time, when small countries in Europe seem very eager to get the honor of being the battlefield in the next war.

1924 — The Pacifist Ernst Friedrich Shows the Real Faces of War

In 1924, in the book War against War, the German anti-war activist Ernst Friedrich breaks a taboo in war reporting, by showing real war injuries. Such horrific pictures were – and still are – generally very rarely shown in war reporting, both in the corporate media and in anti-war literature.

This unwillingness contributes, intentionally or just because the pictures are too shocking to handle, to an almost idealized image of war, where our dead are always beautifully serene and the wounded well wrapped in bandages.

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November 6, 2018: “Russian Mercenaries Casualties” Narrative Resurfaces In MSM

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Russian-linked private military contractors (PMCs) have suffered new casualties in Syria, Syrian pro- and Russian pro-opposition militant media outlets claim.

Initial speculations on this issue appeared on November 3 and November 4 when several outlets claimed that an explosion reportedly hit barracks of the 5th Assault Corps of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in the province of Deir Ezzor.

According to one of the versions, the blast allegedly hit “a Russian military HQ” near the Panorama checkpoint near Deir Ezzor city killing at least 5 Russian PMCs as well as killing and injuring multiple SAA troops. However, no photo or video evidence, or at least confirmation from a pro-government source, were provided. The argument used to “confirm” the alleged casualties was that the 5th Assault Corps is widely-known as a Russian-backed military formation, which has been assisted by Russian military advisers.

It should be noted that according to pro-government sources the blast in the area had been caused by a decision to eliminate ISIS-made IEDs removed from the liberated areas.

By November 5, this rumor had evolved and reached Russian media. Novaya Gazeta, a Russian opposition media outlet known for a CNN-style look at the conflict in Syria, claimed that 5 Russian PMCs and 6 SAA servicemen were killed in an explosion somewhere in Deir Ezzor province on November 4. Novaya Gazeta claimed that it had received info from its own “source” in Syria, but failed to provide details of the incident, at least location, and any evidence. The article also used the Russian backing of the 5th Assault Corps as an argument to confirm the alleged casualties among Russian PMCs.

The strange thing is that this rumor faced an uncritical reception in some major Russian media outlets, which just republished it citing Novaya Gazeta.

In fact, the newspaper just repeated rumors circulating in some Arab blogs and pro-militant media claiming that this data had been received from its “source in Syria” to make the article more “solid” in the eyes of the audience.

Unfortunately, over the past few years, it has become a common approach for major Western and Russian media outlets to spread wild speculations and staged lie hiding behind “anonymous sources”.

The aforementioned story is a fresh example how these rumors are being presented as reliable or even confirmed info because they serve somebody’s narrative.

Another well-known story in this field is the speculations about “hundreds” of casualties suffered by Russian PMCs or even Armed Forces as a result of US airstrikes in eastern Syria, which erupted in February 2018. These “hundreds” of killed Russian fighters have never been confirmed and only reliable data exists about some 5 Russian citizens, who died in unclear circumstances in the conflict zone this period.

However, this did not stop the media from repeating the fake story and even top US leadership like President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed it as a fact in their statements.

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Blanket Silence: Corporate Media Ignore New Report Exposing Distorted and Misleading Coverage of Corbyn

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By Media Lens,

If there’s one thing we’ve learned in the 17 years since Media Lens began, it’s that media professionals generally hate being challenged, critiqued or criticised. This fierce antipathetical belligerence underlies the corporate media’s total refusal to mention, far less discuss, a recent damning report on how the corporate media have been misreporting Labour and its supposed ‘problem’ with antisemitism.

The report was published last week by the Media Reform Coalition (MRC), set up in 2011 in the wake of the News International phone hacking scandal, to promote debate about the media and democracy. The MRC coordinates effective action by civil society groups, academics and media campaigners, and is currently chaired by Natalie Fenton, Professor of Communication and Media at Goldsmiths, University of London.

The urgent need for such a media initiative is highlighted by the disturbing reality that Britain has one of the most concentrated media environments in the world, with just three companies in control of 71% of national newspaper circulation and five companies running 81% of local newspaper titles.

In the careful MRC study, articles and news segments on Labour and antisemitism from the largest UK news providers, both online and television, were subjected to in-depth analysis. The research was undertaken by Dr Justin Schlosberg, Senior Lecturer in Journalism and Media at Birkbeck, University of London, together with Laura Laker, an experienced freelance journalist.

In their study, Schlosberg and Laker identified:

‘myriad inaccuracies and distortions in online and television news including marked skews in sourcing, omission of essential context or right of reply, misquotation, and false assertions made either by journalists themselves or sources whose contentious claims were neither challenged nor countered. Overall, our findings were consistent with a disinformation paradigm.’

In other words, the corporate media have been pumping out reams of ‘fake news’ promoting a narrative that Corbyn and Labour are mired in an ‘antisemitism crisis’.

Out of over 250 articles and news pieces examined by Schlosberg and Laker, fully 95 examples were found of misleading or inaccurate reporting. In particular, there were (our emphasis):

• 29 examples of false statements or claims, several of them made by news presenters or correspondents themselves, six of them on BBC television news programmes, and eight on the Guardian website.

• A further 66 clear instances of misleading or distorted coverage including misquotations, reliance on single -source accounts, omission of essential facts or right of reply, and repeated value-based assumptions made by broadcasters without evidence or qualification. In total, a quarter of the sample contained at least one documented inaccuracy or distortion.

Overwhelming source imbalance, especially on television news where voices critical of Labour’s code of conduct on antisemitism were regularly given an unchallenged and exclusive platform, outnumbering those defending Labour by nearly 4 to 1. Nearly half of Guardian reports on the controversy surrounding Labour’s code of conduct featured no quoted sources defending the party or leadership.

This is, to say the least, totally unacceptable from any supposedly responsible news outlet. It is even more galling when it comes from the Guardian and BBC News, both with large global audiences, who constantly proclaim their credentials for ‘honest and balanced reporting’.

Much recent corporate media coverage has focused on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of ‘antisemitism’. Corporate media across the spectrum have argued that in refusing to accept the IHRA definition in total, with all of its accompanying examples, Corbyn has promoted antisemitism, alienated Britain’s Jewish community and divided his own party.

Philip Collins wrote in The Times of Corbyn (our emphasis):

‘He has, for some reason he cannot articulate, insisted that the Labour Party should be just about the only institution that does not accept the definition of antisemitism approved by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.’

In July, a Times editorial stated of Labour’s National Executive Committee (our emphasis):

‘Instead of adopting a standard definition of antisemitism formulated by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, and endorsed by governments around the world, the NEC has amended it in unacceptable ways… Let there be no doubt: these are unconscionable and antisemitic accusations.’

In September, another Times leader opined (our emphasis):

‘Labour’s national executive committee will vote today on whether to adopt the internationally recognised definition of antisemitism. It is essential that it does. Governments and organisations worldwide have adopted the carefully worded textdeveloped by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. Jeremy Corbyn’s hamfisted attempt to rewrite it, without consultation and with the apparent aim of protecting certain activists, shames his party.’

The Times added:

‘British Jews are well placed to define what constitutes racism towards them, just as any minority deserves the last word in the debate as it applies to them. Gordon Brown has called for Labour to “unanimously, unequivocally and immediately” adopt all the examples. Anything less would mark a dark day indeed for the party.’

Noting that three leading British Jewish newspapers had declared that a Corbyn-led government would pose ‘an existential threat to Jewish life in this country’, senior Guardian columnist and former comment editor Jonathan Freedland asked:

‘How on earth has it come to this?’

Part, but not all, of the problem, Freedland suggested, was (our emphasis):

‘Labour’s failure to adopt the full text of the near universally accepted International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, including all its illustrative examples’.

He added:

‘When Jews hear that the IHRA is not good enough, they wonder: what exactly is it that Labour wants to say about us?’

And yet, as the MRC report [pdf] makes clear, although the IHRA is an international body with representatives from 31 countries, only six of those countries have, to date, formally adopted the definition themselves. Several high-profile bodies have rejected or distanced themselves from the working definition, including the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency – a successor to the body that drafted the original wording on which the definition is based – and academic institutions including the London School of Economics and School of Oriental and African Studies. Moreover, academic and legal opinion has been overwhelmingly critical of the IHRA definition, including formal opinions produced by four leading UK barristers.

But, note Schlosberg and Laker:

‘Virtually none of this essential context found its way into news reports of the controversy. Instead, the Labour Party was routinely portrayed by both sources and correspondents as beyond the pale of conventional thinking on the IHRA definition.’

Nearly 50% of Guardian reports failed to include any quotes from those critiquing the IHRA definition or defending Labour’s code of conduct on antisemitism. In fact, media reporting (our emphasis):

‘effectively gave those attacking Labour’s revised code and championing the IHRA definition a virtually exclusive and unchallenged platform to air their views. By comparison, their detractors – including a number of Jewish organisations and representatives of other affected minorities – were systematically marginalized from the coverage. Furthermore, Labour MPs adopting even moderate positions defending the code were subjected to far more aggressive questioning from interviewers than those adopting extreme positions attacking it.

In a calm, methodical and rigorous manner, the MRC has exposed to public view the blatant anti-Corbyn bias of even the ‘best’ media outlets: the BBC and the Guardian.

Response To The Media Reform Coalition Report

Our searches using the ProQuest newspaper database reveal that there has not been a single news article or editorial published about the report. This is a remarkable symptom of the glaring tendency of the media to reject, or simply blank, reasoned, well-researched criticism.

When The Canary website published an article about the MRC report, they approached both the Guardian and the BBC for comment. The Guardian‘s response was boilerplate rhetoric – ‘The Guardianhas featured a wide range of voices in this debate’, etc – that failed to acknowledge the paper’s unambiguous distortions and omissions. The BBC did not even provide a comment.

The sole newspaper mention to date is a letter in the Guardian which may only have been published because Noam Chomsky is one of the signatories, along with high-profile figures such as Brian Eno, Yanis Varoufakis, Ken Loach and a number of media academics. They make a crucial point that relates to criticism of the Guardian itself (mentioned earlier):

‘In relation to the IHRA definition of antisemitism that was at the heart of the dispute, the research found evidence of “overwhelming source imbalance” in which critics of Labour’s code of conduct dominated coverage, with nearly 50% of Guardian reports, for example, failing to include any quotes from those defending the code or critiquing the IHRA definition.’

The letter also notes the MRC researchers’ conclusion that media distortions and inaccuracies:

‘were not occasional lapses in judgment but “systematic reporting failures” that served to weaken the Labour leadership and to bolster its opponents within and outside of the party.’

Chomsky and his co-signatories add:

‘In covering the allegations that Labour is now “institutionally antisemitic”, there have been inaccuracies, clear distortions and revealing omissions across our most popular media platforms. We believe that significant parts of the UK media have failed their audiences by producing flawed reports that have contributed to an undeserved witch-hunt against the Labour leader and misdirected public attention away from antisemitism elsewhere, including on the far right, which is ascendant in much of Europe.’

Given the Guardian‘s appalling record of boosting fake news of a Labour ‘antisemitism crisis’, and given its vehement opposition to Corbyn’s brand of moderate socialism, it is no wonder that #DumpTheGuardian and #BoycottTheGuardian were trending in the UK last Friday as part of a dedicated Twitter campaign.

Pro-Corbyn Labour MP Chris Williamson tweeted his support in response to the MRC report:

‘My reference to McCarthyism vindicated by this report. The Guardian newspaper’s deplorable contribution explains why so many people are saying #BoycottTheGuardian’

Last Wednesday, Jeremy Corbyn gave a speech to the Labour Party conference in which he dared to criticise the British corporate media who have been gunning for him ever since he became the party’s leader:

‘It turns out that the billionaires who own the bulk of the British press don’t like us one little bit.

‘Now it could be because we’re going to clamp down on tax dodging. Or it may be because we don’t fawn over them at white tie dinners and cocktail parties.’

He added:

‘We must, and we will, protect the freedom of the press to challenge unaccountable power.

‘Journalists from Turkey to Myanmar and Colombia are being imprisoned, harassed or sometimes killed by authoritarian governments and powerful corporate interests just for doing their job.

‘But here, a free press has far too often meant the freedom to spread lies and half-truths, and to smear the powerless, not take on the powerful.

‘You challenge their propaganda of privilege by using the mass media of the 21st century: social media.’

Pippa Crerar, Guardian deputy political editor, responded with the standard kneejerk conflation of Corbyn’s reasoned comments with the idiotic ‘fake news’ mantra of Trump. She tweeted:

‘Corbyn criticises some parts of British media, claiming they “smear the powerless, not take on the powerful”. As a journalist, makes me very uncomfortable to hear him leading attack on our free press. Dangerous, Trumpian territory.’

We responded:

‘Honest, rational criticism is not an “attack”, and it is not “dangerous”. A corporate press that refuses to listen or respond to this kind of reasonable criticism is itself dangerous. If anyone has a right to criticise media smears, it is @jeremycorbyn.’

The level of popular support for this view is indicated by the fact that our tweet has so far received 518 retweets and 1,222 likes; a massive response by our standards.

To her credit, Crerar did engage with us reasonably, unlike the vast majority of her media colleagues over many years:

‘Totally agree media has to reflect/listen. Not for a minute saying we’re perfect (some elements extremely *imperfect*). But orgs also do invaluable work eg Windrush, grooming scandal, MPs expenses so just not true to say we don’t hold power to account.’

We answered:

‘Thanks for replying, Pippa, very much appreciated. Glad you agree “media has to reflect/listen”. Doesn’t that mean taking Corbyn’s thoughtful, reasoned criticism seriously, rather than lumping it in with Trump’s awful tub-thumping? Corbyn and Milne really aren’t “dangerous”.’

Her follow-up:

‘I’ve sat back today & watched pile-on. I’d always rather engage but not when abusive. Like I said, media far from perfect, but I fear JC’s comments ignored excellent journalism that does exist & undermined journalists who produce it. Of course, nowhere near as extreme as Trump.’

And our reply:

‘Our response generated nearly 800 [now 1,700] likes and retweets – that gives an idea of the strength of feeling. Like other media, the Guardian’s smearing of Corbyn has gone way too far. It’s time to start listening to your readers @KathViner.’

To date, there has been no further exchange; and certainly not a peep out of Guardian editor, Katharine Viner; which is typical for this extraordinarily unresponsive media professional.

Justin Schlosberg, lead author of the MRC report, told The Canary:

‘Neither the Guardian nor the BBC have acknowledged or even directly responded to the myriad reporting failures highlighted in our research. It is completely inadequate to offer blanket dismissals or simply kick into the long grass of their respective complaints procedures.’

Schlosberg pointed out:

‘The failure to answer to these allegations is even more serious than the reporting failures themselves.’

Conclusion

As a further, related example of bias, consider the corporate media’s stunning indifference to the bomb threat that interrupted the screening of a new film, ‘The Political Lynching of Jackie Walker’, in Liverpool on September 25. Walker is a former Momentum Vice-Chair who was suspended from the Labour party as part of a propaganda blitz attempting to silence critics of Israel. The screening was organised by Jewish Voice for Labour which has been supportive of Jeremy Corbyn.

If the corporate media were genuinely motivated by concerns about alleged rising antisemitism, this shocking threat would have generated headline coverage. Instead it was met by a blanket of silence. A brief online Guardian piece was, to say the least, ambiguous in its narrative. Ex-Guardian journalist Jonathan Cook noted:

‘Another “fake news” master-class from the Guardian. A bomb hoax to stop Corbyn-supporting, Jewish Labour members screening a film about how Labour’s “anti-semitism crisis” has been manufactured is framed as *more* evidence of Jew hatred in the party!’

According to our ProQuest database search, the only mentions in the print press have been in the Liverpool Echo and The Times of Israel. Where are all the editorials and major comment pieces in the Guardian, The Times and elsewhere?

As for the Media Reform Coalition report itself, it is no surprise that the BBC, the Guardian and the rest of the corporate media should brush away detailed reasoned criticism of their biased reporting, or pretend such clear evidence does not exist. These media outlets sell themselves as publicly accountable; or, at least, as defenders of the public interest; a valiant fourth estate standing up for the truth and honest, neutral news coverage. And yet, when the alternative media makes a mistake, or says ‘the wrong thing’, there are angry howls and screaming mockery from the corporate commentariat. The hypocrisy is staggering, and, again, entirely predictable.

*

Featured image is from Media Lens.

The Lies Of Our (Financial) Times

By James Petras

October 06, 2018 Information Clearing House   The leading financial publications have misled their political and investor subscribers of emerging crises and military defeats which have precipitated catastrophic political and economic losses.

The most egregious example is the Financial Times (FT) a publication which is widely read by the business and financial elite.

In this essay we will proceed by outlining the larger political context that sets the framework for the transformation of the FT from a relatively objective purveyor of world news into a propagator of wars and failed economic policies.

In part two we will discuss several case studies which illustrate the dramatic shifts from a prudent business publication to a rabid military advocate, from a well-researched analyst of economic policies to an ideologue of the worst speculative investors.

The decay of the quality of its reportage is accompanied by the bastardization of language. Concepts are distorted; meanings are emptied of their cognitive sense; and vitriol covers crimes and misdemeanors.

We will conclude by discussing how and why the ‘respectable’ media have affected real world political and market outcomes for citizens and investors.

Political and Economic Context

The decay of the FT cannot be separated from the global political and economic transformations in which it publishes and circulates. The demise of the Soviet Union, the pillage of Russia’s economy throughout the 1990s and the US declaration of a unipolar world were celebrated by the FT as great success stories for ‘western values’. The US and EU annexation of Eastern Europe, the Balkan and Baltic states led to the deep corruption and decay of journalistic narratives.

The FT willing embraced every violation of the Gorbachev-Reagan agreements and NATO’s march to the borders of Russia. The militarization of US foreign policy was accompanied by the FT conversion to a military interpreter of what it dubbed the ‘transition to democratization’.

The language of the FT reportage combined democratic rhetoric with an embrace of military practices. This became the hallmark for all future coverage and editorializing. The FT military policies extended from Europe to the Middle East, the Caucasus, North Africa and the Gulf States.

The FT joined the yellow press in describing military power grabs, including the overthrow of political adversaries, as ‘transitions to democracy’ and the creation of ‘open societies’.

The unanimity of the liberal and right-wing publications in support of western imperialism precluded any understanding of the enormous political and economic costs which ensued.

To protect itself from its most egregious ideological foibles, the FT included ‘insurance clauses’, to cover for catastrophic authoritarian outcomes. For example they advised western political leaders to promote military interventions and, by the way, with ‘democratic transitions’.

When it became evident that US-NATO wars did not lead to happy endings but turned into prolonged insurgencies, or when western clients turned into corrupt tyrants, the FT claimed that this was not what they meant by a ‘democratic transition’ – this was not their version of “free markets and free votes”.

The Financial and Military Times (?)

The militarization of the FT led it to embrace a military definition of political reality. The human and especially the economic costs, the lost markets, investments and resources were subordinated to the military outcomes of ‘wars against terrorism’ and ‘Russian authoritarianism’.

Each and every Financial Times report and editorial promoting western military interventions over the past two decades resulted in large scale, long-term economic losses.

The FT supported the US war against Iraq which led to the ending of important billion-dollar oil deals (oil for food) signed off with President Saddam Hussein. The subsequent US occupation precluded a subsequent revival of the oil industry. The US appointed client regime pillaged the multi-billion dollar reconstruction programs – costing US and EU taxpayers and depriving Iraqis of basic necessities.

Insurgent militias, including ISIS, gained control over half the country and precluded the entry of any new investment.

The US and FT backed western client regimes organized rigged election outcomes and looted the treasury of oil revenues, arousing the wrath of the population lacking electricity, potable water and other necessities.

The FT backed war, occupation and control of Iraq was an unmitigated disaster.

Similar outcomes resulted from the FT support for the invasions of Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and Yemen.

For example the FT propagated the story that the Taliban was providing sanctuary for bin Laden’s planning the terror assault in the US (9/11).

In fact, the Afghan leaders offered to turn over the US suspect, if they were offered evidence. Washington rejected the offer, invaded Kabul and the FT joined the chorus backing the so-called ‘war on terrorism which led to an unending, one trillion-dollar war.

Libya signed off to a disarmament and multi-billion-dollar oil agreement with the US in 2003. In 2011 the US and its western allies bombed Libya, murdered Gaddafi, totally destroyed civil society and undermined the US/EU oil agreements. The FT backed the war but decried the outcome. The FT followed a familiar ploy; promoting military invasions and then, after the fact, criticizing the economic disasters.

The FT led the media charge in favor of the western proxy war against Syria: savaging the legitimate government and praising the mercenary terrorists, which it dubbed ‘rebels’ and ‘militants’ – dubious terms for US and EU financed operatives.

Millions of refugees, resulting from western wars in Libya, Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq fled to Europe seeking refuge. FT described the imperial holocaust – the ‘dilemmas of Europe’. The FT bemoaned the rise of the anti-immigrant parties but never assumed responsibility for the wars which forced the millions to flee to the west.

The FT columnists prattle about ‘western values’ and criticize the ‘far right’ but abjured any sustained attack of Israel’s daily massacre of Palestinians. Instead readers get a dose of weekly puff pieces concerning Israeli politics with nary a mention of Zionist power over US foreign policy.

FT: Sanctions, Plots and Crises — Russia, China and Iran

The FT like all the prestigious media propaganda sheets have taken a leading role in US conflicts with Russia, China and Iran.

For years the scribes in the FT stable have discovered (or invented) “crises” in China’s economy- always claiming it was on the verge of an economic doomsday. Contrary to the FT, China has been growing at four times the rate of the US; ignoring the critics it built a global infrastructure system instead of the multi-wars backed by the journalist war mongers.

When China innovates, the FT harps on techno theft — ignoring US economic decline.

The FT boasts it writes “without fear and without favor” which translates into serving imperial powers voluntarily.

When the US sanctions China we are told by the FT that Washington is correcting China’s abusive statist policies. Because China does not impose military outposts to match the eight hundred US military bases on five continents, the FT invents what it calls ‘debt colonialism” apparently describing Beijing’s financing large-scale productive infrastructure projects.

The perverse logic of the FT extends to Russia. To cover up for the US financed coup in the Ukraine it converted a separatist movement in Donbass into a Russian land grab. In the same way a free election in Crimea is described as Kremlin annexation.

The FT provides the language of the declining western imperial empires.

Independent, democratic Russia, free of western pillage and electoral meddling is labelled “authoritarian”; social welfare which serves to decrease inequality is denigrated as ‘populism’ —linked to the far right. Without evidence or independent verification, the FT fabricates Putinesque poison plots in England and Bashar Assad poison gas conspiracies in Syria.

Conclusion

The FT has chosen to adopt a military line which has led to a long series of financially disastrous wars. The FT support of sanctions has cost oil companies billions of dollars, euros and pounds. The sanctions, it backed, have broken global networks.

The FT has adopted ideological postures that threaten supply chains between the West, China, Iran and Russia. The FT writes in many tongues but it has failed to inform its financial readers that it bears some responsibility for markets which are under siege.

There is unquestionably a need to overhaul the name and purpose of the FT. One journalist who was close to the editors suggests it should be called the “Military Times” – the voice of a declining empire.

James Petras is a Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York. 

IRGC Cmdr.: «Israel» Could Never Win, Netanyahu Should Learn How to Swim

IRGC Cmdr.: «Israel» Could Never Win, Netanyahu Should Learn How to Swim

Local Editor

Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Brigadier General Hossein Salami blasted the “Israeli” prime minister for fabricating the realities on the ground and promoting Iranophobia, and said that Benjamin Netanyahu will take his dreams to grave.

“Netanyahu should know that there is no way for him except fleeing the region and so he needs to learn how to swim in the Mediterranean Sea,” General Salami said on Friday, addressing a group of IRGC commanders and officers in the city of Isfahan in Central Iran.

He underlined that the enemy was planning to create a new Middle East led by the “Israeli” regime, but all their dreams turned sour.

“The US says it has spent some $7 trillion in funding wars across the region, but with the will of God and resistance of nations, it has not been able to gain anything from it and has faced defeat,” Salami added.

“Israel” is estimated to have 200 to 400 nuclear warheads in its arsenal. The regime, however, refuses to either accept or deny having the weapons.

It has also evaded signing the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in flagrant violation of a UN Security Council resolution amid staunch endeavor by the United States and other Western states on international levels in favor of its non-commitment to the accord.

Iran has repeatedly announced that its nuclear program is merely for peaceful purposes and poses no threat to the international peace and security. Iran’s nuclear facilities have been under the constant monitoring of the International Atomic Energy Agency for the last two decades. But a nuclear accord signed by Iran and six world powers in 2015 placed the country under even stricter rules of supervision and inspection.

Yet, the UN nuclear watchdog has underlined in 12 reports under the deal as well as dozens of more reports prior to the endorsement of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that there has never been any anomaly at Iran’s nuclear program to indicate a move or drive towards a military nuclear capability, reasserting that the country’s nuclear program has remained strictly loyal to its stated “peaceful purposes”.

Back in June, the Iranian foreign minister decried the “Israeli” entity’s nukes as a real threat to the Middle East region and the rest of the world, calling for a new focus on the occupying regime’s nuclear arsenal.

Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif posted a message on his official Twitter account, saying although Iran had no nuclear weapons, the entity, which is the sole Middle Eastern country to possess such weapons, continued to “howl” about “fabricated” Iranian “ambitions”.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

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أفيخاي أدرعي… نتن ياهو «باييكم المفتون»…!؟

 

أكتوبر 1, 2018

محمد صادق الحسيني

«إذا كان رب البيت بالدفّ ضارباً فشيمة أهل البيت كلهم الرقص».

بعد العرض المسرحي المضحك الذي قدّمه بنيامين نتن ياهو، قبل أيام في اجتماع الجمعية العمومية للأمم المتحدة، عندما قدّم لوحة تحمل صورة حي سكني وعليها بعض الأسهم الحمراء، والذي ادّعى فيه أنه اكتشف «مخزناً نووياً سرياً» في طهران وهو بالمناسبة محلّ لغسيل السجاد في أحد ضواحي العاصمة كما تبيّن ، ها هو المدعو أفيخاي أدرعي، الناطق باسم جيش الاحتلال الإسرائيلي باللغة العربية، يتحفنا بتسجيل فيديو مخزٍ وبتغريدة مكررة وممجوجة، على موقعه على تويتر، يدّعي فيها أنه اكتشف مصنعاً، يديره حزب الله، لتطوير وتحديث صواريخ بهدف رفع نسبة دقة إصابتها، وذلك في موقع قريب من مطار بيروت الدولي. ويحذّر في تلك التغريدة المسافرين من هذا المطار وإليه من «الأخطار» المحدقة بهم نتيجة قرب هذا المصنع من منشآت المطار حسب ادعائه…!

وعلى الرغم من أنّ هذا الهراء الذي نشره هذا الضابط الفاشل والمهزوم، الذي عمل طوال السنوات الماضية ناطقاً إعلامياً باسم التنظيمات الإرهابية المسلحة في الجنوب السوري ومنسقاً لنشاطات واتصالات جيش الاحتلال «الإسرائيلي» مع تلك التنظيمات، قد قرأه البعض تهديداً للبنان فيما ذهب البعض الآخر الى اعتبار ذلك بمثابة تمهيد لقصف مطار بيروت الدولي ومحيطه من قبل سلاح الجو الإسرائيلي انطلاقاً من الذريعة المشار اليها آنفاً.

إلا أننا نريد أن نقول له لعلّ من المفيد لهذا البوق المعطوب، أيّ المدعو أفيخاي أدرعي، أن يتذكر الحقائق التالية التي يتجاهلها استغباء لمتابعيه من عملاء الكيان الصغار:

1 ـ لقد انطوت أحلامك وأحلام أسيادك، والى الأبد، بوضع مطار بيروت تحت إدارة دولية بحجة منع تهريب السلاح لحزب الله عبر هذا المطار. يا أيها الضابط المتغابي الذي يغطّ بنوم عميق ولا يتابع مجريات الميدان، على كامل مسرح عمليات قوات حلف المقاومة.

2 ـ لعلك لا تدرك أيها الضابط الفاشل، نتيجة ضحالتك ومحدودية تفكيرك، بأنّ أذناب المشروع الصهيوأميركي، من أعراب الجزيرة العربية وصغار المقاولين في لبنان هم جزء من الطرف المهزوم. وهم بالتالي لم يعودوا قادرين على افتعال أزمة داخلية لبنانية على شاكلة أزمة شبكة الاتصالات عام 2008 فتنة أيار . وبالتالي فقد أصبحت أنت وإياهم مجتمعين بلا حول ولا قوة إلا اللهم إطلاق المزيد من الأكاذيب والحجج المضحكة والتي لا تجعلكم إلا مزيداً للسخرية والشفقة ليس إلا.

3 ـ كما نرى أنّ من المفيد أيضاً تذكيرك، أيها الرائد الذي لا يجيد حتى النفخ في البوق، بأنّ سلاح الجو «الإسرائيلي» لم ولن يخيف أحداً في حلف المقاومة، علاوة على أنه تأكد لدى العالم أجمع بأنه كان سلاحاً فاشلاً لم يحقق أيّ نتيجة تذكر على مدى الأربعين سنة الماضية، عدا ضجيج محرّكات طائراته التي أصبحت الآن بفضل حماقات أسيادك ممنوعة من الاقتراب من الأجواء السورية واللبنانية، كما للمياه الإقليمية للبلدين.

ولمزيد من التأكيد على كونك خارج معادلات الردع الميدانية الحاكمة اليوم بيننا وبين تشكيلات جيشك المكشوف لدينا لم يبق أمامنا، أيّها الرائد الجاهل إلا أن نذكّرك، بأنّ منشآت شركة الصناعات الجوية «الإسرائيلية» وبقية شركات الصناعات العسكرية الإسرائيلية موجودة في مطار اللد بن غوريون ومحيطه، وعليه فإنها وكما قاعدة سلاح الجو «الإسرائيلي» المقامة في المطار، نقول إنما هي في مرمى صواريخ قوات حلف المقاومة الحافظة لتلك المواقع غيباً، والتي ليست بحاجة الى تحديث كي تصيبها وتدمّرها بكلّ الدقة المطلوبة…!

4 ـ وكي نزيدك من الشعر بيتاً، فإنّ عليك أن تفهم على ما يُفترَض بأنّ تحديث الصواريخ ورفع نسبة دقة إصاباتها ليس بحاجة إلى مصانع وإنما إلى شريحة إلكترونية صغيرة، تشبه شريحة الهواتف الذكية، يتمّ تركيبها في مكان معيّن في رأس الصاروخ.

وزيادة في التأكد من ذلك لا يسعنا سوى أن ننصحك بسؤال شركة الصناعات الجوية الإسرائيلية عما إذا كانت تحتاج الى مصانع لتنفيذ عمليات تحديث القذائف الصاروخية وقذائف المدفعية الإسرائيلية وتحويلها قذائف ذكية، أيّ موجّهة بالأقمار الصناعية، حيث ستقول لك إنّ الأمر لا يحتاج سوى إلى شريحة نانو، وهي شريحة إلكترونية فرط صغيرة ولا ترى بالعين المجردة يا «شاطر»!

وهو الأمر الذي بدأتم العمل به حديثاً في قطاعات جيشكم المهلهلة بعد أن فقد سلاح الطيران لديكم عنصر المفاجأة وسلاح المدرّعات عنصر الكفاءة ما اضطركم لإنشاء تشكيل جديد في صنوف الجيش المقهور تحت عنوان القوة الصاروخية…!

أخيراً وليس آخراً نقول لأدرعي ومَن يعمل معه من أتباع سذج على شاكلته :

إننا نعرف عنكم أكثر مما تعرفون عنّا!

فلا تجعل وقتك ولا جهدك يذهبان سدى في الادّعاءات والعنتريات التي لا طائل من ورائها ولا يغرّنك بعض صغار العملاء من كتبة التقارير الأغبياء. فأسلحتنا الفعّالة والدقيقة أقرب إليكم مما تتصوّرون وأكثر تحصيناً من قدرات جهاز استخباراتكم المفتون.

بعدنا طيبين قولوا الله…

Netanyahu’s “Turquzabad” comment ridiculed in social media

 

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