Nothing reveals bias in the media quite like conformity of opinion. When the journalists that constitute the “free press” all parrot the same or similar lines, the mask slips to reveal the shared assumptions underlying corporate journalism.
Assumption #1. The left is to blame.
Assumption #2. Even when the left is proven right, and was warning of something all along (while centrists and the right were profiting from it), the left is to blame
Assumption #3. Even when the issue in question has NOTHING TO DO with the left, the left is to blame.
It started, as it so often does, with Greta Thunberg…
The Weak West
On the day Russia invaded Ukraine, Greta Thunberg began trending on Twitter. Why? Apparently, the first instinct of a slew of right-wingers was to blame Thunberg’s pursuit of green energy for making Europe dependent on Russian oil and gas. That’s right, Thunberg, whose guidance, if followed, would have seen Putin’s primary strategic advantage – the energy stranglehold he has on Europe – rendered irrelevant, drew fire.
Okay, we all know Fox News are crazy. What about respected UK commentators like, um, former Conservative MEP, President of the Initiative for Free Trade and House of Lords Appointee Lord Daniel Hannan of Kingsclere?
Hannan, as recently as February 16th, declared on Conservative Home that “Vladimir Putin has won. He has placed himself at the centre of world affairs, strengthened his alliance with China, cowed his neighbours and solidified his domestic support.”
In the same article, Hannan declared that “best of all, (Putin) has shown the West to be dithering, divided and drippy…”
Given the turn of events on February 24th, with Russia initiating a full scale attack on Ukraine, some quiet self-reflection may have been in order for Lord Hannan. Not a bit of it. In The Telegraph he questioned the “smug sense of security that has soothed us these past three decades? Confident of the West’s hegemony, we have indulged ourselves in arguments about identity politics, gender fluidity and climate change. Even as Russian T80s ground across Ukraine’s sleet-flecked steppes, our embassies around the world were lecturing less enlightened peoples about the importance of COP26 and LGBT+ rights.”
Daniel, of course, has the honour of belonging to a political party that have raked in up to two millions pounds in “oligarch” donations and welcomed a deluge of Russian money to “Londongrad”. Lubov Chernukhin, the wife of Putin’s former deputy finance minister, apparently paid £160,000 to play tennis with Boris Johnson and David Cameron and £135,000 for a night out with Theresa May. Not a good look? Judge from the below picture, featuring May and current Foreign Secretary Liz Truss with Chernukhin…
Hannan, perhaps, has reasons to point the finger elsewhere. What’s the excuse of GB News rent-a-gob Darren Grimes?
Note the date – within a day of the invasion of Ukraine. The first impulse of Grimes and co., confronted with an authoritarian oligarch (Putin is reputedly the richest man in the world) initiating a major European war, was to turn their fire on LGBT and climate change activists!
Here’s his GB News colleague, Colin Brazier, joining in:
Note that Brazier quotes Douglas Murray. That’s Douglas Murray, associate editor of the Spectator and a columnist in the Sun and New York Post.
Laurence Fox, regular GB News commentator and one-time BBC Question Time guest, chipped in:
Again, note the date – the day of the invasion. There is, evidently, a direct correlation in Laurence’s head between Putin’s political power play and “critical race theory”.
Paul Embery, a writer for UnHerd, somewhat ironically, followed the growing herd of avowedly independent minds:
That’s Julia Hartley-Brewer of TalkRadio (formerly of The Guardian, Evening Standard and The Express) retweeting him, by the way.
“We are so lost,” added Embery in a follow-up tweet.
The Centre-Left Step Up
Those who follow the British media will be unsurprised by the “anti-woke” orthodoxy of the above figures, but what of the mainstream UK left? Surely they wouldn’t be lamenting Western “weakness” and throwing peace activists under the bus.
Step forward Andrew Rawnsley:
“This must be the end of the lazy assumption that security and freedom can be taken for granted in the west,” Rawnsley raged, unable to avoid the obligatory Guardian jibe at Jeremy Corbyn: “Moscow has also received succour from hard leftists in the west… Labour now has a leader who can be trusted to take the right stand, but that can’t obscure the fact that Mr Corbyn was its candidate for prime minister at two elections.”
What stand has Labour’s new leader taken? Keir Starmer claimed, in the build-up to the war (writing for The Guardian, no less), that “the likes of the Stop the War coalition are not benign voices for peace. At best they are naïve; at worst they actively give succour to authoritarian leaders who directly threaten democracies.”
An interesting approach for the Labour leader to take. As Boris Johnson blundered and Liz Truss accidentally revealed she didn’t know the difference between the Baltic Sea and Black Sea, Keir Starmer, leader of the opposition…turned his fire on Jeremy Corbyn and other anti-war activists in his own party.
Who opposed the Iraq War, as he did. Who he shared a shadow cabinet with for five years.
Even Laura Kuennsberg noted that it was “hard to find any public record of (Starmer) supporting the (NATO) alliance” whose intentions Corbyn and co. questioned in the Stop the War statement Sir Keir objected to.
Sir Keir tweeted the above on the day of the Russian invasion. Who did he have in mind, his “unofficial adviser” Peter Mandelson?
Or his apparent guiding light, as he moves Labour ever further to the right, Tony Blair?
No. It was the left. One of the signatories of the Stop the War statement on Ukraine, MP Zarah Sultana, received a death threat that called her “Putin’s whore” and was in no doubt as to where the blame lay:
We note the media outcry when Keir Starmer was abused following disinformation from Boris Johnson (the Jimmy Saville affair). We cannot note the media outcry blaming Starmer and corporate journalists for the death threat Zarah Sultana faced – because there wasn’t one.
We could go on. We could, for example, note Sun journalist Kate Ferguson calling Labour MP (and former soldier) Clive Lewis naïve for “calling for a “negotiated settlement” with Russia not a “military escalation””. We could cut and paste the below article showing Corbyn’s own MPs distancing themselves from his attempt to highlight the Russian money pouring into Conservative coffers in 2018.
Truth isn’t just the first victim of war, it’s the first victim of the corporate media.
So what is the truth?
The truth is that Jeremy Corbyn, Zarah Sultana, Greta Thunberg and environmental, LGBT and anti-war activists everywhere are not Putin stooges. Why would they be? Vladimir Putin stands for everything they oppose – fossil fuel profiteering, minority group oppression and military aggression.
What the historical record does show is that Blairite centrists and money-hungry Tories have, in contrast, been only too happy to deal with Putin and associated oligarchs. These very same oligarchs were, let’s not forget, in part created by the West’s neoliberal desire to feed on Soviet resources following the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Now, when their “realpolitik” comes back to bite them, those same figures pin the blame on the “naïve idealists” on the left who called for clean money in politics and the end of our reliance on fossil fuels.
It’s beyond an inversion of the truth. It’s a war on the truth.
***In weary anticipation of predictable slurs, the author of this piece notes that it is possible to both oppose oppressive, warmongering Putin AND question the actions of NATO. Anyone who thinks the two cannot go hand in hand – that any questioning of the West is Putin-supporting treason – is invited to submit their CV to the corporate media outlet of their choice.
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