Routine propaganda + lazy journalism

by on October 25, 2016 in Media Comment

This is just a routine example. It would probably be possible to collect hundreds of these each month in the Western media:

Western leaders are seeking maximum diplomatic pressure on the Kremlin to halt the intense bombardment of the rebel-held eastern part of Aleppo that has killed hundreds of civilians including children since a ceasefire broke down on October 3.

Daily Telegraph. 25-10-16

It is part of an article about the possibility of Russian warships on their way to the Mediterranean  refuelling in Spain. The piece, which is a typical example of the type of propaganda we find in the Western media, is based on ‘assessments’ provided by the US military alliance. One by the NATO Secretary General and another by the US Ambassador to NATO. No other voice is heard. The Russian point of view is certainly not represented. It is not even mentioned second-hand ‘for balance’.

We see here how the press behaves in a one-sided partisan way. They cite statements from their side, as if they embody objective fact. They do not consider for one moment that the statements by NATO and US officials might be part of an effort to get a certain point of view across, a point of view which, naturally, justifies their actions, which might, conceivably, not be disinterested attempts to build democracy all over the world. In other words the press acts just like the national press in war time.

They also print sheer made-up narrative lines. (Probably the press in war time does that too). Here we have the claim that, in Aleppo:

Russia has “killed hundreds of civilians including children since a ceasefire broke down on October 3”. Is that really true? “Hundreds” in the last 3 weeks. A period when even if the US wants to claim, as their spokesman does in the article, it hasn’t been consistent there have nonetheless been pauses in the bombing? Of course, no source, reliable or otherwise is given for the claim about Russia having killed “hundreds” of civilians in 3 weeks. In practice it is unlikely. Russia has been bombing. Very likely civilians have been killed. But the number seems too large. This kind of claim is floated out, unsourced, and is quickly taken as an absolute fact. It becomes a matter of ideological commitment (to liberal, Western, capitalism), to believe it is true. But if it were true – or at least reliable – why not provide the sources? It’s lazy not to. And it also facilitates the creation of fictional narratives.

There is a certain dovetailing of lazy (bad) journalism and propaganda in the Western press.

 

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