Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Reporting Blair and 'our' leaders: Media Lens and others respond to Independent's Donald Macintyre

The Media Lens editors have just posted a fine Alert-based reply to Independent journalist Donald Macintyre. In their initial piece, ML had challenged Macintyre over his fawning coverage of Tony Blair and his 'views' on Gaza.

Macintyre's email response to ML and ML's further critique should be required reading for those who still place their faith in our liberal media 'vanguards'.

Following the Alert, the ML editors posted this illuminating opinion at their site:
"A journalist whom we won't name told us:

"This Alert is particularly important because Donald Macintyre probably sees himself as the epitome of the 'fair' liberal reporter. He has done some good work from Gaza but even that seems to hold the promise of something that is never delivered. His Blair interview was ridiculous. How many elephants could he crowd into the room? I hope he reads and digests your alert, an object lesson in true fairness."

Prompted by the ML piece, I had also written to Macintyre:
Dear Donald

The latest Media Lens Alert response notes:

"As British citizens, we, Macintyre included, all bear responsibility for Blair’s actions - our moral accountability is a very clear and obvious factor demanding that we hold Blair to account as far as we are able."

To restate the question posed by ML, I'd like you to show me precisely where you have, on any occasion, directly challenged Mr Blair or any other leading politician over their criminal responsibility for warmongering and human suffering, whether in Iraq, Afghanistan or Palestine.

Why, in particular, do you see it as your job to report Blair's views? Isn't it your job, as a supposedly 'critical journalist', to challenge Blair's views?

More specifically, shouldn't you be questioning his very right to express those views from a position of high office rather than as a suspected war criminal?

And why should that very elementary practice of critical journalistic questioning be regarded as wasteful "polemical argument"? Are we to assume that a "fast moving story" excuses or precludes such questioning? Or is the urgent transcribing of one of 'our' leaders' views - at the instigation of your editor - more important than illuminating the reader on the role that leader and his state have played in the slow, static story of Palestinian suffering?

Your lamenting of the West's "woeful inaction" over Gaza rests on a similar set of template presumptions about its otherwise 'benevolent' spirit of "enterprise, freedom and democracy", utterly failing to highlight the West's financial, military and diplomatic support for Israel. In short, where is your journalistic examination of 'our' governments' leading participation in that oppression?

Avoiding polemical exchange over this 'fast moving Alert', could you, perhaps, take a little self-reflective time to examine these points in serious detail?


John Hilley
No reply received.


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