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Western media coverage of Russia as an exercise in propaganda

By Gilbert Doctorow | January 12, 2020

The notion of “fake news” has entered our vocabulary as a pejorative term for dissemination of bogus information, usually by social media, sometimes by traditional print and electronic channels which happen to hold positions contradicting the tenets of our conventional wisdom, i.e., liberal democracy. The term has been applied to Russian state owned media such as RT to justify denying such outlets normal journalistic credentials and privileges.

In this essay, I will employ the more traditional term propaganda, which I take to mean the manipulation of information which may or may not be factually true in order to achieve objectives of denigrating rivals for influence and power in the world, and in particular for denigrating Russia and the “Putin regime.”

The working tools of such propaganda are

  • tendentious determination of what constitutes news, which build on the inherent predisposition of journalism to feature the negative and omit the positive from daily reporting while they carry this predisposition to preposterous lengths
  • the abandonment of journalism’s traditional “intermediation,” meaning provision of necessary context to make sense of the facts set out in the body of a news report. In this regard, the propagandistic journalist does not deliver the essential element of paid-for journalism which should distinguish it from free “fake news” on social media and on the internet more broadly
  • silence, meaning under-reporting or zero reporting of inconvenient news which contradicts the conventional wisdom or might prompt the reader-viewer to think for himself or herself. As a colleague and comrade in arms, professor Steve Cohen of Princeton and NYU, has said in his latest book War with Russia? : the century old motto of The New York Times “All the news that’s fit to print” has in our day turned into “All the news that fits.”

Demonstrations of the arguments I present here could easily fill a book if not a library shelf.  However, I think for purposes of this essay, it suffices to adduce several examples of the three violations of professional journalism giving us a constant stream of propaganda about Russia and its political leadership by offering a few reports drawn from the very cream of our print and electronic media.  In particular, I have chosen as markers the Financial Times and the BBC.  The use of propaganda methods in their coverage of Russia is all the more telling and damaging, given that in a great many domains these channels otherwise represent some of the highest quality standards to be found in reporting anywhere today and consequently enjoy the respect of their subscribers and visitors, who little suspect they could be so prejudicial in their coverage of select domains like Russia.

* * * *

As 2019 drew to a close, many of our media outlets drew attention to two Russia-related anniversaries: the just celebrated thirtieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall with the retreat of Soviet armed forces from Eastern Europe that it touched off; and the soon to be celebrated twentieth year of Vladimir Putin’s hold on power in the Kremlin. Both subjects may be fairly called news worthy and so fully correspond to traditional journalistic values. What has been exceptional and unacceptable has come in the second category of violations listed above – lack of context.

Starting in October 2019, the BBC’s Moscow correspondent Steve Rosenberg did several programs dedicated to the fall of the Berlin Wall. During the Christmas to New Year’s period, the BBC aired one program which consisted of two parts. In the first half, Rosenberg considered the impact of the withdrawal of Russian forces from East Germany on the Russians themselves and interviewed the former chief of those forces, who explained at length how they “came home” to shocking living conditions in the provinces, how they were abandoned to their fate by their own government. The tone of the reporting was sympathetic to Russians’ hardships and it was good that their side of the story from the ground up was given the microphone. What implied criticism there was of the powers that be came from a patriotic source. However, the second half of the program was turned over to a certain Lydia Shevtsova, a very outspoken Putin-hater, formerly with the Carnegie Center Moscow, till she was finally booted out and moved to a more congenial and supportive think tank, Chatham House, in London, where her anti-Russian vitriol is encouraged and disseminated by her co-author, ex-British ambassador to Moscow Sir Andrew Wood. Among the gem quotations which Shevtsova delivered was the claim that Russia under Putin is a declining power which is capable only of disrupting the world order, a spoiler not capable of any creative or productive contribution. Of course, Shevtsova has a right to her opinions, however the BBC had an obligation to its audience to explain exactly who the lady is and, if they wanted to practice fair play, to offer an alternative interpretation of what Vladimir Putin’s Russia stands for on the global stage today. They did not do either. The result was pure propaganda not news and analysis.

As for violations in the categories one and two above, a very good example arose following the recent publication of a study performed by the Levada Center public opinion polling organization in Moscow during October which showed that “53 per cent of 18-to-24 year-olds wanted to leave the country.” This was written about by many of our news peddlers, including FT. The decision to feature this factoid and use it to support claims that the Putin regime’ is a failure fits well with tendentiousness of our news coverage. Meanwhile, nearly all coverage of that study, including in the Financial Times, offered no contextual information whatsoever, when the context was begging to be told.

The article in FT which carried the Levada Center findings was published on 9 January as “Generation Putin: how young Russians view the only leader they’ve ever known.” The remarks on Levada followed directly on another statement begging for context: “Youth unemployment in Russia is more than three times the rate of the total population, according to 2018 data, compared with just twice the rate in 2000.”

First, as regards those 53% would-be “leavers,” one might ask: and so, why don’t they just leave? Russia today is truly a free country: anyone other than convicted felons who wants a passport can get it, and get it rather quickly. And thanks to the efforts of their remarkably hard-working Ministry of Foreign Affairs, most of the world welcomes Russian travelers without a visa requirement. But for that matter, getting a Schengen visa for the EU is not so complicated either.

However, those 53% are, in fact, not going anywhere. They are just sounding off about their youthful disgruntlement with a world created and run by their parents.

At the same time, as the Financial Times editorial board knows full well, young, middle-aged and even old have been leaving the Baltic States, Bulgaria, Romania and other former Soviet Bloc countries in droves, for the past thirty years up to the present day. That was the subject of an article published in the FT on the next day, 10 January 2020 under a title which speaks for itself: “Shrinking Europe.” The states I mentioned here have seen 25 and 30% loss of their population to citizens voting with their feet and departing the shrinking economies and personal prospects which result directly from deindustrialization and economic colonization by Germany and other founding Member States of the EU since 1991. The issue appears in the news now because, as the FT explains, “Andrej Plenkovic, the Croatian prime minister, has decided to elevate population decline to the top of his agenda as Zagreb assumes the EU’s rotating presidency.” Good for him! Now that the skeleton has finally come out of the EU closet, all the stories about Russia’s demographic crisis can be put in context – by those few who wish to do so.

Second, as regards unemployment in Russia today, I believe that similar ratios of youth unemployment to the general population unemployment can be found most everywhere in Western Europe if not in the world at large. The fact that this ratio has worsened comparatively in Russia since 2000 may be explained by the anomalous situation in Russia prevailing throughout the 1990s in step with the economic collapse that accompanied the transition to a market economy. Precisely the older generations, those over 40, were thrown into the street and their children or grandchildren were the first to be hired by the newly emerging industrial conglomerates, not to mention by Western multinationals settling in. What has happened since 2000 is merely a reversion to more normal distribution of employment and unemployment in the population as the Russian economy stabilizes.

Dear Reader!

For those who find my examples above too subtle to support my argument for egregious propagandistic treatment of Russia in our media, allow me to introduce violation number three, silence, in a way that should sweep away all objections to my thesis.

I draw your attention to an event that occurred in the past week about which you probably know nothing, or perhaps a wee bit from the odd man out reporting in the Wall Street Journal and a few other outlets. I am talking about the visit of Vladimir Putin to Damascus on Tuesday, 7 January. To their credit, the WSJ carried a short article in their 8 January edition, but went no further than to note this was the second visit by Putin since the Russians joined the fight in support of President Bashar Assad back in September 2015, turning the tide in the civil war his way. That is true, but only represents a tiny slice of what all our journalists, including the WSJ’s could have and possibly did learn from watching Russian state television on the 7th. What our media chose not to report was passed over in silence because it shows the complexity of Russia’s policy in the Middle East that includes but goes well outside the domain of pure geopolitics. This is so not least because of the date chosen for the visit, which happens to be Orthodox Christmas.

On the evening of the 6th, that is to say on Christmas eve, by the Russian Orthodox calendar, Russian state television broadcast live coverage of the Christmas service in the Christ the Savior cathedral in Moscow officiated by Patriarch Kirill, with prime minister Medvedev present on behalf of the Government. Then it cut to the service in St Petersburg, where Vladimir Putin sat in the congregation, as is his custom. The commentator mentioned in passing that the Patriarch’s father, a parish priest, just happened to be the one who baptized Vladimir Putin as a child where they all lived, in the Northern Capital.

The next coverage of Putin on state television was from Damascus on the 7th, where he obviously arrived on a night flight from Petersburg. I did not see video coverage [video coverage has now been posted] … But still photos and reports on state television informed us that Putin had not merely held talks with President Assad on the Russian military base outside the capital, but had strolled together with him down the streets of Damascus, had visited the main church in the (still existing) Christian quarter of the city, had presented to the Patriarch of Antioch an icon of the Virgin and had also gone on to visit the city’s oldest and largest mosque.

What you have here is precisely the second line of justification for Russian presence in Syria alongside military/geopolitical reasons: resuming Russia’s 19th century role as protector of the Orthodox population in the Holy Land and the broader Middle East. A similar role was exercised back then by France on behalf of the Catholic populations, but that since has been totally negated by rampant secularism and multiculturalism in Western Europe.

It also has to be said that Putin’s visit to Damascus was back-to-back with other very high visibility political statements: his visit to Istanbul on the 8th for the official opening of the TurkSteam gas pipeline and for lengthy talks with President Erdogan that ended in a joint statement calling for a truce in the Libyan civil war for which Russia and Turkey support opposing sides; and his visit on the 9th to Russian naval exercises in the Eastern Mediterranean that included the launch of Russia’s latest hypersonic missiles, the reality of which U.S. and other Western experts have yet to acknowledge.

With this I rest my case on the unfortunate propagandistic behavior of our media which deprive the broad Western public of any chance to make sense of the most dangerous military and political stand-off of our age.

©Gilbert Doctorow, 2020

January 12, 2020 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , | Leave a comment

The Terrifying Rise of the Zombie State Narrative

By Craig Murray | January 2, 2020

The ruling Establishment has learnt a profound lesson from the debacle over Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction. The lesson they have learnt is not that it is wrong to attack and destroy an entire country on the basis of lies. They have not learnt that lesson despite the fact the western powers are now busily attacking the Iraqi Shia majority government they themselves installed, for the crime of being a Shia majority government.

No, the lesson they have learnt is never to admit they lied, never to admit they were wrong. They see the ghost-like waxen visage of Tony Blair wandering around, stinking rich but less popular than an Epstein birthday party, and realise that being widely recognised as a lying mass murderer is not a good career choice. They have learnt that the mistake is for the Establishment ever to admit the lies.

The Establishment had to do a certain amount of collective self-flagellation over the non-existent Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, over which they precipitated the death and maiming of millions of people. Only a very few outliers, like the strange Melanie Phillips, still claimed the WMD really did exist, and her motive was so obviously that she supported any excuse to kill Muslims that nobody paid any attention. Her permanent pass to appear on the BBC was upgraded. But by and large everyone accepted the Iraqi WMD had been a fiction. The mainstream media Blair/Bush acolytes like Cohen, Kamm and Aaronovitch switched to arguing that even if WMD did not exist, Iraq was in any case better off for having so many people killed and its infrastructure destroyed.

These situations are now avoided by the realisation of the security services that in future they just have to brazen it out. The simple truth of the matter – and it is a truth – is this. If the Iraq WMD situation occurred today, and the security services decided to brazen it out and claim that WMD had indeed been found, there is not a mainstream media outlet that would contradict them.

The security services outlet Bellingcat would publish some photos of big missiles planted in the sand. The Washington Post, Guardian, New York Times, BBC and CNN would republish and amplify these pictures and copy and paste the official statements from government spokesmen. Robert Fisk would get to the scene and interview a few eye witnesses who saw the missiles being planted, and he would be derided as a senile old has-been. Seymour Hersh and Peter Hitchens would interview whistleblowers and be shunned by their colleagues and left off the airwaves. Bloggers like myself would be derided as mad conspiracy theorists or paid Russian agents if we cast any doubt on the Bellingcat “evidence”. Wikipedia would ruthlessly expunge any alternative narrative as being from unreliable sources. The Integrity Initiative, 77th Brigade, GCHQ and their US equivalents would be pumping out the “Iraqi WMD found” narrative all over social media. Mad Ben Nimmo of the Atlantic Council would be banning dissenting accounts all over the place in his role as Facebook Witchfinder-General.

Does anybody seriously wish to dispute this is how the absence of Iraqi WMD would be handled today, 16 years on?

If you do wish to doubt this could happen, look at the obviously fake narrative of the Syrian government chemical weapons attacks on Douma. The pictures published on Bellingcat of improvised chlorine gas missiles were always obviously fake. Remember this missile was supposed to have smashed through ten inches of solid, steel rebar reinforced concrete.

As I reported back in May last year, that the expert engineers sent to investigate by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) did not buy into this is hardly surprising.

That their findings were deliberately omitted from the OPCW report is very worrying indeed. What became still more worrying was the undeniable evidence that started to emerge from whistleblowers in the OPCW that the toxicology experts had unanimously agreed that those killed had not died from chlorine gas attack. The minutes of the OPCW toxicology meeting really do need to be read in full.

actual_toxicology_meeting_redacted

The highlights are:

“No nerve agents had been detected in environmental or bio samples”
“The experts were conclusive in their statements that there was no correlation between symptoms and chlorine exposure”

I really do urge you to click on the above link and read the entire minute. In particular, it is impossible to read that minute and not understand that the toxicology experts believed that the corpses had been brought and placed in position.

“The experts were also of the opinion that the victims were highly unlikely to have gathered in piles at the centre of the respective apartments, at such a short distance from an escape from any toxic chlorine gas to much cleaner air”.

So the toxicology experts plainly believed the corpse piles had been staged, and the engineering experts plainly believed the cylinder bombs had been staged. Yet, against the direct evidence of its own experts, the OPCW published a report managing to convey the opposite impression – or at least capable of being portrayed by the media of giving the opposite impression.

How then did the OPCW come to do this? Rather unusually for an international organisation, the OPCW Secretariat is firmly captured by the Western states, largely because it covers an area of activity which is not of enormous interest to the political elites of developing world states, and many positions require a high level of technical qualification. It was also undergoing a change of Director General at the time of the Douma investigation, with the firmly Francoist Spanish diplomat Fernando Arias taking over as Director General and the French diplomat Sebastian Braha effectively running the operation as the Director-General’s chef de cabinet, working in close conjunction with the US security services. Braha simply ordered the excision of the expert opinions on engineering and toxicology, and his high-handedness worked, at least until whistleblowers started to reveal the truth about Braha as a slimy, corrupt, lying war hawk.

FFM here stands for Fact Finding Mission and ODG for Office of the Director General. After a great deal of personal experience dealing with French diplomats, I would say that the obnoxious arrogance revealed in Braha’s instructions here is precisely what you would expect. French diplomats as a class are a remarkably horrible and entitled bunch. Braha has no compunction about simply throwing around the weight of the Office of the Director General and attempting to browbeat Henderson.

We see now how the OPCW managed to produce a report which was the opposite of the truth. Ian Henderson, the OPCW engineer who had visited the site and concluded that the “cylinder bombs” were fakes, had suddenly become excluded from the “fact finding mission” when it had been whittled down to a “core group” – excluding any engineers (and presumably toxicologists) who would seek to insert inconvenient facts into the report.

France of course participated, alongside the US and UK, in missile strikes against Syrian government positions in response to the non-existent chlorine gas attacks on Douma. I was amongst those who had argued from day one that the western Douma narrative was inherently improbable. The Douma enclave held by extreme jihadist, western and Saudi backed forces allied to ISIL, was about to fall anyway. The Syrian government had no possible military advantage to gain by attacking it with two small improvised chemical weapons, and a great deal to lose in terms of provoking international retaliation.

That the consequences of the fake Douma incident were much less far-reaching than they might have been, is entirely due (and I am sorry if you dislike this but it is true) to the good sense of Donald Trump. Trump is inclined to isolationism and the fake “Russiagate” narrative promoted by senior echelons of his security services had led him to be heavily sceptical of them. He therefore refused, against the united persuasion of the hawks, to respond to the Douma “attack” by more than quick and limited missile strikes. I have no doubt that the object of the intended false flag was to push the US into a full regime change operation, by falsifying a demonstration that a declared red line on chemical weapon use had been crossed.

There is no doubt that Douma was a false flag. The documentary and whistleblower evidence from the OPCW is overwhelming and irrefutable. In addition to the two whistleblowers reported extensively by Wikileaks and the Courage Foundation, the redoubtable Peter Hitchens has his own whistleblowers inside OPCW who may well be different persons. It is also great entertainment as well as enlightening to read Hitchens’ takedown of Bellingcat on the issue.

But there are much deeper questions about the Douma false flag. Did the jihadists themselves kill the “chlorine victims” for display or were these just bodies from the general fighting? The White Helmets were co-located with the jihadist headquarters in Douma, and involved in producing and spreading the fake evidence. How far were the UK and US governments, instrumental in preparing the false flag? That western governments, including through the White Helmets and their men at the OPCW, were plainly seeking to propagate this false flag, to massively publicise and to and make war capital out of it, is beyond dispute. But were they involved in the actual creation of the fake scene? Did MI6 or the CIA initiate this false flag through the White Helmets or the Saudi backed jihadists? That is unproven but seems to me very probable. It is also worth noting the coincidence in time of the revelation of the proof of the Douma false flag and the death of James Le Mesurier.

Now let me return to where I started. None of the New York Times, the Washington Post, the BBC, the Guardian nor CNN – all of which reported the Douma chemical attack very extensively as a real Syrian government atrocity, and used it to editorialise for western military intervention in Syria – none of them has admitted they were wrong. None has issued any substantive retraction or correction. None has reported in detail and without bias on the overwhelming evidence of foul play within the OPCW.

Those sources who do publish the truth – including the few outliers in mainstream media such as Peter Hitchens and Robert Fisk – continue to be further marginalised, attacked as at best eccentric and at worse Russian agents. Others like Wikileaks and myself are pariahs excluded from any mainstream exposure. The official UK, US, French and Spanish government line, and the line of the billionaire and state owned media, continues to be that Douma was a Syrian government chemical weapons attack on civilians. They intend, aided and abetted by their vast online propaganda operations, to brazen out the lie.

What we are seeing is the terrifying rise of the zombie state narrative in Western culture. It does not matter how definitively we can prove that something is a lie, the full spectrum dominance of the Establishment in media resources is such that the lie is impossible to kill off, and the state manages to implant that lie as the truth in the minds of a sufficient majority of the populace to ride roughshod over objective truth with great success. It follows in the state narrative that anybody who challenges the state’s version of truth is themselves dishonest or mad, and the state manages also to implant that notion into a sufficient majority of the populace.

These are truly chilling times.

In the next installment I shall consider how the Establishment is brazening out similar lies on the Russophobe agenda, and sticking to factually debunked narratives on the DNC and Podesta emails, on the Steele Dossier and on the Skripals.

January 2, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act: Why Washington Is Both Corrupt and Ignorant

By Philip Giraldi | Strategic Culture Foundation | January 2, 2020

The creatures that lurk through the corridors of power in Washington DC have refined corruption to the point where almost anything goes and almost no one is ever held accountable. Traditionally, Congressmen reward their various constituencies by inserting riders into larger pieces of legislation that grant money, exemptions or favors to certain groups or individuals. It is sometimes referred to as “pork.” The recent bloated omnibus spending bills totaling $1.4 trillion, which passed through Congress and were signed off on by President Donald Trump, were for the shameless denizens of Capitol Hill a gold mine. The process was so corrupt that even some Senators like Ted Cruz joked that “Christmas came early in Washington. While you were with your family, while you were shopping for Christmas, the lobbyists were spending and spending. I present to you, the massive omnibus bill that Congress is voting on.”

And no one is more corrupt in Congress than some of those at the top of the food chain, where the Speaker and the Minority leader in the House and the Majority and Minority leaders in the Senate have the final say on what gets cut and what remains. The lugubrious Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is one of the most adept at milking the system to buy his continued reelection in a state where he is actually not very popular, with an approval rating of only 37%. Within the current spending bill he has managed to include more than $1 billion worth of federal spending and tax breaks for some choice constituencies among the Kentucky voters. A tax break for the state’s whisky distillers alone came to a projected $426 million for 2020 and there were also breaks for the state’s thoroughbred horse industry as well as hundreds of millions of dollars more for new federal construction.

One can only wish that politicians would actually commit themselves to doing good for the American people, but the sad reality is that they spend so much time raising and distributing money that they only respond to constituents with the deepest pockets or those who make the most noise. Rarely does anyone actually read the bills that are being voted on. Part of the omnibus spending bills was the $738 billion dollar defense policy component, and, as in the case of the larger amounts intended to keep the federal government funded, the devil is frequently found in the details.

One part of the defense spending is called the “Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act,” which is intended to punish Syria and its President Bashar al-Assad with sanctions for alleged crimes committed during the country’s eight year civil war. The Caesar Act is named after a Syrian military photographer who reportedly took and then smuggled tens of thousands of photographs out of the country that provided evidence for claims that war crimes had been carried out by the Syrian government. “Caesar” eventually wound up in Washington where he briefed sympathetic lawmakers on the regime’s alleged crimes.

The Caesar Act will impose new sanctions on Syrian leaders and also on companies, states and even individuals that support the Assad government militarily, financially or technically. It will include placing new sanctions on Russia and Iran. Enab Baladi, a website run by opponents of the al-Assad government praised the move, writing that “[The bill] imposes sanctions on military contractors and mercenaries who are fighting for the Syrian government, Russia, Iran, or any of the parties against which sanctions have been previously imposed.” It also observes that the act would be a “deterrent” for anyone seeking to work with or help the al-Assad regime. The US, for its part, has pledged to support international prosecution of criminals in the Syrian government.

The use of sanctions is reminiscent of recent US action directed against Iran, Russia and Venezuela. Both Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the White House have been boasting of how Iran’s economy is being destroyed through economic warfare and it is clear that the intention is to do the same to Syria. The United States has been destabilizing Syria since the passage of the Syria Accountability Act in 2004. It imposed sanctions on the country even before the 2011 Arab Spring uprising, and they were regularly expanded by the Obama administration prior to the 2016 election.

Treasury Department sanctions have frozen assets of the Syrian government and also of hundreds of companies and individuals. They also ban most interactions with Syria by any US person, which means that anyone traveling to Syria and returning to report favorably on the al-Assad government can be plausibly prosecuted for providing a service to the regime.

To be sure no one is completely blameless amidst the turmoil that has engulfed Syria since 2011. Respectable organizations including Human Rights Watch have been able to identify some of the victims in the Caesar photos and have verified tales of torture and abuse, though it must be observed that fake photos and false testimony are easy to obtain.

But the Syrian regime response to the uprising against its authority is only part of the story, as the violence was fomented largely by Saudi Arabia, and Gulf States and the United States. And by far the worst atrocities against civilians have been committed by the groups actively or tacitly supported by the US, Turkey, the Gulf States and the Saudis, many of which have cooperated openly with the genuine terrorist groups that have been operating in Syria.

There also has to be some question raised about the general credibility of attacks directed against the al-Assad government. It has recently been revealed that both the United Nations Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the US media were pressured to cover-up the fact that Syria did not use chemical weapons against its own civilians in terrorist infested areas. A Newsweek reporter even resigned when he wrote a story seeking to expose the scandal. The magazine had refused to print the piece.

The US sponsored Syrian National Council has been most active in spreading reports about regime activity, much of which has been proven to be little more than propaganda. Caesar’s trip to Washington in 2015 to show his photos was, in fact, sponsored by the SNC and there is a whole series of fabrications spread by a number of groups supported by those who desire regime change in Damascus.

Consider for a moment the Oscar Award winning White Helmets, “the story of real-life heroes and impossible hope.” The group, which cooperates with the terrorist groups operating in its area, travels to bombing sites with its film crews trailing behind it. Once at the sites, with no independent observers, they are able to arrange or even stage what is filmed to conform to their selected narrative. Exploiting their access to the western media, the White Helmets thereby de facto became a major source of “eyewitness” news regarding what was then going on in those many parts of Syria where European and American journalists were quite rightly afraid to go, all part of a broader largely successful “rebel” effort to manufacture fake news that depicts the Damascus government as engaging in war crimes directed against civilians

The mainstream media is a major part of the problem as it generally only reports stories, like the White Helmets, that denigrate the Syrian government and its allies. Watching the recent BBC reporting of the Syrian Army’s push into Idlib province one learns that “Russian backed Syrian groups are attacking Idlib and creating a humanitarian crisis with 230,000 civilians fleeing the fighting.” The only problem with the coverage is that it does not really make clear that Idlib is terrorist occupied territory. Nor does it say where the civilians are fleeing to – nearly all have headed for the safety of Syrian government held areas.

And particularly for those strivers in Congress who are out hustling for money rather than finding out what is really going on in the world, it might be wise to recollect how gullible the Solons on the Potomac have been in the past. Going back to Ahmed Chalabi, who more than any single individual led the US government to believe that the invasion of Iraq would be a cakewalk, there has been a series of disastrous policy choices made after swallowing whole cloth lies and fabrications made by interested parties. Chalabi provided false intelligence on weapons of mass destruction and alleged ties of the Iraqi government to al-Qaeda. It turned out that he was working for several of the sides in the conflict that ensued, including the Iranian government.

And then there is the Magnitsky Act, sponsored by Russia-phobic Zionist Senator Ben Cardin and signed by President Barack Obama in 2012, which continues to be expanded and exploited by virtue of 2016’s Global Magnitsky Act to intervene in countries that are alleged to be human rights violators. In its original iteration, the Magnitsky Act, sanctioned individual Kremlin officials for their treatment of alleged whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky, arrested and imprisoned in Russia. Billionaire Bill Browder has sold a contrived narrative which basically says that he and his “lawyer” Sergei Magnitsky uncovered massive tax fraud and, when they attempted to report it, were punished by a corrupt police force and magistracy, which had actually stolen the money. Magnitsky was arrested and died in prison, allegedly murdered by the police to silence him.

Browder and his apologists portray him as an honest and honorable Western businessman attempting to operate in a corrupt Russian business world. Nevertheless, the loans-for-shares scheme that made him his initial fortune has been correctly characterized as the epitome of corruption by all parties involved, an arrangement whereby foreign investors worked with local oligarchs to strip the former Soviet economy of its assets paying pennies on each dollar of value. Along the way, Browder was reportedly involved in money laundering, making false representations on official documents and bribery.

Browder, who renounced his US citizenship in 1997 reportedly to avoid taxes, has been a frequent visitor to Capitol Hill where he tells congressional committees all about the corrupt and evil President Vladimir Putin. He is also a darling of the completely corrupted mainstream press because he is saying what they want to hear.

So, is the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act just another bit of nonsense, like Chalabi and Magnitsky? Probably, and all it will do is punish the Syrian people by trying to wreck the country’s economy while also limiting the ability of Americans to go independently to the region and see for themselves what is actually going on. It will prolong the pain being experienced by all involved while the legitimate government in Damascus seeks to restore its pre-war borders. It is, unfortunately, a prime example of the United States government in action.

January 2, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

BBC Director-General Calls for Media Critics to Be Purged From Social Media

By Alan Macleod | MintPress News | December 18, 2019

In the face of a mountain of condemnation over how it provided a key role in helping Boris Johnson win last week’s UK general elections, BBC Director-General Baron Hall of Birkenhead has called for the corporation’s critics to be purged from the internet.

“The conspiracy theories that abound are frustrating… some of the abuse… is sickening. It shouldn’t happen. And I think it’s something social media platforms really need to do more about” he complained. Other BBC employees, who refused to name themselves, also expressed their exasperation to The Guardian over what they called “ludicrous Twitter storms” over “minor errors” in their reporting making it “really tough” working for the corporation.

The BBC is by far the most influential news outlet in the United Kingdom. According to the Media Reform Coalition, its channels account for around 75 percent of all TV news by market share and the company controls over half of the nation’s radio audience. BBC.co.uk is also the number one most visited British media website. 

At no point did anyone quoted in the Guardian article accept that the BBC’s coverage of the recent election was anything other than exemplary, a common sentiment among top BBC employees. Veteran news anchor Huw Edwards, for example, described the idea that the organization was biased against Labour as “risible.”

Baron Hall singled out the criticism of BBC Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg – herself a descendant of the German aristocracy – as particularly unpleasant. “Elections always put the BBC’s impartiality in the spotlight. Social media offers a megaphone to those who want to attack us and makes this pressure greater than ever,” he said.

Yet Kuenssberg has been carrying out a sustained, non-stop attack on Labour since Jeremy Corbyn was elected its leader in 2015. A report from the BBC’s own trust concluded that she was so biased that she breached company regulations, an extraordinary finding from the corporation’s own foundation.

Kuenssberg also flouted strict election laws to reveal, while voting was still open, that postal ballots showed an enormous conservative majority was looming, thereby influencing the election. The UK Electoral Commission is currently investigating her. She also reported fake news in the run-up to the election, claiming that a Labour activist had punched a Conservative advisor visiting a hospital. What makes this particularly insidious is that this was part of a coordinated Tory propaganda campaign to divert attention away from the viral news that a four-year-old child had been pictured being treated on the floor of the underfunded and overcrowded hospital, sleeping, while hooked up to machines, on a pile of old coats rather than a bed. The Conservative government is currently in the process of privatizing the National Health Service.

Biased Broadcasting Corporation

Few of the BBC’s 300 million users are aware that the corporation’s genesis lay in helping the Tory government crush the 1926 general strike that threatened to bring about a socialist revolution to the UK. According to media historian Tom Mills, the BBC became a “vital instrument of propaganda for a government determined to break the strike.” putting out non-stop state propaganda and banning the Labour Party from the airwaves. As the strike was broken, the BBC reported on the “nation’s happy escape.” Its Director-General at the time said that the BBC had “saved” the UK and that if Louis the Sixteenth had had a national broadcaster, the French Revolution would never have happened.

During the 1980s, the BBC put out round-the-clock propaganda for Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in her war against the miners’ strike, doctoring footage to make it seem like miners had attacked the police, when, in fact, it had been the other way around. The failure of the miners’ strike led to the complete re-organization of the UK along neoliberal lines and the end of centuries of industrialization and increases in living standards.

More recently, the BBC proved crucial in propagandizing the public during the Iraq War and the Scottish independence referendum. The BBC’s bias has also spurred a rich tradition of academic critique. Yet those same academics are now facing suspension from social media if Baron Hall gets his way.

A Chilling Blow for Free Speech

The purging of dissent of the corporate state is something MintPress News has covered in depth. While few progressives shed tears at the news that a number of media giants like YouTube, Facebook, Spotify and Pinterest all took the seemingly coordinated decision to ban notorious radio show host and Infowars founder Alex Jones from their platforms, the precedent that it set was immediately used to silence more genuine independent voices. Facebook shut down the pages of Occupy London, the Black Agenda Report and Venezuelanalysis. Others, such as Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and the Ron Paul Institute’s Daniel McAdams were banned from Twitter for trivial reasons.

Furthermore, media giants have, under the guise of fighting hate speech and fake news, attempted to tighten the corporate grip over the means of communication by changing their algorithms to promote official sources like CNN, Fox News and the BBC and demoting, de-ranking or simply deleting alternative media such as MintPress News. As a result, alternative media have seen their traffic, and therefore their influence and income plummet.

Studies have shown that a majority of the world’s population does not trust the media. One survey found that around three-quarters of Americans believe mainstream media intentionally prints false or highly misleading stories for financial or political gain. Yet even as mainstream bias is becoming more evident, those same outlets are calling for the silencing of any criticism of them, good faith or otherwise.

What an upside-down world we live in where an affable pacifist vegetarian like Jeremy Corbyn was turned into a bloodthirsty tyrannical terrorist and where those calling loudest for top-down censorship of speech are precisely journalists working for the West’s most prestigious media outlets.

Alan MacLeod is a MintPress Staff Writer as well as an academic and writer for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. His book, Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting was published in April.

December 18, 2019 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Video | , , | Leave a comment

BBC’s One Planet falsely claims that polar bears hunting whales from shore is an unprecedented effect of climate change

By Susan Crockford | Polar Bear Science | November 30, 2019

Polar bears leaping on the backs of belugas off Seal River, in western Hudson Bay, is being falsely promoted by the BBC’s new “Seven Worlds: One Planet” TV special as an unprecedented effect of climate change.

More specifically, the Daily Mail (30 November 2019) this morning quoted the documentary, narrated by Sir David Attenborough, as saying:

‘This extraordinary behaviour has only been recorded here, in this remote corner of North America, and only in the last few years.’

Poppycock. More climate change hyperbole from Attenborough’s seemingly never-ending litany of nonsense that’s easily refuted. There is scientific literature documenting such behaviour in Canada’s far north in the 1980s, which I included in the blog post I wrote about this phenomenon a few months ago (after National Geographic published a similar scare-story), which I have reposted below.

And from the sounds of it, there was no mention in the BBC special that freeze-up along western Hudson Bay was early again this year: for the third year in a row. So if the footage was filmed any time since 2017, the claim of accelerating sea ice loss in this region and bears on land for longer than ever is pure fantasy. PS. Fat bears are not ‘starving’.

Reposted from May 6, 2019

This time National Geographic’s ‘Hostile Planet’ series laughably claims a fat polar bear that’s caught a beluga calf off the coast of Western Hudson Bay has been saved from starvation! The message: here is a prime example of climate change pushing a species to its limit. This is nonsense, of course: polar bears hunting beluga whales from rocks has nothing to do with climate change or desperately hungry bears. More importantly, there is a much better video of the action that is both more informative and truthful.

See both below and decide which you’d prefer your kids or grandkids to watch.

National Geographic footage with focus on climate change

First, here is the polar bear sequence from the ‘Hostile Planet’ series, which it has clearly released for distribution to the media:

Applying standard media hyperbole, Rolling Stone Magazine rephrased this to read “See a Starving Polar Bear Hunt for Beluga Whales” as if viewers can’t see the rolls of fat on this bear with their own eyes. Says Rolling Stone, 6 May 2019 [links in the original, my bold]:

“Some scientists fear a third of the polar bears in the world may be gone by 2030 due to climate change and how it will affect future sea conditions. To show how the species is struggling to survive as they search for food, National Geographic captured a moment where a starving polar bear hunts a pod of beluga whales in open water in Canada’s Hudson Bay. Featured in Hostile Planet‘s finale on Monday, it’s a chilling a reminder of how the Arctic predators are desperate to find prey to meet their needs.

The six-part nature docuseries, hosted and narrated by Bear Grylls, zooms in on the world’s most extreme habitats to reveal the animal kingdom’s most dramatic stories of survival on our changing planet.

The Hostile Planet series finale airs tonight at 9pmET/PT on National Geographic.”

Wildlife guides on the ground

However, we know from reports from guides at the Seal River Heritage Lodge that polar bears hunting beluga from rocks were observed in late summer (August/September) 2017 at the mouth of the Seal River, which is north of Churchill on Western Hudson Bay (see map below). This was the same summer a litter of triplet cubs were spotted in the area, discussed in the same report.

Seal River Lodge location 2017

A photo of a Seal River polar bear hunting beluga from a rock, late summer 2017:

Bear hunting beluga Seal River Sept 2017 Quent Plett photo

CBC nature film footage

As the video below, from CBC’s “The Wild Canadian Year: Summer” narrated by David Suzuki of “The Nature of Things” (uploaded 8 December 2018 to Youtube). I’m no fan of Sukuki’s stance on climate change but am happy to report it does not enter the narrative here, at least in the polar bear clip (I haven’t listened to the rest).

The polar bear hunting beluga sequence starts at 36:50 with the catch at about 42:00.

Clearly, dozens of bears have learned this hunting strategy – probably after watching one local individual give it a try. Polar bear cubs learn hunting skills by watching their mothers, so they are primed to learn a new skill by watching other adults do it. These bears are very smart and learn quickly.

This new hunting strategy had nothing to do with being ‘desperate’ for food, since the bears shown in this video are in excellent condition, as were most bears that summer. Fall freeze-up came early in 2017 (and again in 2018), so they had a shorter wait than usual before they could hunt seals from the ice again.

However, polar bears hunting beluga whale calves in open water is not unheard-of behaviour that has only emerged recently due to climate change: researchers in the 1980s saw bears in the Canadian Arctic hunt beluga calves close to the shore of Somerset Island in a similar if not identical manner (ironically, this is the same island where NG’s equally misleading ‘starving’ polar bear was filmed in 2017). In one case, rather than a rock, a big male bear in 1985 used an isolated pan of ice as a platform from which to leap onto beluga calves swimming in the water (Smith and Sjare 1990:100).

References

Smith, T.G. and Sjare, B. 1990. Predation of belugas and narwhals by polar bears in nearshore areas of the Canadian High Arctic. Arctic 43(2):99-102. DOI: https://doi.org/10.14430/arctic1597

December 1, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science, Video | | 1 Comment

BBC under increasing criticism for biased reporting

By Johanna Ross | November 27, 2019

It’s almost as British as fish and chips and a pint, but what used to be embraced by the masses as a reliable source of information, the BBC, is now under increasing scrutiny for its overt political bias. With the growing popularity of social and alternative media, Brits are no longer taking as gospel what is pumped out by, this publicly funded service which is increasingly coming under fire for being nothing more than a propaganda machine for the sitting government.  The hashtag #BBCbias has been trending for some time now on Twitter, and with more and more commentators questioning the integrity of this public service, it’s clear that the organisation needs to take a long hard look at itself.

Let’s take the issue of Scottish Independence for example. Coverage of this, and of the Scottish National Party has been demonstrated to be biased for years. A 2014 report by Dr John Robertson concluded that BBC reports in the run up to the Yes campaign consisted of “typically a Westminster scare story, on the Yes campaign, mostly left unanswered and unchallenged” and that coverage had “not been fair or balanced”. More worrying however, the research had illustrated that this biased reporting could well have had a negative impact on the independence movement: “we have evidence of coverage which seems likely to have damaged the Yes campaign”.  The revelations earlier this year by a senior BBC journalist, Allan Little, that his colleagues viewed it as their responsibility to demonstrate how ‘foolish’ independence was, only adds to the case that coverage was far from impartial.

But despite the public outcry, it’s clear that few lessons have been learned. Much of the current criticism of the BBC is to do with its stance towards the Labour party led by Jeremy Corbyn. It couldn’t be more obvious from interviews by some of its top journalists – Andrew Marr for one – that there is an anti-Corbyn position, and in fact Corbyn has himself accused Marr in the past of ‘establishment bias’. A report from 2016 only looked into coverage of the Labour leader by the mainstream media in general and concluded that there was a “marked and persistent imbalance” in favour of sources critical to him. Furthermore, it singled out the BBC for using more ‘pejorative language’ when referring to Corbyn and his party colleagues and it gave almost double the unchallenged airtime to people criticising the Labour leader than to his supporters.

In recent months however, since Prime Minister Boris Johnson took office, the preferential treatment given to the government has been more stark than ever, mainly down to the nature of his ‘style’. For more than any other Prime Minister before him, Johnson has been accused of being economical with the truth. Therefore the BBC is under increased pressure to either promote the government position, as it has traditionally done, however extraordinary it may be, or rethink its approach altogether. One of the first to bring this issue to the public eye was acclaimed journalist Peter Oborne. Writing in Open Democracy, he stated that ‘British journalists have become part of Johnson’s fake news machine’. He accuses the Prime Minister of having “debauched Downing Street by using the power of his office to spread propaganda and fake news” and mentions the BBC Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg, saying she was ‘manipulated by Downing Street’ when she reported ‘insider information’ without questioning it.  But with the lies of Boris Johnson being exposed more and more, how long can the BBC protect him?

Peter Oborne does go some way to explaining the problem: “I have talked to senior BBC executives, and they tell me they personally think it’s wrong to expose lies told by a British prime minister because it undermines trust in British politics.” But in actual fact this does not convey fully what is happening. For the reality is, despite its mission statement boasting of its aim “to act in the public interest, serving all audiences through the provision of impartial, high-quality and distinctive output and services which inform, educate and entertain”, the BBC is, and always has been, a mouthpiece for the British government of the day. Its journalists, up until the 1990s were vetted by the British security services. It’s always had an agenda to promote the establishment narrative and to oppose any individuals or movements which threaten that. Scottish independence is a threat. Jeremy Corbyn is another. The former will break up the Union; the latter is deemed a security risk because of his pacifist tendencies and non-interventionist stance when it comes to foreign policy.

But with both these movements gaining ground, and British politics and society in a state of flux, we are now in uncertain territory. The period of post-war stability is now coming to an end, and so is it the reign of the mainstream media. For the BBC to survive in this new media landscape it will have to inject a heavy dose of honesty and transparency into its broadcasting, or face being obsolete.  As populism gathers strength, and people access a wider range of media sources than ever before, they will no longer be accepting things at face value.

Johanna Ross is a journalist based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

November 27, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 2 Comments

The Bambi Syndrome

Tony Heller | November 22, 2019

The BBC is working hard to misinform British children and make them neurotic cannon fodder for the climate agenda. What is the end game?

November 24, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular, Video | | Leave a comment

BBC tries to understand Welsh independence movement

Press TV – September 21, 2019

The giant strides of the Welsh independence movement this year have finally grabbed the full attention of the British mainstream media, which would otherwise prefer to ignore this phenomenon.

The BBC ran a short documentary on Welsh independence yesterday, with a focus on the role of young people in the movement.

The BBC Wales political reporter, Teleri Glyn, ostensibly tries to understand what is driving young Welsh people toward independence by interviewing niche groups, notably Cardiff University’s Independence Society.

Despite the veneer of objectivity, Glyn’s report tries to downplay the momentum toward Welsh independence by creating a generational schism between the young and old in Wales.

The older people she interviews for the report all happen to be strongly opposed to independence thus creating the impression that Welsh nationalism is a transient phenomenon largely confined to the youth.

The BBC’s barely concealed misconceptions, or distortions as some might argue, stand in stark contrast to reporting by less mainstream media.

Four months ago, Vice News ran a features story on the issue of Welsh independence with a particular focus on the role of young people in it.

Entitled “Welsh Independence Has Gone Mainstream”, and published on May 24, 2019, the story showcases specific youth-based groups who are at the sharpest end of the independence movement.

One such group, the “Welsh Independence Memes for Angry Welsh Teens”, has a strong online presence, boasting more than 17,500 followers on Facebook.

Vice also showcases “Sianel Pump” a YouTube channel targeting a youth/young adult audience, which was launched by the Welsh language broadcaster S4C back in 2016.

Sianel Pump’s success led to the development of “Hansh”, a pro-independence, Welsh-language YouTube channel for youth whose video contents regularly get tens of thousands of views.

The focus on young people in the Welsh independence movement is unfolding against a backdrop of a dramatic rise in nationalist sentiment in Wales.

So far this year there have been three large pro-independence rallies, the first in Cardiff (May), the second in Caernarfon (July) and the last in Merthyr Tydfil earlier this month.

According to the latest YouGov opinion poll, conducted between 6-10 September, and with a sample size of 1039 people, 24 percent of respondents said they would vote for an independent Wales if there was a referendum tomorrow.

The support for separation from the UK jumps to 33 percent if Welsh independence also entailed staying within the European Union.

September 21, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 1 Comment

Fake News and Fires in the Amazon

Media outlets are supposed to be more reliable than your brother-in-law, but that seems less true every day.

By Donna Laframboise | Big Picture News | August 28, 2019

Politicians and government officials like to talk as though it’s possible to stamp out fake news. It isn’t.

Fake news is as old as humanity. After Aristotle incorrectly claimed women had fewer teeth than men, generations of highly educated people believed it.

Rajendra Pachauri was called “the UN’s top climate scientist” by the BBC – and a “Nobel laureate” by the New York Academy of Sciences magazine. Neither statement was true.

Pachauri’s doctorate wasn’t in climatology, but in industrial engineering and economics. And the fact that he accepted the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the UN organization he chaired doesn’t make him or any other person affiliated with that organization a Nobel laureate.

Published in 2008 and 2009, these inaccurate statements have never been corrected. In other words, we’re surrounded by fake news. And always will be. Humans are frequently mistaken. Organizations, as well as individuals, post things on the Internet before double-checking.

While media outlets are supposed to be more reliable than your brother-in-law, that seems less true every day. Over the past week, people have shared a CNN headline on Facebook that declares: “The Amazon rainforest is burning at a record rate” (see the screengrab from my own Facebook feed, at the top of this post).

If you click through to the CNN website, you’ll find a few extra words: “… research center says.” But the primary statement is misleading. Which means that millions have been alarmed unnecessarily – including a lovely, smart, young mother of my acquaintance.

Over at the website of National Geographic, a headline falsely declares: Brazil’s Amazon is burning at record rates – and deforestation is to blame. The second half of that assertion is vigorously disputed here.

On Twitter, the President of France used an image taken by a photographer who’s been dead for 16 years to represent the current situation. Let me just emphasize that point: the head of a G7 country is spreading fake news about events unfolding on another continent.

That doesn’t, for one minute, mean anyone should have the power to shut him down. Not Twitter, Facebook, the EU, the UN, or anyone in his own government.

Like it or not, we’re stuck with fake news. Our best defense is to read widely and maintain a high level of skepticism. On this question, here’s some counterbalance to the recent tsunami of alarmism:

Why Everything They Say About The Amazon, Including That It’s The ‘Lungs Of The World,’ Is Wrong

Amazon fires: how celebrities are spreading disinformation

Is Amazon Rainforest Burning At Record Rates? What Is The Way Forward?

Lies, Damn Lies, And Rainforest Fear-Mongering

Annual Amazon farmland burn sets records for international outrage

Amazon fires: What about Bolivia?

Stop Sharing Those Viral Photos of the Amazon Burning

The Three Most Viral Photos of the Amazon Fire Are Fake. Here Are Some Real Ones to Share.

What Satellite Imagery Tells Us About the Amazon Rain Forest Fires

Why shouldn’t Brazilians burn down trees?

Sugar cane, Palm oil, and Biofuels in the Amazon

August 28, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science | , | Leave a comment

BBC Admits ‘Syrian’ Airstrike in Recent Story on Scarred Boy Turned Out to Be Turkish

Sputnik – August 22, 2019

The BBC has corrected its August 19 news story about a Syrian boy who was severely wounded in a 2018 airstrike, which the broadcasting company first said was carried out by Syrian forces but later admitted could be blamed on Turkey.

Some Twitter users posted screenshots showing that the BBC had actually redacted its text several times.

The headline of the short story, featuring a video about the life of a four-year-old Syrian boy whose face was scarred in the airstrike, originally referred to the incident as “a Syrian airstrike.” The mention of Syria was then deleted with an indication that it was “not clear who was responsible for the attack.” Now the headline refers to it as just “an airstrike,” and the article clarifies that “evidence indicates that Turkey carried out the airstrike.”

Last January, Turkish forces launched airstrikes on Kurdish fighters in Afrin, a city located in northern Syria, as part of a military operation dubbed Olive Branch. The boy, named Jouma, and his family were fleeing their home in Syria when an airstrike hit the bus they were on.

Jenan Moussa, a reporter for Arabic Al Aan TV, wrote on Twitter that Tolin Hassan, a close friend of the wounded boy’s family, told her that Jouma’s relatives “mentioned over and over to BBC-journo that the car was hit by a Turkish strike after escaping Afrin.”

August 22, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

We all deserve an investigation into BBC Panorama’s propaganda

By Nasim Ahmed | MEMO | July 17, 2019

The British public were subjected to an hour of anti-Palestine propaganda by the BBC last week when it aired a Panorama programme on the “anti-Semitism” row within the Labour Party. The public service broadcaster appeared to be doing very little public service when it unleased what was, by any reasonable assessment, a media broadside taken straight from the disinformation rule book.

Received by the mainstream media as though it were the final say on the anti-Semitism row that has rocked the Labour Party since Jeremy Corbyn became leader in 2015, the public have been duped into submitting to the dominant narrative. The political party that was born out of a desire to fight inequality and headed now by a leader whose record of fighting for social justice and equality is second to none is, we are led to believe, institutionally anti-Semitic.

The main characters used to “prove” this thesis in Panorama dominate the who’s who of people in the anti-Palestine lobby groups in Britain. Such basic information was omitted because it did not serve the presenter’s agenda. By failing to disclose the clearly relevant affiliations of the individuals involved in the programme, including the fabricated claims of anti-Semitism by one of the so called whistle-blowers, the BBC has basically admitted that their connections to the Israeli Embassy in London and anti-Palestine lobby groups like BICOM and Labour Friends of Israel completely discredits the “evidence” put forward.

The BBC producers also ignored the fact that there are dozens of Jewish Labour members and Jewish groups that totally reject allegations of the kind made in the programme. None were interviewed by Panorama veteran John Ware, who is developing a track record of being anti-Palestine and very pro-Israel; hardly the neutral journalism that one would expect from the BBC. Nor did Ware point out that there are Jews among the Labour Party members suspended or expelled for alleged anti-Semitism.

It has been claimed that the programme had such disregard for the truth that it resorted to doctoring quotes in an attempt to drive its point home. It presented an email by Labour’s director of communications Seumas Milne, for example, which gave the impression that senior Labour officials were interfering in the party’s disciplinary process. The BBC version of Milne’s email was, “Something’s going wrong, and we’re muddling up political disputes with racism… I think going forward we need to review where and how we’re drawing the line.” The Labour Party has released the full email, which shows that Milne was responding to a request from a former Labour staff member for a view on a complaint. He was talking specifically about Jewish people being accused of anti-Semitism and the unedited text of his email is this: “Having identified the subject of the complaint as a ‘Jewish activist, the son of a Holocaust survivor’… if we’re more than very occasionally using disciplinary action against Jewish members for anti-Semitism, something’s going wrong and we’re muddling up political disputes with racism.” This gives a very different meaning to the one put out on Panorama.

One has to wonder if the BBC, like the members of the Jewish Labour Movement interviewed in the programme as “whistle-blowers”, thinks that Jews supportive of Labour and refuting allegations of anti-Semitism are “the wrong type of Jew”. Is it just a coincidence that members of the Jewish community ignored by the BBC are very critical of Israel and its brutal occupation of Palestine and those given a voice by the public broadcaster are strongly anti-Palestinian?

Perhaps the BBC’s most glaring omission and disservice to the viewing public was its abject failure to give any background to the “whistle-blowers” who also featured prominently in the 2017 Al Jazeera documentary on the pro-Israel lobby. The two hour documentary detailed how the Israeli Embassy provided covert assistance to supposedly independent groups within the Labour Party; how jobs at the embassy were being offered to groom young Labour activists; and how concerned the embassy was with removing not just Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan, but also Crispin Blunt MP, the chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee (both of whom are Conservative MPs), as well as Labour leader Corbyn.

Anti-Palestinian activists were captured on camera boasting about “taking down” British ministers; how easy it is to get most Conservative MPs to do the bidding of pro-Israel activists; and giving details of how they would write prepared questions for MPs to ask the Prime Minister in parliament. “If you do everything for them,” they explained, “it’s harder for them to say, ‘I don’t have the time, I won’t do it’.”

The four-part Al Jazeera documentary along with its US version marked a watershed moment in exposing the workings of the anti-Palestinian lobbies on both sides of the Atlantic. The Lobby – USA was made by Al Jazeera’s investigations unit, but ironically it was never broadcast by the Qatari channel, after a massive censorship push by the anti-Palestine lobby.

Unsurprisingly, despite their questionable activities being exposed on camera, anti-Palestinian groups cried foul by accusing Al Jazeera of anti-Semitism. Their complaint was investigated by Britain’s media regulator, Ofcom. In its lengthy ruling, Ofcom noted that the complaints received “raised a range of issues about the programme including that they were anti-Semitic and were not duly impartial.” Other complaints “considered that the programme was materially misleading.”

The latter allegation was dismissed by Ofcom without further investigation, following information received from Al Jazeera. With respect to the other complaints, it found that Al Jazeera was not in breach of the obligation to have “due impartiality”, and similarly rejected claims of anti-Semitism. A second attack on the programme was inevitable, and it seems that Panorama’s “shock and awe” tactic has provided such an opportunity, generating the kind of social panic required to silence legitimate opinions and dismiss counter-narratives as anti-Semitism and conspiracy theories.

The Jewish Chronicle was attuned to the public paralysis and did exactly that, launching into a full-on attack on Al Jazeera’s documentary by labelling anyone who defended Labour using facts uncovered in the programme as “conspiracy theorists” which, let’s admit it, is another way of saying that they are anti-Semitic. Panorama’s broadcast was timed perfectly for the community newspaper which, along with anti-Palestinian groups, has been waiting for the opportunity to discredit The Lobby. If the sort of revelations contained therein were made by anyone connected to Russia, or any other state for that matter, there would be calls for investigations into such open foreign interference in Britain’s democracy. It is significant that no such calls have ever been made in political circles for any investigations into Israel’s efforts — captured on camera, remember — to disrupt the British democratic process.

Why did John Ware and Panorama ignore the findings of the Al Jazeera documentary, especially given that it was vindicated by Ofcom? That’s a mystery. Viewers should have been told about the “whistle-blowers” and their backgrounds as well as their connections to the State of Israel and the anti-Palestine lobby. And that the allegations made against them by Al Jazeera were noted by the media regulator not to have been “made on the grounds that any of the particular individuals concerned were Jewish” and that “no claims were made relating to their faith”. Ofcom went on to say that it did not “consider that the [Al Jazeera] programme portrayed any negative stereotypes of Jewish people as controlling or seeking to control the media or governments.”

Ofcom concluded further: “Rather, it was our view that these individuals featured in the [Al Jazeera] programme in the context of its investigation into the alleged activities of a foreign state [the State of Israel acting through its UK Embassy] and their association with it.”

One is not a “conspiracy theorist” for citing evidence from a serious documentary vindicated by the media regulator to expose falsehoods in a BBC programme that one suspects would not survive the level of scrutiny placed on non-mainstream media organisations, including Al Jazeera. At the very least, the British public whose licence fees pay for the BBC — including up to 600,000 Labour Party members —have a right to know if the Corporation is indeed serving the public or simply peddling propaganda in the best interests of a foreign state rather than impartial journalism.

July 17, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | 2 Comments

Campaigner Scores Major Victory, Forcing BBC Admit to Factual Inaccuracy

By Kit Klarenberg | Sputnik | July 2, 2019

Simon Maginn is many things – author, activist, piano teacher, and also one of the BBC’s most determined agitators. He submits complaints to the state broadcaster on a borderline daily basis, lodging grievances about what he feels are fundamental misrepresentations of opinions and facts by the corporation’s journalists and interviewees.

Often, Simon files complaints related to the alleged “anti-Semitism crisis” in the Labour party, which he believes to be a mythical smear perpetuated by the party’s detractors for political reasons.

“They’re usually near the top of my phone’s most recent calls list. I don’t always go the written route – it’s wearying, and by design. They deliberately try to grind you down with a maddeningly slow bureaucratic process, and most people get put off quite quickly, but I’m a bit bloody-minded. They don’t stop, it’s been unrelenting for three years or more. I’m dug in, it’s trench war – I’ll never accept the BBC is entitled to serve as a propaganda platform, both as a license fee-payer and a citizen. It’s not what we pay them to do, and it needs to end,” Simon says.

By this point, he knows well complainants “never get anywhere” if they submit objections to the BBC about ‘bias’ – such protests typically elicit a “stock response” that the state broadcaster takes “very seriously” its Charter obligations to “ensure controversial subjects are treated with due accuracy and impartiality”.

Issues of clear and demonstrable factual accuracy are a different matter though – and on 26th February Nick Robinson, the BBC’s former political editor and currently presenter of BBC Radio 4’s flagship ‘Today Programme’, committed a significant breach of his obligations in this regard.

‘Insufficiently Accurate’

In a public Twitter post directed at Chris Williamson, MP for Derby North and currently suspended from Labour due to flagrantly bogus allegations of anti-Semitism, Robinson sneeringly asked why the parliamentarian claimed to have “never seen” anti-Semitism in the party, given he himself had “agreed to screen a film in Parliament by a woman suspended from Labour for saying the Jews controlled the slave trade”.

Robinson was referring to Jackie Walker, a veteran Labour member and former vice chair of Momentum’s steering committee expelled from the party for “prejudicial and grossly detrimental behaviour” on 27th March this year.

Her ejection resulted from a manufactured controversy, in which comments she made in a private Facebook conversation with a friend in 2016 were publicised and taken out of context by the Israel Advocacy Movement, which aims to “counter British hostility to Israel”.

When Walker’s friend raised the question of “the debt” owed to Jews as a result of the Holocaust, Walker said she hoped they “feel the same towards the African holocaust”.

“My ancestors were involved in both – on all sides as I’m sure you know, millions more Africans were killed in the African holocaust and their oppression continues today on a global scale in a way it doesn’t for Jews…Many Jews (my ancestors too) were the chief financiers of the sugar and slave trade which is of course why there were so many early synagogues in the Caribbean. So who are victims and what does it mean? We are victims and perpetrators to some extent through choice. And having been a victim does not give you a right to be a perpetrator,” she explained.

Simon felt the BBC “had nowhere to hide”, and indeed believed he’d a better than average chance of his umbrage being taken seriously, so wrote to the corporation outlining his concerns.

“Robinson said an arrogant, stupid thing I – and indeed anyone who’d spent more than five minutes looking into the matter – knew to be completely untrue. Walker – herself Jewish – had merely stated the historical record in a nuanced and thoughtful way – Jews, Christians, Muslims, all sorts of people financed the slave trade, that’s not in dispute. However, her comments were then compacted, filleted and distorted in order to present them as suggesting Jews alone created and controlled the slave trade. Robinson evidently hadn’t done even basic fact-checking – but then again it’s the BBC, so that’s pretty standard,” he says.

The BBC’s initial response was merely that Robinson “might’ve phrased it differently”, effectively admitting his statement was in no way accurate but dismissing the seriousness of the faux pas. Refusing to accept their equivocating excuse, Simon continued to pursue the issue – four months later, the Beeb has finally confirmed Robinson gave “an insufficiently accurate impression of her actual words”, and upheld his complaint. The reason for the significant delay is anyone’s guess – people have suggested to Simon the BBC may have sought legal advice, given Robinson’s comments were clearly libelous and a blatant Charter breach.

​Quite what will come of the finding also isn’t clear, although Simon believes it should have significant implications not merely for Robinson but several other BBC personalities who’ve framed Walker, her comments and those who’ve supported her as anti-Semitic – for instance, Radio 5 Live presenter Emma Barnett has likewise levelled a number of “damaging” allegations against Williamson, all of which relate to his defence of Walker.

Censorship and Sensibility

While happy to have finally gotten the BBC bang to rights, Simon isn’t optimistic the concession will produce actual change, believing the broadcaster will continue to use its “uniquely privileged place” in the information sphere to “pump out absolute garbage every day” – after all, he notes that for as difficult as it is to nail the BBC for factual inaccuracy, political smears inserted into ‘non-factual’ entertainment are effectively protected by broadcast rules.

For example, in May 2018 David Baddiel appeared on Frankie Boyle’s popular ‘New World Order’ show, and commented among other things on a survey of Labour voters that found 28 percent agreed with the notion there was a “secretive elite” controlling the world. As Simon notes, respondents were referring to things such as “Integrity Initiative, HSBC and the like, proven conspiracies against the left, and truth” – Baddiel conversely suggested the secret conspiracy they spoke of was “the Jews”. Baddiel subsequently made clear the ‘gag’ was in fact an accurate reflection of his views on the subject, attacking those who took issue with his damaging mischaracterisation – although the BBC didn’t take the comment quite so seriously.

“I complained, but was told as it was a comedy show and not a news program standards of accuracy didn’t matter, just ‘due accuracy’. So Baddiel can just get away with totally misrepresenting a survey and in the process smearing hundreds of thousands of British left-wingers in an extremely damaging way on a prime-time show potentially watched by millions as long as he gets a big laugh apparently,” he despairs.

​The BBC also frequently lies by omission Simon feels, not reporting, misreporting or actively suppressing significant stories. In May this year for instance, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) submitted over 20 pages of evidence to the Equality and Human Rights Commission in the wake of the government’s refusal to adopt a proposed definition on Islamophobia, and called for an investigation into Islamophobia in the Conservative party – it went entirely unmentioned by the state broadcaster.

“I asked the BBC why they’d been completely silent on the MCB’s public demand, and they justified their failure on the basis the story ‘hadn’t been picked up by the media in the way the anti-Semitism issue has’. They also said they hadn’t received a press release from the MCB – I’m not a global news-gathering brand, and yet I heard about the story and they didn’t?! While the temptation is to respond with a curt ‘f*** off’, I refuse to be put off by their insultingly childish excuses,” Simon rages.

“The BBC is sick to its core and in dire need of reform – we can’t go into another General Election with the broadcaster in this mode. It’s terribly dangerous, many people take all their news from the corporation and no other sources. I supported the Beeb all my life, grew up with it, my generation has a massive cultural affiliation… it’s been terribly disturbing for me to realise since Corbyn’s election it’s actually a ruthless purveyor of propaganda that will do anything to stop a left-wing government getting into power. The broadcaster is supposed to be all kinds of things, which it isn’t. This is very serious – we need a full and thorough investigation into what’s gone wrong, and how to put it right.”<

July 2, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment