Sunday, July 15, 2007
Editor, David Edwards
Media Lens: a very British Gatekeeper?
Medialens is a British website which aspires to view the British mainstream media with a critical eye and to monitor its output, "correcting for the distorted vision of the corporate media," it claims.
For years now it has had a running exchange with the BBC about its heavily biased reporting, particularly on the issues of Iraq and Afghanistan.
From time to time, I have quoted Medialens on my blog and though I have no time for its editors, Messrs Cromwell and Edwards, the two Davids, with whom I have had differences, I have continued to support Medialens for its criticism of the Iraq war, its backing of Chávez and the South American revolution and its exposés of the blatantly propagandistic reportage of the BBC and other TV channels.
Over the last few days, Medialens and its subscribers have had a tremendous opportunity to launch an aggressive critique of the BBC over the recent nonsense of it's having to apologise to the Queen on reporting what to you and me was a pretty inconsequential matter (see article below). While the incident itself was a storm in a teacup the statements that have come out of the BBC and others, reported verbatim in my article, were certainly worthy of comment from Medialens and its subscribers.
The BBC's Head of News, Helen Boaden, a popular hate-figure of Medialens and its subscribers, has called for an in-house enquiry on earlier instances, going back to January 2005, where her staff feel that the BBC acted deceitfully. Ex-BBC Chairman and the present Chief Executive of Independent TV, Michael Grade, was widely reported as condemning recent practises by broadcasters and laying it on the line: the golden, cardinal rule, says Grade, is you don't deceive the listeners.
Too right, Michael. Any comments from Medialens, so far? Nope.
I was able to report verbatim the BBC's stramash in yesterday's article because I make a habit of recording the major newscasts of the day and monitoring them for exactly this kind of thing. I was myself once a Medialens contributor but the Editors seemed to have disapproved of my outspoken language, considered it bad for their image, and banned me twice.
My personal feeling is that they acted intolerantly and in an extremely heavy-handed manner. Far from the intemperate language I was accused of their real motive was always that of preserving, however falsely, an image of western Buddhist tolerance and non-violence. But the ends justified un-Buddhist means and, in order to maintain their public façade, they soon made me into a non-person. To this day, I remain 'radioactive' on their Message Board.
I knew that this tyranny would only get worse. Though tempted to retaliate on my blog and not to encourager les autres, I decided that there were more important issues to deal with and desisted. But I continued to keep an eye on their Message Board to see how others might be treated by these tyrants.
It wasn't surprising, therefore, to see that others too are being banned from their Message Board on the editors' whims. It seems that some good folk on the Board have now got so desperate that they are calling for a more democratic structure to replace the current regime of bullying.
Lost in their petty intrigues, the Editors of Medialens missed an excellent opportunity by not commenting on the recent BBC ruckus. More importantly, on Ms Boaden's decision to hold an in-house enquiry and on the significance of Michael Grade's comments. If I were still on their Message Board, it goes without saying I would have pointed this out. But I have no intention of creeping back in there under yet another pseudonym, only to experience the same sense of frustration and despair with what is, in the real world, nothing more than a talking-club of self-deluded, Oxbridge intellectuals.
Though I expect their intentions were honourable in first setting up such a media monitor, it is clear that it has never been more than a two-man operation with its subscribers giving it the semblance of appearing an open forum for discussion.
It is not.
The Medialens Message Board has its own peculiar tribalisms and a clear intolerance towards anything it might find to be politically incorrect. It is, sadly, more concerned with image and political expediencies than getting its hands dirty in the real world. In the USA, the owners of such an organisation would soon find themselves denounced as gate-keepers, i.e. a group deliberately set up to control and defuse controversies.
That is, in effect, what Medialens has become. However honourable were their early intentions, it is now a gate-keeper. And, in the case of 911, it has been not just a gate-keeper but, deciding the issue to be un-pc, has banned all discussion from its Message Boards.
How can anyone be expected to take such a group seriously when complacency and a pretentious tyranny are the order of the day?
There is a desperate need for groups who are committed to monitoring the lies of the mainstream media and attacking it when necessary. For, make no mistake about it, we are in the midst of a propaganda war in the West. A war which is an extension of the hot war being fought abroad by the same imperialists whose media-war we face daily at home.
If the editors of Medialens can't stand the heat then they should do the honest thing, admit to their subscribers that they've lost the plot and allow their subscribers the freedom to democratise and revamp Medialens.
If they cannnot countenance such humility, then they should shut shop. To continue as they are doing at present may pander to the egos of Messers Cromwell, Edwards and their apologists but, for the rest of us, Medialens is a deception which betrays all it supposedly stands for.