By James O’Neill*
This comment is by way of addendum to Dee McLachlan’s article published in Gumshoe news on 17 November 2016.
Dee refers to the publication of fake news during the recent US election campaign, a phenomenon found in both the mainstream media (msm) and the alternative web sites.
As a result of the more egregious examples of fake news published in online outlets, the msm have seized upon some particularly outrageous examples to highlight what they argue are the dangers of the dissemination of such items. That the msm itself publishes some of the more consequential fake stories, and persists in maintaining others that have long been discredited, is not something that exercises their outrage to the same degree.
Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction; Iran’s nuclear program; Syria’s President practicing genocide on his own people; Muammar Gadhafi’s allegedly similar behaviour; Afghanistan’s refusal to hand over Bin Laden to American “justice” and Russian “aggression” including “annexation” of Crimea are only some of the better known examples. That millions have died or been displaced as the result of the uncritical dissemination of this manifestly fake msm “news” is apparently ‘fake’ of a different order of magnitude.
I would like to suggest that there are at least two forces at play here. It is not a random critique that we are seeing, but one that is clearly coordinated across the msm. That is not especially difficult given the overwhelming concentration of media ownership in a very limited number of companies. Australia is an outstanding but far from unique example, where two families, Fairfax and Murdoch, control virtually all of the print media.
The concerted attack on what the msm are pleased to call “fake news” reflects a concern that their previous virtual monopoly on news dissemination has been shattered in recent years by the growth of internet media and citizen journalists.
Recent surveys in a number of countries have indicated that more people get their “news” from alternative websites to the msm in its print, audio and tv versions. This is particularly true of younger persons.
A loss of the monopoly on news dissemination means a loss of the capacity to control the message. This of course does not stop the repetition of what one might refer to as the “official” version of events.
Dee refers to a number of examples, such as the Kennedy and King assassinations, 9/11 and the London bombing of 7/7 among others. Gumshoe itself has tirelessly attacked the official version of Port Arthur among other manifestly fake official stories.
As recently as last Saturdays SMH (19/11/16) Peter Hartcher, a prime disinformation apparatchik of the msm quotes James Walter of Monash University as saying that the two Kennedy assassinations and that of Martin Luther King were signs of “some sort of societal dysfunction, they weren’t electoral”.
One supposes it is possible to describe those seminal assassinations as “societal dysfunction” depending on what Professor Walter was intending to convey. The fact that all three assassinations were perpetrated by state agencies acting to remove threats to the deep state is something that Hartcher is never likely to mention.
That at least 75% of the adult population in the US and elsewhere now know the truth about all three events is almost entirely attributable to the alternative media and the efforts of citizen investigators to uncover those truths.
Even when revealing facts are available from unimpeachable sources, such as the ARRB documents with the assassination of John Kennedy; the Coroner’s Report in the case of the Robert Kennedy assassination; and the civil trial (King v Jowers & Others) so brilliantly exposed by William Pepper, the msm continues as Dee says, to simply ignore the truth over and over again.
One may therefore see this sustained and coordinated attack on “fake” media as a desperate attempt to stave off the inevitable: that the percentage of the population relying on the msm for real news analysis is steadily shrinking.
The extraordinary attack of RT’s reporter who had asked a reasonable question regarding the specifics of which hospitals the Russian air force had allegedly bombed in Syria was illustrative of the growing panic about the influence of alternative media sources.
The reporter was abused and not worthy of a proper response because she represented a state owned media outlet. News from such sources is apparently always questionable in Kirby’s eyes.
That such a criticism could equally be leveled at the BBC, Australia’s ABC and SBS or the US’s own Voice of America, among many other outlets, is something that cannot be mentioned. It is a peculiarly odd definition of ‘unreliable’ when it is attached to one state owned agency but not others, let alone the long history of unreliability from so-called independent media, some examples of which were cited above.
The real reason for Kirby’s attack probably has more to do with the fact that RT publishes stories the US (and Australian) msm refuse to touch. RT’s coverage regularly exposes the obfuscation, disinformation, sins of both omission and commission, and downright lies that characterize so much of western msm “news” today.
Ukraine, Syria and Yemen are only three of the current examples where to rely on the msm is to be seriously misinformed about what is actually happening in those three countries.
The more alarming inference to be drawn from the concerted attack on the alternative media is that it is a prelude to moves to exercise even more censorship on what we are allowed to read, see and hear. The censorship will undoubtedly be cloaked in some “national security” justification. This is an excuse used repeatedly since 9/11 to systematically remove what few safeguards we have against an ever more intrusive and controlling state apparatus.
Taking away freedoms in order to “protect us” has the same sick logic as the destruction of Vietnamese villages in the 1960s and 1970s that we were told was to “save them.” Thanks to writers such as Nick Turse (Kill Everything that Moves”) we now know that destruction of civilian villages was only a fraction of the horrors that were perpetrated.
Again, the msm refuse to disclose the brutal realities of that war, fought there, ostensibly, “so we don’t have to fight them here.”
Australia is more vulnerable than most to the destruction of our democracy, because almost uniquely among developed nations we do not have a Bill of Rights or its equivalent.
To those who might argue that the argument is stretched beyond reason, ponder on the disregard that successive governments have shown for our international obligations under, inter alia, the Convention on Refugees, the Convention Against Torture, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Convention on Human Rights.
In the light of this experience can one really feel confident that the msm can be relied upon to safeguard and argue for our rights and liberties? The honest answer to that is a resounding No. In those circumstances the alternative media’s role is more crucial than ever.
*Barrister at Law. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org