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The Middle East and the Mainstream Media: Why is the Truth so Difficult?



by James O’Neill*                        

A measure of how far the integrity of the public broadcasting service and the mainstream media have diminished is exemplified by their coverage of recent events in Syria and Iraq.

The Syrian government forces have recently recaptured all but a very small section of Eastern Aleppo.  The remaining pocket covers about 5 square kilometres.  Yet television, radio and newspaper reports variously state that between 100,000 and 250,000 people remain “trapped” in this enclave.

Even using the lower figure, it would make that part of Eastern Aleppo the most densely populated area in the world.  Yet the figures are reported as self-evidently true.

As the terrorist’s hold on Eastern Aleppo was collapsing, they mounted an attack of Palmyra, a city previously liberated by government forces.  Although the fact of the fall of Palmyra was reported, none of the mainstream media asked some of the more obvious questions.

The size of the terrorist force that captured Palmyra is estimated between 4000 and 5000 men.  They travelled from Raqqa, Deir Ezzor and Mosul (in Iraq) in a fleet of vehicles that included tanks and infantry fighting vehicles equipped with heavy guns.

That journey would have taken at least 3-4 hours across an exposed landscape.  Yet there was not a single attack by US or “coalition”  air forces.

Why was that?  It transpires that immediately before the terrorist movements began, the US Air Force suspended operations around Raqqa and Deir Ezzor, and left open a corridor to the west (into Syria) from Mosul.

None of this was reported in the mainstream media.  In the same period before the assault on Palmyra, US Secretary of Defence Ash Carter visited Iraq on an unannounced trip; the US announced that it was boosting its special forces in Syria to help “train” the so-called “moderates”; and the Obama administration announced a relaxation of the arms supplies to those same so-called “moderates.”

If the mainstream media had bothered to connect the dots there is little doubt that it would all have been a coincidence.

Along with the non-reporting of relevant events, the barrage of fake “news” continues unabated.  In the Sydney Morning Herald of 14 December 2016 Paul McGeogh, the ever reliable mouthpiece of the establishment view, claimed that leaflets dropped on Aleppo by the Syrian Air Force told residents that if they did not leave quickly “you will be annihilated.  Save yourselves, everyone else has left you alone to face your doom.”

Unfortunately for McGeogh and the trusting readers of the SMH, the leaflet said no such thing.  The Arabic original, together with a translation, can be found on Professor As’ad Abu Khalil’s website (www.angryarab.blogspot.com 30 November 2016).

The leaflet actually tells Aleppo residents to evacuate now.  “We have provided a safe passage for you to leave.”  That conveys a very different message from McGeogh’s version.  That the terrorists would shoot the residents if they tried to leave was missing from the narrative.

Also completely missing from the mainstream’s endlessly discredited claims and pictures is any attempt at correcting earlier falsities.  Summary executions of children and women; targeting of hospitals; gassing of civilians etc etc are endlessly repeated.  SBS even had a picture of a “blood stained” child that was discredited long ago on their 14 December 2016 bulletin.  For a detailed debunking of this disinformation I recommend the website www.moonofalabama.org.

The lack of reliable sources for these news stories is another feature.  There is endless quoting of “reports say” or “sources say” with never any attempt to verify those reports or sources.  The latest example is the “82 civilians summarily executed” without a single verified fact.  Even the BBC has qualified these reports with an  ‘unable to verify’ disclaimer.  No such caution with Australia’s media.

Apart from an undue reliance upon unsourced reporting, a frequently cited source is the grandly named Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.  It sounds impressive until one discovers that it is actually one man operating out of his living room in Coventry.

His equivalent on all matters pertaining to Ukraine and the shooting down of MH17 is “Bellingcat”, again a man operating out of his living room, this time in Leicester.

Why would the mainstream media rely on civilian organizations of dubious parentage when there are a plethora of exceedingly well-resourced intelligence agencies from all of the countries involved in the Syrian conflict?

Like the aforementioned Bellingcat, the use of a civilian conduit for misinformation gives the intelligence agencies deniability when their “information” is exposed for the propaganda that it almost invariably is.

Why is it the case that reporters for the ABC, SBS and the print and radio media seem incapable of looking at a map?

The territory held by the terrorists in both Iraq and Syria just happens to be along the route of the proposed Qatari sourced natural gas pipeline intended by the Americans as a challenge to Russian gas supplies to Europe.  The proposed pipeline is also intended to forestall an intended Iranian pipeline of natural gas to Europe that would also travel through Iraq and Syria.

That there should be such significant geopolitical issues involved should be obvious to all reporters covering the Middle East.  The pipeline issue is at least as significant in understanding the Middle East’s wars as the Yinon Plan published in February 1982.  Oded Yinon ‘A Strategy for Israel in the 1980s‘ Kuvinum February 1982.  That plan, which called for a breakup of Middle Eastern countries such as Iraq and Syria into small statelets that would pose no threat to Israeli domination of the region, is never discussed in the Australian media.

Similarly, Robert F. Kennedy Junior’s important article Syria: Another Pipeline War www.ecowatch.com 25 February 2016 has obviously never been on the reading list of any of the commentators and ‘analysts’ so favoured by our mainstream media.

To even raise such questions would prove embarrassing and potentially career threatening for our media.  Far better for them to stick to the misrepresentations, distortions, omissions and downright lies that pass for geopolitical analysis in our mainstream media.

Their readers, viewers and listeners are surely entitled to something a whole lot better.

*Barrister at Law.  He may be contacted at joneill@qldbar.asn.au




  1. Dear James, Just a few days ago, at Gumshoe, I tried to make a point that is counterintuitive. I said the mainstream media don’t owe us nuttin.

    You say “Viewers and listeners are surely entitled to something a whole lot better.” How would they get that “entitlement”? What if customers in a seafood restaurant are entitled to good seafood, but instead but get something Manuel took out of the Fawlty Towers wastebasket? I suppose if they got sick they could sue.

    The accusations you make are spot-on and are shocking. It really is essential to talk about how to change this situation of malinformation. I thank you for educating me. I did not know that the “terrorists” were strung along a pipeline. That surely explains a few things.

    Ned likes to say that the MSM is going out of business (why pay for a paper when you get the net for free?). I guess the paper-“per se” may go out of business but the SMH and the Oz and the Age have websites. So they will continue to pollute minds.

    I said trying to hold them to principles or ethics is a bad joke. The media, is the servant of the cabal. They have a mission to perform. It is the mission of harming society. I see no grounds on which to get them to nicen up. To ask them to nicen up is to continnue to pretend that they have moral principles.

    I propose that we declare as our enemy – seriously – any media in Australia that would so harm us as to tell us the wrong facts about a place where our soldiers are deployed.

    I want to go the route of law suits or, better yet, prosecutions. South Australia still has a grand jury? Yay.

    • Mary yu said the msm (excluding those like the ABC that have a mandate) are free to report as they wish. Is there a possibility of criminal case against — for example the media being complicit in criminal conduct by covering up the facts — say for the invasion of Iraq. Can the law assist in any way to prosecute blatant lies.

      What is the difference say — a wife covering up for her husband’s murder, by giving him an alibi… OR the media covering up government action that cause loss of life ?

      What would happen if 50 people went to 50 police stations and filed a complaint against the media?

      • Thanks for the qq, Dee. To answer your last q first, you can’t file a complaint with the police unless there is a crime.

        You asked if lying is a crime. No it is not. You can lie all you want. It’s controlled by those around you. They may stop liking you if you are a liar, but it’s no crime (far as I know).

        You may see a plaintiff suing over a contract in which the other party lied. But that offense is not against truth. It is against the particular interest of the plaintiff. He was defrauded.

        Now to the wife-alibi thing (say, did you attend Amirah Droudis’ trial?). The reason making a false alibi has been declared a crime is that the liar is perverting the course of justice. The provisions along this line are wonderfully complete.

        On December 14, 2015, Gumshoe published my “Sir William Blackstone and Fredrick Toben” article. Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England (1769) spell out 21 offenses that have to do with interfering with the task of the court (helping a prisoner escape jail, tampering with a witness, etc). Thus Blackstone sayeth:

        “To obstruct the execution of lawful process…. is at all times an offense of a very high and presumptuous nature; And it has been held, that the party opposing such arrest [of a criminal] becomes thereby an accessory in felony, and a principal in high treason. [That’s because law is sacred.] But there is no court case re Syria.

        Dee, you mention “the media covering up government action that cause loss of life.” Unless I have missed something, the media — be it Rupert Murdoch, Janet Fife-Yeomans, or for that matter Dee McLachlan — has no obligation whatsoever to “reveal government actions that cause loss of life.” Please everybody, stop thinking that the media is tasked with what they claim to be tasked with: “Reporting news without fear or favor.” – That is a trick and has cost us dear.

        Better we get up the clarity of vision to understand that the MSM is married to the cabal and WANTS to harm us, then we can maybe go down a different road for prosecution.

        I am pretty sure they commit some of the crimes outlawed by the terrorist provisions of 2002 or 2005. Dee, I have covered some of this at Gumshoe – search “sedition” and “treason.” And you have covered the fact that Matt Campbell did the right thing in UK to accuse their TV licensing of supporting terrorism, for which he ended up losing legal fees.

        Methinks we cannot “get” the Sheridans, Faines, etc and should instead go up the food chain a bit. If Australia is performing a terrorist war, I would go Australian officials. I would not charge them in any way, shape, or form with breaches of international law. It has to be domestic law, IMHO.

        Someone in US said a smart prosecutor could indict a ham sandwich. I think I can indict a Foreign Minister.

  2. James, thankyou for your diligence and expressing what we, the few informed, already have dicserned from the alternative non-fake news reports.
    A message to McGeoh and the rest of the
    controlled msm prestitutes who may visit this site and note the comments. ( you there ABC and Faine?)
    I refer to James’ penultimate paragraph.
    You lot, the msm, are Australia’s enemy, you lot are undemocratic, you are liars, you lot are betraying Australian soldiers and their families.
    If ever the souls of Australians who gave up their lives in ww11 for us were ever to be to be reincarnated to the present, they would have you lot lined up and shot for treason and the betrayal of our democracy and country.
    Start with the Lima declaration in 1975 and the look up the interview by Amy Goodman with General Wesley Clark in March 2007.
    McGeogh and Fairfax; you miserable fakers, you got the guts to publish the Transcript of the invterview by Amy with Wesley?
    No! Then piss off with your fakery, go broke and let the publlic be informed by genuinie internet reports.

    • Ned, put yourself in their shoes: McGheo, for example, or the dastardly Sheridan. What can (or should) they actually do now?

      Or, since I made the case for ABC being a different kettle of fish that the coprorate media, what can Faine do?

      You think these guys visit our website. (Hello, guys! What good taste you have!) You guys suddenly realize you have done naughties — or even just suddenly notice you have been outed.

      I think you should drink some cranberry juice to get up your moxie — or dring Moxie to get up your cranberry juice — and publish, tomorrow, a simple question about the Wesley Clark item.
      Ask: if we heard the man say in 2006 that in 2001 he was shown the Hit List, does that not indictae that it ain’t Terrorists that are creating “civil war” in Syria?

      And therefore aren’t you in a bit of hot water for having told us repeatedly that terrorists are to blame?

      • ‘done naughties’
        Right, covering up the massacre of 3,000 on 911 and a million or so murderd in the Middle East is naughty?
        No. It is criminal and they need the Nuremberg solution.

        • What black-letter-law crime (Commonwealth or state) did they violate? I always like to start with the minimum. Not exactly parking violations, which can be expiated, but something that conjures iron bars.

          Try this one, Nedski: they assulted me and thee by conveyng a frightening situation, one that did not exist. Messing my physiology is “assault” right?

          Or maybe this one: they incited us to war.
          No wait, does Oz have “tradng with the enemy” provisions? As you may know, the Dad of Anton Chaitkin (author of “Treason in America from Aaron Burr to Averill Harriman”) had success in getting Prescott Bush’s coterie charged with trading with the German enemy.

          Um, who’s the enemy today?
          How about ill-gotten gains? I love the “disgorging” bit.
          Can anyone suggest crimes we could realistically nominate?

  3. Thank you yet again, James for this excellent summary and for articulating the truth so well – and to the others that have already contributed.

    For one, Tulsi Gabbard (there are a few others – eg Richard Black, Rep – Virginia State) speaks well on this and is trying to do something about it:
    • Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Introduces Bill to Stop Arming Terrorists- 12/8/16

    Let’s also acknowledge the brave and articulate Eva Bartlett:
    • Canadian Journalist Eva Bartlett on lies about Syria | December 9th 2016

    Speaking of Palmyra I am still waiting for Ms J Bishop to remind us of the justice and accountability she intends to pursue for the barbaric murder of the 82-year-old Khaled al-Asaad, (R.I.P. – the Syrian archaeologist and the head of antiquities for the ancient city of Palmyra) – along with countless other public executions of civilians in Palmyra and throughout Syria and Iraq.

    And speaking of justice and accountability, I am still waiting for Ms J Bishop to update us on the genocide and sex slavery inflicted against the Yazidi people and respond to Nadia Murad (after all, she is so keen to have her seat warmed at the so-called United Nations so-called Human Rights Council) – or at least talk about and explain the mass graves containing scores of Yazidi men, women and children found throughout both Iraq and Syria.

    Mary, your last few sentences are spot on – our senior politicians along with those who both administer and work as mouth pieces for the ‘narrative propaganda machine’ (the so called ‘media’) have no ethics or morality and cannot be expected to ‘nicen up’ – they have chosen sides in this war against civilians and against civilisation and are complicit in the crimes against humanity that are perfectly evident to anyone following these events. They have declared US (as in WE) the enemy.

    The vile ‘moralistic’ rantings of the likes of John Kerry, Samantha Power, Josh Ernest, John Kirby, Ban Ki-Moon, Boris Johnson, Julie Bishop et al – the full deck – are sickening beyond words. If they are allowed to get away with this, I wonder which region / city / town / neighbourhood will be next.

    These individuals are deliberately and consciously spewing the narrative on behalf of their terrorist colleagues and are therefore knowingly and wilfully ensuring that the real atrocities are not only covered up, but those committing these atrocities are actively supported and encouraged to continue to do so.

    Just as the SOHR has been exposed as a fraud, so have the White Helmets (see also http://21stcenturywire.com/ – especially Vanessa Beeley) and also the tweets by ‘Bana Alabed’.

    Instead, we continue to get this
    * https://www.rt.com/news/370364-anissa-aleppo-twitter-shelling/?utm_source=browser&utm_medium=aplication_chrome&utm_campaign=chrome

    There can be no reforming the western so-called ‘media’ as we know it – the narrative propaganda machine – they are the mouthpiece for the terrorists. It must be eliminated and replaced with the broadcast of actual truth – ALL of the truth.

    Let’s remember that these propagandists are in the minority – they just happen to control the majority of narrative outlets and hence ‘mainstream’ air time. Those working for them as wilful accomplices are an irrelevant blight that needs to be ‘purged’. I am sure there are plenty of honest, qualified people just waiting for an opportunity for meaningful employment in a broadcasting industry that actually serves society.

    Accountability IS inevitable. This evil along with the politicians, media executives and willing broadcasters of this filth must be stopped. They are simply in too deep – it is no wonder they are so desperately trying to actually shut down all avenues of truth (as well as ‘democracy’ itself) to avoid this inevitability.

    • JS, Very well said.

      Fairfax top 4 Major Shareholders 2016
      HSBC 25.46%
      CITICORP 17.09%
      JPM 16.67%
      NATIONAL NOMS 13.41%

      (Same for just about every company in our ASX Top 200)

      Banks control the media, media controls The Sheeple,.
      Who controls our politicians??
      You guessed it!

  4. • Aleppo’s Mufti: Sheikh Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun interview 13 12 16

    You cannot get the truth laid out in more comprehensive, compassionate terms than by the Great Mufti of Syria.

    This was posted on a Disqus article with the following excerpt – it should be shared far and wide. Please take the time to follow the interview in full

    ”I ask the world media to please COME to Aleppo in a few weeks — and you will see :
    factories will be running, shops will be busy with commerce, people will be in schools, hospitals will continue to serve the Syrian people…and we WILL be SYRIA as we have been for thousands of years again…a COUNTRY of people of LOVE and NOT HATE , of forgiveness and friendship and understanding — and PEACE”.

    M Turnbull, J Bishop, M Payne, C Pyne et al and all the media presstitutes (too polite a word) – come on this channel and call this wise, honest and forgiving man a liar or admit your complicity in global terrorism and ask for forgiveness !!

  5. By now we mostly know why our soldiers are “defending” in the Middle East . They are maintaining the oil flow and the profits from arms manufacture and distribution . With absolutely no compassion for our earthly brothers and sisters . We need to get out of there immediately ( where is the spirit of the late sixties early seventies anti-war demonstrations? ). We have become impotent due to the lies of communist corporatecracy and have become slaves in a trance of deceitful debt servitude .
    Yes it’s all about oil and guns . But primarily it’s a war on humanity . Always the innocent suffer .
    Assad allows all faiths , be they Christian Islam or whatever to live in Syria . Unfortunately our leaders are hypocrites because they do not respect the true teachings of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
    How can we love our children but not our neighbours ?
    Sad days . Pray for peace .

  6. A number of comments have raised the question of accountability. That is a large topic worthy of separate examination so I will just make a brief comment.
    The Nuremberg and Tokyo trials established an important principle and a new offence under international law and that was that it is a crime to wage a war of aggression. One of the chief prosecutors, ironically an American, called it the “supreme” crime.
    A ‘war of aggression’ is one waged that does not fall within the accepted exemptions as defined by Article 51 of the UN Charter. They are: by resolution of the Security Council (manifestly does not apply); in self-defence (again manifestly does not apply to Australia); and collective self defence; i.e. someone who is being attacked can ask for our assistance in their defence.
    This is the exemption that Julie Bishop relied on when she gave an interview on Radio National in November 2015. She said that the Iraqis had asked for our help.
    There were two problems with this claim. The first is that the Iraqi government issued a statement rebutting Bishop’s claim. The second is that on at least three occasions the World Court has held that the collective self defence provisions only apply when a State is attacked by another State. For all its pretensions, ISIS is not a state as defined in international law.
    So the short answer is: Australia is in breach of international law. It is waging a war of aggression in Syria. The remedy is a prosecution in the Hague International Criminal Court.
    The catch is that one must first exhaust all domestic remedies and on that we have not even begun.

    • Not only must we exhaust domestic remedies (but see refernce to ham sandwich below), the Treaty of Rome requires that ICC prosecutions first go before the UNSC. What a joke.

      James, why do you say the Security Council can manifestly not order an aggressive war? They have already done so, in effect.

      Anyway the Big Five are The Cabal Crystalized. So, as I keep saying, don’t ask the Simon LeGrees of his world to be your loving aunt. Ain’t gonna happen. Don’t knock at the wrong door.

      Domestic law. Domestic law. Domestic law.

  7. It seems as if the middle eastern lands must be cleared of all native people to make way for total explotation of the riches beneath the sands .
    This mass migration to the cities of the west is creating a planned boiling pot of all races combined to cause competition tension and the chaos of constant war .
    The main reason the elite are doing this is to create a new race that has no history traditions language and identity.
    They have inverted everything .
    Their enemy is LOVE .
    That is why we have the lie of all ages
    evolution and the survival of the most fierce .

    • Dear 56,
      In 1964, William Hamilton, in Quarterly Review of Biology, made a corrective to Darwin’s (actually, Herbert Spencer’s) theory that only the most fierce can survive. Be it Homo sapiens, or other mammal species, there is a genetic trait for kin altruism. We do love our own and this can bring ways of survival. It also can underwrite the “strength of numbers” of our whole tribe.

      William Hamilton died in Africa while trying to prove (I think) that AIDS was man-made. He was a wonderful thinker. His work led to EO Wilson’s Sociobiology (1975). Wilson was also prodded by Robert Trivers’ theory of reciprocal altruism. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. Androcles and the lion type thing.
      How great is Mother Nature.

  8. Why is the truth so difficult? Hasn’t the entire spectrum of journalism/literacy always been fraught with difficulties? The hallmark of the current Age appears to be an inability to grasp the fact that the power of life & death is in the tongue/ written word:

    “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”
    “PROVERBS 18: 21

    “By your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
    MATHEW 12:36

  9. “To even raise such questions would prove embarrassing and potentially career threatening for our media.”

    Potentially. Ask Nafeez Ahmed’s about his blog on The Guardian.

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