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.


  1. Bill Bowles, author of that excellent site, INVESTIGATING NEW IMPERIALISM, has already responded to my publishing the above article.

    I trust he will not object to my publishing it here with my reply:

    BILL: "I seem to remember a time when you accused me of the self-same thing Rory. Look, we're fragmented enough as it is without this kind of thing.

    Everybody's got 'problems' with just about everything we do or don't do and it's not constructive to deal with it by accusing ML of being a 'gatekeeper', it's just a cheap slur, akin to red-baiting language used by our REAL enemies.

    As to who gets to contribute to ML's site, well that's up to them.

    Personally, people can say whatever they want, I neither moderate nor delete stuff from any comments left on my site, no matter how inane, but that's my choice.

    It's too late now of course to do anything about your relationship with ML, which is a shame and a lost opportunity to contribute to a debate on whatever, but I think slagging off ML is counter-productive and moreover, credits them with a lot more authority than they actually possess. It's time to stop dealing with each other as if we're the enemy!

    I offer these observations in a comradely spirit, Bill."

    MY REPLY: "It's very kind of you to reply and I hear what you say. Perhaps I have a problem with the more genteel approach of the British Left.

    On the Net, I was weaned on the more abrasive style of the USA and go for the jugular when the opportunity is there. Yes, I do recall saying that to you at a time when no one on the British Left appeared prepared to give publicity to the imminent threat of a US attack on Iran (most likely using nuclear weapons). In your case, I wanted to provoke you.

    Although Messrs Cromwell and Edwards treated me very roughly and I was tempted to hit back at them, I didn't. There were many other things that needed attacking.

    Attacking? Yes, I see myself in a war with capital, with not a moment to lose. We, on the home front, are not being attacked by Shock and Awe but at a psychic level we are, through capital's war for hearts and minds. In fighting that there's little time for personal intrigues and distractions.

    So I restrained myself regarding ML. But, finally, I decided that the truth has to be spoken. The Editors are fast losing the plot. These days they are more interested in petty, personality intrigues, banning people at the slightest whim and political expediency in trying to preserve an image of tolerance. When, in fact, they are extremely intolerant of anyone who criticises them.

    You may have noticed the desperation of some Message Board subscribers who have been calling for a more democratic structure on the Message Board and/or an alternative column within ML for dissenting views. In the, admittedly limited correspondence, I had with sympathisers after my being banned some time ago (as Fidelista) it was clear that others are concerned about the ML editors too but, like you, they don't want to break ranks.

    Well, sometimes the time comes when you have to do just that. If the editors' tyranny is allowed to continue as it has ML will destroy itself anyway. I hope, that by publicly attacking the Editors as I have others might be encouraged to say what, so far, they have been afraid to say and that the Editors will be forced to look at themselves afresh.

    They never listened to me when I tried to dialogue with them. Instead they treated me like shit. Now, I've returned their compliment. Anyway, having had to struggle the hard way to attain some level of literacy I despise Oxbridge intellectuals. I know you are not one of them and in that sense we have a lot in common.Take care."

  2. As myopic goldfish I was banned from ML longer ago than I care to remember - the two boys David are really juvenile ...however it is their site, fuck 'em.

    Like you I visit (as I do Free republic,etc.,) and it is evident that the punchy, cynical, sharp contributors fled a long time ago and the field is elft to whiny schoolboys sending copies of their unread e-mails to Helen B and Jermy Pax.

    Life is too fuckig short.

    I would apply this test to the BBC.

    Cut the funds and staff in half..would anyone notice ?

  3. Yes, juvenile, bad-tempered and intolerant of anyone who disagrees with them. Edwards is, I understand, a Buddhist. He reminds me of the Western Buddhist Order people who are really more X'tian Puritan than Buddhist.

    Together with the other Puritan, Cromwell, they maintain a reign of terror through intimidating anyone who dares to disagree. In this they are abetted by their apologists who actually conduct the witch-hunts.

    They seem to be very sensitive about projecting a 'serious' image and getting accepted by the 'serious' media. They end up being a joke.

    Once you are deemed 'radioative' (ie untouchable) none of the minions will even comment on anything attributed to you. This happened with this particular article that someone posted to the board.