Saturday, 6 June 2015

Framing the news: how the Guardian maintains the lie of Blair's 'moral motives'

If anyone needs a model view of how the Guardian, and establishment media at large, protect 'our' political villains through selective framing and omission dressed-up as 'routine reportage', here's a classic example.

Nicholas Watt, chief political correspondent for the Guardian, has written what purports to be a 'news report' on Tony Blair's appointment as chairman of the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation (ECTR).

Although a seeming standard series of quotes and information, it's a cloying promo piece, accepting and extolling Blair's 'moral motives' in his proclaimed desire for 'greater understanding of religion' and the particular fight against anti-semitism.

There's precisely nothing here about Blair's historic war villainy, or his seamless shift from one Israel-protecting role, as Middle East 'peace envoy,' to another Israel-serving sinecure.

Nor does Watt offers one word of critical enquiry or searching comment on the ECTR itself, citing it unquestioningly, in his opening line, as "a pan-European body that campaigns for stronger laws against extremism across the continent".

As more ably exposed by David Cronin, it's really "an initiative of the Zionist zealot and fertilizer tycoon Moshe Kantor".

None of this appears relevant to Watt, who writes:
In an article for the Times, in which he sets out his plans for his new role, Blair says that he will campaign against the abuse of religions which has become a “mask behind which those bent on death and destruction all too often hide”.
Many readers will marvel at Blair's brazen talk of a duplicitous mask. But Watt lets this shameless chutzpah pass without comment. 
He goes on:
Blair’s proposals will revive memories of some of the laws he tried to introduce in Britain in the wake of the 9/11 attacks which prompted a debate on civil liberties.
It will also intensify pained thoughts about what he did to the people of Iraq in the wake of 9/11, in blatant disregard of their civil rights. Watt has nothing to say in this deplorable piece about that crucial violation of life and liberty.
The article also gives uncritical space to the views of Kantor, co-author of Blair's Times piece, who holds presidencies of both the ECTR and the European Jewish Congress. 

While Cronin gives us key character background - "By acting as a cheerleader for Israeli aggression, Kantor lends credence to the fallacy that Israel enjoys a universal blessing from Jews" - Watt, in contrast, has no such context for his readers, citing their views with relentless approval: "Blair says", "Blair warns", "Blair and Kantor write", "the pair cite", "they write", "friends said...".

In a facile gesture towards 'balance', Watt permits a short, sanitised paragraph noting opposition to Blair's posting:
Blair faced criticism during his time in the position for being overly sympathetic to Israel. The Palestinian Authority’s former chief negotiator Nabil Shaath said Blair had “achieved so very little because of his gross efforts to please the Israelis”. (My italics.)
Not, for Watt, Blair being a dutiful advocate and complicit apologist for Israel's mass war crimes, just that he was "overly sympathetic".

Even the damning issue of Blair's corrupt and grasping business activities is sparsely mentioned, as Watt offers more positive interpretation of his lofty motives:  
The new appointment suggests that Blair, who has been criticised for his worldwide business interests, sees a need to promote tolerance and to confront extremism closer to home.
Yet another substantive paragraph cites Blair's and Kantor's 'deep concerns' over the 'abuse of religion' and the 'need for tolerance'. Again, Watt sees no room here for any counterview, or consideration of their own roles in feeding conflict through such resolute defence of Israel's occupation and atrocities.

This leads on to a penultimate paragraph in which the words of Blair, Kantor and Watt himself are now effectively indistinguishable:
The council chaired by Blair believes it should promote education and ideas for legislation to confront extremists...
Not, 'the council chaired by Blair claims to believe', or 'says it believes', just a straight, unquestioning amplification of Blair's and the council's 'ideals'.

A final two lines inform the reader about who Blair replaces at the post, and that the body's "board members include Blair’s friend and political ally, the Spanish former prime minister Jose María Aznar". There's no mention of how these "friends" both conspired in the mass murder of Iraq, or of Aznar's enduring initiatives to protect Israel.

Similar sterilised 'news' of Blair's appointment was dutifully delivered by British state media.

Yet, what of the Guardian itself? Where's the leader piece denouncing this on-the-run charlatan, and calling for his indictment? Who at the paper is big enough to question its harbouring of Blair, or to highlight Jonathan Freedland's pro-Israel editorial stamp? How, one wonders, can star writers like Owen Jones and George Monbiot - who even edits an arrest Blair bounty site - affect not to notice such brazenly-loaded output at the very newspaper they inhabit and champion? What does it say about their 'radical' vigilance? When did you ever see them offering a critical tweet or challenging comment on such power-friendly copy?

While Blair's fugitive evasions and shameless self-promotions know no bounds, the ever-protective Guardian and its in-house 'best' seem to know the prudent boundaries of serious criticism.      


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

The overthrowing of the Libyan government was of course illegal under international law

Thought you'd be interested in that piece.

Anonymous said...

More background on Kantor can be found here:

And a collection of recent Blairiana here -

...illustrating the moral void propelling the Rev. Blair's activities. It's not just Iraq.