The Establishment and its media allies have long had the knives out for what might best be termed the ‘new left media’ (NLM), such as the SKWAWKBOX, Canary, Evolve Politics, Another Angry Voice and others. Small wonder, since we’re a major inconvenience for them, often disrupt their attempts to control the political narrative – and were an integral part of Labour’s General Election surge.
The last few days have seen a significant escalation in the nature of the Establishment’s attacks.
First, Guardian pontificator Jonathan Freedland launched into a vilification of those whom he blames for the lack of trust in the ‘MSM’ (mainstream media), directly linking independent news sites to the vile murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
The article was originally titled “Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder shows where hatred of the media can lead” but later changed to “Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder shows why hatred of the media is wrong“, as the Guardian began to realise what a pile of nonsense it had published and conducted a series of edits. In the original version, Freedland wrote (emphases and bracketed comment added by this blog):
But the MSM is a favourite target of the left too: witness the Corbynite attacks on the BBC and its political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, who famously required the protection of a bodyguard to attend the Labour party conference. [REALLY?]
Now we have brutal evidence of where this loathing of the media can lead. On Monday, Malta’s most prominent investigative journalist, Daphne Caruana Galizia, was murdered when the car she was driving was blown sky high, scattering her body parts across a field.
(For details of all the edits made to the article, see this NewsSniffer tracking article.)
Since the consensus is that Ms Caruana Galizia was murdered by right-wing/Establishment figures whom her fearless journalism had inconvenienced – making her more like the independent left that Freedland attacked – the article’s attempt to smear the left by exploiting her death is, frankly, contemptible.
But Mr Freedland wasn’t the only figure to take a similar tack. Deputy Prime Minister Damian Green made a very similar attack on the NLM during a speech to journalists at Westminster – the only material difference being that he decided to exploit the death of MP Jo Cox in a set of comments that were as cynical as they were disgraceful.
In his speech picked up by the Telegraph, S*n and Sky News, Green told his audience of journalists (emphases added by the SKWAWKBOX):
The point is that our political discourse needs to be better than it currently is, an argument that will not be lost on many people in this room whose livelihoods are under threat from unscrupulous blogs and websites that have no regard for any attempt to check the truth like the Canary, Breitbart, SkwawkBox.
If mainstream politicians and journalists start to behave like Twitter trolls and then democracy is in danger.
I know there is a long history of insulting our leaders from Gillray cartoons onwards and I have no expectation or desire to go back to the era when journalists politely asked prime ministers if they wish to add anything else at the end of an interview.
But I do think that we need to respect each other [sic] motives, and treat each other’s views with courtesy, whether we are on either side to the Commons chamber or even on either side of the much bigger chasm of politicians and journalists.
If we don’t, then we risk feeding an atmosphere of increasing hatred which at the most horrible of extremes led to the killing of Jo Cox.
Shame on Mr Green for exploiting the memory of a murdered MP in what undoubtedly represents a clear escalation in the Establishment’s attacks on the NLM that regularly embarrass and inconvenience it by highlighting its lack of honesty and its misdeeds – as well as routinely outdoing the MSM in integrity and coverage of news that affects the lives of ordinary people.
A SKWAWKBOX spokesperson provided comment to the Telegraph, which the publication added into the article:
The SKWAWKBOX takes every care to ensure correctness and if we get something wrong we publish a correction of equal prominence to the original, which is a lot more than the so-called MSM offer. We are also regulated by IMPRESS, the UK’s only independent, Leveson-compliant press regulator.
The SKWAWKBOX absolutely does not condone violence or abuse. However, Mr Green like many politicians and commentators, needs to learn to distinguish between legitimate, robust criticism and abuse – or to be less sloppy in the way he categorises.
To suggest that criticism of political dishonesty will lead to violence against MPs is beneath contempt – and a blatant attempt to discredit criticism of the dire political behaviour all too common in Mr Green’s party. He was presumably aware that a speech to journalists is not covered by parliamentary privilege when he made such scurrilous accusations.
Kerry-Anne Mendoza, Editor in Chief of The Canary, which was also smeared by Green, commented:
The Secretary of State does a disservice to himself and his office with these appalling comments.
Jo Cox lost her life due to bigotry and intolerance – she was killed by a racist man with Nazi sympathies. For decades, such hateful ideas have been actively promoted by mainstream outlets like The Sun and The Daily Mail.
Every day, these outlets are attacking ethnic minorities, immigrants, LGBT+ communities and people who rely on the welfare state.
Instead of speaking out against these billionaire-backed peddlers of bigotry, Mr Green is attacking one of the few independently-owned, progressive outlets in the UK. An outlet led by a gay woman of colour as Editor-in-Chief.
The truth is that we set up The Canary precisely because of the one-sided reporting already happening in the mainstream media – we are presenting the other side of that story. And we do that as probably the most diverse media outlet in the whole country.
Our mission is to disrupt the hateful messages of the right-wing UK press, reminding people that we have more in common than the superficial differences. By disrupting those messages, we have helped changed the public conversation. This will always be threatening to those who benefit from an unjust status quo.
This escalation indicates that the NLM are ruffling the feathers of the Establishment even more than was already apparent. For a politician to be making such defamatory comments outside the protection of ‘parliamentary privilege’ is unusually reckless.
Well-known social media campaigner released a video with her own thoughts on the significance of this new Establishment tack:
— Sarah (@ScouseGirlMedia) October 20, 2017
Such ‘desperate measures’ by Green and others show how much the NLM’s increasing stature and influence are disturbing and disrupting the Establishment’s attempts to control the political narrative and keep our population in ignorance – and how vital the independent voice of the left is to the proper function of our democracy.
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