| The Return of George Orwell and Big Brother’s War On Israel, Ukraine and Truth!

On Israel, Ukraine and Truth ~  John Pilger, Counterpunch, Tells the Facts and Names the Names.

The other night, I saw George Orwells’s 1984 performed on the London stage. Although crying out for a contemporary interpretation, Orwell’s warning about the future was presented as a period piece: remote, unthreatening, almost reassuring. It was as if Edward Snowden had revealed nothing, Big Brother was not now a digital eavesdropper and Orwell himself had never said, “To be corrupted by totalitarianism, one does not have to live in a totalitarian country.”

Acclaimed by critics, the skilful production was a measure of our cultural and political times. When the lights came up, people were already on their way out. They seemed unmoved, or perhaps other distractions beckoned. “What a mindfuck,” said the young woman, lighting up her phone.

As advanced societies are de-politicised, the changes are both subtle and spectacular. In everyday discourse, political language is turned on its head, as Orwell prophesised in 1984. “Democracy” is now a rhetorical device.  Peace is “perpetual war”. “Global” is imperial. The once hopeful concept of “reform” now means regression, even destruction. “Austerity” is the imposition of extreme capitalism on the poor and the gift of socialism for the rich: an ingenious system under which the majority service the debts of the few.

In the arts, hostility to political truth-telling is an article of bourgeois faith.  “Picasso’s red period,” says an Observer headline, “and why politics don’t make good art.” Consider this in a newspaper that promoted the bloodbath in Iraq as a liberal crusade. Picasso’s lifelong opposition to fascism is a footnote, just as Orwell’s radicalism has faded from the prize that appropriated his name.

A few years ago, Terry Eagleton, then professor of English literature at Manchester University, reckoned that “for the first time in two centuries, there is no eminent British poet, playwright or novelist prepared to question the foundations of the western way of life”. No Shelley speaks for the poor, no Blake for utopian dreams, no Byron damns the corruption of the ruling class, no Thomas Carlyle and John Ruskin reveal the moral disaster of capitalism. William Morris, Oscar Wilde, HG Wells, George Bernard Shaw have no equivalents today. Harold Pinter was the last to raise his voice.  Among the insistent voices of consumer- feminism, none echoes Virginia Woolf, who described “the arts of dominating other people … of ruling, of killing, of acquiring land and capital”.

At the National Theatre, a new play, Great Britain, satirises the phone hacking scandal that has seen journalists tried and convicted, including a former editor of Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World. Described as a “farce with fangs [that] puts the whole incestuous [media] culture in the dock and subjects it to merciless ridicule”, the play’s targets are the “blessedly funny” characters in Britain’s tabloid press. That is well and good, and so familiar. What of the non-tabloid media that regards itself as reputable and credible, yet serves a parallel role as an arm of state and corporate power, as in the promotion of illegal war?

The Leveson inquiry into phone hacking glimpsed this unmentionable. Tony Blair was giving evidence, complaining to His Lordship about the tabloids’ harassment of his wife, when he was interrupted by a voice from the public gallery. David Lawley-Wakelin, a film-maker, demanded Blair’s arrest and prosecution for war crimes. There was a long pause: the shock of truth. Lord Leveson leapt to his feet and ordered the truth-teller thrown out and apologised to the war criminal. Lawley-Wakelin was prosecuted; Blair went free.

Blair’s enduring accomplices are more respectable than the phone hackers. When the BBC arts presenter, Kirsty Wark, interviewed him on the tenth anniversary of his invasion of Iraq, she gifted him a moment he could only dream of; she allowed him to agonise over his “difficult” decision on Iraq rather than call him to account for his epic crime. This evoked the procession of BBC journalists who in 2003 declared that Blair could feel “vindicated”, and the subsequent, “seminal” BBC series, The Blair Years, for which David Aaronovitch was chosen as the writer, presenter and interviewer. A Murdoch retainer who campaigned for military attacks on Iraq, Libya and Syria, Aaronovitch fawned expertly.

Since the invasion of Iraq – the exemplar of an act of unprovoked aggression the Nuremberg prosecutor Robert Jackson called “the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole” — Blair and his mouthpiece and principal accomplice, Alastair Campbell, have been afforded generous space in the Guardian to rehabilitate their reputations. Described as a Labour Party “star”, Campbell has sought the sympathy of readers for his depression and displayed his interests, though not his current assignment as advisor, with Blair, to the Egyptian military tyranny.

As Iraq is dismembered as a consequence of the Blair/Bush invasion, aGuardian headline declares: “Toppling Saddam was right, but we pulled out too soon”. This ran across a prominent article on 13 June by a former Blair functionary, John McTernan, who also served Iraq’s CIA installed dictator Iyad Allawi. In calling for a repeat invasion of a country his former master helped destroy , he made no reference to the deaths of at least 700,000 people, the flight of four million refugees and sectarian turmoil in a nation once proud of its communal tolerance.

“Blair embodies corruption and war,” wrote the radical Guardiancolumnist Seumas Milne in a spirited piece on 3 July. This is known in the trade as “balance”. The following day, the paper published a full-page advertisement for an American Stealth bomber. On a menacing image of the bomber were the words: “The F-35. GREAT For Britain”. This other embodiment of “corruption and war” will cost British taxpayers £1.3 billion, its F-model predecessors having slaughtered people across the developing world.

In a village in Afghanistan, inhabited by the poorest of the poor, I filmed Orifa, kneeling at the graves of her husband, Gul Ahmed, a carpet weaver, seven other members of her family, including six children, and two children who were killed in the adjacent house. A “precision” 500-pound bomb fell directly on their small mud, stone and straw house, leaving a crater 50 feet wide. Lockheed Martin, the plane’s manufacturer’s, had pride of place in the Guardian’s advertisement.

The former US secretary of state and aspiring president of the United States, Hillary Clinton, was recently on the BBC’s Women’s Hour, the quintessence of media respectability. The presenter, Jenni Murray, presented Clinton as a beacon of female achievement. She did not remind her listeners about Clinton’s profanity that Afghanistan was invaded to “liberate” women like Orifa. She asked  Clinton nothing about her administration’s terror campaign using drones to kill women, men and children. There was no mention of Clinton’s idle threat, while campaigning to be the first female president, to “eliminate” Iran, and nothing about her support for illegal mass surveillance and the pursuit of whistle-blowers.

Murray did ask one finger-to-the-lips question. Had Clinton forgiven Monica Lewinsky for having an affair with husband? “Forgiveness is a choice,” said Clinton, “for me, it was absolutely the right choice.” This recalled the 1990s and the years consumed by the Lewinsky “scandal”. President Bill Clinton was then invading Haiti, and bombing the Balkans, Africa and Iraq. He was also destroying the lives of Iraqi children; Unicef reported the deaths of half a million Iraqi infants under the age of five as a result of an embargo led by the US and Britain.

The children were media unpeople, just as Hillary Clinton’s victims in the invasions she supported and promoted – Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia — are media unpeople. Murray made no reference to them. A photograph of her and her distinguished guest, beaming, appears on the BBC website.

In politics as in journalism and the arts, it seems that dissent once tolerated in the “mainstream” has regressed to a dissidence: a metaphoric underground. When I began a career in Britain’s Fleet Street in the 1960s, it was acceptable to critique western power as a rapacious force. Read James Cameron’s celebrated reports of the explosion of the Hydrogen bomb at Bikini Atoll, the barbaric war in Korea and the American bombing of North Vietnam. Today’s grand illusion is of an information age when, in truth, we live in a media age in which incessant corporate propaganda is insidious, contagious, effective and liberal.

In his 1859 essay On Liberty, to which modern liberals pay homage, John Stuart Mill wrote: “Despotism is a legitimate mode of government in dealing with barbarians, provided the end be their improvement, and the means justified by actually effecting that end.” The “barbarians” were large sections of humanity of whom “implicit obedience” was required.  “It’s a nice and convenient myth that liberals are peacemakers and conservatives the warmongers,” wrote the historian Hywel Williams in 2001, “but the imperialism of the liberal way may be more dangerous because of its open-ended nature: its conviction that it represents a superior form of life.” He had in mind a speech by Blair in which the then prime minister promised to “reorder the world around us” according to his “moral values”.

Richard Falk, the respected authority on international law and the UN Special Rapporteur on Palestine, once described a “a self-righteous, one-way, legal/moral screen [with] positive images of western values and innocence portrayed as threatened, validating a campaign of unrestricted political violence”. It is “so widely accepted as to be virtually unchallengeable”.

Tenure and patronage reward the guardians. On BBC Radio 4, Razia Iqbal interviewed Toni Morrison, the African-American Nobel Laureate. Morrison wondered why people were “so angry” with Barack Obama, who was “cool” and wished to build a “strong economy and health care”. Morrison was proud to have talked on the phone with her hero, who had read one of her books and invited her to his inauguration.

Neither she nor her interviewer mentioned Obama’s seven wars, including his terror campaign by drone, in which whole families, their rescuers and mourners have been murdered. What seemed to matter was that a “finely spoken” man of colour had risen to the commanding heights of power. In The Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon wrote that the “historic mission” of the colonised was to serve as a “transmission line” to those who ruled and oppressed. In the modern era, the employment of ethnic difference in western power and propaganda systems is now seen as essential. Obama epitomises this, though the cabinet of George W. Bush – his warmongering clique – was the most multiracial in presidential history.

As the Iraqi city of Mosul fell to the jihadists of ISIS, Obama said, “The American people made huge investments and sacrifices in order to give Iraqis the opportunity to chart a better destiny.” How “cool” is that lie? How “finely spoken” was Obama’s speech at the West Point military academy on 28 May. Delivering his “state of the world” address at the graduation ceremony of those who “will take American leadership” across the world, Obama said, “The United States will use military force, unilaterally if necessary, when our core interests demand it. International opinion matters, but America will never ask permission …”

In repudiating international law and the rights of independent nations, the American president claims a divinity based on the might of his “indispensable nation”. It is a familiar message of imperial impunity, though always bracing to hear. Evoking the rise of fascism in the 1930s, Obama said, “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fibre of my being.”  Historian Norman Pollack wrote: “For goose-steppers, substitute the seemingly more innocuous militarisation of the total culture. And for the bombastic leader, we have the reformer manqué, blithely at work, planning and executing assassination, smiling all the while.”

In February, the US mounted one of its “colour” coups against the elected government in Ukraine, exploiting genuine protests against corruption in Kiev. Obama’s national security adviser Victoria Nuland personally selected the leader of an “interim government”. She nicknamed him “Yats”. Vice President Joe Biden came to Kiev, as did CIA Director John Brennan. The shock troops of their putsch were Ukrainian fascists.

For the first time since 1945, a neo-Nazi, openly anti-Semitic party controls key areas of state power in a European capital.  No Western European leader has condemned this revival of fascism in the borderland through which Hitler’s invading Nazis took millions of Russian lives. They were supported by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), responsible for the massacre of Jews and Russians they called “vermin”. The UPA is the historical inspiration of the present-day Svoboda Party and its fellow-travelling Right Sector. Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok has called for a purge of the “Moscow-Jewish mafia” and “other scum”, including gays, feminists and those on the political left.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States has ringed Russia with military bases, nuclear warplanes and missiles as part of its Nato Enlargement Project. Reneging on a promise made to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990 that Nato would not expand “one inch to the east”, Nato has, in effect, militarily occupied eastern Europe. In the former Soviet Caucasus, Nato’s expansion is the biggest military build-up since the Second World War.

A Nato Membership Action Plan is Washington’s gift to the coup-regime in Kiev. In August, “Operation Rapid Trident” will put American and British troops on Ukraine’s Russian border and “Sea Breeze” will send US warships within sight of Russian ports. Imagine the response if these acts of provocation, or intimidation, were carried out on America’s borders.

In reclaiming Crimea — which Nikita Kruschev illegally detached from Russia in 1954 – the Russians defended themselves as they have done for almost a century. More than 90 per cent of the population of Crimea voted to return the territory to Russia. Crimea is the home of the Black Sea Fleet and its loss would mean life or death for the Russian Navy and a prize for Nato. Confounding the war parties in Washington and Kiev, Vladimir Putin withdrew troops from the Ukrainian border and urged ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine to abandon separatism.

In Orwellian fashion, this has been inverted in the west to the “Russian threat”. Hillary Clinton likened Putin to Hitler. Without irony, right-wing German commentators said as much. In the media, the Ukrainian neo-Nazis are sanitised as “nationalists” or “ultra nationalists”. What they fear is that Putin is skilfully seeking a diplomatic solution, and may succeed. On 27 June, responding to Putin’s latest accommodation – his request to the Russian Parliament to rescind legislation that gave him the power to intervene on behalf of Ukraine’s ethnic Russians – Secretary of State John Kerry issued another of his ultimatums. Russia must “act within the next few hours, literally” to end the revolt in eastern Ukraine. Notwithstanding that Kerry is widely recognised as a buffoon, the serious purpose of these “warnings” is to confer pariah status on Russia and suppress news of the Kiev regime’s war on its own people.

A third of the population of Ukraine are Russian-speaking and bilingual. They have long sought a democratic federation that reflects Ukraine’s ethnic diversity and is both autonomous and independent of Moscow. Most are neither “separatists” nor “rebels” but citizens who want to live securely in their homeland. Separatism is a reaction to the Kiev junta’s attacks on them, causing as many as 110,000 (UN estimate) to flee across the border into Russia. Typically, they are traumatised women and children.

Like Iraq’s embargoed infants, and Afghanistan’s “liberated” women and girls, terrorised by the CIA’s warlords, these ethnic people of Ukraine are media unpeople in the west, their suffering and the atrocities committed against them minimised, or suppressed. No sense of the scale of the regime’s assault is reported in the mainstream western media. This is not unprecedented. Reading again Phillip Knightley’s masterlyThe First Casualty: the war correspondent as hero, propagandist and mythmaker, I renewed my admiration for the Manchester Guardian’sMorgan Philips Price, the only western reporter to remain in Russia during the 1917 revolution and report the truth of a disastrous invasion by the western allies. Fair-minded and courageous, Philips Price alone disturbed what Knightley calls an anti-Russian “dark silence” in the west.

On 2 May, in Odessa, 41 ethnic Russians were burned alive in the trade union headquarters with police standing by. There is horrifying video evidence.  The Right Sector leader Dmytro Yarosh hailed the massacre as “another bright day in our national history”. In the American and British media, this was reported as a “murky tragedy” resulting from “clashes” between “nationalists” (neo-Nazis) and “separatists” (people collecting signatures for a referendum on a federal Ukraine). The New York Times buried it, having dismissed as Russian propaganda warnings about the fascist and anti-Semitic policies of Washington’s new clients. The Wall Street Journal damned the victims – “Deadly Ukraine Fire Likely Sparked by Rebels, Government Says”. Obama congratulated the junta for its “restraint”.

On 28 June, the Guardian devoted most of a page to declarations by the Kiev regime’s “president”, the oligarch Petro Poroshenko.  Again, Orwell’s rule of inversion applied. There was no putsch; no war against Ukraine’s minority; the Russians were to blame for everything. “We want to modernise my country,” said Poroshenko. “We want to introduce freedom, democracy and European values. Somebody doesn’t like that. Somebody doesn’t like us for that.”

According to his report, the Guardian’s reporter, Luke Harding, did not challenge these assertions, or mention the Odessa atrocity, the regime’s air and artillery attacks on residential areas, the killing and kidnapping of journalists, the firebombing of an opposition newspaper and his threat to “free Ukraine from dirt and parasites”. The enemy are “rebels”, “militants”, “insurgents”, “terrorists” and stooges of the Kremlin. Summon from history the ghosts of Vietnam, Chile, East Timor, southern Africa, Iraq; note the same tags. Palestine is the lodestone of this unchanging deceit. On 11 July, following the latest Israeli, American equipped slaughter in Gaza – 80 people including six children in one family — an Israeli general writes in the Guardian under the headline, “A necessary show of force”.

In the 1970s, I met Leni Riefenstahl and asked her about her films that glorified the Nazis. Using revolutionary camera and lighting techniques, she produced a documentary form that mesmerised Germans; it was herTriumph of the Will that reputedly cast Hitler’s spell. I asked her about propaganda in societies that imagined themselves superior. She replied that the “messages” in her films were dependent not on “orders from above” but on a “submissive void” in the German population. “Did that include the liberal, educated bourgeoisie?” I asked. “Everyone,” she replied, “and of course the intelligentsia.”

John Pilger is the author of Freedom Next Time. All his documentary films can be viewed free on his website http://www.johnpilger.com/


| A Tale Of Two Titans – Jon Snow of C4 News And Jeremy Bowen of BBC News!

On July 4, Independence Day in the United States, Channel 4 News broadcast a Jon Snow interview with Hillary Clinton, former US Secretary of State and presumed presidential candidate. For a self-proclaimed ‘pinko liberal’ like Snow, this was a glorious opportunity to ask hard-hitting questions about US foreign policy and Clinton’s own role in shoring up the American Empire.

In the event, the interview was largely a series of soft questions, culminating in a cosy epilogue about Clinton looking forward to being a granny. As John Hilley of the Zenpolitics blog observed, it was ‘a safely-moderated version [of what] passes for “probing journalism”.’

‘Where’, asked Hilley, ‘was the serious indictment of US-directed murder and mayhem in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt and Syria? What of Washington’s protection of terror state Saudi Arabia?’

Why did Snow ask Clinton a loaded question about the West’s supposed ‘failure’ to press Israel on illegal settlements; as though the US, in particular, is a hapless and helpless bystander to Israel’s major international crimes?

Hilley continued:

‘why didn’t Snow highlight America’s role as a principal and criminal supporter of Israel, and specify the $3 billion a year it gifts the Israeli state to continue its brutal military occupation? Why didn’t he call out the US as a fundamental cause of the problem, and grill Clinton on her own complicit part in that “failure”?’

Also deeply unimpressed by Snow’s performance was Media Lens reader Ed Murray. He sent the journalist a scathing email in which he described the interview as ‘a party political broadcast on behalf of the American Imperialist Party.’

We highlighted Murray’s email via Twitter:

‘An uncomfortable email for @jonsnowC4 to read – which he will likely ignore or brush away.’

Snow chose the second option:

‘Intriguingly, Media Lens post delightfully critical material, but no option to reply!’

This was a peculiar, clodhopping response from a veteran journalist with, one might think, the skills to navigate resources and dig out information. But somehow Snow had missed that Media Lens has amessageboard where he is welcome to post, an email address to contact us, and a lively Facebook page. He could have replied to our ‘delightfully critical material’ on Twitter. He could even have responded via his own Channel 4 blog which reaches a national, indeed global, audience. Instead, he went for another diversionary tactic:

‘Media Lens: 18,000 Tweets; 14,000 followers/ JSnow 8,500 Tweets 424,000 folowers:If only you were more constructive, you might help!’

This turgid display of Twitter willy-waving was, as more polite and erudite readers pointed out, merelyargumentum ad populum. By Snow’s logic, perhaps we should bow down before the political wisdom ofJustin Bieber (27,200 tweets and 52.7 million followers) or perhaps the remarkably tweet-efficientBeyoncé (only 8 tweets, but a stonking 13.4 million followers).

‘Chomsky Fan Numero Uno’

As we have previously noted, Snow enjoys wide acclaim, especially among his colleagues in the media industry, for his seemingly critical awareness and probing journalism. Politicians are put on the spot and tough questions asked, we are led to believe. In reality, his long, privileged position at the helm of C4 News is not disconnected from his consistent habit of emphasising the crimes of official enemies, while soft-pedalling or blanking those of ‘our’ leaders in Washington and London.

In a 2001 interview with David Edwards, not long before Media Lens was launched, Snow brusquely dismissed the propaganda role of the corporate media (which, even now, he persists in calling ‘the mainstream’). He also rejected out of hand the idea that Western foreign policy is imperialistic, violent and profit-oriented. And yet he still brazenly described himself in the same interview as ‘Chomsky fan numero uno.’  It all begs the question of how seriously we are to take Snow’s credentials as a critical journalist or even a left-leaning liberal.

Returning to our Twitter exchange, Snow then performed another side-step: the classic ‘hostility’ evasion:

‘@medialens but have you thought that perhaps they don’t follow you because they don’t like your hostility to ordinary hacks?’

This is yet another example of how sending questions to a journalist about his or her output, even when done without abuse or ad hominem terms, is so often dismissed as ‘hostility’. As we pointed out in our reply, it tends to be only ‘hacks’ that make that argument (many, in fact, are privately supportive of us). It’s a no-win situation with some journalists, anyway, because our politeness can be damned as ‘passive aggressiveness.’

Following up his assertion of ‘hostility’, Snow said that what ‘puts me off media Lens’ is that ‘I get nothing but abuse – what’s the point?’  Like many journalists, Snow seems unable to distinguish between Media Lens and readers of Media Lens. We have always tried to remain calm and polite, with occasional doses of good-natured humour, in our exchanges with people… journalists included! We also encourage readers to adopt the same approach and we strongly discourage abusive messages to journalists. When journalists claim, wrongly, that they get abuse ‘from Media Lens’, they might as well claim that they get abuse ‘from the Guardian’ if an angry Guardian reader fires off an email to them.

The truth is that corporate journalists will use almost any rhetorical device, including stubborn silence, to avoid the substance of the arguments we make. Otherwise, surely they would be able to respond with reasoned, evidence-based answers to whatever we put to them.

Snow didn’t get much joy on Twitter from members of the public, with virtually every response critical of his stance.

Anthony Atanasio wrote:

‘Its hypocrisy, pandering, and propaganda that most of “us” feel hostile towards. @medialens is a breath of fresh air’

Wreck the Rhime tweeted:

‘It’s ridiculous to suggest that an opposite view is hostile. An easy way to discredit. You’re better than this Jon’

The ‘number of followers argument’, an obvious red herring, is contradicted by the fact that Media Lens has considerably more followers than journalists writing regularly for high-profile newspapers. Perhaps Media Lens would have even more than Jon Snow if, like him, we had a daily news programme in a popular early evening slot on a major British television channel. And if we wore funny socks and ties.


‘Medialens Don’t Get It’

Jeremy Bowen, the BBC’s Middle East editor, is another titan of the media world who is generally well-regarded by his peers and much of the public, but who is unwilling to engage in substantive debate with us. Indeed, he blocked us on Twitter some time ago for some unspecified crime; most likely ‘hostility’, or perhaps for having the ‘temerity’ to be critical of his reporting.

Last week, he was challenged by @JuniorCelente on Twitter, following our latest alert on the disproportionate coverage given to Israeli deaths over Palestinian deaths:

‘how do u feel reporting for org that routinely gives Israeli perspective as its own? E.g:http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2011/625-bad-news-from-the-bbc-part-2-the-john-motson-approach-to-analysing-news.html’

Bowen responded:

‘we don’t. Medialens don’t get it.’

In fact, what Bowen ‘doesn’t get’ is the carefully collected and interpreted evidence that demonstratesthat BBC News has a distinct pro-Israel bias. In particular, Bowen clearly ‘doesn’t get’ the in-depth work of the renowned Glasgow Media Group led by Professor Greg Philo. (See our media alerts here andhere following the publication of ‘More Bad News From Israel’ in 2011.) Careful analysis of BBC News coverage on Israel and Palestine by Philo and colleague Mike Berry reveals ‘the dominance of the Israeli perspective’. They note that BBC News ‘perpetuate[s] a one-sided view of the causes of the conflict’. (Greg Philo and Mike Berry, ‘More Bad News From Israel’, Pluto Books, London, 2011, pp. 340 and 344.)

Bowen has never, as far as we are aware, engaged in any meaningful way with Philo and Berry’s thorough study. Presumably, he also dismisses the testimony of the senior BBC News producer about the power wielded by the Israeli lobby, as quoted by Philo:

‘We wait in fear for the telephone call from the Israelis.’

Bowen also brushes away the experience of Tim Llewellyn, a former BBC Middle East correspondent, who notes that the BBC is ‘culturally and socially stuck in the Zionist frame’ and that BBC News coverage of Israel and Palestine is ‘replete with imbalance and distortion’.

Bowen dismisses all of this out of hand; at least, in public. But, as we’ve seen over the years in exchanges with journalists, Bowen has no substantive counterarguments to refute us: no facts, evidence or reasoned discussion.

Media Lens reader Ryan Moon challenged Bowen to justify the blanket dismissal that ‘Medialens don’t get it’. The journalist answered:

‘As you suspect I’m extremely busy here in Baghdad. I’m not going to get into a correspondence on this or answer more of the usual medialens tweets.’

Bowen added:

‘What I meant is that medialens has a clear agenda. I’d refute medialens charges in the same way I defend our reporting against pro Israelis who think we’re part of anti Zionist conspiracy. I am not saying criticism from both sides makes the BBC perfect. We’re not. But if viewers around the world want the best account there is of what’s happening, then it’s on the BBC.’

Conforming to the usual pattern of steadfast loyalty to his employer, Bowen simply asserts that the BBC provides ‘the best account… of what’s happening.’ He doesn’t have to justify this because, in his own mind, he’s clearly right and also because he’s ‘extremely busy’. He will always be ‘extremely busy’. Until, one day, he retires and then perhaps finally feels willing to speak out more freely – as the veteran US news anchor Dan Rather did on Iraq when his career was over; rather feebly and when it was all far, far too late.

So why do we even bother challenging journalists? Because our objective is to raise public awareness of the systemic constraints in the corporate media, even on the supposed ‘Titans’ like Jeremy Paxman, Andrew Marr, Jeremy Bowen and ‘pinko liberal’ Jon Snow. Our hope is that by exposing the distortions and omissions in corporate news – very much including the BBC and Channel 4 News – we will help to build a head of steam for alternative, truly democratic and accountable media.




The goal of Media Lens is to promote rationality, compassion and respect for others. If you do write to journalists, we strongly urge you to maintain a polite, non-aggressive and non-abusive tone.

Write to:

Jon Snow, Channel 4 News presenter
Email: jon.snow@itn.co.uk
Twitter: @jonsnowC4

Jeremy Bowen, BBC Middle East editor
Email: jeremy.bowen@bbc.co.uk
Twitter: @BowenBBC


| BILLARY!! Hillary Clinton: Will she run for president in 2016?

Hillary Clinton: Will she run for president in 2016? ~ The Guardian.


The campaign T-shirts are already on sale, the Washington rumour mill is in overdrive. But even if Hillary Clinton does decide to run for the White House in 2016, can she win?


Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama

Many expect Hillary Clinton to make a bid for the White House in 2016, but she could face some major hurdles. Photograph: Elise Amendola/AP

Hillary Clinton, if you believe the hype, is only weeks away from girding up for her second run for president in 2016, this time going all the way to the White House. John Kerry, nominated last week as her successor as secretary of state, will be confirmed by the Senate in mid-January, leaving the coast clear for Clinton to begin preparing her battle for the presidency. And, after her successful term in Barack Obama’s administration, why shouldn’t she?

The entire Democratic establishment is urging Clinton to run – not least her husband, Bill. Die-hard fans are prepping for an announcement, with Hillary 2016 T-shirts for sale online and coy postings on the Friends of Hillary Facebook page: “Merry Christmas everyone! Hillary has a present, but she’ll only be able to give it to you in about 4 years …” And after 20 years in Washington, 2012 was the year Clinton officially became hip, with her own viral internet meme, a parody Tumblr site called Texts from Hillary.

All of which, bizarrely, could doom a potential Clinton candidacy.

For those who watched Clinton’s first run for the White House, the clamour for her to run again, the idea that there is no one more entitled than she is to the nomination and then the White House, is beginning to sound depressingly familiar.

When she launched her last bid for the White House in January 2007, Clinton was the ultimate establishment candidate: cautious, calculating, hawkish on defence (to the point of voting for the war in Iraq), and reactive rather than breaking new ground. The webcast announcing her presidential exploratory committee said it all – the nomination was Clinton’s for the taking. “I’m in to win,” she said in the video. But of course, she didn’t.

But Clinton has a chance, if she wants it, to show she has learned from the strategic and tactical errors of 2008. She has gained two big pluses in her four years at the State Department. The first is a cause bigger than herself, in her work for women’s rights. The second is an ability to reach out beyond a narrow circle of advisers – engaging ordinary members of the public on her frequent trips as secretary and commanding the loyalty of a large bureaucratic organisation like the State Department.

Her ultra-cautious handlers give every impression they are guarding her image for a future run for the presidency. But Clinton, for the moment, isn’t telling. She has spoken in interviews of taking time off, writing a memoir, teaching a class or engaging in philanthropic endeavours. Former aides and colleagues mention the possibility of a foundation, in tandem with her husband’s Clinton Global Initiative, or a thinktank on women and security. But it is hard to imagine Clinton willingly walking away from a public that, after all the years of flak and controversy, is now almost universally adoring.

As secretary of state she shed the political baggage accumulated as an activist first lady, and has so far avoided any blowback for the administration’s failures in the Middle East and Libya. Her domestic approval ratings are at a lifetime high, above 65%. When she goes abroad, world leaders are gushing in their praise. In September, during United Nations week, one of Clinton’s last set-piece events before standing down as secretary of state, there were standing ovations before she even got up to speak, and emotional tributes from a succession of world leaders.

At the launch of a US-backed initiative to expand women’s rights, Clinton perched in the middle of 12 red-and-gilt-arm chairs as a dozen presidents and prime ministers offered up their homages. “Hillary, you have done so much to inspire women and girls around the world,” Australia’s prime minister, Julia Gillard, said. “We stand taller and move freer because of your inspiring example.” Clinton did not appear embarrassed. She been hearing such effusive praise for years.

So what could keep her from running? Voter fatigue with Obama and the Clintons, the economic downturn, and the security failures at Benghazi (when four Americans, including the US ambassador to Libya, were killed in an attack on the US consulate in September this year) could all cause her problems. There is also the question of Clinton’s health. The secretary has not been seen in public since 10 December. Aides said she fainted and suffered concussion after being weakened by a stomach virus. And though she was quick to tell Barbara Walters in a year-end interview that she was full of “incredible stamina and energy”, Clinton will be 69 at the time of the next elections.

It would be dangerous for Clinton to take her high approval ratings for granted. The role of secretary of state operates at a remove from domestic politics; for now, Obama or house leader Nancy Pelosi are the main targets of conservative commentators. But if Clinton were to run for the White House, she would open herself up once again to a full-on attack from the right.

For now, Clinton leaves the State Department with a strong reputation – thanks in large part to the efforts of a personal staff that has been tending her image for years or even decades. A number of Clinton’s team have worked for her or her husband for most of their adult lives. The communications team, headed by Philippe Reines operates out of a ground floor office of the State Department. Staff make no secret of their mission. Fanned out on the coffee table, when I visited last autumn, were a series of magazines with flattering portraits of the secretary on their covers: Clinton gazing at the Taj Mahal on a travel publication, Clinton in a glamorous black-and-white portrait.

The secretary’s aides decided early on that when it came to repairing the US’s battered image in the world, Clinton was her country’s best asset. No previous secretary of state could match her charisma or resume: first lady, senator and, at her political height, presidential candidate who won 18m votes in the toughest, most gruelling campaign in modern US history.

“No one really quibbles with the underlying notion that, since [President Obama] took office and named her as secretary, America has greatly improved and restored its standing in the world,” said Reines. “It is not an image thing. It is not a popularity thing. It is a necessity and prerequisite to getting work done that needs to be done to advance interests and values of the United States.”

And so Clinton put herself out there, like an old-style politician using her celebrity and personal connections to try to smooth over the rough years of the US’s relations with the rest of the world. She logged 956,000 miles as secretary of state, visiting 112 countries, according to the State Department website. On virtually every visit, Clinton made a point of reaching beyond the stilted, formal diplomatic encounters to meet women’s groups, health workers, environmentalists, students, business leaders, and to spend time with US embassy staff.

Clinton family album

Hillary Clinton with husband Bill and daughter Chelsea in 1972. Photo: Sipa/Rex 

This constant campaigning for America didn’t hurt Clinton’s future political prospects, either. Clinton’s team went out of their way to promote an image of Clinton, not just as the nation’s top diplomat, but its top “gal pal” – someone everyone would want to hang out with. She appeared on a comedy sketch with Australian duo Hamish & Andy. She sent in a response and posed for photos with the creators of the Tumblr parody Texts from Hillary, which featured the secretary running the world and sending badass tweets from behind dark sunglasses. She even joked about her fondness for scrunchies, the covered elastics from the 1990s she uses to pull back the longer hair she has favoured as secretary.

But those hundreds of public encounters during her years as secretary of state also helped Clinton find her way back to a lifelong cause: women’s rights. Since her days as a young lawyer, Clinton has cared passionately about the rights of women and children. But until she arrived at the State Department, she was ambivalent about defining herself publicly as a women’s advocate.

She maintained relationships with women’s organisations in Africa and Asia that lasted decades, immersing herself in issues such as sex trafficking, violence against women, female genital mutilation, child marriage and women’s exclusion from politics.

“When it really comes to the poor and women’s issues, she definitely gives it the topmost priority. She always finds time to go into the depths of it,” said Reema Nanavaty of the Self-Employed Women’s Association, who has been in touch with Clinton since 1982. “She shows more of a personal touch.”

Despite that authentic interest, however, Clinton hesitated to put women’s rights centre-stage during her earlier life in elected politics. “She didn’t want to just be seen as a woman. She wanted to be seen as the best candidate,” said Neera Tanden, who joined Clinton’s staff when she was first lady, and is now president of the leftwing Centre for American Progress think tank.

Her campaign staff were divided about how to frame Clinton as a candidate. Some feared she was missing a historic opportunity by opting to run as an institutional candidate, rather than as one representing change, a potential first female president. “There was that sense that the first woman president was within our grasp, and we were losing it,” said Patti Solis Doyle, who was removed as Clinton’s campaign manager in February 2008.

But Clinton was swayed by other advisers who warned she could put off male voters. There was also the rampant sexism of the campaigning, the dismissive commentary from TV pundits, the hecklers at campaign events calling for Clinton to iron their shirts.

Key players in her campaign now acknowledge they got it wrong. “With the benefit of hindsight, there were probably more opportunities to be taken to highlight the change a Clinton presidency would represent – as opposed to presenting her as more of an institutional figure,” said Geoff Garin, a Democratic pollster and strategist brought in to manage Clinton’s campaign during its final weeks. “I think some of the people who were running her campaign at the time were concerned about the possibility of scaring off men in the general election. But it’s clear that as a primary candidate there was, I think, a greater sense of energy and excitement that could have been generated from the historic nature of her candidacy.”

By the time Clinton came around to embracing the idea of change, it was far too late.

At the State Department, however, with no immediate political stakes, Clinton felt freer to put women and children at the centre of policy-making. “Hillary came in to the office as an international superstar. I think she could afford to take a little bit more risk on that front,” said Isobel Coleman, director of the women and foreign policy programme at the Council on Foreign Relations. There were still elements of the old political calculation, reminders that Clinton was still keeping options open for 2016. She disappointed activists on her trip to Ireland earlier this month, possibly her last as secretary, when she failed to publicly take up the case of Savita Halappanavar, who died after being refused an abortion.

But Clinton’s allies argue her advocacy on women’s issues has made a profound difference. “When a secretary of state goes to a country and the embassy gets engaged in those issues again and again and again, I think that is the way you begin to change the mindset,” said Alyse Nelson, who runs the Vital Voices group fostered by Clinton when she was first lady. “Hillary took it to a whole new level.”

When Clinton took the job as secretary of state four years ago, she could have messed up. After all, in the single most important foreign policy vote of her time in the Senate, the decision to invade Iraq, Clinton picked the wrong side, voting for war. There were also concerns about her capacity to work with her former rival Obama. “When she came in she had a very tough political task,” said David Rothkopf, chief executive of Foreign Policy magazine. “She was seen as a rival to the president. She had her own political base. She could easily be seen as someone upstaging him, but that didn’t happen. She put her head down and she got to work.”

In 2008, Hillary Rodham Clinton was a flawed candidate. Has she done enough to address those flaws and make it to the White House in 2016? Only time will tell.



| Now Hillary Clinton ‘wants to quit to run World Bank!’

Hillary Clinton ‘wants to quit to run World Bank’ ~ .

Hillary Clinton has been in discussions with the White House about stepping down from her job as Secretary of State to become head of the World Bank, according to reports.

Mrs Clinton, the former First Lady, Senator for New York and rival to President Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic primary race, is said to be eager to become the first female president of the World Bank should the post become vacant next year.

“Hillary Clinton wants the job,” a source close to Mrs Clinton told Reuters, which broke the news of the possible move.

Robert Zoellick, a former Bush administration official, is believed to be ready to step down as president at the end of his term in the middle of next year.

Mrs Clinton has made clear she does not want to remain US Secretary of State, a gruelling job demanding months of world travel each year, beyond Mr Obama’s first term.

Another source told Reuters that Mr Obama supported her taking the helm at the World Bank, which is traditionally led by an American.

Once formally nominated for the post by Mr Obama, Mrs Clinton’s appointment would require approval by the 187 member countries of the World Bank.

Philippe Reines, a spokesman for Mrs Clinton, issued a strong denial, releasing a statement saying: “Secretary Clinton has not had any conversations with the president, the White House or anyone about moving to the World Bank. She has expressed absolutely no interest in the job. She would not take it if offered.”

Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, also denied that Mrs Clinton was interested in the role.

Taking over the World Bank could be seen as an end to Mrs Clinton’s domestic political ambitions.

If she served out a five-year term, that would take her beyond the 2016 election, when she would be 69.

On the other hand, if she stepped down early from the World Bank she could enter the 2016 race for the White House with historically unparalleled experience in foreign policy, economic policy, on Capitol Hill and as First Lady.

Discussions about the next president of the World Bank would be a natural part of talks about who should replace Dominique Strauss-Kahn as head of the International Monetary Fund. The Frenchman resigned after being accused of sexually assaulting a hotel maid in New York.

The head of the IMF has always been a European and the World Bank presidency has always been held by an American, though this is now being challenged by some countries with emerging economies. The Obama administration is expected to back Christine Lagarde, the French Minister, for the IMF.

As Secretary of State, Mrs Clinton has been outspoken on global development issues, particularly the need to improve the economic circumstances of females in developing countries.

The World Bank provides billions of dollars in development funds to the poorest countries and is also at the centre of issues such as climate change, post-conflict reconstruction and transitions to democracy.