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@Tbarls

Thomas Barlow

An Ipsos Mori poll recently showed that, yet again, the British are wrong about almost everything.  We think there are three times more immigrants in the UK than there actually are and that 31 times more benefit fraud is committed than actually occurs.

Teen pregnancy is thought to be 25 times higher than it actually is, and everyone believes there is more crime than ever, even though crime rates have been falling for over a decade.

We have no idea about how our taxes are spent, and we seem to believe that it disproportionately goes to marginal groups like the jobless, the disabled and ethnic minorities.

Is this an accident?

Clearly we are factually completely incorrect in relation to the reality of our own country.  We are largely informed about the state of our country through the mass media.

It would be fair to say that our perceptions of the UK accurately reflects the mass media’s coverage of topics like immigration and benefit fraud, even if this is not the reality.

Take for example the Daily Mail, who last week reported numbers of immigrants in the tens of millions, then published a tiny apology stating that what they meant was actually percentages of immigrants.

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This is the kind of thing that is going to give you a skewed perception of reality.

The same with our political process.

Last week The Express reported that UKIP were ahead of Labour in opinion polls.  This is manifestly false, as the other papers reported the real statistics.

Image:Mirror

Image:Mirror

We have pointed out time and again that UKIP have been given 25 times more coverage on the BBC than the Greens, yet 73% of UKIP supporters would vote for Green policies.  This week, despite being ahead of Lib Dems in the Polls with 8%, the Greens were once again absent from BBC reporting!

Image: Media Lens

Image: Media Lens

It is simply because UKIP have presented as the only voice of dissent when respect for Parliament is at all time low.

UKIP fact

It is also worth noting that the species threatening catastrophe that is man made climate change has been presented as mere academic debate between two reasonably evenly matched sides.  In fact, it is an independently verified human caused phenomenon, only opposed by fossil fuel industry paid scientists, and PR (propoganda) shills.  Even BP’s scientists and CEO’s agree climate change is man caused and is dangerous.

84d09848-b7e0-48a0-b600-fe3d5acd04d6-bestSizeAvailable

Whilst we are presenting only the most egregious examples, this pattern can be seen widely throughout the mass media.

Over representation and exaggeration of certain subjects, (usually highly emotive ones, around marginal and defenceless groups) and complete avoidance of groups that actually challenge the  the governing elite is standard practice for the mass media.

This is not only skewing our perceptions of reality, but it is also changing social attitudes.

“Data released by the Guardian in May 2014 reveals there is more self-reported racial prejudice in Britain than there was a decade ago.”

A recent report for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation pointed out that the public expects levels of poverty to get worse, while at the same time “support for welfare spending… is at an historical low”.

A change in social attitudes like this changes our interactions with each other.  We are more likely to find open abuse and oppression of marginal groups – such as the disabled or ethnic minorities – acceptable.

We even find this oppression desirable from our political leaders, as we clammer more for harsher punishments to be levelled at those least able to defend themselves.

These groups are not responsible for the problems we face as a society, but we are misdirected, and our anger becomes misplaced.  Then we feel aggrieved when anyone opposes that misplaced aggression.

“It’s political correctness gone mad” “How dare they tell us how many black people should be on T.V.”  “It’s not racist to be CONCERNED about immigration” “Cultural Marxists are fascists” (a favoured online argument of neo nazis and other racist groups like the EDL).

There is no hope for a progressive, rational and positive set of solutions to take hold in contemporary society unless we first take hold of the mass media, and make it act in the public interest, rather than the private interests of the establishment.

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by Kam Sandhu @KamBass

Last week, renowned journalist John Pilger spoke at a Q&A on media power with Des Freedman from the Media Reform Coalition who released his new book ‘The Contradictions of Media Power.’

We have picked some of our favourite quotes from John Pilger during the talk, which give us an insight of his experience and understanding of media power, which is something we can all learn from. And he definitely puts it best.

john-pilger

 

“The whole essence of media is not about information. It’s about power.”

 

“Today the media is, as the father of propaganda, Edward Bernays described, ‘an invisible government.’ It’s in the government. It’s in the government’s vested interests. The Prime Minister is a PR man by trade, and not a very good one. That’s all he is. He shouldn’t be taken seriously, he just has the position. That position allows him certain aspects of power. But the real power resides in propaganda and the media. That’s true now all over the world.”

 

“In the run up to the invasion of Iraq, the journalism played a very, very critical role in ensuring that invasion took place. Especially in the United States, which has constitutionally the freest press in the world.

“Now, when discussing this with a number of distinguished colleagues in the US and in this country, following the invasion, they were unanimous in saying, had journalists in responsible positions, both in television and in newspapers (especially television because of it’s power), had they questioned the deceptions, had they challenged them, had they done their jobs as journalists, had they as Dan Rather of CBS said – asked the critical second question, instead of amplifying and echoing the lies told as pantomime. Had they done their job, they believe that invasion might not have taken place. The fact that they were saying that, and these are people from well inside the media establishment on both sides of the Atlantic, saying that had those journalists done their job, that invasion might not have taken place, and hundreds of thousands of people would be alive today. That’s the power of the media.”

 

“You’re working within a system that is inherently hostile to truth telling. And I don’t say that as satire, I mean that. It is hostile to truth telling. One only has to see the media reaction to the truth tellers Edward Snowden, Julian Assange. The bitter reaction of people who shamed much of the media, almost at a stroke.”

 

“There is something called censorship by omission. You don’t really discuss what you leave out but it’s left out.”

 

“If you look back to 2008, the stories on BBC News, all over the papers, the banks were suddenly crooks. When Northern Rock collapsed, the banks were crooks, they were all exposed. The Guardian was full of tombstones of copy about how the banks were rotten from the inside. It was the story.

A glimpse. That story ended after about three months and it was turned around, that it wasn’t really the bankers, but it all came down to a national debt and a controlled narrative was there and it’s called austerity and that debt had to be paid off. Why? Why did it have to be paid off? The people that you quote (46% of people believe that austerity has gone too far or is not needed) that’s a majority really. If you’re getting that in the poll, 46%, that’s a majority. Proving again that most people are ahead of the media. They usually are, they’re ahead of the media as far as going to war, they’re ahead of the media in terms of the economics of their lives, how they live.

So we saw this glimpse of the truth of this massive criminality……all the rotten architecture had collapsed…almost collapsed. Banks were nationalised. Banks were nationalised with no conditions. The consciousness of how this happened which was there, for I suppose about six months, was, thanks to a very effective propaganda system, was shifted. That it wasn’t the banks’ fault, it was our fault.”

 

“We’ve almost got to stop using the term mainstream. It’s a misnomer. We’re always drawn to look through this prism of something called the mainstream. It’s not. It’s actually an extreme. What could be more extreme than various institutions that propagate rapacious illegal war, deception about economic policies. What could be more extreme than that? There’s nothing mainstream about that.”

 

“The greatest propaganda institute in Britain is the BBC. It is that because it has the greatest reputation. It has the greatest credibility. It has a worldwide reputation. Some of it earned. In news and current affairs, almost none of it earned. And I don’t say that again satirically. So this idea that we concentrate on the demons, Murdoch , the Daily Mail (bad enough), because in a way the Mail and the BBC compliment each other and they all follow each other. …It’s about understanding that spectrum of propaganda and how it affects all of us.”

 

Should journalists represent the people? Yes of course but as Martha Gelhorn famously said; “All journalism should be from the ground up, not from the top down.” It almost never is. And that is something again that has to be taught to young journalists.  These basic things that you do, the most reliable sources of the truth, not all the truth, but of a way of finding the truth are to be found at ground level. That’s my experience as a reporter. And I had to find out that the people who were above ground level, especially up there, were not reliable sources.”

 

This is the name of the talk held by the High Pay Centre last week. We have previously shared their brilliant work and along with this event, they also released a booklet with insightful essays that we suggest you read – you can download them here. 

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The talk began with Professor John Kay highlighting the stark reality of how entrenched the heavy and unfair hand of business in our government has come to be accepted:

“Prof Kay cited a case in the US in the 1870’s where a lobbyist had been hired by a company that subsequently refused to pay him as they didn’t like the outcome. The lobbyist sued the company.The case went to the Supreme court that took the view that lobbying was so repugnant, the contract was unenforceable.

“He contrasted this with a decision by the US Supreme court in 2010 that took the view that lobbying was protected by free speech.”

We are given a mantra day in, day out that business interests are somehow the interests of us all. That paying bank managers more is what we must do to ‘keep the talent’ that has overseen the corrupt architechture of the banks, with full impunity. So much so, that further damage is allowed, further corrupt practice, further lives ruined by the allowance of these interests to oversee the ‘solutions.’

Business in Government 

Everyday we see our ‘leaders’ bowing to corporate interests. Blair is believed to have once said of his alliance with Murdoch “It is better to be riding the tiger’s back than let it rip your throat out.” Throughout changes in party colours and faces in government, Murdoch has remained a presence in 10 Downing Street. Blair is Godfather to Murdoch’s grandchild, The Chipping Norton Set describe a village of affluent, connected power which include David Cameron, Rebekah Brookes and more. Not forgetting Cameron’s PR man throughout the election and beyond was former editor of the now defunct News of The World, Andy Coulson, who presided as editor during the phone hacking scandal. Indeed, have we ever seen a more successful ‘solution’ for corporate interests than in Leveson? The public are sold the idea of the investigation like no other, that justice will be served, before revealing that Blair advised Brooks to hold a public inquiry as he had done with Chilcot to peter out, to make some noise, but of no real consequence. Blair walked free.  As did Brooks and Murdoch after plenaries of amnesia.

Government decisions are now always made with corporate interests in mind. Murdoch’s power to distort the news with a 40% hold on UK media, is more important than public interest, or indeed, the truth to our politicians. Those funding political parties have sway over our laws and policies. Corporate lobbying is an investment, not an expense – the power given to companies, businesses and billionaires is access to the society we live in, a proven, working system of manipulating laws and motions to the interest of profit – with no interest paid to public feeling or indeed lives.

In the booklet from the High Pay Centre, Luke Hildyard, Deputy Director, describes in the foreword how controlled our politicians have come to be:

“During one meeting with a leading politician we were told that though they found a particular policy convincing, they were not prepared to say so publicly until business leaders do likewise….

Our experience at the High Pay Centre is instructive. Our polling suggests that an overwhelming majority of people support proposals to cap executive pay at a fixed multiple of their lowest paid worker. When I discussed the idea on Sky news – owned by one of the UK’s biggest corporations – the interviewer suggested, probably correctly, that ‘it was never going to happen.’ The Spectator noted no mainstream politician ‘would embrace such a provocatively anti-capitalist measure.’

That the idea of capping executive pay, at say,  a mere 75 times that of their lowest-paid worker is seen as more provocative than pay gaps of that size and larger is perhaps worrying. But the issue with corporate power is less about whether big business is right or wrong about certain policies, than whether it is sustainable for them to exert such influence in the face of public opinion.”

IB43_700

And this is part of the crux, if it can be assumed that all ‘mainstream politicians’ could not support anti-capitalist measures, or anything that bucks the trend of money flowing to the top, it means we have no real choice (Read 8 Reasons why the UK is not a democracy).

Further, as business controls the leaders who speak about policy, and the media that feeds us information, business has worked hard to instil us with an amnesia that there can be anything other than this system. But there are plenty of alternatives now and in history…

“By the 1940s high rates of taxation deterred people at the top from trying to secure excessive pay rises. What was the point? They would receive only a fraction of the extra money when top tax rates were taken into account. To imagine what it was like, think of what the re-introduction of higher taxation today might mean. A chief executive could receive as little as 10% today on earnings over £500,000 a year, if they could be taxed at 90%. There would therefore be little point in asking for pay rises once you were on £500,000. Double your pay after that, to a nominal £1million a year, and you would receive only an extra £50,000 for all your supposedly additional efforts.”

Danny Dorling, All That Is Solid

This kind of taxation was taking place not so long ago. The fact that we have come so far in the changes to wealth distribution, shows how destructive this path is. Take a look at the news to see the entrenched contradictions of punishment and reward. The week the bedroom tax came in, which of those it affected two thirds were disabled, 96% had nowhere to move to in order to escape the charge, and arrears increased after it’s implementation. Some £14 from a person on between £65-150 a week can mean the difference between eating or heating. That same week, there was a tax cut for the rich, that would in essence eat up any of that money saved through hammering the poor. This is how in favour of business our government and entire system is. The news is littered with these contradictions – particularly during austerity.

The protection of these interests as we have seen in Leveson, in Chilcot, in Teresa May’s inability to find someone to head a child sex abuse inquiry into government who does not have links to those in question, in Priti Patel’s ‘rebellion’ as Conservative MP against plain cigarette packaging when she was an ex-lobbyist for the tobacco industry, in ex-Sun editor Richard Caseby’s lash out at the Guardian for inaccuracies in welfare reporting when his current organisation (a senior communications position at the DWP!) have been publicly reprimanded for manipulation of welfare statistics to push through punishing policy, demonstrate how much a part of the fabric they have come to feel. But they still are working against the public interest.

Image: Shouldwe.org

Image: Shouldwe.org

Last night, BBC Panorama did an investigation into small businesses who were made bankrupt by their banks following the 2008 crash. They did this by manipulating house price valuations and cutting them in half in order to hurry on business owners to sell their assets (despite enjoying good business prior to this) and by bringing in administrators to ‘help’ who would then gain access to business information, and continue administrating for the bank when they demand the business sell up. This shows how free these companies are to manipulate our entire lives for their benefit. And this happens everyday.

Tamasin Cave, from Spinwatch, was also at this HIgh Pay Centre talk. She had worked to instate a lobbying register, to give transparency to the world of corporate lobbying. Unsurprisingly, there is always a way out. A register has been instated but it is shoddy, there is no obligation to record the meetings that would shed light on political affiliations and decisions, and therefore it is of no use.

What the real results of overbearing and insidious corporate interests really mean is a society where these interests are neither punished, nor questioned. They are above the law. As we are choked on the image of potential benefit fraudsters, our entire society is under a heist by the city. The Libor scandal, where the manipulation of inter-bank lending rates affected trillions of pounds of transactions has still seen no one jailed, but the government has introduced an increase to a 10 year maximum penalty for benefit fraudsters to keep us all safe.

“At the very lowest level of housing fraud is someone begging for money for a bed for the night or just for a cup of tea, only to use the money they are given to buy a can of beer…Whether it’s £20 of unwarranted housing benefit claimed, £2000 cash in hand to a builder or a £200,000 bonus secured because your Libor guesses were correct (after having manipulated them with your mates), it is still fraud. It is, however, fraud that increases by several orders of magnitude as you move up the spectrum. It would take millions of acts of homeless people all uttering the same lie to equate to a single lie of a single banker awarded a bonus.”

Danny Dorling, All That Is Solid

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass
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Ranjan Kumaran  – @financialeyes 

The ongoing marketisation of the NHS made further progress in the Deregulation Bill at the House of Lords on Tuesday. 

Listen to the BBC’s Today In Parliament and you wouldn’t know. They chose to devote the full half hour to discussing various other aspects of the Deregulation Bill such as pub licensing and the sale of alcoholic ice cream to children.

Lady Williams, who spoke in favour of alcoholic chocolate consumption, is one of the peers who got the Health and Social Care Bill through the Lords for the Lib Dems.

There are other Lib Dem links to lobbying for private health – though few as prominent as that of Miriam Gonzalez Durantez (Miriam Clegg) and Tim Clement Jones.

According to Tuesday’s Hansard Transcript, the NHS was indeed debated as part of the Deregulation Bill.

Journalist and TTIP observer @glynmoody describes the Deregulation Bill as being like a mini-TTIP for the UK.

It’s scope to get rid of existing regulations seems unlimited. At a recent meeting on TTIP and the Deregulation Bill organised by the Stop TTIP campaign, Health Campaigner Lucy Reynolds of NHA party says, all known UK law is “up for grabs”.

Topics on Tuesday included the Transfer of Criminal and Financial Liability when NHS Trusts or Foundation Trusts are merged or transferred.

I can’t think why Sean Curran and the BBC thought this wouldn’t warrant a mention. Corporate capture by the City Lobby? Government Dictat, self censorship?

Who knows. I’d love to FOI the BBC about this but you can’t get any sense out of an unregulated regime broadcaster whose incomplete and therefore erroneous reporting is constantly defended as ‘editorial independence’.

Today, the Efford Bill gets it’s second reading and MPs will choose whether to back it.

Image: castrust.org

Clive Efford Image: castrust.org

You might think the Privatisation of the NHS, as a Neo-Liberal Project, would merit sensible discussion somewhere in the press. And you’d be right.  There was some coverage of the Efford Bill in the Guardian the other day.  However the comment section seems much closer to the mark than the article.

The Guardian seem pretty comfortable with this Efford Bill.

Today they promoted a 38 Degrees advert backing the Bill.

Not all campaigners agree with the Guardian’s position.

Given their support for War, Austerity, TTIP, Deregulation and PFI, many find it hard to see the Labour Party as anything other than a False Friend.

For anyone genuinely interested in this issue, I recommend reading this response. And this. These rebuttals points out the failings and inconsistencies in the Efford Bill.

A quick glance at the kinds of conversations taking place in the House of Lords this week makes for uncomfortable reading. I am disappointed at the lack of coverage the Bills are getting in the Mass Media. Even though this article only superficially points at the laws the UK government is currently passing, for some reason it seems to be one of only a few articles making any criticism of the Deregulation Bill at all.

State and Billionaire owned Media are preventing healthy discussion of politics in this country.

Please Share. Bring on the Real Media.

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Thomas Barlow

@tbarls

Over the past 18 months we have found that the bias in the media has become more and more pronounced.  Whilst there is expected to be party political affiliations and general theoretical leanings, the media has failed to ask fundamental questions and has omitted from reporting things that it could not criticise (such as numerous marches and movements against austerity).

Russell Brand asked the question (over the Scottish referendum), “how is a democracy supposed to function, without access to accurate and unbiased information?”  

The answer is, of course, that it isn’t supposed to.

“As long as the general population is passive, apathetic, diverted to consumerism or hatred of the vulnerable, the the powerful can do as they please, and those who survive will be left to contemplate the outcome.”

Noam Chomsky
Image: critical-theory.com

Noam Chomsky Image: critical-theory.com

The focus of this Real Media Series is to highlight not only the day to day litany of offences against honesty and accuracy that the mass media commit, but to reveal the fundamental systemic purpose of distraction and indoctrination that the media fulfils.

As such there is no better place to start than the Propaganda Model as put forward by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky.

The model shows how the media operate on a very narrow range of topics, to give the impression of freedom of expression and public debate – whilst specific values are reinforced and other very fundamental questions are ignored.

“The Mass Media serves as a system for communicating messages and symbols to the general populace.  It is their function to… inculcate individuals with the values, beliefs and codes of behaviour that will integrate them into the institutional structures of larger society.”

Manufacturing Consent

Those institutional structures are ones of work for others (wage slavery), obedience to the state (patriotism), and the general maintenance of a system that keeps a particular elite in power (rich, white men largely)

“… the media serve the interests of state and corporate power, which are closely interlinked, framing their reporting and analysis in a manner supportive of established privilege and limiting debate and discussion accordingly.”

Manufacturing Consent

CORPORATE POWER MAP

Image: abagond.wordpress.com

Image: abagond.wordpress.com

To put this more bluntly

“Any dictator would admire the uniformity and obedience of the (U.S.) media.”

Manufacturing Consent

Whilst Chomsky’s analysis is of the US media, it can be easily transferred to any media system in the Global North, especially the UK, where so much of the media is either in the hands of Rupert Murdoch, or the Government (the BBC).

“The rascal multitude are the proper targets of the mass media and a public education system geared to obedience and training in needed skills, including the skill of repeating patriotic slogans on timely occasions.”

Manufacturing Consent

We can see this in the case of the war on ISIS, and in the case ‘English Rights for English citizens’ narratives post Scottish independence referendum.  The media repeat a story – often press released by a PR department – and have a very limited debate on it.

 

“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum – even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.”

Manufacturing Consent

We are going to explore these false debates and the limited range of discussion over the course of this series – especially in relation to UK foreign policy, but also over the neoliberal compact (i.e. the programs austerity and the redistribution of wealth to the richest) and what that means for us.

We live in a society where division and greed are encouraged, where blame is laid at the door of the (largely) blameless poor rather than the rich, where violence is waged upon others in our name without our consent and without reason.

How is this achieved without widespread dissent?

 

“As long as people are marginalized and distracted [they] have no way to organize or articulate their sentiments, or even know that others have these sentiments. People assume that they are the only people with a crazy idea in their heads. They never hear it from anywhere else. Since there’s no way to get together with other people who share or reinforce that view and help you articulate it, you feel like an oddity, an oddball. So you just stay on the side and you don’t pay any attention to what’s going on. You look at something else, like the Superbowl.”

Manufacturing Consent

There are two important things to note, mind. One is that this doesn’t mean that situation is hopeless; there are many cracks in the system by which free thought and expression can find a voice.

“If you assume that there is no hope, you guarantee that there will be no hope. If you assume that there is an instinct for freedom, that there are opportunities to change things, etc., then there’s a chance to contribute to the making of a better world. That’s your choice.”

Manufacturing Consent

Secondly, this system is not formed by a conspiracy.  There are not men in a back room with top hats and cigars planning to keep people as subdued as possible (though I am sure that goes on somewhere as well).

This is a system that we all buy into, to whatever extent, and repeat.  The theory states that there are 5 lenses that create this narrowed range of debate, and this focus on division, fear and hate.

THANKS CORPORATE NEWS

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THE FIVE FILTERS

 1. OWNERSHIP

“Corporate media firms share common interests with other sectors of the economy, and therefore have a real stake in maintaining an economic and political climate that is conducive to their profitability. They are unlikely to be critical of economic or political policies that directly benefit them.”

Manufacturing Consent

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In the case of the BBC (state owned media), they are highly unlikely to give exposure to anything that threatens the state’s existence or stability (such as serious social movements) – in this it’s interests are highly aligned with corporate media.  It is unlikely to be anything more than gently critical of the ruling party, or government in general.  That ruling party will staff it’s offices and control its’ funding.

 2. INCOME

To remain profitable, most media rely on advertising dollars for the bulk of their revenue. It is therefore against the interests of the news media to produce content that might antagonize advertisers.

In the case of the BBC, it’s funding is controlled by the state.  If it steps out of line it’s funding is directly withdrawn (for example the BBC and it’s coverage of the invasion of Iraq cost them a share of the license fee and lost Greg Dyke – then Chairman – his job).

 3. CHURNALISM

“Elites have the resources to routinely “facilitate” the news-gathering process by providing photo-ops, news conferences, press releases, think-tank reports and canned news pieces that take advantage of the news media’s need for continuous and cheap news content”

Manufacturing Consent

The PR industry used to be called the propaganda industry.  It is this very industry that provides most content for news organisations.

It is seen as cheap, ready made and trusted.  Information that comes from the public has to be fact checked, investigated and, often, just isn’t seen as ‘newsworthy’.

So due to the pressures of the job, time limitations, and inherent trust of a particular industry (PR) the views of the elite are predominantly represented in the news, whilst those of the people get ignored.

 4. FLAK

If the media do ever become overly critical of the establishment (the police, courts, government, corporate entities, financiers, etc), they can be disciplined by those with huge resources.

Lawsuits, changes to the law (superinjunctions), sanctions and spin doctoring are all methods by which the establishment can police the boundaries of debate.

5. EXTERNAL THREAT

When originally written, ‘Anti Communism’ was the term given to this filter, but the mobilisation of fear can be readily applied to any threat seen as existential and external to the political community of the elite.

The ‘war of (sorry ‘on’) terror’ has been a useful alternative to Communism, but anti immigration rhetoric and contagious diseases have been more prominent tools of fear mongering since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

“This filter mobilizes the population against a common enemy (terrorism, energy insecurity, Iran…) while demonizing opponents of state policy as insufficiently patriotic or in league with the enemy.”

Manufacturing Consent

This has the double benefit of keeping the populace divided and afraid, as well as demonising proponents of unity and rationality.

As mentioned before, the institutions of the media are far too large and complex for this to be organised in one great conspiracy.

Rather there are ideas of patriotism and ‘common sense’ with which the members of the media enter the profession, performed and supported by the previous generation.

Once within the institutions they rapidly become normalised to ideas of what is and isn’t ‘news’. Rarely will they need to be disciplined to know what subjects they should and shouldn’t be covering, even if they have the freedom to choose.

Even with this entire system of distraction and division arrayed against us, polls show routinely that both the government and the media are largely out of step with public opinion.

Usually they are seen to be far to the right of public opinion, which is usually largely anti war, pro nationalisation, anti corruption, egalitarian and libertarian.

Detractors of this model often mention how it pays no heed to how much worse the media is in, say, Russia, or China.

Our job, however, in challenging the system, is to challenge the institutions of our own power, to make them accountable to the people, and servants of the people.  If we as a global people bring our media under control of the people, we will be able to made decisions based on accurate information rather than the prejudice and will of an elite.

We must start with our own media to achieve that.

“I think we can be reasonably confident that if the American population had the slightest idea of what is being done in their name, they would be utterly appalled.”

Noam Chomsky

Thomas Barlow

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Read the original article BBC Caught Rigging 2015 General Election?

By Ranjan Kumaran – @financialeyes

Last Friday, 31st October, a BBC Radio programme called Feedback asked why the BBC agreed to exclude the Green Party from the General Election TV debates.  (12 Minutes)

Ric Bailey, Chief Political Advisor to the BBC was invited onto the show.

Image: BBC News

Ric Bailey Image: BBC News

When asked to justify his stance by the radio presenter, Bailey replied;

“When we’re approaching an election or for any of our coverage for that matter, we look really carefully at the objective evidence of electoral support.

“In the approach to a General Election our starting point is what happened atthe last General Election, 2010. But that’s not everything, we also look at any other evidence of electoral support and change of electoral support – we look at opinion polls so we’re applying very objective criteria.

“Opinion polls are only one part of the equation – and the key phrase is a consistent and robust trend – so if you look at UKIP over a very long period – and I’m talking about literally hundreds of opinion polls you can see that there is a substantial increase in support for UKIP which is incidentally backed up by real people voting in polling booths.”

When asked about ‘the Green Surge’, Bailey quoted figures which demonstrate that the Greens have been outperformed by UKIP. He made no mention of any figure favourable to the Greens and followed up by saying – “so we look at these really objectively.”

Ever since he mentioned them, I’ve been looking for these objective criteria.

Part of me doesn’t believe they exist and the other part has decided to pretend they do.

So how am I supposed to find them?

I sent a freedom of information request which was refused, as mentioned previously.

I needed another approach. I called a political journalist. He told me he was sure he had seen the criteria and the weightings applied to election performance and opinion polls online sometime. I googled away and got nowhere. I decided there was no other option. I was going to have to call Ric Bailey. He didn’t seem so high up in the organisation that he wouldn’t answer his own phone. Nor, from his performance on TV and the radio, did I feel he deserved to be.

I googled his name and telephone number and up it came. He’s been treating people with disdain, I told myself. Don’t forget that. Let him say what he likes, but press him for an answer.

The phone rang a couple of times and, at 16:30, he answered the phone.

I asked him what criteria the BBC applied when agreeing to allow UKIP to appear in the Leaders’ debates at the expense of the Greens.

I told him I was talking about statistical methodologies, datasets, opinion polls and elections.

He said it was all available online.

I asked him where.

He said “It’s not all in one place.”

I asked him for the names of the datasets.

He said, “All of them”. Not helpful. Incredibly vague.

I asked him about methodologies. I was hoping he could name an approach, a formula, some weightings. He did not. He said that UKIP have surged and this was obvious. That ‘due weight’ is an editorial judgement. That this is basically private. There are no statistical thresholds.

I told him he has cherry picked the data to exclude the Greens. This he denied. He asked for a relevant stat which he had left out. I told him one. He quoted another. We danced like this for 25 minutes and neither of us got anywhere.

That a man with no grasp whatsoever about how to process statistical information is fronting the campaign to sell the BBC interpretation of opinion poll and election results shows they just don’t care. That’s it. They hold the licence-payer in complete contempt.

This organisation is so out of touch that it is now threatening its own existence.

His contact details were available online:

Ric Bailey, Chief Adviser, Politics, BBC Editorial Policy and Standards

07889 852195 – 0208 00 81805

Speaking to this man is a waste of time if you are looking for any truthful answers about the statistical methods he and his colleagues have pretended to use.

I don’t know what is more disturbing. The fact that drones like Bailey are allowed to act as they do or the fact that we don’t do more to question the flimsiness of his arguments. Redundant information serves as a distraction from the heist that people like him are fronting.

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The Mail and Migration

kamsandhu —  November 6, 2014 — 1 Comment

“Migrants from outside the EU have taken £120 billion more from the state than they paid in taxes over 17 years”  

This headline is typical of the Daily Mail – a paper once described as ’the worst of British values dressing up as the best’ – in painting ‘foreigners’ as drains on ‘us Brits’.

Image: The Telegraph

Image: The Telegraph

Interestingly the article is a response to the apparent good news that EU migrants have contributed £20bn to the economy in less than a decade.

The Mail clearly views this as a myth that needs to be debunked – fair enough, let’s see what they have to say.

  • Report finds immigrants have cost more in handouts than paid in taxes

This is true, because it turn out all British people have cost more in ‘handouts’ than paid in taxes.  There is a deficit – or shortfall in taxes to expenditure, but this is mainly due to a massive bank bailout in 2008 of £1.7 TRILLION that has had to be shared by all of us.

  • Non-European migrants living in Britain have cost £120billion since 1995

The suggestion here, as in the headline, that this has been a cost that has been more than the contributions made by Non EU migrants.  This again is a cost that has been assessed by the total debt accrued by us all and dividing it proportionally, we all have a stake in this debt.

  • By contrast EU migrants since 2000 made a net contribution of £20billion

Great. EU migrants are largely (65%) university graduates here to do high paid jobs which mean they are able to contribute more, so that’s nice.

  • Research comes at a time when there is public concern over migration

Yes there is – because the Daily Mail (a paper read by nearly 3 million people) – runs daily stories on the negative effects of immigration by misrepresenting the truth.

Ultimately this is story of British Debt:

“Over the 17 fiscal years considered, the amount of public expenditures received by natives [Britons] exceeds the amount of government revenues they contributed in 12 instances.

Although such is also the case for non-EEA immigrants for all 17 fiscal years, it applies to EEA immigrants for seven years.”

They almost correctly assess the cause:

“Factors include rising unemployment and the large welfare bill during the financial crash, which began in 2008.”

It is true to cite rising unemployment as a factor, it would also be true to cite lower wages, job instability, welfare cuts (which cost more than they save), rising tax avoidance by corporations, outsourcing, large scale banking fraud, economic recession, and the nature of neoliberal capitalism.

It would also be true to cite the limiting of economic opportunity for the poor and ethnic minorities (Non EEA migrants tend to be both).

Due to the grammar of the following point I am not precisely sure of the meaning of ‘the large Welfare bill during the financial crash’, but I assume it is an attempt to associate the cause of the financial crash with a large welfare bill.

That is absolutely not the case.  The financial crash, and subsequent debt has nothing to do with the welfare bill.  Nor does the rise in unemployment and increase in low paid jobs – these are all to do with the ideological reforms done in the name of austerity (and the neoliberalism of Thatcher and subsequent leaders).

The reason for a shortfall of tax revenue to expenditure per person has several causes, but this has little to do with migrants or the welfare bill.  A focus on those at the top, who are skimming off more than millions of us together could if we tried, would be more fruitful in the search for the cause of this.

But then we would probably have to examine all those who advertise in the paper – and those who own it…

A note on sources

Civitas and Migrant Watch are both hard right think tanks funded by billionaires.  They are ‘independent researchers’ – they have an agenda to divide and rule for the economic elite and they help push it by feeding these flimsy excuses of stories to the national press

A note on the Liberal Press

They are almost as bad in many ways.   They want to paint migrants as only valuable for what money they can make the country – as economic units.

They also engender a kind of jealousy for the working class.  Migrants have all the low paid jobs, and the high paid university jobs.  It is easy to be pissed off at both, when you are being discipled for not getting jobs that don’t exist, or are working your arse off for nothing.

We are all human beings.  We live in a world of plenty.  We could be freed from lots of work, from jealousy, from division and competition.  We could be on an adventure together.


When we talk about people, we must talk about how we can work together to build something better, not talk about how we are ‘worth’ more or less than others.

Thomas Barlow

Stand Up For Journalism

kamsandhu —  November 5, 2014 — Leave a comment

From ifj.org:

On 5 November, the European Federation of Journalists is organising its 7th anniversary of the action day “Stand Up For Journalism”. This year, the EFJ has chosen to spotlight the growing concentration of media in Europe and its impact on the quality of journalism and the working conditions of journalists.

“The EFJ Steering Committee is proposing to use the day to highlight the situation of journalists in an increasingly concentrated media environment. New actors including Google threaten not only media pluralism but increasingly the survival of many freelance journalists who often only face one media employer, especially at local level.  Media tycons have been buying media outlets and in many countries appear to exert media control. In virtually every country in eastern and southeast Europe, those involved in media are also involved in other businesses.  All of them influence editorial control or promote a political ideology.”

Media Ownership:

European_Media_Tycoons

By Ranjan Kumaran
@financialeyes

It was announced yesterday that the Green Party will definitely be excluded from all live TV debates in the run up to next year’s General Election.

The controversial decision to include UKIP at the Green’s expense was made by Sky, ITV, Channel 4 and BBC.

UKIP have been included despite not having a single sitting MP until two days before the debate schedule was announced.

UKIP, funded by multimillionaire former Tory donor Paul Sykes, have benefitted from millions of pounds worth of free BBC publicity.

Unlike the Green Party’s Natalie Bennett, the UKIP leader and ex-commodities trader Nigel Farage regularly appears on BBC Newsnight, Question Time and the Today Programme.

The Greens have been snubbed despite receiving more votes per minute of TV exposure than any other UK party.

Here is 12 other reasons the Greens should have been included in the debates.

In a statement yesterday the BBC failed to mention that, despite receiving far less coverage, the Greens won more votes than the Lib Dems in last May’s Euro elections.

Campaigners are now asking whether the debate line-up was decided based on specific pre-existing criteria or if the BBC has colluded in rigging the election by purposely including UKIP at the Greens’ expense.

The BBC’s head of politics Ric Bailey said the BBC had taken an “objective look” at past and present electoral support when making their decision.

So how was this decision arrived at? What methodology did they use?

Despite several Freedom of Information Requests, the BBC have refused to explain what criteria they set when selecting parties for the TV debates.

They claim to have followed ‘objective impartial guidelines’ as well as using ‘editorial judgement’.

James Hardy of the BBC media team says that their decision-making process does not have to be made public as its journalistic output is exempt from scrutiny.

“The BBC is not required to supply information held for the purposes of creating the BBC’s output or information that supports and is closely associated with these creative activities.”

The BBC also cited Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights  (“ECHR”).

‘The BBC, as a media organisation, is under a duty to impart information and ideas on all matters of public interest and the importance of this function has been recognised by the European Court of Human Rights. Maintaining our editorial independence is a crucial factor in enabling the media to fulfil this function.’

Green Campaigners remain unconvinced that the European Court of Human rights was designed to rig General Elections.

Some point out that there is no link between ‘editorial independence’ and withholding crucial information. Licence payers may never find out if the BBC really have been objective.

Willingness to hand over the documents might have saved the BBC’s reputation, already tarnished by paedophilia scandals and right wing bias.

Even if that means promoting UKIP, an anti-EU party who have formed a coalition with Jew-Haters from Poland in order to secure further funding – from Europe.

WHO MADE THIS DECISION?

James Purnell, Head of Strategy at the BBC, is one rung below Director General Tony Hall and may be responsible.

When he was the Labour Secretary of State for Work and Pensions he brought in several measures to cut welfare payments some of which were overruled by Gordon Brown.

Conservative Home Blog once created a mock-up picture of him with the slogan: WANTED for stealing Tory policies in which they claim he stole his policies from current Justice Minister Chris Grayling.

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Grayling’s other suggestions include leaving the European Court of Human Rights and preventing prisoners from reading books.

Purnell brought Tory Lord Freud into government. Freud recently controversially suggested paying disabled workers £2 per hour but has managed to miraculously cling on to his role in the current coalition government.

Purnell had to quit Labour to take up his ‘impartial’ role at the BBC.

Given that nobody wants the Greens to participate in the election less than Labour, questions about Purnell’s impartiality have been raised.

James Harding is Head of Current Affairs at the BBC. His previous role editing the Times would have qualified him for a daily telephone call with Rupert Murdoch.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/aboutthebbc/insidethebbc/managementstructure/biographies/harding_james

Murdoch has a particular dislike of the Greens as they are the only party whose leaders have consistently refused to pose with copies of The Sun.

Given that Murdoch runs Sky and has his former employee, Harding, in an influential role at the BBC, many are saying that the TV debates, and consequently the elections, have been rigged.

In 1992, before Rebekah Brooks took over the editorship of the paper, The Sun claimed to have ‘won’ that year’s General Election for the Conservative party.

Old habits die hard.


Two years after the LIBOR scandal no-one has been jailed and more markets have been shown to be rigged.

Now the political marketplace has been shown to be fixed by the national TV broadcaster.

Unlike the Banking sector it seems there are no independent regulators, courts or prosecutors who have the power to even pretend to stop them.


You can sign a petition to stop the media blackout here.

Reclaim The Media

kamsandhu —  August 12, 2014 — 2 Comments

tboh3

Martin Luther King Jr said that a riot is the voice of the unheard.  More and more we live in a country where the majority are unheard.

After 2 explosive years of mass demonstrations, riots and occupations, the end of the Occupy movement saw the end of coverage of the politics of dissent.

The media had tried to make these movements seem as petty and awful as possible, but public support was overwhelmingly on their side.

With a Royal Wedding, the Olympics and a hopeless national football team to support, the media ignored the silencing of activists and refused to cover the actions of anti government protestors.

When the Electricians strike crippled Balfour Beatty (the largest construction company in the world), we heard nothing.

When Manchester hosted the largest demonstration in it’s history to protect the NHS, we heard nothing.

When Disabled People Against Cuts occupied the BBC to protest the lack of coverage of their issues, we heard nothing.

TTIP, legal aid cuts, workfare, mental health care slashed, fracking, the bombing of Palestine, housing crisis, benefit sanctions, food poverty, fuel poverty, people’s assemblies, public sector cuts and many other issues have seen movements go beyond protest to direct action and have been routinely ignored.

The BBC have been uniquely biased.

It is now that we ask the question, when do the unheard riot?

Of course we feel there is still a voice of dissent.  

Increasingly aware of the continued anger and frustration of the majority of people in the country the media show us one man who is prepared to stand up to establishment.

That man is – former commodities trader – Nigel Farage!

During the last 12 months UKIP have received 5 times more media coverage on the BBC than any of the main parties and 25 times more than the Greens.  

Yet when polled, 73% of UKIP voters said they preferred Green policies.  We just never got to hear those policies.

This is a classic example of spectacular distraction, media divide and rule at it’s finest.

The corporate and state media will always be drawn to spectacular over substance – but even the spectacular protests of the recent years have been hidden.

media.tumblr.com

media.tumblr.com

It will always organise in the interests of the powerful and represent their interests whilst it is owned by them, funded by them, influenced by their lobbying and given all their ‘official’ news by them.

abagond.files.wordpress.com

abagond.files.wordpress.com

However we live in an age of immediate response, of the possibility for our own free press globally.

We can change the story. We can take action that can’t be ignored.

We can hound the media in huge numbers – on their forums and on their websites and at their offices.

We can create an alternative media, and get our news and information directly from those in the know.

We can Reclaim The Media.

Thomas Barlow