When the big fish of British journalism enter the much bigger pond of the American prestige press, they understand that success requires a willingness to massage elite American prejudices.
This kow-towing to claptrap is received all the more warmly because it represents an independent, second opinion from beyond
Masters of the art include Niall Ferguson, Michael Ignatieff (Canadian-born but formerly a British media star), and of course Christopher Hitchens – keen supporter of US-UK war crimes, notably in Iraq.
Thus, also, in a recent New York Times article, Max Hastings – former editor of the Daily Telegraph and Evening Standard – works hard to push all the right anti-Iranian buttons.
Almost exactly echoing US-UK media commentary on
Journalists have been demonising other countries in this way for so long, it seems they cannot stop. Always it is the 1930s, always Hitler is plotting our destruction, always we need to recoil in fear, disgust and horror. Is this the real world? Or is this journalism as pathology?
Objectivity and neutrality are not serious concerns. As discussed, the realities of career progression demand that journalists side with “us” against “them”. Thus
“The game they play with considerable skill is to project themselves at once as assertive Islamic crusaders, and also as victims of imperialism.”
This recalls reporter James Mates’ comments on ITN when he observed that Saddam Hussein was again “playing his favourite role of defender of the Arab people”. (Mates, ITN, 10 O’Clock News, February 16, 1998)
No news reporter would ever describe George Bush or Tony Blair as “playing his favourite role of defender of the free world”. And so the comment is an example of propaganda bias – we are being trained to feel contempt for the official enemy, to distrust their motives and sneer at their claimed values.
As for the idea that the Iranians are portraying themselves as “victims of imperialism” as a kind of “game”, we need only recall how Amnesty International described the regime brought to power in Iran by the US-UK military coup of 1953. This was a state, Amnesty reported, that had the “highest rate of death penalties in the world, no valid system of civilian courts and a history of torture” which was “beyond belief”. It was a society in which “the entire population was subjected to a constant, all-pervasive terror”. (Martin Ennals, Secretary General of Amnesty International, cited in Matchbox, Autumn 1976) The motive behind US-UK violence was, very simply, control of Iranian oil.
None of this exists for Western journalists, for whom Iranian history began with the 1979 hostage crisis. A more complete chronology of events can be found here:
“They crave respect and influence. Their only claims to these things rest upon their capacity for menacing the West, whether through international terrorism, support for Palestinian extremists, or the promise of building atomic weapons.”
That’s “them” – the “bad guys”, craving glory and power at any cost (as “bad guys” do).
As for “us”:
“We must keep talking to the Iranians, offering carrots even when these are contemptuously tossed into the gutter, because there is no credible alternative. Even threats of economic sanctions must be considered cautiously.”
That’s “us” – the “good guys”.
Our “carrots” include ringing
Our “carrots” also include the fomenting of terrorism within
Stratfor added: “the
And who actually makes up this alliance labelled “we” when
Obviously, he has in mind the British and American governments. Obviously, too, given the Iranian “menace”, he means the British and American military. But he is also proposing a further component – himself, a journalist – as well as inviting the readers of the New York Times to identify themselves as “us”.
One could hardly find a clearer example of how professional journalism openly allies itself with elite power. Nobody notices this bias when it endorses the view of an establishment pulling together in time of crisis. Why? Because the establishment media determine the full range of relevant opinions worth discussing. What could be more balanced than affirming what everyone (who matters) believes? There might be odd squeaks and squawks sounding from beyond the establishment spectrum, but they can be ignored. Why? Because they are “silly”. Why are they “silly”? Because they are voiced by people without influence. As Channel 4 presenter Jon Snow recently told a reader:
“I am relieved to see that media lens… [is] ‘growing up’… I have not been bombarded with adolescent look-alike emails now for more than six months!” (Jon Snow, forwarded to Media Lens, April 3, 2007)
For the mainstream media, an opinion barely exists if it doesn’t matter, and it doesn’t matter if it is not voiced by by people who matter. The full range of opinion, then, represents the full range of power. In that sense the mainstream media is indeed balanced.
Destination “Rational Universe”
There is not even a glimmer in
He makes clear that he means by this that many nations now have little sympathy for the
“No matter how it ends, the seizure of the British sailors is likely to be viewed by most of the world as an Iranian victory. Thus it is unlikely to be
Just think about what is going on inside
But anyone who has been analysing politics over the last five years knows that Britain and America invaded Iraq on a set of spectacular lies: that non-existent Iraqi WMD posed a threat to the West, that Saddam Hussein was in cahoots with al Qaeda.
We know from former
We know from the leaked Downing Street memos that conquest of
“The real news is the shady April 2002 deal to go to war, the cynical use of the UN to provide an excuse, and the secret, illegal air war without the backing of Congress.” (Smith, ‘The real news in the
But there is more that has emerged from
“About ten days after 9/11, I went through the Pentagon and I saw Secretary Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz. I went downstairs just to say hello to some of the people on the Joint Staff who used to work for me, and one of the generals called me in. He said, ‘Sir, you’ve got to come in and talk to me a second.’ I said, ‘Well, you’re too busy.’ He said, ‘No, no.’ He says, ‘We’ve made the decision we’re going to war with Iraq.’
“This was on or about the 20th of September. I said, ‘We’re going to war with
We know that US-UK policy has resulted in
We know from papers obtained by the BBC World Service’s Newshour programme under the Freedom of Information Act last month that senior government officials lied when they dismissed this study as flawed, with the Foreign Office commenting that it was a “fairly small sample… extrapolated across the country”. (Sarah Boseley, ‘One in 40 Iraqis “killed since invasion”,’ The Guardian, October 12, 2006;)
One of the documents obtained by the BBC is a memo by the Ministry of Defence’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Roy Anderson, dated October 13, 2006, two days after the Lancet report was published.
“The study design is robust and employs methods that are regarded as close to ‘best practice’ in this area, given the difficulties of data collection and verification in the present circumstances in
When these recommendations were sent to Blair’s advisers, they were appalled. One person briefing Blair wrote: “are we really sure that the report is likely to be right? That is certainly what the brief implies?”
A Foreign Office official was forced to conclude that the government “should not be rubbishing The Lancet”.
The prime minister’s adviser finally accepted the conclusion. He wrote: “the survey methodology used here cannot be rubbished, it is a tried and tested way of measuring mortality in conflict zones”.
And yet, speaking six days after Roy Anderson praised the study’s methods, British foreign office minister Lord Triesman said:
“The way in which data are extrapolated from samples to a general outcome is a matter of deep concern.”
In response to these revelations, the editor of the Lancet, Richard Horton, has accused Blair of “shameful and cowardly dissembling” in rejecting the study when he had been told it was robust. Horton added:
“This Labour government, which includes Gordon Brown as much as it does Tony Blair, is party to a war crime of monstrous proportions. Yet our political consensus prevents any judicial or civil society response.
Despite all of this,
He notes “… there is little prospect that [Iranian] people committed to normal relations with the West will gain power any time soon”.
But how exactly does
What is amazing about
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