Just a few tasters from 5 minutes of exposure to the “free press”.
1. The BBC News reports on some student demonstrations which are apparently taking place in Iran. They acknowledge (the first time they use it) that their video clip material is culled from “social media”. They interview two people – both of whom are apparently pro-Western commentators. They report on the “mullahs who have ruled Iran since the 1979 revolution” – with no mention of the fact that the political leadership in Iran is elected. Yes – they have elections. True – Iran has a complex constitution which includes a powerful body to which only clerics can be appointed. However to gloss over this and present it as a regime (the word is used by one of the “experts”) “ruled by mullahs” is simply a falsehood. Notice how a combination of a biased viewpoint from an “expert” who is interviewed for the programme and the script of the news anchor can be used to build up the (fake) narrative.
They report on Donald Trump’s Tweet that “The world is watching” – and they cite the response of the Iranian leadership – that the US claims are “opportunistic and deceitful”. But we are left with the words of one of their “experts” ringing in our ears – about a “violent clampdown”. Of course all this is precisely “opportunistic and deceitful”. What would happen if student protests turned violent in the UK? Exactly the same as may be happening in Iran – there would be a forceful police response and arrests. Yet the whole slant of the BBC report is in terms of worthy protesters and a “violent clampdown” by the authorities.
It is worth remembering that if the protests are indeed in part about the poor state of the economy as the BBC reports that one reason for this is US sanctions on Iran in connection with its missile programme.
This is all sounding like a well-rehearsed regime change op. Sanctions and other external pressures lead to internal fissures. Anyone who demonstrates against the “regime” is then presented as a freedom-fighter/peace loving dentist or whatever. Police actions against them are described as a “violent crackdown”. The “regime” is portrayed as a dictatorship. And, before we know where we are, there will be an overwhelming case to launch a humanitarian intervention to defend freedom.
The BBC plays its part.
2. In the Financial Times today there is a report on a military action in Syria. This discusses a Syrian army initiative supported by Russian aviation against Al-Qaeda linked terrorists. Figures about civilian casualties are provided by the “Syrian Observatory for Human Rights” – a one man show run from the UK by a supporter of the Syrian opposition. (This organisation is the main “independent” source for almost the entire Western media). This “source” reports on civilian deaths allegedly caused by Russian aviation. Much of the report in the FT plays on this theme. – It may be happening but the source has no credibility being openly aligned with one side in the conflict.
The report (by someone called Erika Solomon) contains this falsehood:
The province is meant to be one four “de-escalation zones” set up by Russia and regional powers Turkey and Iran where clashes were supposed to be halted. But Valery Gerasimov, chief of Russia’s armed forces, called this week for Hayat Tahrir al-Sham to be “eliminated” as a top priority for military operations in Syria in 2018.
As the report acknowledges Hayat Tahrir al-Sham is an offshoot of Al-Qaeda (or simply a re-branding). And that is the point. The de-escalation zones set up by Russian, Iran and Turkey precisely envisaged a ceasefire between government forces and “rational rebels” and precisely excluded Al-Qaeda and Islamic State. What Russia is doing therefore is precisely in line with this agreement. Yet Ms Solomon manages to present it as if Russia was acting against this agreement – “province is meant to be” … “But, Valery Gerasimov… “. It’s a lie.
Again – spot the pattern – a mix of narrative gloss and quotes from “independent (not at all) experts/sources” are used to construct the propaganda.
The Financial Times plays its part.
3. Isn’t RT awful? They publish nothing but positive stories about Russia. They stir up dissent by amplifying problems in Western countries. They openly support dissenters in the West and build them up out of all proportion. Indeed it has been scientifically proven that they are trying to undermine the trust of Western populations in their own governments. How awful.
4. Here is one from Channel 4 about Russian “alleged” interference in the UK’s Brexit referendum. Amusingly it is called a fact-check. It is characteristic of a certain kind of Western propaganda. Two facts do indeed emerge from a careful reading of the article. 1) There is a some evidence for very small-scale Russian activity on social media – activity which may have been sponsored by the Kremlin. Examples include social media posts mostly made after the referendum took place and re-tweeting of existing posts about Brexit on Twitter. 2) The “journalist” writing the article is desperate to tell a story about Russian interference and is hardly put off by the thinness of the evidence.
The author of the article uses narrative glosses to link and move the story along, exaggerating as he goes, before the final dramatic finale – a denial from a UKIP funder that he accepted donations from Russia – which, naturally, we are supposed to believe, is proof that he did. (Who knows – maybe he did – but why not wait for the Election Commission investigation to tell us?)
This piece is characteristic of Western media propaganda because it uses some material which is factually true. A US Senate report has indeed come to certain conclusions etc. But the actual narrative is not the conclusion that any sober-minded investigator could draw from the facts. Rather a tale is told and the few facts are used judiciously in order to prop up the narrative.
What surprises this writer continually is how apparently educated people will talk about “Russian propaganda” and how terrible it is without noticing that their side is doing exactly the same. And in a way worse because it is everywhere and insidious. Whereas RT makes no bones about being funded by the Russian government.