Friday, 27 January 2012

Media Lens taking on the Guardian again

The latest Media Lens Alert (with a wonderful title) takes yet another timely, courteous and thoughtful swipe at the Guardian and its prized writers:

Silence Of The Lambs: Seumas Milne, George Monbiot & ‘Media Analysis’ In The Guardian Wonderland

There's been no reply, as yet, from Seumas Milne or George Monbiot - the latter, with no apparent sense of irony or shame, busy just now damning Julian Assange.

Meanwhile, a kindly note to Milne:

Dear Seumas,

I trust you're keeping well.

The latest Media Lens Alert poses some crucial questions about your output at the Guardian - much of it valued - and the extent to which you are able or willing to discuss your own role there as a senior writer.

You make the proud claim that the Guardian has an exceptional record in permitting stories and opinion shunned by other media, a most questionable assertion and one that certainly doesn't extend to any critique from journalists working within the paper itself.

One can well understand the reticence of any employee to 'bite the hand that feeds'. That's not a crude jibe. It refers to the multiple ways in which people are naturally averse to taking unnecessary risks. Yet, consider how that circumvention serves to insulate influential media like the Guardian from serious scrutiny.

Given the sobering charge sheet produced by ML, listing the Guardian's serial failings/complicities on climate change, Iraq, Blair, Afghanistan, Libya and now Iran, don't you think it vital that the paper's record on such matters and your own interpretation of them be urgently and openly debated?

I do hope you will make time to address the issues raised by Media Lens in their patient and informed correspondence.

Kind regards

John Hilley



In reply, the independent journalist Jonathan Cook, who once wrote for the Guardian, offered these observations at the ML message board:
"Yes, of course Michael just stumbled across your piece on Milne and Monbiot during a bored moment outside the National Gallery. It's only because I lack a "worldy" head on my shoulders that I can't stop doubting the truth of that claim. What to do when an "irritant" unsettles you? Unleash the ad hominems - lots of references to how "childish" you are – while trying to shore up his and the Guardian's credentials as worldly and self-deprecating. It's a master-class in how to belittle an argument and avoid dealing with it entirely. As for the "they may grow out of it", doesn't that cut both ways? I was one of the lentil-eating Guardianistas in my early 20s and a devoted Michael White wannabee in my 30s, when I was working there. I'm now 46, seen a bit of the world, and sense I may be nearly all grown-up. And my verdict: they're starting to run scared. Keep up the good work. All best, Jonathan"
Savvy, worldly comments from Jonathan.

We can but speculate on the actual 'chat' within the senior Guardian cabal about Media Lens and their latest Alert, how the White piece emerged and why it was White who, seemingly, 'undertook the task'.
Perhaps White and his associates really do believe that the defence/protection of Milne, Monbiot and the Guardian at large is best effected through such admonitions from the Guardian's 'grown ups'. Step forward White himself, the most 'grown up' of all the paper's notables, someone who has been around 'real' press politics and 'grown up' politicians. Delusions of grandeur can be a powerfully motivating force.

Again, we may never know the truth of such things - unless Milne himself one day 'does a Cook' and helps reveal more about the Guardian's inner circle and their increasing fear of the Media Lens 'irritant'.

Well done to the ML Eds.


No comments: