Anti-Russia hysteria reached parodical proportions in the ‘mainstream’ media in the wake of the Sergei Skripol ‘novichok’ incident in recent days but what this burlesque spectacle actually reveals is the toxic interdependence between the corporate state and the corporate media – the operative word there being ‘corporate’ – exposing how they always work together to sweep us all along on a tide of fast-rising nationalistic fervour into the next geopolitically convenient conflict.
Both have blatantly collaborated on this latest Russia scare story to create a febrile climate in which any reasoned enquiry into who might be responsible for the Salisbury event is characterised as stubborn dissent designed to obstruct truth and justice, and any departure from absolute and unequivocal condemnation of Russia’s guilt is seized upon as weakness, tinged with a whiff of moral degeneracy.
Note the McCarthyite condemnation of Jeremy Corbyn for daring to resist the mass denunciation of Russia by asking for – how dare he! – actual evidence before rushing to a conclusion which could destabilise the globe. Corporate journalists have been lining up to trash him, with even the ‘highbrow’ Newsnight stooping to a blatantly photoshopped image of Corbyn superimposed onto the Kremlin in a Russian hat, all washed over in signifying red monochrome. No, it wasn’t a sketch on some satirical political comedy show – it really happened!
The Telegraph reported the views of one Mr Pomeroy, ‘the son of a South Wales miner, and a life-long Labour supporter’: ‘I’m very disappointed in Mr Corbyn’ he lamented. ‘he has been a bit mealy-mouthed about Russia’s involvement. He should be representing ordinary people like me.’ This is Corbyn’s principled stance as class betrayal. And as an aside, I come from a South Wales mining village and I’ve never heard of anyone there going by the absurd name of ‘Pomeroy’, but I digress.
Andrew Pierce, consultant editor of the Daily Mail, speaking on RT (note his appearance considering the smearing of that station as a Kremlin mouthpiece) exemplified this strategy of silencing voices of reason when he told us that Corbyn was ‘shameful’ because he ‘has a job to be supportive in a time of national crisis, to sound at least vaguely patriotic.’ Instead he was ‘peevish’ and ‘churlish’ for ‘failing to condemn the state of Russia for what is perceived to be a Russian act.’
‘Perceived to be a Russian act’? Well, that’s good enough for me! I’m prepared to start a global conflict on that firm basis. And let’s not hesitate to traduce a political leader who called it right on Iraq before a million innocent people died.
The Guardian, as ever, was just as predictable as the right wing press, proving once again the desperate need for independent journalism by hosting this staggeringly naive yet arrogant piece by Matthew d’Ancona, who seems to believe, in the face of mountains of (real) evidence, that our government and intelligence services never, ever lie. No sir. They just don’t do that kind of thing. We are the good guys! We are! We are!
d’Ancona’s take on Corbyn’s performance in the Commons was that it was ’embarrassingly sophomoric’. He went on: ‘his immediate contribution was to issue a pious warning against “letting the tensions and divisions get worse”’
I see. So, insisting upon adherence to international law, especially those aspects pertaining to the use of chemical weapons, is juvenile? And asking for evidence of a state’s culpability before steaming headlong into a conflict is ‘pious’? Which stance strikes you as most juvenile? I think Matthew has been playing too much Call of Duty. Where does this belligerent fool get off telling Corbyn to ‘get real’?
Media Lens, in their excellent alert on this subject, highlighted more Guardian absurdity regarding Corbyn’s performance with this editorial response ‘by supposedly one of the world’s leading liberal newspapers.’ – ‘his reluctance to share Mrs May’s basic analysis of the Salisbury incident made him look eager to exonerate a hostile power.’
Again, the framing of a call for caution when the stakes are so very high as weakness and betrayal. What planet do these people live on? I would urgently direct Matthew d’Ancona, in fact all at The Guardian, as well as Pierce and the entire stupid corporate crew to the books of Mark Curtis. They are based entirely on declassified UK government files and paint a picture of British foreign policy over the decades since WWII that will blast any complacent belief in our benign role in the world to smithereens. Brace yerself, Matt, you’re in for a rude awakening. You can’t look honestly at the secret record and still insist we’re the good guys. But come on! How old are you? Time to grow up.
US journalist, Norman Soloman, in his must-see documentary, War Made Easy, identifies exactly the phenomenon Pierce, D’Ancona and all their corporate hack cohort, exemplify whereby they immediately and predictably, upon direction from their state/corporate sources, spew out propagandised rhetoric, joining in the ‘war effort’ by amplifying government justifications for accusations against the designated enemy, citing ‘patriotism’ in a time of ‘national crisis’ (Pierce was bang on script) and labelling all rational, clear-headed questioning as disloyalty to the country and all it stands for.
There is no pause for doing a journalist’s actual job of asking questions, of fact-checking, of challenging. Oh no; just an automatic alignment with the elites’ agenda. Thank goodness we have people like this as a check on power, I say.
Observe their treatment of ex-UK ambassador, Craig Murray, who has this past week, produced a series of blog posts which put every single so-called journalist working in the ‘mainstream’ to shame. Murray’s forensic investigation into the truth about ‘novichoks’ – that word having been bandied about on corporate news channels with a level of glee and pre-emptive triumphalism regarding Russia’s guilt in inverse proportion to the amount of professionalism and journalistic integrity applied to the reports – is an affront that these obedient drones cannot tolerate.
‘First recorded successful novichok synthesis was in 2016 – by Iran, in cooperation with the OPCW’, ‘the chemical formulae were published to the whole world twenty years ago. So many states could have done it. The ‘of a type developed by Russia’ thing means nothing. (craigmurray.org.uk)
Now, you’d think all that would be of interest to a real journalist wouldn’t you? You’d think it would be worth looking into at least, surely? But no. Their only interest has been in discrediting Murray.
He is an affront to corporate journalists not only because he is doing exactly what they should be engaged in – seeking truth – and are not, but because he has proved their disgraceful regurgitation of state propaganda dressed up as news to be the dangerous disinformation it really is. They have to shoot Murray down or else the cognitive dissonance would be too much for them. Much better to all point and scream at him like alien Donald Sutherland detecting a real human being at the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
Craig, in his blog of 20th March 2018, expresses the hurt he feels at his personal struggle with depression (suffered after ‘blowing the whistle on extraordinary rendition and the Blair government’s misuse of intelligence from torture’) being twisted to discredit his crucial enquiry into the novichok issue. Writes Murray: ‘according to ‘the UK’s most popular website, Guido Fawkes, which fanatically supports the government, and the Blairite crew at The Guardian…disagreement with the official line equals mental illness.’
Do these people actually sleep at night? Can you imagine the mentality of those who, instead of directing their undoubted intelligence towards testing government claims – which is PAGE ONE in the ‘how to be a journalist’ manual – gather all forces at their disposal to undermine a man who has displayed the kind of bravery and integrity in his life which makes moral minnows of the lot of them?
These are the same people who swallowed Colin Powell’s ‘evidence’ on Iraqi WMDs as presented to the United Nations in February of 2003 – that’s the ‘irrefutable evidence’ that sealed Iraq’s fate if you recall? Even that old rottweiler Jeremy Paxman (yes, Newsnight has form) admitted after the event when it was all far too late that he had been ‘hoodwinked’ into believing Powell’s ‘evidence’ because,
I thought well, Powell is an intelligent, thoughtful man, and a sceptical man. If he believes all this to be the case, then, you know, he’s seen the evidence; I haven’t.
And there you have in a nutshell the problem, the tragedy, of corporate media: the UK’s most feared interrogator of politicians didn’t even think of challenging what turned out to be bullshit of the first order which took us into an illegal war leaving a million innocent people dead because he thought Powell was ‘an intelligent, thoughtful man’.
Media Lens pointed out in response, that Paxman should have been aware that ‘the ‘sceptical’ Powell helped whitewash the March 1968 massacre of some 500 Vietnamese civilians at My Lai by troops of the US Americal division.’ Powell concluded after ‘investigating’ a whistleblowing letter from US soldier, Tom Glen, detailing ‘routine brutality against civilians.’ thus: ‘In direct refutation of this portrayal is the fact that relations between Americal soldiers and the Vietnamese people are excellent.’ (Robert Parry and Norman Solomon, ‘Behind Colin Powell’s Legend – My Lai’ The Consortium, 1996: http://www.consortiumnews.com/archive/colin3.html)
You may have noticed the name Norman Soloman once again in the extract above as having co-authored that vital investigative piece? He will now show you the crucial difference between an independent journalist of integrity like himself, and a corporate hack like Paxman. This, from his speech, entitled, like his documetary and book of the same name, War Made Easy:
When the twin towers fell, Colin Powell, the Secretary of State, was in Latin America, and he issued a statement condemning, quite correctly, ‘people who would destroy buildings and kill people for political purposes.’ This statement coming from someone, who more than anyone else in Washington during the administration of George H.W. Bush led the way for the invasion of Panama, which resulted in…evidently hundreds of people burned in their homes in Panama City and the vicinity through the US attack. This is Colin Powell leading the way for that war, condemning those who would kill civilians for political purposes. And then the Gulf War. 100,000 Iraqi people killed in six weeks. Colin Powell of course…a hero of that war. He was giving an interview at the Pentagon shortly after the war had ended, and he was asked: ‘General Powell, what about the figures that might gauge how many people died in this war?’ And he said – and this is quoted in my book, it’s on the record – ‘that is not a number that interests me.
‘That is not a number that interests me’. Let that sink in for a moment. What kind of a person thinks, let alone says out loud, something as utterly callous as this? What kind of man cares nothing for the innocent people who suffer and die as a result of his orchestrations? This is the man whom Jeremy Paxman trusted so implicitly, on nothing but blind faith, that he swallowed whole his pack of lies at the United Nations and failed to act as that vital check on power that every healthy democracy needs. Paxman wasn’t ‘hoodwinked’ as he would like us to believe – he just didn’t do his fucking job.
Soloman, on the other hand, knew all about Powell’s track record, a record Paxman would have been aware of had he not had his head stuck so far up the elite’s collective arse, and had he allowed himself to believe, just for a second, that we are not the ‘good guys’. But he is absolutely typical, as we have seen in recent days. The new generation of myrmidons in the corporate media follows the old because all of the structural forces which make up the Propaganda Model and which distort corporate media output are still in place. Only a few ever escape: ex-Guardian journalists Jonathan Cook and Nafeez Ahmed, ex-New York Times Middle East Bureau Chief, Chris Hedges, have all written about their inability to speak Truth to Power within the boundaries of a corporate media.
But there is one more name that deserves special mention – you may already have noticed its appearance earlier in this article. Co-author, along with Norman Soloman, of that investigative report into Colin Powell was Robert Parry. A true exemplar of what a journalist should be. Parry, who died only in January, was an inspiration to so many for his decades long commitment to integrity in truth-seeking at Consortium News. In her tribute to this ‘journalistic titan’ Caitlin Johnstone wrote of her admiration for Robert, highlighting his apology to readers that his output had slipped due to him having suffered a stroke:
‘Not knowing at the time that end-stage pancreatic cancer was in the process of killing his otherwise healthy body, Parry speculated that the stroke could have been caused by the stress of the toxic environment that truth-telling journalists necessarily find themselves in today. He told of how his refusal to accept establishment narratives as fact without having seen the proof required by journalistic standards caused friends to turn on him and many to reject him. Unlike the others, Parry was unable to compartmentalise away the fact that America is being paced into a world-threatening new Cold War without having seen a single shred of proof from the same establishment agencies which lied us all into the Iraq invasion.’
Pilger expressed appreciation for Bob’s steadfast commitment to evidence-based journalism and pushing back against assertions and fact-free claims promoted by the mainstream media…
“What Bob Parry did most effectively was to produce the evidence,” Pilger said.
Media Lens, after reporting on Jeremy Paxman’s fatal stupidity regarding Colin Powell, asked: ‘shouldn’t government submission of evidence be where serious journalism begins, rather then ends? Of course it should. Just as government assertions, which are, in Pilger’s words, ‘a carefully-constructed drama as part of the propaganda campaign that has been building now for several years in order to justify the actions of Nato, Britain, the United States towards Russia.’ be subjected to scrutiny and treated with a healthy skepticism.
Pilger also reminds us that, ‘Russia is ringed by missiles, has Nato right up on its western border. This is unprecedented since the Second World War. Most people in Britain, most people in the United States, don’t understand these dangers; the dangers of this propaganda.’
Most people do not understand thanks to the sorry array of servants to corporate power who are now competing to insult and smear those who, like Corbyn and Murray, have the integrity to stand firm against their cowardly attacks, their mindless rush towards conflict and their complete abandonment of journalistic standards.
What we have populating our corporate media, as has been remarked elsewhere, are ‘state stenographers’, reflexively echoing whatever their elite sources feed them and then proceeding to act, not simply as their faithful messengers, but as their most fervent votaries.
Not a single one of them is fit to wipe the shoes of Robert Parry. Tributes poured in after his death including this from Oliver Stone:
‘Robert Parry’s death leaves a giant hole in American journalism. To my mind, he exists now alongside I.F. Stone, Drew Pearson, George Seldes, Gary Webb, and others as seekers of truth at the steep price you seem to have to pay to follow your common sense and your integrity when they are in direct opposition to the tyranny of mainstream media conformity.”
‘while others tried to spin U.S. support for death squads as a defense of democracy, Parry penetrated the veil of official secrecy.’
‘The US and the world has just lost a journalist of colossal ability and granite integrity’
But ‘one of the most unique tributes‘ writes his son Nat, ‘and one which he would have been tickled by, I’m sure, was pulled together by the website Muckrock, which works to promote transparency in government. Muckrock compiled the CIA’s files relating to Robert Parry’s journalism, noting that the Central Intelligence Agency archives contain over 100 of his articles.”
‘While the sheer volume of material speaks to the impact Parry’s journalism was having on the Agency internally’ wrote Muckrock’s J. Pat Brown, perhaps the single greatest indicator of how the CIA felt about Parry is summed up by this handwritten note from the Agency’s Director of Public Affairs.
The note, from 1984, circled a passage regarding the CIA’s assassination manual that it had been distributing to Nicaraguan contras, and included one word denoting the source of this story: ‘Bob’.
‘If there is any one takeaway to be gleaned from Parry’s legacy’, Brown wrote, ‘it is that we should all strive to have the CIA know us on a terrified first-name basis.’ ”
How many of our craven, servile corporate hacks could ever hope to earn such an honour.