Friday, 10 June 2011

Media Lens, Hari and the 'liberal wager'

An excellent, pushing-the-boundaries Alert has just been published by Media Lens, asking probing questions of those who continue to serve and defend the liberal media.

In particular, some objections to the piece have been raised in defence of Johann Hari of the Independent, who ML cite as one of those liberal journalists still unwilling to challenge the corporate media which employs them.

Why, some ask, single-out Hari, who has shown impressive humility in recanting his support for the Iraq war, opposes Western 'intervention' in Libya and now cites Chomsky in favourable reference?

All relevant points.  But where precisely do we see Hari, Monbiot, Fisk, Milne and other liberal 'dissidents' take-on and criticise the very organs of liberal propaganda that serve to rationalise corporate-military-planet-destroying greed?  

It's as if all the great evils in the world can be safely described and condemned from the pages of the Guardian/Indy while remaining blind to the same media that runs on similar corporate, profit-determined lines. 

Where, in short, is their critical realisation of that great big elephant in the room? 

The key point, as ML suggest, is to start having more penetrating discussions about how token 'dissident' journalists see their place within corporate-driven organisations and how their presence is used to reinforce the corporate-sustaining myth of a 'free and democratic vanguard media'. 

Nor does the standard 'would you rather there were no Milne, Monbiot, Hari or Fisk left inside such media?' take us much further in that discussion. 

So many liberal leftists seem stuck on this 'dilemma', treating it like a kind of 'Pascal's Wager' - perhaps agnostic over Guardian-type output or inclined to accept that it may be fig-leaf journalism, yet still uncertain and fearing the 'consequences' of its non-existence.  

Thus, so many err on the side of 'rational-cautionary belief': it's better to have such journalists and accept the liberal media's 'positive' existence rather than not have it and live with a 'radical void'.  

The ML Alert is, essentially, asking such journalists and their advocates to consider a much more radical set of questions beyond the 'liberal wager': how and why are you being told and sold this message, and what are you prepared to say and do about it within and beyond the media that you serve? 

The day such writers step outside that self-protecting wager to become part of a true independent media - a cooperative unconstrained by corporate imperatives, ready to dissect the power-sustaining role and pretensions of the Guardian/Independent - will be the day they start to become real dissident journalists.


No comments: