Friday, 14 August 2015

Time to boycott and exit the Guardian

Political and media pundits are often fond of the term 'tipping point'. Well, maybe we've reached a very important one with regard to withdrawal of support for the Guardian. With its intense efforts to prevent Jeremy Corbyn winning the Labour leadership contest taking it to a new gutter level, isn't it time to respond accordingly?

As documented by Media Lens (see here and here), readers have been bombarded for weeks now by leading columnists like Polly Toynbee, Martin Kettle and Andrew Rawnsley, using every kind of loaded appeal and patronising warning to reject Corbyn.

Crucially, that assault been backed up by a cosy circle of 'political correspondents', Patrick Wintour, Rowena MasonNicholas Watt and Andrew Sparrow, assisted, as ever, by the 'fatherly' Michael White, churning out every kind of slanted and negative 'news' angle on Corbyn's campaign.

The 'stop Corbyn' message has also now been openly confirmed by the paper's editorial endorsement of Yvette Cooper. The tortured leader piece starts from a patronising 'recognition' of the Corbyn phenomenon:
Jeremy Corbyn has shot from backbench obscurity to the favourite to become Labour leader, and there is unusual interest in the party’s direction. Many young people, long alienated from politics, have become passionate and engaged.
There's various sniping asides about his 'narrow' worldview:
And as he justifiably rails against the rich-poor divide, he airbrushes away other distinctions – such as the tension between consumers and producers – which can matter just as much.
We get the usual 'sage' warnings about 'sensible reality' over 'indulgent idealism':
The brute lesson of May is that Labour cannot get there without first winning back significant numbers of Tory voters. Mr Corbyn will not do that. Those searching for an election winner must look elsewhere.
There's this kind of finger-wagging on how any new leader must act as a proper bulwark to those internal radical elements:
The new leader must confront the desiccated condition of the Labour establishment: without that, the Corbyn surge would never have happened.
And, finally, ignoring the welcome Corbyn effect of opening-up the whole Labour machine to critical scrutiny, a 'stirring' appeal for someone to bring all these fractured elements together into "one big, progressive tent":
It is a formidably difficult task, but there are very many in Britain who desperately need someone to pull it off. The person best placed to do that is Yvette Cooper.
Wouldn't it be useful to see who actually writes such editorials and Churchillian lines? This appears to have Toynbee's imprint, seeking to re-launch Cooper as the last great hope.

But with Corbyn still striding ahead, the Guardian has resorted to even more desperate measures, allowing leading space for Tony Blair to warn of impending ''annihilation" for Labour. Similar amplification has been given to Blair's chief propagandist Alastair Campbell. Other leading war advocates Jack Straw, Peter Hain and Alan Johnson have also been dutifully indulged by the Guardian. And remember, this blatant favouritism is for people who have committed the darkest of deeds in ordering and still defending the mass slaughter of Iraq.

How typical of its shabby mitigations and consistent calls for 'intervention' that the Guardian now formally supports Cooper, who also voted for the Iraq war. Of all four candidates, only Corbyn opposed it.

Speaking to Jeremy Vine (BBC Radio 2, 13 August 2015), Cooper dismissed the issue of Blair's possible indictment for war crimes with a tired sigh: "Well, I just think you've got to be about the future, not about arguing about the past." Presumably the Guardian share that 'prudent, let's just move on' sentiment.

In that vein, it was no surprise that Blair's intervention got the special front-page treatment (12 August 2015).

But it was the following day's front-page top (13 August 2015) that may go down as one of the paper's darkest ever exercises in tabloid-style smearing (Thanks to Peter, posting at Media Lens, for capturing both images).

A token video/report of Corbyn rejecting Blair's charges - demonstrating the paper's 'fair coverage' - has, to its right, the formal editorial statement endorsing Cooper. Below this, from left, is the header to a truly scandalous 'report' repeating utterly unfounded claims from the Jewish Chronicle that Corbyn has been associating with Holocaust deniers and implying he's anti-semitic. (Note that Jonathan Freedland, the Guardian's executive editor, is a regular columnist for the JC.) Another disgraceful comment article by James Bloodworth appears alongside, alleging similar slurs and fabrications of anti-semitism. And beside this sits a link to Blair's now infamous "annihilation" piece. All together, a kind of surround formation of smears, lies and denunciations.

And so it goes on, the relentless assault joined even by the Guardian's arts correspondent, Jonathan Jones, warning of the Corbyn campaign's dark totalitarian impulses:
Today, the terrifying reality of Marxism in power has been consigned mercifully to the history books, but it has strange echoes. Clearly, Jeremy Corbyn is no Stalin, or Lenin, or Mao Zedong, just a long-serving British MP, but Marxist ideas live again in some spectral form in Corbyn’s runaway campaign...
Many Guardian readers have now, indeed, seen a kind of 'blood red', deeply incensed and appalled by the paper's anti-Corbyn smears, loaded 'news' and tortured editorials. But what of its own leftist writers?

Is it remotely possible that those lauded columnists at the Guardian, Owen Jones, George Monbiot and Seumas Milne, all strongly supporting Corbyn, and proclaiming left politics at large, will now stand up, say enough is enough, and openly condemn the Guardian as an establishment-serving mouthpiece? Might they even go further, dare we ask, and resign their positions? Just imagine the positive effect of that, both for the Corbyn campaign and, more vitally, as a landmark statement of the urgent need for a truly independent media.

And why stop at the Guardian? Why not the Independent, Huffington Post and New Statesman, papers all joined together in the great 'stop-Corbyn' emergency? Imagine a wholesale exodus of these journalists, calling time on their corporate employers. Or are they still willing to sit tight as compromised writers serving that same establishment system?

The counter-arguments are, of course, well known. How are the 'masses' to be reached if not through these well-established papers, and by these well-regarded journalists?  Answer: through an already available or easily-created network of online platforms. It's not rocket science. It just need a collective will, even someone to take a moral lead.

Would Corbyn supporters object to such a stance? Would they and other progressive-minded observers stop reading what such writers were putting up at alternative, easily-accessible places - this time completely unrestrained from criticising their hosts? I think not. It would not only enhance their status as principled journalists, but give impetus to a whole new movement of independent journalism. What better timing than now? What better opportunity to advance progressive politics by exposing the very forces launching everything in its arsenal to contain it?

The case for such a collective exit rests on the fundamental truth that, contrary to the great 'we need to reach people' argument, the really pernicious effect of such participation is to legitimise that very corporate-establishment media, to feed, enlarge and sustain the beast.

And here we see the stark results of that indulgence, in the hue and cry, the 'crisis', over Corbyn. A paper that many have loyally, if mistakenly, regarded as a forum for 'progressive debate' is doing everything possible to raise the fear levels and halt popular demand for real change. Should radical journalists be part of organisations that are actively seeking to check radical progress? Shouldn't they be outed and challenged as key establishment forces?

Like the shock effect of the Yes rising in Scotland - also opposed by the Guardian - Corbyn has helped reaffirm the truth that real political repositioning is entirely possible. The same real optimistic possibilities apply to the media.

If readers and journalists are truly serious about radical transformation of the media they have to begin moving decisively beyond such dependency. There has to be a real boycott-based resistance, a relinquishing of the notion that liberated journalism is untenable, that it can't exist beyond the Guardian 'brand', a breaking of the deep propagandist illusion that organs like the Guardian are the 'only show in town'.

Just as Labour party voters are being urged to support a 'sensible' candidate, so are readers being urged to stay close to the Guardian's 'sensible' counsel. Just as a vote for Corbyn's opponents would mean safe political continuity, so too does sticking with the Guardian keep viewers and journalists in that same safely-moderated zone.

Stay or leave? Take control or remain under control? You can't break an abusive relationship by living in the same house as the abuser, whatever 'permission' they give you to move 'freely' around it. It's a trap. And the great delusion is that 'lodger' journalists really believe they have the freedom to say whatever they like under that 'tenancy'. Isn't it time to break free and find your own independent habitat?

That suggestion will likely be treated with the usual contemptuous silence. But even if any such 'notice to quit' seems unlikely, the whole sordid Guardian exercise in stopping Corbyn, and the accompanying charade of journalistic compliance, should be a model lesson for real reform-minded citizens and upcoming journalists.


Douglas Carnall, @juliuzbeezer said...

How are the 'masses' to be reached if not through these well-established papers, and by these well-regarded journalists? Answer: through an already available or easily-created network of online platforms.

The same sentiments of media bias against the campaign for Scottish independence led to the founding of "The National" newspaper. I don't know how it's faring now.

But it is social media that have changed this playing field: minority opinions can no longer be conveniently ignored and suppressed. Grassroots meetings become global events. Mainstream sources may be useful for funding apt processes for credible reporting (or at any rate, a known quantity), but the era of over-reliance on a single source is for dull grandparents. Long may this continue.

Didactylos said...

I parted company with reading the Guardian a while back, its become a magazine not a newspaper and it lacks any sort of independent viewpoint.

Fifthcolumnblue said...

One only needs to look at the makeup of "Scott Trust Ltd" to see where the Guardian's loyalties lie.

Unknown said...

Your article seems to suggest that is a corporate machine which is forcing Guardian writers to write anti-Corbyn atticles. Is it not perhaps possible that as reasonanly afluent middle class professionals who enjoy good incomes and personal and professional freedoms that they havevreached a rational position that they might be worse off under Corbyn. The Guardian writers regularly talk about 'redistribution of wealth' but until now it has been an abstract concept. Talk is cheap. As for the readers they should be able to form their own opinions without taking any interest in the opinion columns. Its the hard news part of the paper that matters.