Monday, 5 December 2011

Guardian again in its true colours

Whatever its boast as a 'radical space', however celebrated its 'dissident' writers, the Guardian's truest function remains its chameleon-like support for state power.

Consider this Guardian 'interview' with Lieutenant General James Bucknall, Britain's most senior commander in Afghanistan.

One might have expected our 'leading critical' daily to place Bucknall under serious journalistic inspection over this country's occupation of another, its subservience to the US in that illegal invasion and the catastrophic loss of life it has helped cause.

Instead, much like BBC copy, the General is quoted extensively without question or challenge from Nick Hopkins and permitted to propagandise the war agenda.

A sample:
"The Taliban had been reduced to a terrorist group, adopting terrorist tactics, said Bucknall.

'I have not seen any insurgents who have assassinated their way to power. One hundred and forty [Afghans] have been assassinated this year. In the press that is painted as the government cannot survive this. But we are taking out 130-140 mid-level Taliban leaders every month. Sometimes it is worth turning the egg-timer on its head. They have been driven to this much vaunted tactic of assassinations.' 
He said that the idea the Taliban would sit and wait until western forces had left suited Nato well because it would allow Afghan police and army more time to get up to strength."
Nothing from Hopkins on the terrible suffering and blood of the Afghan people. Nothing, in the way of balance, on how the Taliban view the occupation and development of the war.

Hopkins's article is further evidence of the Guardian's vital fig-leaf role. But the myth still prevails, particularly amongst much of the liberal left, that it functions as a champion arena for independent thought - with the now-added task of exposing and weeding-out a 'bad tabloid media'.

The dual pretence is eagerly crafted by Editor-in-Chief Alan Rusbridger in his now-regular deliberations on how we might best 'clean-up' the industry.

Likewise, in his recent evidence to the Leveson Inquiry, leading Guardian investigative reporter Nick Davies spoke in detail about the ethical intricacies of Guardian reporting/sourcing, contrasting it to "the culture of bullying" within Fleet Street.

Admirers of Davies's impressive exposures would have little reason to think about the culture of editorial expectation he himself adheres to at the Guardian.

The Guardian's "internal culture", Davies insisted in his testimony, is different from the more corporate-competing press due to its Trust-based status. The Guardian, he argues, has a relatively higher reliance on advertising revenue than the tabloids, which, he claims, depends more on  high-volume sale of papers. Hence, Davies concludes, the Guardian is "less intense in its commercial pressure" and, effectively, more independent in its reportage.

The distinction is in itself spurious. All press media, tabloid and broadsheet, rely extensively on advertising profit. Moreover, carefully avoiding note of its 'green credentials', Davies failed to mention the fossil fuel-related advertising carried by the Guardian and how, despite its Trust 'independence', it bows unashamedly to big corporate demands.

This is the real "internal culture" at the Guardian, a culture of unspoken compliance.

It's also a culture with a wide co-optive net.

Caught-up in its persuasive mesh, some activists appear to believe that 'Occupying' the Guardian's Comment is Free site helps galvanise their cause.  How mistaken. Again, it merely reinforces the system-serving myth of the Guardian is a radical-facilitating space.

Consider the stark absence at Occupy CiF of any critical charges against the Guardian itself. Where are all the Occupy questions about the Guardian's own corporate leanings, Rusbridger's own corporate-scale salary or, more disgracefully, the Guardian's protection of war criminals like Blair?

The Guardian's complicit pretentiousness here can be likened to that of Blair propagandist Alastair Campbell who disguises himself within the same liberal media, even appearing 'dutifully' at Leveson to excoriate the 'wicked redtops'.

Anyone doubting the true establishment credentials of Rusbridger et al should recall how the Guardian kept its editorial faith with Blair and Campbell.  Note also how Rusbridger, Davies and other Guardian notables have now turned on and vilified Julian Assange while its editors keep safe distance from stories on how Fox, Gould and Werritty plotted to undermine Iran. As Craig Murray reminds us:
"It should not be forgotten that the Guardian never stopped supporting Blair and New Labour, even when he was presiding over illegal wars and the massive widening of the gap between rich and poor. My point about Assange is that he has done a great deal to undermine the neo-con war agenda – and the Guardian is subjecting him to a campaign of denigration. On the other hand Gould/Fox/Werritty were pushing a neo-con project for war – and the Guardian is actively complicit in the cover-up of their activities.

The Guardian. Whom does it serve?"


Rhisiart Gwilym said...

Absolutely splendid insight and uncompromising truth-telling, John. Beyond price in our calamitous times.

Once again, may I offer my profound gratitude and respect for your unwavering clearseeing, and for always telling it exactly as it is too, come what may.

Never stop, brother! LLongyfarchiadau yn iawn.

John Hilley said...

Many thanks, Rhisiart. And appreciations for your own always insightful, dedicated and uplifting contributions at Media Lens.

Best wishes