Monday 20th of August 2018

Gekaufte Journalisten...

udo
by ChrisG

 

 

What follows is an introduction for Anglophone readers of GEKAUFTE JOURNALISTEN (BOUGHT JOURNALISTS) by Udo Ulfkotte, in the absence from public view of the ‘official’ translation.

Alerted by James Tracy’s piece in Off-guardian.org on 8 January 2018, which mooted the apparent suppression by powerful background forces of an English translation of Udo Ulfkotte’s exposé of German media manipulation, I obtained a copy of the German version of Gekaufte Journalisten in order to check for myself whether this work is a credible critique which merits exposure outside Germany. (NOTE: a web link was given by one reader to an online version of the German text; but that text does not provide the 500 endnotes.)

Here, as a first pass, I present in English, first the complete Contents, and then a summary of the Foreword, with web links to some of the material cited by Ulfkotte. This is clearly fair dealing under copyright law. I have not seen the ‘official’ English translation, so clearly have not plagiarised it.

IS ACTIVE SUPPRESSION IN PLAY HERE?

An English translation of the full title of the work reads: Bought Journalists: how politicians, secret agencies and high finance steer Germany’s mass media. First published just over three years ago, it is still available from the publisher www.kopp-verlag.de. My copy shows the title went through four printings in the two months after publication in October 2014. It is flagged by the publisher as a ‘Spiegel bestseller’.

Is there a clear reason why a best-seller in German on a topic of deep concern to many Anglophone readers would not also sell well in an English edition?

Some commenters on the 8 January piece suggested that the English version is not being suppressed, but is maybe just out of print. Other commenters pointed out that pre-orders were cancelled with no explanation; and that the publisher has removed all mention of the translated version from its website.

There was a suggestion that since the German edition is still on sale, there is in fact no suppression: “it isn’t as if German is a secret code”. On that basis, we may assume that the world’s entire translation industry can just pack up and go home.

I believe there is a clear prima facie case that the English version is indeed being deliberately suppressed, even though many readers would welcome an English version. This article is therefore a first attempt to bring Ulfkotte’s research and views before the English reading public.

THE CONTENTS PAGE

FOREWORD
CHAPTER 1:Simulated press freedom: experiences with publishers

  • The truth – exclusively for journalists?
  • Purchased truths: on elite networks and secret agencies
  • How I was bribed by an oil concern
  • FAZ : a corrupt head lurks behind it
  • How journalists finance their villas in Tuscany
  • Well-bribed: the system of sleaze behind journalism prizes
  • Easy-going interviews: PR trips and tax fraud
  • Scurrilous drinking pals: glimpses of journalistic grunt-work
  • Nice racket: how advertising buyers are cheated
  • The spiral of silence: what does not appear in the papers
  • today, down tomorrow: executions by media

CHAPTER 2: Our media: coordinated, obedient and unwilling to do research

  • Thilo Sarrazin: a popular hero is condemned
  • Propaganda: the Balkan Prussians are coming
  • Verbal tricks of deception in politics and media
  • The loss of credibility

CHAPTER 3: Undercover truth: alpha-journalists aligned with the elites

  • Establish your own opinion
  • ‘Best man’ journalism: establish your own power
  • What makes Kai Diekmann tick?
  • Atlantic Bridge
  • In the stranglehold of the secret agencies
  • The names: controversial contacts
  • Embarrassing flattery
  • Undercover power: classic propaganda techniques
  • Bohnen and Kallmorgen2 : dubious PR professionals and reputable newspapers
  • Obama’s Trolls: the USA Fifth Column
  • The spirit of Rockefeller: the Trilateral Commission
  • In memory of FAZ-chief Schirrmacher – knight in shining armour in civic service
  • Buying contacts using big names? Nobility destroyed
  • Bilderberger power group: conspiracy theory or reality?

CHAPTER 4: Buy yourself a journalist – bribed coverage

  • Two thirds of journalists are bribable
  • Pleasing favours: how the media are tamed
  • Revealed: the perks
  • Brainwashing: claws in the head
  • Harmonising through the wallet – from journalist to welfare case
  • Non-party? The SPD media empire

CHAPTER 5: Exemplary cases from the propaganda front

  • The higher goal: amputate the German identity
  • Merkel’s fairytale hour –How the Federal Government lies to the people
  • Battle of Lies: the propaganda of Sabine Christiansen(TV ublic affairs presenter)1 and Ulrich Wickert
  • Detergent advertising as currency – the Mannstein agency
  • Democratic failure
  • Crime scene: the editorial suite – shadow side of the media world
  • What can be done

AFTERWORD
NOTES [These total 575]
INDEX OF PERSONS [Entries total roughly 500]

THE FOREWORD

In the 18-page Foreword, Ulfkotte sets out the impetus for his exposé: disgust at how his own journalistic career was facilitated by the kinds of pressures and inducements he writes about here. (For example, he was made an honorary citizen of Oklahoma, to the delight of his editors, who did not think to ask how that might colour his approach to US related topics.)

He begins by asking if the German media are all on drugs. How else could they have missed major stories like the bankruptcy of some EU states? Why did they not see the coming financial crash? Why did they help drum up wars based on lies in Iraq and Afghanistan? He concludes: it’s not drugs, but propaganda specialists hiding in the background, pushing agendas that benefit primarily the USA and Israel.

In support of this view he provides links to two interesting items: 

1) an article in the UK Independent by Patrick Cockburn (26 July 2014): “The secret report that helps Israel hide facts” which describes –

a professional, well-researched and confidential study on how to influence the media and public opinion in America and Europe. Written by the expert Republican pollster and political strategist Dr Frank Luntz, the study was commissioned five years ago by a group called The Israel Project, with offices in the US and Israel, for use by those ‘who are on the front lines of fighting the media war for Israel’

2) a CIA-authored paper published by Wikileaks: “Afghanistan: Sustaining West European Support for the NATO-led Mission—Why Counting on Apathy Might Not Be Enough”. Wikileaks introduces it:

This classified CIA analysis from March [2010] outlines possible PR-strategies to shore up public support in Germany and France for a continued war in Afghanistan. After the Dutch government fell on the issue of Dutch troops in Afghanistan last month, the CIA became worried that similar events could happen in the countries that post the third and fourth largest troop contingents to the ISAF-mission. The proposed PR strategies focus on pressure points that have been identified within these countries. For France it is the sympathy of the public for Afghan refugees and women. For Germany it is the fear of the consequences of defeat (drugs, more refugees, terrorism) as well as for Germany’s standing in the NATO. The memo is a recipe for the targeted manipulation of public opinion in two NATO ally countries, written by the CIA. It is classified as Confidential / No Foreign Nationals.

German media people and organisations, Ulfkotte says, far from treating lobbyists for the USA and Israel with suspicion, actually revel in these spider’s webs of influence, and are proud to be brought into membership of the most controversial circles.

In 2014 two very senior media figures, Jochen Bittner and Josef Joffe of Die Zeit, brought a legal action against a satirical TV programme which had publicised their controversial contacts with dubious networks. One media critic said of this: “For a flagship like Die Zeit, the suit brought by Joffe amounts to an open admission of journalistic failure.” [The suit was finally thrown out in January 2017.] Ulfkotte comments that it is not only from heavy hitters like Joffe that one must be on guard.

Suspicion of the media appears to be widely shared, Ulfkotte says. For example, Karl Albrecht, the multi-billionaire founder of the Aldi supermarket chain, never gave interviews, never joined elite clubs, refused to meet top politicians, and despised banks and finance houses. When he died in July 2014 the German media reported nothing of his life: just one photo.

ULFKOTTE’S METHOD

Until recently, Ulfkotte says, the concept of media manipulation belonged to the realm of conspiracy theory. Now it is bitter reality, and he will unmask in this book an elite network of lobbyists, though those unmasked will be unhappy. His method: first compile data on the incidence of individual names in major media outlets, then cross-refer these names to the official Bundestag index of lobbyists, and to the public-citizen initiative Lobbypedia.

In this way a secretive circle of elite organisations is brought to light. Certain journalists are revealed in fact to be only pretend-journalists, who only simulate objectivity and party neutrality. He asks: in attaining exclusive entry to powerful elite circles, does one not become too close to those who provide the access? Are journalists not thereby ‘corrupted’? Do they lose their bite, perhaps without realising it? 

He notes:

The journalists named in this book deny they have lost their bite through contact with elite networks, and/or that they have become ‘corrupted’.

But what then if the name of the journalist or organisation appears in the Wikileaks dump of secret US diplomatic cables? Quality German media pop up there again and again.

The book will make clear, declares Ulfkotte, that a whole army of apparently serious agents earn their pay by influencing German media to promote foreign interests, for example in “transatlantic friendship organisations”. The task of these is to restrain German political and media elites from developing a spiritual affinity with Russia, and to maintain a pro-US course. Washington’s clear goal in Europe is to foster a new Cold War, and it brings big resources to the task of manipulating opinion. 

Ulfkotte says he has proof that opinion survey agencies could call on funding from the US embassy in Berlin, if they undertook to falsify results in Washington’s interest.

A RANGE OF OPINION

How limited the range of opinion has become in the media is clearly shown, says Ulfkotte, by the way every title of the ‘quality’ press will run exactly the same photo on the front page on the same day, e.g. of the German Minister for War [sic!] visiting Afghanistan, or motherly Angela Merkel inspecting a restaurant kitchen in Beijing. (The tabloids, by contrast, may all lead with the death of a footballer.)

In addition, national media titles constantly offer reports and commentary that clearly conflict with the views of a large majority of the public. How strange, Ulfkotte quotes a media researcher, that for all kinds of products we are presented with a huge range of choices; but the newspaper industry more and more offers just one choice. It’s not the Internet, but the actions of the legacy media themselves, that have caused their catastrophic fall in sales. In one German media group, exactly the same article will appear in up to 18 different titles.

These phenomena can only be understood by observing how the ‘stream of information’ is channelled in the background. The sunlight-averse nexus of media, lobbyists and politics has remained too long unexposed. In the chapters that follow, the questions to be addressed are:

  1. Who is influenced by whom?
  2. Who bribes whom, and for what?
  3. How are we citizens manipulated by the media?

Ulfkotte asks why the public must pay a compulsory levy for a TV channel watched by only a tiny percentage of under-30s, put off by its manipulation in favour of the ruling party.

WARMONGERING

The price we pay, he says, is not just financial. There’s a blood price, for all the major media seek to stir up war, presenting us with a single enemy: Russia. 

Evil Russians, good Americans: a kind of psychological warfare (Psy-Op). That the media have largely replaced soldiers as a weapon of war is widely recognised; for example, once prestigious titles like FAZ often receive comments such as “inflammatory press” and “disgusting warmongers”.

The destruction of the Malaysian airplane MH-17 offers a good example, says Ulfkotte. The wreckage had hardly fallen to earth before an “opinion cartel” was vigorously pushing the “evil Russia did it” line, even as Washington itself was expressing reservations.

Why, asks Ulfkotte, do our leading media rush with such premature obedience into one-sided anxiety-making propaganda and disinformation, leading directly to warmongering? Scholars of the media have noted with growing alarm how German “quality” media have become spiritually captured by the EU, the armaments industry, NATO, and the USA.

The media castigate the public as cowardly for being unwilling to send more soldiers to Afghanistan. They hail “revolutions” in North Africa and the Middle East, which would bring peace and democracy if only we citizens would sing loudly enough along to the Washington songsheet. All we get in fact is ever more terror and hatred. Not to mention dead and seriously wounded soldiers.

Having done with MENA, our warmongers then without shame roar “War!” in Ukraine. Our media, as will be shown, thanks to their adherence to US lobbying groups, serve as the long arm of the NATO Press Office, the armaments industry, and a small clique of leading politicians.

The media remain silent about the disasters in the Middle East, because they are unable to explain to citizens why, for all their cheerleading articles, the promised peace and democracy haven’t materialised.

MEDIA BUBBLE

As Markus Wiegand, chief editor of Wirtschaftsjournalist [‘Economic Journalist’] puts it: 

The elite of the profession live in a bubble, where nobody hurts anyone else but gives a nice pat on the shoulder.

Ulfkotte cites his long experience as a correspondent in warzones. Germany would not send its young to fight in foreign wars if the media had not prepared the ground psychologically. The German public are being damaged by “friendly fire” from their own media.

A 2014 report by Human Rights Watch on the growing restrictions on journalism arising from covert surveillance measures in the western democracies was ignored by the German media closest to the US propaganda line. How would they have reacted if the report had been referring to Russia?

Ulfkotte says he hasn’t a clue what will happen once his book is published. He has named so many individuals and organisations, not to slander them or bring them into disrepute, but to serve the public interest, because their actions bring consequences that damage everyone.

Corrupt journalists, unlike corrupt politicians, cannot be prosecuted for manipulating or suppressing the truth. Ulfkotte approached several of those named for a statement. The responses came in the form of lawyer’s letters, threats of litigation, and hints of possible criminal prosecution. He then refrained from contacting major media organisations. After all, the afore-cited Wiegand has called the German media elite a “club of wimps”: when criticised, they start howling like old women.

Ulfkotte hopes his revelations (not least about his own past) will encourage readers to help bring about change. But how that change will turn out is hard to predict.

“In the shadow-zone of democracy,” writes Ulfkotte:

information is shaped by hidden hands in the opinion cartel. In the background: elite organisations close to the secret services. They are active in the world of ‘think tanks’ and foundations. Only upon recommendation is one admitted to this worthy Fifth Column of the powerful. Money can’t buy admittance. For plenty of money has been amassed as it is.

In conclusion, Ulfkotte asks: how can the reader be sure he’s telling the truth? 

Firstly because he names names, firms, times and places; he provides copious footnotes and sources. 

Secondly, he has received on many occasions an accolade given only to those who tell the truth: a thorough search of his residence by the authorities on suspicion of leaking secrets. Which never happens to liars such as those unmasked in the following pages.

NOTES:

1)The English wiki on Sabine is unhelpful. The fuller German Wiki notes that “Many commentators criticise above all the way she conducts her discussions and conversations. Instead of digging down, commenting critically on opinions and comparing opposing positions, she functions as nothing more than a purveyor of soundbites.”
2)PR professionals. Scroll down to ‘Mitgleider’ (Members): https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantische_InitiativeThe English Wiki page does not include membership: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_Community
 .

 

Read more:

https://off-guardian.org/2018/01/19/bought-journalists-an-introduction-t...

 

See also : http://www.yourdemocracy.net.au/drupal/node/964

berlin station...

The story follows Daniel Miller (Richard Armitage), who has just arrived at the CIA foreign station in Berlin, Germany. In season 1, Miller has a clandestine mission: to uncover the source of a leak who has supplied information to a now-famous whistleblower named Thomas Shaw. Guided by veteran Hector DeJean (Rhys Ifans), Daniel learns to contend with the rough-and-tumble world of the field agent: agent-running, deception, and the dangers and moral compromises. In season 2, four months after Miller was shot at the end of season 1, he recovered from his injuries sufficiently to be given a new clandestine assignment: to infiltrate a far-right German political party believed to be planning an act of terror right before an upcoming election.

See more:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berlin_Station_(TV_series)

 

see also: 

https://search.wikileaks.org/?q=Udo+Ulfkotte

 

In Australia and around the world, journalists are picked for their point of views. For example those working for the Murdoch media will have rightwing and anti global warming views. Those working for Soros will not expose US malevolence of the Democrats despite being on the "left". Trump will be fair game and fake news will be spread like butter...

declassified...

I am about to publish on this site hundreds of UK declassified documents and articles on British foreign policy towards various countries. This will be the first time such a collection has been brought together online.

The declassified documents, mainly from the UK’s National Archives, reveal British policy-makers actual concerns and priorities from the 1940s until the present day, from the ‘horse’s mouth’, as it were: these files are often revelatory and provide an antidote to the often misleading and false mainstream media (and academic) coverage of Britain’s past and present foreign policies.

The documents include my collections of files, accumulated over many years and used as a basis for several books, on episodes such as the UK’s covert war in Yemen in the 1960s, the UK’s support for the Pinochet coup in Chile, the UK’s ‘constitutional coup’ in Guyana, the covert wars in Indonesia in the 1950s, the UK’s backing for wars against the Iraqi Kurds in the 1960s, the coup in Oman in 1970, support for the Idi Amin takeover in Uganda and many others policies since 1945.

But the collection also brings together many other declassified documents by listing dozens of media articles that have been written on the release of declassified files over the years. It also points to some US document releases from the US National Security Archive.

This collection is a beginning. It provides a snapshot only of the true history of British foreign policy since 1945. There are many more tasks that need to be done.

One is that many other declassified documents and articles that are online somewhere need to be added, including those from the Thatcher era in the 1980s and those from more recent policies, for example from the Wikileaks site.

Another task is to include present-day material gathered from Freedom of Information requests.Eventually, I would like this project to be systematically submitting FOI requests to garner more information about current UK policies (which currently few are doing).

Furthermore, there is much more research that needs to be done physically at the National Archives in London to uncover more episodes in UK foreign policy: the media, and mainstream academia, has covered only a snapshot of what is already available at the National Archives.

I have a request to potential funders and voluntary researchers. My aim is to eventually build a fully comprehensive and searchable collection of declassified British documents and articles that shows the reality of the UK’s role in the world, that is useful for everyone, the general public and researchers alike. For this, I am seeking funding and support from those who are interested in this project. I am also seeking volunteers to help me in this further research. Please contact me by email at: mark@markcurtis.info

Please share this, visit Marks website and do everything you can to support his initiative

 

read all:

https://off-guardian.org/2018/01/20/mark-curtis-launches-declassified/

the conflicts of facts...

I am not alone in tiring of the media's obsession with conflict; I hear it from the public wherever I go.

We are far too guilty of framing debate around contending points of ignorance and encouraging the opposing sides to yell.

From morning to night our airwaves, screens and pages are dominated by a parade of politicians repeating partisan talking points who cannot give a 30-second answer without denigrating their opponents.

We fill the media space with pundits who tell us what they think rather than what they know.

There are admirable exceptions, and a vigorous media is essential as a peaceful clearing house of ideas.

But audiences are turning off or retreating into online echo chambers. It is not healthy for democracy.

Tonight, I begin hosting a new program, Matter of Fact.

It is too easy to over-promise and under-deliver, but I will promise this: expertise will matter, we will try to find common ground, and where disagreement exists — as it should — we will encourage rational, polite debate.

Matter of Fact will be about big minds discussing big ideas: smarter not angrier. George Monbiot is among our first guests.

 

Read more:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-01-29/stan-grant-media-is-obsessed-with-...

 

I hope that YD is more than an online echo chamber.    

We strive to present a better educated viewpoint and make sure anger matters in the fight against hypocrisy, dumb choices and deception. 

journos without borders...

 

Director of the famous documentary Confessions of an Economic Hitman and current member of the European Parliament, Stelios Kouloglou, spoke to Sputnik about the "decline of the US democracy" and how his journalistic work on political injustice, terrorism and whistleblowers has angered the American government so much, he got banned from entering the US with no clear explanation.

...

My documentary — the Oligarchy — talks about the capture of politicians by big corporations and how financial interests control freedom of information. Big corporations are not interested in freedom of information and press. 

They consider them as a dangerous enemy. The country of oligarchs is the United States.

Countries are not businesses and running one like a business means you can fire people you don't like. People who don't bring profit can be abandoned and this is what is actually happening in the US. They are throwing people who don't have insurance in the streets.

 

Read more:

https://sputniknews.com/analysis/201802121061164493-us-ban-film-director...

 

 

 

Read from top.

a "good laugh"...

Editors of Titanic, a German monthly satirical magazine with a circulation of approximately 100,000, found it odd and amusing that the German media, including the top-selling Bild daily, for some reason hesitated to blame Russia for meddling in their country’s political process too. Capitalizing on the global ‘Russian meddling’ hysteria, they devised a ‘spy movie’ plot, a storyline that would feature a Russian ‘troll factory’ using social media bots to target German politicians.

“There were no rumors of Russian meddling and we thought – 'this cannot be' – we have to make an alliance with the Bild tabloid and push a story of Russian meddling. And as we see now, it works perfectly,” Moritz Hürtgen, editor of Titanic, told RT.

Applying all their creativity, they forged a chain of fake emails resembling an exchange between Kevin Kuehnert, head of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) youth wing Jusos (and a prominent critic of the new coalition government with Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc), and a shadowy Russian bot master by the name of “Juri.” The fake material was then fed to Bild.

“What we did was we came up with a story that was tacky and like in a spy movie. And we had a good feeling that this would work especially with Bild as they already ran a campaign against the SPD, the Social Democratic Party which Kevin Kuhnert is a part of,” Hürtgen recalled. “Our intent was to spin this story further.”

Bild apparently thought that they had finally got some hard proof of Russian meddling in the German elections, something which no newspaper, nor any of the Western intelligence agencies, had been able to uncover. Without double-checking the sources, Bild jumped on the material, publishing the “New smear campaign inside the SPD” article last Friday.

 

Read more:

https://www.rt.com/news/419510-bild-fake-russia-emails-spd/

 

Read from top...

of warmongering corporate journos...

UK corporate media are under a curious kind of military occupation. Almost all print and broadcast media now employ a number of reporters and commentators who are relentless and determined warmongers. Despite the long, unarguable history of US-UK lying on war, and the catastrophic results, these journalists instantly confirm the veracity of atrocity claims made against Official Enemies, while having little or nothing to say about the proven crimes of the US, UK, Israel and their allies. They shriek with a level of moral outrage from which their own government is forever spared. They laud even the most obviously biased, tinpot sources blaming the ‘Enemy’, while dismissing out of hand the best scientific researchers, investigative journalists and academic sceptics who disagree.

Anyone who challenges this strange bias is branded a ‘denier’, ‘pro-Saddam’, ‘pro-Gaddafi, ‘pro-Assad’. Above all, one robotically repeated word is generated again and again: ‘Apologist… Apologist… Apologist’.

Claims of a chemical weapons attack on Douma, Syria on April 7, offered yet another textbook example of this reflexive warmongering. Remarkably, the alleged attack came just days after US president Donald Trump had declared of Syria:

‘I want to get out. I want to bring our troops back home. I want to start rebuilding our nation.’

The ‘mainstream’ responded as one, with instant certainty, exactly as they had in response to atrocity and other casus belli claims in HoulaGhoutaKhan Sheikhoun and many other cases in Iraq (1990), Iraq (1998), Iraq (2002-2003), Libya and Kosovo.

Once again, the Guardian editors were sure: there was no question of a repetition of the fake justifications for war to secure non-existent Iraqi WMDs, or to prevent a fictional Libyan massacre in Benghazi. Instead, this was ‘a chemical gas attack, orchestrated by Bashar al-Assad, that left dead children foaming at the mouth’.

Simon Tisdall, the Guardian’s assistant editor, had clearly decided that enough was enough:

‘It’s time for Britain and its allies to take concerted, sustained military action to curb Bashar al-Assad’s ability to murder Syria’s citizens at will.’

This sounded like more than another cruise missile strike. But presumably Tisdall meant something cautious and restrained to avoid the terrifying risk of nuclear confrontation with Russia:

‘It means destroying Assad’s combat planes, bombers, helicopters and ground facilities from the air. It means challenging Assad’s and Russia’s control of Syrian airspace. It means taking out Iranian military bases and batteries in Syria if they are used to prosecute the war.’

But surely after Iraq – when UN weapons inspectors under Hans Blix were prevented from completing the work that would have shown that Saddam Hussein possessed no WMD – ‘we’ should wait for the intergovernmental Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons inspectors to investigate. After all, as journalist Peter Oborne noted of Trump’s air raids:

‘When the bombing started the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was actually in Damascus and preparing to travel to the area where the alleged chemical attacks took place.’

Oborne added:

‘Had we wanted independent verification on this occasion in Syria surely we ourselves would have demanded the OPCW send a mission to Douma. Yet we conspicuously omitted to ask for it.’

Tisdall was having none of it:

‘Calls to wait for yet another UN investigation amount to irresponsible obfuscation. Only the Syrian regime and its Russian backers have the assets and the motivation to launch such merciless attacks on civilian targets. Or did all those writhing children imagine the gas?’

The idea that only Assad and the Russians had ‘the motivation’ to launch a gas attack simply defied all common sense. And, as we will see, it was not certain that children had been filmed ‘writhing’ under gas attack. Tisdall’s pro-war position was supported by just 22% of British people.

Equally gung-ho, the oligarch-owned Evening Standard, edited by veteran newspaperman and politically impartial former Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, headlined this plea on the front page:

‘HIT SYRIA WITHOUT A VOTE, MAY URGED’

Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland, formerly the paper’s comment editor, also poured scorn on the need for further evidence:

‘Besides, how much evidence do we need?… To all but the most committed denialists and conspiracists, Assad’s guilt is clear.’

Freedland could argue that the case for blaming Assad was clear, if he liked, but he absolutely could not argue that disagreeing was a sign of denialist delusion.

Time and again, we encounter these jaw-dropping efforts to browbeat the reader with fake certainty and selective moral outrage. In his piece, Freedland linked to the widely broadcast social media video footage from a hospital in Douma, which showed that Assad was guilty of ‘inflicting a death so painful the footage is unbearable to watch’. But when we actually click Freedland’s link and watch the video, we do not see anyone dying, let alone in agony, and the video is not in fact unbearable to watch. Like Tisdall’s claim on motivation, Freedland was simply declaring that black is white.

But many people are so intimidated by this cocktail of certainty and indignation – by the fear that they will be shamed as ‘denialists’ and ‘apologists’ – that they doubt the evidence of their own eyes. In ‘mainstream’ journalism, expressions of moral outrage are offered as evidence of a fiery conviction burning within. In reality, the shrieks are mostly hot air.

In the Observer, Andrew Rawnsley also deceived in plain sight by blaming the Syrian catastrophe on Western inaction:

‘Syria has paid a terrible price for the west’s disastrous policy of doing nothing’.

However terrible media reporting on the 2003 Iraq war, commentators did at least recognise that the US and Britain were involved. We wrote to Rawnsley, asking how he could possibly not know about the CIA’s billion dollar per annum campaign to train and arm fighters, or about the 15,000 high-tech, US anti-tank missiles sent to Syrian ‘rebels’ via Saudi Arabia.

Rawnsley ignored us, as ever.

Just three days after the alleged attack, the Guardian’s George Monbiot was asked about Douma:

‘Don’t you smell a set up here though? Craig Murray doesn’t think Assad did it.’

Monbiot replied:

‘Then he’s a fool.’

Craig Murray responded rather more graciously:

‘I continue to attract attacks from the “respectable” corporate and state media. I shared a platform with Monbiot once, and liked him. They plainly find the spirit of intellectual inquiry to be a personal affront.’

Monbiot tweeted back:

‘I’m sorry Craig but, while you have done excellent work on some issues, your efforts to exonerate Russia and Syria of a long list of crimes, despite the weight of evidence, are foolish in the extreme.’

The idea that Murray’s effort has been ‘to exonerate Russia and Syria of a long list of crimes’ is again so completely false, so obviously not what Murray has been doing. But it fits perfectly with the corporate media theme of Cold War-style browbeating: anyone challenging the case for US-UK policy on Syria is an ‘apologist’ for ‘the enemy’.

If Britain was facing imminent invasion across the channel from some malignant superpower, or was on the brink of nuclear annihilation, the term ‘apologist’ might have some merit as an emotive term attacking free speech – understandable in the circumstances. But Syria is not at war with Britain; it offers no threat whatsoever. If challenging evidence of Assad’s responsibility is ‘apologism’, then why can we not describe people accepting that evidence as ‘Trump apologists’, or ‘May apologists’, or ‘Jaysh al-Islam apologists’? The term really means little more than, ‘I disagree with you’ – a much more reasonable formulation.

As Jonathan Cook has previously commented:

‘Monbiot has repeatedly denied that he wants a military attack on Syria. But if he then weakly accepts whatever narratives are crafted by those who do – and refuses to subject them to any meaningful scrutiny – he is decisively helping to promote such an attack.’

Why Are These Academics Allowed?

The cynical, apologetic absurdity of questioning the official narrative has been a theme across the corporate media. In a Sky News discussion, Piers Robinson of Sheffield University urged caution in blaming the Syrian government in the absence of verifiable evidence. In a remarkable response, Alan Mendoza, Executive Director of the Henry Jackson Society, screeched at him:

‘Who do you think did it? Was it your mother who did it?’

Again, exact truth reversal – given the lack of credible, verified evidence, it was absurd to declare Robinson’s scepticism absurd.

Mendoza later linked to an article attacking Robinson, and asked:

‘Why are UK universities allowing such “academics” – and I use the term advisedly because they are not adhering to any recognised standard when promoting material with no credible sourcing, and often with no citation at all – to work in their institutions?’

In 2011, Mendoza wrote in The Times of Nato’s ‘intervention’ in Libya:

‘The action in Libya is a sign that the world has overcome the false lessons [sic] of Iraq or of “realism” in foreign policy.’

The UN had ‘endorsed military action to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe unfolding’.

In fact, the unfolding ‘humanitarian catastrophe’ was fake news; Mendoza’s mother needed no alibi. A September 9, 2016 report on the war from the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons commented:

‘Despite his rhetoric, the proposition that Muammar Gaddafi would have ordered the massacre of civilians in Benghazi was not supported by the available evidence…’.

The Times launched a shameful, front-page attack on Robinson and other academics who are not willing to accept US-UK government claims on trust. The Times cited Professor Scott Lucas of Birmingham University:

‘Clearly we can all disagree about the war in Syria, but to deny an event like a chemical attack even occurred, by claiming they were “staged”, is to fall into an Orwellian world.’

In similar vein, in a second Guardian comment piece on Douma, Jonathan Freedland lamented: ‘we are now in an era when the argument is no longer over our response to events, but the very existence of those events’. Echoing Soviet propaganda under Stalin, Freedland warned that this was indicative of an intellectual and moral sickness:

‘These are symptoms of a post-truth disease that’s come to be known as “tribal epistemology”, in which the truth or falsity of a statement depends on whether the person making it is deemed one of us or one of them.’

And this was, once again, truth reversal – given recent history in Iraq and Libya, it was Lucas and Freedland who were falling into an Orwellian fantasy world. Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens made the obvious point:

‘Given the folly of the British government over Iraq and Libya, and its undoubted misleading of the public over Iraq, it is perfectly reasonable to suspect it of doing the same thing again. Some of us also do not forget the blatant lying over Suez, and indeed the Gulf of Tonkin’

Hitchens clearly shares our concern at media performance, particularly that of the Guardian, commenting:

‘Has Invasion of the Bodysnatchers been re-enacted at Guardian HQ? Whatever the dear old thing’s faults it was never a Pentagon patsy until recently. Rumours of relaunch as The Warmonger’s Gazette, free toy soldier with every issue.’

Hitchens questioned Guardian certainty on Douma:

‘But if facts are sacred, how can the Guardian be so sure, given that it is relying on a report from one correspondent 70 miles away, and another one 900 miles away.. and some anonymous quotes from people whose stories it has no way of checking?’

He added:

‘The behaviour of The Guardian is very strange & illustrates just what a deep, poorly-understood change in our politics took place during the Blair years. We now have the curious spectacle of the liberal warmonger, banging his or her jingo fist on the table, demanding airstrikes.’

Indeed, in discussing the prospects for ‘intervention’ in the Guardian, Gaby Hinsliff, former political editor of the Observer, described the 2013 vote that prevented Britain from bombing Syria in August 2013 as ‘that shameful night in 2013’. Shameful? After previous ‘interventions’ had completely wrecked Iraq and Libya on false pretexts, and after the US regime had been told the evidence was no ‘slam dunk’ by military advisers?

In the New Statesman, Paul Mason offered a typically nonsensical argument, linking to the anti-Assad website, Bellingcat:

‘Despite the availability of public sources showing it is likely that a regime Mi-8 helicopter dropped a gas container onto a specific building, there are well-meaning people prepared to share the opinion that this was a “false flag”, staged by jihadis, to pull the West into the war. The fact that so many people are prepared to clutch at false flag theories is, for Western democracies, a sign of how effective Vladimir Putin’s global strategy has been.’

Thus, echoing Freedland’s reference to ‘denialists and conspiracists’, sceptics can only be idiot victims of Putin’s propaganda. US media analyst Adam Johnson of FAIR accurately described Mason’s piece as a ‘mess’, adding:

‘I love this thing where nominal leftists run the propaganda ball for bombing a country 99 yards then stop at the one yard and insist they don’t support scoring goals, that they in fact oppose war.’

Surprisingly, the Bellingcat website, which publishes the findings of ‘citizen journalist’ investigations, appears to be taken seriously by some very high-profile progressives.

In the Independent, Green Party leader Caroline Lucas also mentioned the Syrian army ‘Mi-8’ helicopters. Why? Because she had read the same Bellingcat blog as Mason, to which she linked:

‘From the evidence we’ve seen so far it appears that the latest chemical attack was likely by Mi-8 helicopters, probably from the forces of Syria’s murderous President Assad.’

On Democracy Now!, journalist Glenn Greenwald said of Douma:

‘I think that it’s—the evidence is quite overwhelming that the perpetrators of this chemical weapons attack, as well as previous ones, is the Assad government…’

This was an astonishing comment. After receiving fierce challenges (not from us), Greenwald partially retracted, tweeting:

‘It’s live TV. Something [sic – sometimes] you say things less than ideally. I think the most likely perpetrator of this attack is Syrian Govt.’

We wrote to Greenwald asking what had persuaded him of Assad’s ‘likely’ responsibility for Douma. (Twitter, April 10, direct message)

The first piece of evidence he sent us (April 12) was the Bellingcat blog mentioning Syrian government helicopters cited by Mason and Lucas. Greenwald also sent us a report from Reuters, as well as a piece from 2017, obviously prior to the alleged Douma event.

This was thin evidence indeed for the claim made. In our discussion with him, Greenwald then completely retracted his claim (Twitter, April 12, direct message) that there was evidence of Syrian government involvement in the alleged attack. Yes, it’s true that people ‘say things less than ideally’ on TV, but to move from ‘quite overwhelming’ to ‘likely’, to declaring mistaken the claim that there is evidence of Assad involvement, was bizarre.

Political analyst Ben Norton noted on Twitter:

‘Reminder that Bellingcat is funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which is funded by the US government and is a notorious vehicle for US soft power’

Norton added: ‘It acts like an unofficial NATO propagandist, obsessively focusing on Western enemies.’

And:

‘Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins is a fellow at the Atlantic Council, which is funded by NATO, US, Saudi, UAE, etc.

And:

‘According to Meedan, which helps fund Bellingcat — along with the US government-funded NED — Bellingcat also works with the group Syrian Archive, which is funded by the German government, to jointly produce pro-opposition “research”‘

And:

‘The board of the directors for Meedan, which funds Bellingcat, includes Muna AbuSulayman—who led the Saudi oligarch’s Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation—and Wael Fakharany—who was the regional director of Google in Egypt & North Africa (US gov. contractor Google also funds Bellingcat)’

And:

‘Bellingcat—which gets money from the US gov-funded NED and fixates obsessively on Western enemies—claims to be nonpartisan and impartial, committed to exposing all sides, but a website search shows it hasn’t published anything on Yemen since February 2017.’

Although Bellingcat is widely referenced by corporate journalists, we are unaware of any ‘mainstream’ outlet that has seriously investigated the significance of these issues for the organisation’s credibility as a source of impartial information. As we will see in Part 2, corporate journalism is very much more interested in challenging the credibility of journalists and academics holding power to account.

 

Read more:

https://off-guardian.org/2018/04/27/douma-part-1-deception-in-plain-sigh...

 

Read from top.

good question...

Depending on who you believe, 11-year-old Hassan Diab is the victim of a chemical gas attack ordered by Bashar al-Assad's brutal regime, or: he's an unwitting pawn in a fabrication by rebel forces who deliberately staged the attack as a "provocation".

Either way, the Syrian boy has become the face of a broader story about war propaganda: initially portrayed by the West as a victim, he's since become the face of Russia's claims that the chemical attack was a fiction.

Hassan is the boy filmed at a hospital in Douma late on April 7, with apparent symptoms from being gassed with chlorine or the nerve agent sarin.

He is seen rubbing his eyes as he stands alongside other patients, who appear distressed, unconscious or seriously ill.

Syrian opposition groups, including the White Helmets, told Western media that scores of people died in the attack — many in the basement of an apartment building.

But Russia and Syria have gone to extraordinary lengths to try to prove the chemical attack never happened, and that photos and video posted online were deliberately staged.

Read more:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-28/hassan-becomes-face-of-information...

 

To the ABC and other MMMMMMMMM (manufactured megalomaniac mediocre malicious malignant mass media de mierda), should this lovely child have been gassed, he would wear some marks typical of soldiers having been gassed during WWI — even having been blinded, despite having been washed "in water". He would have real blisters, real injuries which cannot be faked by the make-up department, once under "real observation". Second why would this child lie about having been part of a "set-up" when he most likely will be suffering from permanent damage internally for the rest of his life?

Okay? bugger orf. It's not depending on who to believe... It was a set-up.