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.

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Supporters of Apartheid Israel Abuse Sydney Anti-War Student

Jay_Tharappel_b8aa5

Media, parliamentary, academic and other supporters of apartheid Israel have abused University of Sydney doctoral student Jay Tharappel for his outspoken support of Yemen, opposition to Israel and his consistent stance against the long wars on Syria and Korea.

Much of the western media falsely pretend that the massively internationalized war on Syria is a “civil war”. Most also refuse to recognize the simple fact that, over the past 65 years, the USA has never agreed to a peace agreement with North Korea.

The personal attacks on Jay reveal a shallow recognition of free speech in Australia. It is extraordinary that so much abuse has been heaped on one dissident voice. Demands for censorship of his political comments have come from various sources, but many of them supporters of the apartheid state of Israel.

First came the bully and smear media, from Murdoch’s Daily Telegraph, and from Channel Seven. The Murdoch tabloid, in a torrent of personal abuse, attacked Jay for rejecting the false chemical weapons claims against Syria, in April 2017. It then falsely claimed that Jay’s criticism of Murdoch journalist Kylar Loussikian was a racist attack.

In August 2018 Channel Seven manufactured another scandal about Jay, falsely claiming that a Yemeni badge he wore in China was ‘anti-semitic’. One part of that badge, seen on Jay’s shirt in one of my social media posts, said ‘death to Israel’.

The photo was simply one of the friends at lunch. Channel Seven, using the false translation “death to Israeli”, claiming it was a racist incitement. I posted in response that the Channel Seven piece ‘promotes ignorance, apartheid, and war’.

In fact ‘death to Israel’ is a political statement by the Yemeni group Ansarallah, which calls for an end to apartheid Israel, the regime that is reported to have killed a Palestinian child every three days for the past 18 years. The Australian government sells arms to the Saudis to bomb Yemen, as they ignore that terrible war and try to suppress any news about Yemen.

Later, the University of Sydney told the Sydney Morning Herald that I was “under investigation” for refusing to take down that photo of Jay and friends at lunch. After a Sydney Morning Herald against me, I made a social media statement explaining my position.

For Channel Seven’s principal sources journalist, Bryan Seymour used (to represent “many in the Jewish and Muslim community”) two people. First was a well-known supporter of Israel, Vic Alhadeff. Vic was previously a chair of the NSW Community Relations Commission but resigned in 2014 after posting in support of Israel’s bloody reign of terror in Gaza.

The other was Jordanian-Australian Jamal Daoud, who claimed to represent a Palestinian group but is best known for his repeated attacks on those who support Syria. He has abused many supporters of Syria as ‘spies’ and ‘prostitutes’. In 2017 he took an Israeli propagandist to Syria, and since then has been wanted for questioning in Syria. Earlier, in 2015, he began an online petition to challenge a security ban on him entering Lebanon.

The corporate media came back to abuse Jay after he wrote a thoughtful piece on his visit to North Korea (DPRK) in the student newspaper Honi Soit. The article defended independent Korea while it described in some detail what he had seen there. On social media pages, many appreciated the unusual article, while others responded with censorial outrage.

The Daily Telegraph added another abusive piece, which copied much of Jay’s article while adding invective. Even the state-owned ABC wrote in support of the demand that the article be taken down, simply because it was seen as too favorable to North Korea.

Why the hysteria over criticism of Israel? Well, both the Murdoch media and Channel Seven have deep business links with Israel’s occupation forces, including those who regularly demolish Palestinian homes in their ethnic cleansing purges.

Pro-Israel figures and some Jewish media in Australia predictably and falsely tried to conflate Jay’s and my opposition to Israel with anti-Jewish racism. I have made my position on Israel and racism very clear on many occasions, most recently in an article called The Future of Palestine.

A selection of pro-Israel types jumped on the bandwagon. They included federal Labor MP Tim Watts, who attacked Jay’s article and Honi Soit, saying ‘everyone associated with this article ought to be ashamed’.

When he was criticized for picking on a student newspaper he said, by way of justification, that he was trying to get at me (‘the professor’).

In fact, Tim Watts is yet another supporter of apartheid Israel. In late 2015 he went on an Israeli-government paid junket to Israel, in a group led by conservative minister Christopher Pyne. The group seemed to toe the Israeli line because Palestinian minister Dr. Sabri Saidam described them as “rude” and “not well educated” on Palestine.

Subsequently, Tim Watts took his Israel connection seriously. He strongly recommended the book ‘My Promised Land’ by Ari Shavit, which explains how Israel created “something unique and quite endearing” in a tough neighborhood.

This “unique and quite endearing” creation was described by an authoritative 2017 report to the United Nations as an ‘apartheid state’ and therefore ‘a crime against humanity’. US academic lawyers Richard Falk and Virginia Tilley wrote that “the situation in Israel-Palestine constitutes an unmet obligation of the organized international community to resolve a conflict, partially generated by its own actions”.

Professor Ariadne Vromen, a professor in Government at the University of Sydney, and opponent of the BDS campaign against Israel, jumped in, inexplicably, attacking the former Syrian Ambassador to Australia Tammam Sulayman. Ambassador Sulayman is now Syria’s envoy to North Korea, and it was he who invited us to visit that country.

Ariadne claimed that Ambassador Tammam had failed her research design course, 15 years ago. “He didn’t pass first year”, she said. After some criticism, she removed her post.

Of course, it is inappropriate for academics to abuse students or former students, or to humiliate them for their grades or results. In this case, Ariadne’s comments were also false. When I enquired, Ambassador Sulayman spelled out to me the reason why he had left Ariadne’s class and his doctoral studies at the University:

“Of course I didn’t complete at that time with Ariadne because [his supervisor, another academic] started the war on me and I complained against her to the university. So I stopped everything … in my [thesis] preface I stated there is no linkage between the secular Baath party and al Qaeda … but she said ‘that does not exclude links between Saddam and al Qaeda’, and I said but we are talking about the Baath party … Then she started returning every paper I sent her … she is a clear Zionist … It is silly for [Ariadne] to say that I didn’t finish even one year without mentioning the reason.”

Professor Vromen’s abuse of a former student and ambassador is strange. Why would an academic jump into abuse a former student, in the context of an abusive media campaign against another student? What is wrong with honest discussion?

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. The University of Sydney is well known for harboring pro-apartheid-Israel academics. It hosts a research project backed by US Government-funded agencies, called ‘The Electoral Integrity Project’. That project rates the electoral democracyof many countries. As it happens, they rate Israel’s ‘democracy’ very highly (17/127), even though the Jewish state is notorious for its institutionalized racism.

In 2007-08 the University of Sydney accepted a large grant from the American Australian Association, to establish a ‘United States Studies Centre’. This was mostly Australian Government money but came at the suggestion of media mogul Rupert Murdoch. The idea of the Centre came from a desire to repair the damage done to the image of the USA in the wake of its 2003 invasion of Iraq. I wrote an article about this scandal, back in 2010.

Washington remains the major funder and arms provider to apartheid Israel, providing the racist state with more than three billion dollars every year, mostly in military subsidies.

By Tim Anderson
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JOHN PILGER: “HOLD THE FRONT PAGE: THE REPORTERS ARE MISSING”

So much of mainstream journalism has descended to the level of a cult-like formula of bias, hearsay and omission. Subjectivism is all; slogans and outrage are proof enough. What matters is “perception,” says John Pilger.

By John Pilger
Special to Consortium News

The death of Robert Parry earlier this year felt like a farewell to the age of the reporter. Parry was “a trailblazer for independent journalism”, wrote Seymour Hersh, with whom he shared much in common.

Hersh revealed the My Lai massacre in Vietnam and the secret bombing of Cambodia, Parry exposed Iran-Contra, a drugs and gun-running conspiracy that led to the White House. In 2016, they separately produced compelling evidence that the Assad government in Syria had not used chemical weapons. They were not forgiven.

Driven from the “mainstream”, Hersh must publish his work outside the United States. Parry set up his own independent news website Consortium News, where, in a final piece following a stroke, he referred to journalism’s veneration of “approved opinions” while “unapproved evidence is brushed aside or disparaged regardless of its quality.”

Although journalism was always a loose extension of establishment power, something has changed in recent years. Dissent tolerated when I joined a national newspaper in Britain in the 1960s has regressed to a metaphoric underground as liberal capitalism moves towards a form of corporate dictatorship. This is a seismic shift, with journalists policing the new “group think”, as Parry called it, dispensing its myths and distractions, pursuing its enemies.

Witness the witch-hunts against refugees and immigrants, the willful abandonment by the “Me Too” zealots of our oldest freedom, presumption of innocence, the anti-Russia racism and anti-Brexit hysteria, the growing anti-China campaign and the suppression of a warning of world war.

With many if not most independent journalists barred or ejected from the “mainstream”, a corner of the Internet has become a vital source of disclosure and evidence-based analysis: true journalism sites such as wikileaks.org, consortiumnews.com, wsws.org, truthdig.com, globalresearch.org, counterpunch.org and informationclearinghouse.com are required reading for those trying to make sense of a world in which science and technology advance wondrously while political and economic life in the fearful “democracies” regress behind a media facade of narcissistic spectacle.

Propaganda Blitz

In Britain, just one website offers consistently independent media criticism. This is the remarkable Media Lens — remarkable partly because its founders and editors as well as its only writers, David Edwards and David Cromwell, since 2001 have concentrated their gaze not on the usual suspects, the Tory press, but the paragons of reputable liberal journalism: the BBC, The Guardian, Channel 4 News.

Their method is simple. Meticulous in their research, they are respectful and polite when they ask why a journalist why he or she produced such a one-sided report, or failed to disclose essential facts or promoted discredited myths.

The replies they receive are often defensive, at times abusive; some are hysterical, as if they have pushed back a screen on a protected species.

I would say Media Lens has shattered a silence about corporate journalism. Like Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman in Manufacturing Consent, they represent a Fifth Estate that deconstructs and demystifies the media’s power.

What is especially interesting about them is that neither is a journalist. David Edwards is a former teacher, David Cromwell is an oceanographer. Yet, their understanding of the morality of journalism — a term rarely used; let’s call it true objectivity — is a bracing quality of their online Media Lens dispatches.

I think their work is heroic and I would place a copy of their just published book, Propaganda Blitz, in every journalism school that services the corporate system, as they all do.

Take the chapter, Dismantling the National Health Service, in which Edwards and Cromwell describe the critical part played by journalists in the crisis facing Britain’s pioneering health service.

The NHS crisis is the product of a political and media construct known as “austerity”, with its deceitful, weasel language of “efficiency savings”  (the BBC term for slashing public expenditure) and “hard choices” (the willful destruction of the premises of civilized life in modern Britain).

“Austerity” is an invention. Britain is a rich country with a debt owed by its crooked banks, not its people. The resources that would comfortably fund the National Health Service have been stolen in broad daylight by the few allowed to avoid and evade billions in taxes.

Using a vocabulary of corporate euphemisms, the publicly-funded Health Service is being deliberately run down by free market fanatics, to justify its selling-off. The Labour Party of Jeremy Corbyn may appear to oppose this, but is it? The answer is very likely no. Little of any of this is alluded to in the media, let alone explained.

Edwards and Cromwell have dissected the 2012 Health and Social Care Act, whose innocuous title belies its dire consequences. Unknown to most of the population, the Act ends the legal obligation of British governments to provide universal free health care: the bedrock on which the NHS was set up following the Second World War. Private companies can now insinuate themselves into the NHS, piece by piece.

Where, asks Edwards and Cromwell, was the BBC while this momentous Bill was making its way through Parliament? With a statutory commitment to “providing a breadth of view” and to properly inform the public of “matters of public policy,” the BBC never spelt out the threat posed to one of the nation’s most cherished institutions. A BBC headline said: “Bill which gives power to GPs passes.” This was pure state propaganda.

Media and Iraq Invasion

There is a striking similarity with the BBC’s coverage of Prime Minister Tony Blair’s lawless invasion of Iraq in 2003, which left a million dead and many more dispossessed. A study by the University of Wales, Cardiff, found that the BBC reflected the government line “overwhelmingly” while relegating reports of civilian suffering. A Media Tenor study placed the BBC at the bottom of a league of western broadcasters in the time they gave to opponents of the invasion. The corporation’s much-vaunted “principle” of impartiality was never a consideration.

One of the most telling chapters in Propaganda Blitz describes the smear campaigns mounted by journalists against dissenters, political mavericks and whistleblowers. The Guardian’s campaign against the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is the most disturbing. Assange, whose epic WikiLeaks disclosures brought fame, journalism prizes and largesse to The Guardian, was abandoned when he was no longer useful. He was then subjected to a vituperative – and cowardly — onslaught of a kind I have rarely known.

With not a penny going to WikiLeaks, a hyped Guardian book led to a lucrative Hollywood movie deal. The book’s authors, Luke Harding and David Leigh, gratuitously described Assange as a “damaged personality” and “callous.” They also disclosed the secret password he had given the paper in confidence, which was designed to protect a digital file containing the U.S. embassy cables.

With Assange now trapped in the Ecuadorean embassy, Harding, standing among the police outside, gloated on his blog that “Scotland Yard may get the last laugh.”

The Guardian columnist Suzanne Moore wrote, “I bet Assange is stuffing himself full of flattened guinea pigs. He really is the most massive turd.”

Moore, who describes herself as a feminist, later complained that, after attacking Assange, she had suffered “vile abuse.” Edwards and Cromwell wrote to her: “That’s a real shame, sorry to hear that. But how would you describe calling someone ‘the most massive turd’? Vile abuse?”

Moore replied that no, she would not, adding, “I would advise you to stop being so bloody patronizing.” Her former Guardian colleague James Ball wrote, “It’s difficult to imagine what Ecuador’s London embassy smells like more than five and a half years after Julian Assange moved in.”

Such slow-witted viciousness appeared in a newspaper described by its editor, Katharine Viner, as “thoughtful and progressive.” What is the root of this vindictiveness?  Is it jealousy, a perverse recognition that Assange has achieved more journalistic firsts than his snipers can claim in a lifetime? Is it that he refuses to be “one of us” and shames those who have long sold out the independence of journalism?

Journalism students should study this to understand that the source of “fake news” is not only trollism, or the likes of Fox News, or Donald Trump, but a journalism self-anointed with a false respectability: a liberal journalism that claims to challenge corrupt state power but, in reality, courts and protects it, and colludes with it. The amorality of the years of Tony Blair, whom The Guardian has failed to rehabilitate, is its echo.

“[It is] an age in which people yearn for new ideas and fresh alternatives,” wrote Katharine Viner. Her political writer Jonathan Freedland dismissed the yearning of young people who supported the modest policies of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as “a form of narcissism.”

“How did this man ….,” brayed the Guardian‘s Zoe Williams, “get on the ballot in the first place?”  A choir of the paper’s precocious windbags joined in, thereafter queuing to fall on their blunt swords when Corbyn came close to winning the 2017 general election in spite of the media.

Complex stories are reported to a cult-like formula of bias, hearsay and omission: Brexit, Venezuela, Russia, Syria. On Syria, only the investigations of a group of independent journalists have countered this, revealing the network of Anglo-American backing of jihadists in Syria, including those related to ISIS.

Supported by a “psyops” campaign funded by the British Foreign Office and the U.S. Agency for International Development, the aim is to hoodwink the Western public and speed the overthrow of the government in Damascus, regardless of the medieval alternative and the risk of war with Russia.

The Syria Campaign, set up by a New York PR agency called Purpose, funds a group known as the White Helmets, who claim falsely to be “Syria Civil Defense” and are seen uncritically on TV news and social media, apparently rescuing the victims of bombing, which they film and edit themselves, though viewers are unlikely to be told this. George Clooney is a fan.

The White Helmets are appendages to the jihadists with whom they share addresses. Their media-smart uniforms and equipment are supplied by their Western paymasters. That their exploits are not questioned by major news organizations is an indication of how deep the influence of state-backed PR now runs in the media. As Robert Fisk noted recently, no “mainstream” reporter reports Syria.

In what is known as a hatchet job, a Guardian reporter based in San Francisco, Olivia Solon, who has never visited Syria, was allowed to smear the substantiated investigative work of journalists Vanessa Beeley and Eva Bartlett on the White Helmets as “propagated online by a network of anti-imperialist activists, conspiracy theorists and trolls with the support of the Russian government.”

This abuse was published without permitting a single correction, let alone a right-of-reply. The Guardian Comment page was blocked, as Edwards and Cromwell document.  I saw the list of questions Solon sent to Beeley, which reads like a McCarthyite charge sheet — “Have you ever been invited to North Korea?”

So much of the mainstream has descended to this level. Subjectivism is all; slogans and outrage are proof enough. What matters is the “perception.”

When he was U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus declared what he called “a war of perception… conducted continuously using the news media.” What really mattered was not the facts but the way the story played in the United States. The undeclared enemy was, as always, an informed and critical public at home.

Nothing has changed. In the 1970s, I met Leni Riefenstahl, Hitler’s film-maker, whose propaganda mesmerized the German public.

She told me the “messages” of her films were dependent not on “orders from above”, but on the “submissive void” of an uninformed public.

“Did that include the liberal, educated bourgeoisie?” I asked.

“Everyone,” she said. “Propaganda always wins, if you allow it.”

New Colonialism and the Colonial Media

The seven Middle East wars of the last two decades mark a new colonial era, driven by a failing empire. But colonization is banned these days, so an ideological cover is needed, and with today’s highly literate populations that cover is provided by an embedded colonial media, backed up by a well-paid NGO sector.

This colonial media is required to recycle the new colonial myths, that vicious predatory invasions are ‘humanitarian interventions’, that terrorist proxy wars are ‘civil wars’ led by peaceful protestors, and that the independent target nations are simply illegitimate ‘regimes’ led by evil ‘dictators’.

That is why we see the durable, if hardly plausible, stories of Palestinian resistance to ethnic cleansing as ‘terrorism’; the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan as a war for the ‘rights of women’ (thank you George W. Bush and Amnesty International) and the repeated ‘false flag’ chemical weapons stunts in Syria (simply pretexts for further intervention), as the actions of a monster president who is (for some unexplained reason) ‘killing his own people’.

The colonial media could be characterized as an embedded state and corporate media sector, which seeks to normalize imperial war and sustain the myths of colonial interventions (in face of substantial reason and evidence) while demonizing independent states and dissident voices. Some criticism is allowed, so long as it does not support the resistance.

This sector has begun to include the giant corporations which control what had been a more diverse social media.

As the weight of global political-economic relations shifts eastwards – and as US industrial and financial power slides and the dollar is undermined – Washington has tried to reclaim its imperial mantle. It is a bold and bloody last stand.

Unlike the Europeans, the USA has always cloaked its imperial projects in the language of ‘freedom’. The fact that this theme has persisted across regimes of slavery, conquest and the purchase of entire nations represents quite an achievement, in both popular persuasion and verbal gymnastics.

That legendary doublespeak can be seen at work today, in the wars against Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Syria and Yemen. Those wars accompany the attempts to isolate Russia, China, and western Europe, which the paranoid American empire sees as its real competitors.

Washington’s grand strategy in the Middle East wars borrows traditional imperial aims. The first of these is to exclude potential ‘big power’ competitors from the resources-rich region, or rather to dictate the terms of their engagement.

The second is to destroy any independent political will in the region, dividing peoples with the help of its main regional agents, the sectarian and backward regimes of apartheid Israel and medieval Saudi Arabia.

While US interventions in the Americas stretch across two centuries, Washington’s first major intervention in West Asia was the 1953 coup in Iran, which imposed a US-backed dictatorship until the Iranian Revolution of 1979.

As a large, central and avowedly independent country, the Islamic Republic of Iran remains the key target of Washington and its regional minions. It has both the capacity and will to lead an independent coalition against Washington’s project for a ‘New Middle East’.

Many in the Middle East regard Israel as the principal enemy. However, this gives too much credit to the Zionist colony. As resistance leaders in Lebanon and Yemen have recently pointed out, the Zionist tail does not wag the imperial dog.

Israel does indeed contribute to colonial media and social media myth-making, but its repression at home undermines much of that.

The US-American colonial media remains central. Both major political parties are rooted in the same self-righteous ‘exceptionalism’, used to justify great crimes. The same large investment groups that dominate the US government also run the colonial media.

Yet in recent years it has been the ‘smart power’ of the ‘exceptionalist’ liberals which has proved more effective in today’s propaganda wars, attracting support from those westerners who like to see themselves as ‘saviours’ of the poor peoples of the world.

This colonial liberalism draws directly from British colonialism liberalism of the mid-19th century. ‘Civilising’ and ‘saving’ the natives are back in fashion.

By Tim Anderson
Source

FORMER BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO SYRIA, PETER FORD, WARNS OF PENDING WAR PROPAGANDA ON COMMISSION OF INQUIRY REPORT TO UNHRC

In Gaza

Image result for Peter Ford, former British Ambassador to Syria

Peter Ford, former British Ambassador to Syria:
You will be seeing lurid accounts in the Western media of the latest  report to the UN Human Rights Council from the Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria. This was issued on 12 September.
In particular it is being stated that the report vindicates claims that weaponised chlorine was used in Douma. This is not what the report (text below) actually says.
If you read the actual report – you have to reach section 92 so obviously few hacks will do that – you will see that it is carefully worded.

The inspectors, who unlike OPCW did not actually visit the site, ‘received a vast body of evidence suggesting that..’ (of course they did, from the jihadis and from hostile intelligence services); ‘they received information on [deaths and injuries] (which is not the same as seeing bodies or examining victims); they ‘recall that weaponisation of chlorine is prohibited’ (but do not actually say that Syrian forces used it in Douma).

Besides the text of the relevant part of the report I have added the paragraph on Raqqa and the ‘indiscriminate attacks and serious violations of international law’ by the coalition of which the UK is part, including the bombing of a school and killing of 40 people.
You will note also the acknowlegement that ISIS exploited hospitals in Raqqa (as other jihadi groups have done in every part of Syria). Naturally the media and our government will not want to discuss that paragraph of the report.
**
Excerpt from the text of the report by the Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria:

92. Throughout 7 April, numerous aerial attacks were carried out in Douma, striking various residential areas. A vast body of evidence collected by the Commission suggests that, at approximately 7.30 p.m., a gas cylinder containing a chlorine payload delivered by helicopter struck a multi-storey residential apartment building located approximately 100 metres south-west of Shohada square. The Commission received information on the death of at least 49 individuals, and the wounding of up to 650 others.

93.                 While the Commission cannot make yet any conclusions concerning the exact causes of death, in particular on whether another agent was used in addition to chlorine that may have caused or contributed to deaths and injuries, it recalls that the weaponization of chlorine is prohibited under customary international humanitarian law and under the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction, ratified by the Syrian Arab Republic in 2013.
95. The Commission also continues to investigate aerial attacks launched against ISIL positions in Raqqah city between June and October 2017, which destroyed much of the city and displaced nearly the entire population. The Commission is concerned that the widespread destruction wrought upon Raqqah city included indiscriminate attacks and other serious violations of international humanitarian law. Significant challenges continue to arise, including with regard to how ISIL prevented civilians from documenting attacks as a matter of policy, how chaos often left victims and witnesses unable to identify whether a given attack was carried out by aerial or ground operations, and how ISIL terrorists embedded themselves and their military installations in numerous civilian infrastructures, including hospitals, thus significantly complicating investigations.
96.          The Commission further notes that the coalition led by the United States acknowledged on 28 June that it had killed 40 civilians during its aerial attack against Al-Badiya school in Mansurah, Raqqah on the night of 20 to 21 March 2017
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The Big Lie About Muslim Detention Camps in China

by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman)

Disinformation about China and other US adversaries rages, vilifying them.

Media scoundrels proliferate state-sponsored Big Lies, suppressing hard truths they refuse to report, sticking with the official propaganda narrative.

According to the NYT lying machine, China is “det(aining) hundreds of thousands of ethnic Uighurs and other minority Muslims in large internment camps” – citing fabricated information from “current and former American officials,” adding:

“Discussions to rebuke China for its treatment of its minority Muslims have been underway for months among officials at the White House and the Treasury and State Departments.” 

“But they gained urgency two weeks ago, after members of Congress asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to impose sanctions on seven Chinese officials.”

Fact: America is humanity’s greatest threat. No other nation approaches the menace it represents.

Fact: No nation caused more harm to more people over a longer duration than the US – its ruthless agenda today threatening life on earth.

According to the Times and other media scoundrels, mass detentions and other human rights abuses of Muslims in China have been ongoing for years, Uighurs and Tibetans it claimed, citing a so-called UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) – unrelated to the world body.

A fabricated Human Rights Watch report highlighted the Big Lie, falsely claiming alleged abuses match the “scope and scale not seen in China since the 1966-1976 Cultural Revolution.”

The Trump regime may target China with more sanctions than already, part of its hostile agenda against all sovereign independent nations.

Last month, Max Blumenthal’s Gray Zone Project website said “the UN did not report (that) China has ‘massive internment camps’ for (up to a million) Uighur (and other) Muslims,” as falsely claimed by media scoundrels and others.

No credible evidence supports the accusation. According to the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, claims of large-scale Chinese internment camps for Muslims were made by a committee unrelated to the UN – with no expertise on China.

A so-called Washington-based Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders, funded by unnamed governments (surely including the US), “advocates full-time against the Chinese government and has spent years campaigning on behalf of extreme right-wing opposition figures,” according to the Gray Zone Project.

The Times, WaPo, Reuters, CNN, and other media scoundrels were enlisted to bash China with dubious or falsified claims – no evidence provided supporting them.

That’s what propaganda is all about, producing falsified claims, feeding them to media scoundrels, getting them to report them without due diligence fact-checking.

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: stephenlendman.org (Home – Stephen Lendman). Contact at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

Stephen Lendman
Stephen Lendman was born in 1934 in Boston, MA. In 1956, he received a BA from Harvard University. Two years of US Army service followed, then an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1960. After working seven years as a marketing research analyst, he joined the Lendman Group family business in 1967. He remained there until retiring at year end 1999. Writing on major world and national issues began in summer 2005. In early 2007, radio hosting followed. Lendman now hosts the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network three times weekly. Distinguished guests are featured. Listen live or archived. Major world and national issues are discussed. Lendman is a 2008 Project Censored winner and 2011 Mexican Journalists Club international journalism award recipient.

SYRIAN WAR REPORT – SEPTEMBER 11, 2018: MSM CLAIMS ASSAD ORDERED CHEMICAL WEAPONS ATTACKS IN IDLIB

South Front

The Syrian Air Force and the Russian Aerospace Forces have continued intense airstrikes on militant targets in the provinces of Idlib and Latakia. According to local sources, a major part of the SAF strikes were delivered on militant positions near Khan Shaykhun, Kafr Zita, al-Latamih and the nearby areas. Syrian Army artillery guns and rocket launchers have also engaged militant targets along the contact line.

The situation remains tense. However, government forces have kicked off no ground offensive yet despite claims by some pro-government media outlets that it’s already ongoing.

The US-led coalition used phosphorous bombs to deliver a strike on the settlement of the ISIS-held village of Hajin in the Syrian province of Deir Ezzor on September 8, chief of the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the Opposing Parties Vladimir Savchenko said on September 10. According to the statement, the strike were delivered by two F-15 warplanes of the US Air Force.

In a separate statement, Pentagon spokesman Sean Robertson denied this adding that “none of the military units in the area are even equipped with white phosphorous munitions of any kind”.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reported citing unnamed US officials that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had approved the use of chlorine gas in an offensive against the militant-held part of Idlib province and the nearby areas.

The newspaper also claimed once again citing anonymous sources that US President Donald Trump had threatened to order a massive attack on facilities of the Damascus government if Syrian forces carry out “massacre in Idlib”.

It further added that the US military is now considering military options in Syria, but President Trump has made no final decision so far.
This report as well as multiple previous allegations by the mainstream media and Western diplomats are a part of the ongoing propaganda campaign designed to justify attempts of the US-led bloc to defend the last major terrorist stronghold in Syria. It’s interesting but most of commentators and media accidentally forget to point out that the main opposition force in Idlib is Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, an internationally recognized terrorist group and the former official branch of al-Qaeda in Syria.

At the same time, YouTube banned a number of Syrian state-run and pro-government channels, including ones belonging to the Syrian Presidency, the Syrian Defense Ministry and the state-run news agency SANA. The reason provided was that these accounts allegedly violate YouTube’s Terms of Service.

This move can be considered as another attempt to suppress non-mainstream reporting on the ongoing conflict. Some Syrian experts even claimed that these were another sign of preparations for a staged chemical attack in Idlib and then a US-led military strike on Syrian government forces.

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