Thursday, 5 January 2006

The Devil You Read

I may perhaps be "normalising the unthinkable", but the idea that the Guardian Media Group, publishers of the Guardian, the Obs, etc., exists soley to make money doesn't surprise me. Neither does the revelation that the liberal media protects power as much as the right-wing press does.

Medialens isn't so much surprised as shocked that no-one wants to hear about it, the Guardian, in particular, has it's hands over its ears and is singing "lalala":
The only journalist who has been consistently honest about the media is John Pilger. It'’s interesting to consider how he's treated. In our view he's the country's most powerful dissident - his writing is superb, and the depth and breadth of his insight is beyond most of the other writers you mention. But it seems there's no place for him in any of the quality papers! People talk about the Guardian comment editor Seumas Milne as a radical force -– but he won't publish Pilger. We've asked Milne why and he refuses to answer. So our best living dissident - obviously one of the all-time greats - is required to write a fortnightly column in the New Statesman which reaches a few thousand people. So why is he treated differently to Klein and Monbiot? Because he's honest about the media -– he criticises the Guardian, he draws attention to the vital role of the entire liberal media establishment in crimes against humanity. So he is persona non grata.

Good lefties, of course, know that the Graun is a "liberal" paper and, if they don't always mentally adjust the stories accordingly, they are aware that it is biased. They probably read Private Eye, too, and are thus painfully aware that journalists are very human.

I do subscribe to Medialens and I am grateful for the constant updates even if I don't read them that often. Part of the problem being that you do feel it takes someone quite spectacularly humourless to point out:
A Guardian Weekend supplement in March 2004 consisted of 128 pages. Of these, 90 were taken up in advertising, some of it aimed at society's wealthiest elites. The "chiffon halterneck dress with metal sequin overlay" advertised on page 74, for example, cost £5,890. The country's leading liberal newspaper described this as "absolute glamour".

Because if the country's leading liberal newspaper is raving about six grand dresses, well, the revolution can't be far off.


Steve said...

Interesting article. Of course, for anyone who lived through the 1984 Miner's Strike, the bias in the so-called "liberal" media has long been self-evident. Anyone remember the BBC's distorted report about Orgreave?

Paul said...

The funny thing about "liberal media bias" is how anyone can talk about it with a straight face. Especially Americans. I was somewhere where I couldn't avoid listening to Fox News once, and, in a report on someone stepping down as candidate for Mayor somewhere, they mentioned that "disgraced former President Bill Clinton" was on hand to give the ex-candidate advice. I suppose when your biases are that clear it's easy to ignore them.

There's also things like the liberal Hollywood. The Hollywood that gave John Wayne, Arnie and Mel Gibson careers and knocks out shiny expensive product promoting the American Way and Budweiser with equal fervour is obviously a mirage created so that the real liberal agenda can sneak in unnoticed and turn us all into sandal-wearing, tree-hugging, muesli-eaters (or whatever their stereotype is for liberals nowadays).

As for Orgreave, I don't, strictly, remember it. But I do remember the feeling, as a 13 year-old at the time, that the BBC shouldn't be lying to us.

To end on a geeky note, I noticed that quite a lot of the new Doctor Who was about media manipulation. Now there's a good liberal message for the kids.

Steve said...

I could spout on about the liberal bias of the media ad nauseum. It'a one of those pervading lies that really gets my goat. In the 80's the "Trotskyists" who ran the BBC were among Norman Tebbit's favourite bogeymen.
But as a final point, don't you find it interesting that BBC news reports on animal welfare only ever feature animal rights extremists?

Paul said...

The supposed liberal bias of the American Media is explored at length in Eric Alterman's What Liberal Media? (you can download a pdf of the first chapter there). There's probably an English equivalent somewhere, though all you really need to do is change the names about a bit...

As for the "animal welfare" thing, I think TV News can only cover certain things in specific ways or, at least, once they've covered a topic in one way it's difficult for them to do it any differently. So, not only do they only ever feature animal rights extremists, but it's usually the same ones, too. In the same way that, at one time, any anti-drug story had to have an interview with Leah Betts' parents -- I never did get that, it's like suddenly being recognized as an expert in Urban Planning because your dog got runover.

Anyway, extremists allow you to maintain an illusion of balance whilst transparently suggesting that anyone who disagrees with you is odd, if not entirely mad, and owns a dog on a bit of string.