New Internationalist

Rax Interview with Media Lens

rax coverIn July, New Internationalist published The Rax Active Citizenship Toolkit. It is aimed primarily at teachers and students of Citizenship Studies in UK schools but in fact it can be used by anyone seeking to engage more actively in the world around them.The Toolkit is a landmark in textbook innovation, graphic style, approach to content and attitudes to learning. It also contains exclusive interviews with a range of voices, from popstars and politicians to young active citizens. Over the coming weeks we will be posting the full text of the Rax interviews.

media lensDavid Cromwell and David Edwards are the editors of a British media analysis website called Media Lens, founded in 2001. They encourage the critical study of current news, by comparing the way alternative media sources cover stories with the way they are covered in the mainstream media. In 2007, Media Lens was awarded the Gandhi International Peace Award. The Rax team caught up with them in early 2010.

What issues do you think are most important for young people to address today?

Catastrophic climate change, endless war and conflict, and the propaganda system that boosts state and corporate power. Take climate change. The climate crisis is not a future risk; it is today’s reality. As Myles Allen, a leading British climate scientist, warned back in 2005: ‘The danger zone is not something we are going to reach in the middle of this century. We are in it now.’ Indeed, climate change is already responsible for 300,000 deaths a year and is affecting 300 million people, according to former UN secretary general Kofi Annan’s thinktank, the Global Humanitarian Forum. A 2009 study published by the Forum warned that increasingly severe heatwaves, floods, storms and forest fires will be responsible for as many as 500,000 deaths a year by 2030.

Consider also the global ‘War on Terror’: we are to believe that it has something to do with introducing ‘democracy’ to Afghanistan and Iraq. This fits a historical pattern of deception that dates back to the days of the British empire and the founding of the United States of America. Public ignorance of the real intentions behind attacks on Vietnam, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq, or simple dismissal of sceptical public opinion, has been a constant feature of Western statecraft.

Thus, one of the unspoken assumptions of the Western world, at least among influential commentators, is that ‘we’ are great defenders of human rights, a free press and the benefits of market economics. Mistakes might be made along the way, perhaps even awful errors of judgement, such as the 2003 invasion of Iraq. But the prevailing view is that ‘we’ are essentially well-meaning, even benign. Certainly that’s what politicians, business leaders and the media – all part of a propaganda system boosting the aims of destructive power - would have us believe.

What does an organization like Media Lens provide for the young critical thinker that they can not access from mainstream media?

We do something very simple; we compare examples of journalism from the corporate media with reporting, analysis and commentary from ‘alternative sources’: human rights groups, environmental campaigners, peace activists, and so on. We aim to highlight what are often glaring gaps between the two. The corporate media, for obvious reasons, all too often reports from a vantage of power; while other sources, often more knowledgeable and genuinely authoritative, report from a grassroots perspective. By presenting such contrasting views of vital issues – climate, war, and so on -  we encourage the reader to pursue the links and references we provide; to make up their own minds; and, if they wish, to challenge the journalists and editors responsible for the distorted corporate media version of events. Our underlying aim is to boost the interlinked qualities of wisdom and compassion.

What advice could you give young campaigners wanting to use the skills of critical thinking and enquiry to get to a reliable body of statistics and points of view regarding an issue?

As we’ve indicated in the previous answer, it’s important to access a wide range of resources and perspectives. You need to be aware of the establishment view of any particular issue as propagated across newspapers, radio and television. To challenge this view, you could then see what some of the more well-known campaign groups say on the same issue – for example, Amnesty, Human Rights Watch, Oxfam, Christian Aid, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and so on.  

However, you should bear in mind that many such groups strive to be close to government and the media – seeking access to ministers, battling to influence parliamentary affairs, trying to grab the attention of sympathetic journalists. They often end up being unable or unwilling to really criticise power, and consequently become compromised and part of the system that needs to be changed. You need to seek out voices that are, as far as possible, unfettered by any notion of seeking influence in, or access to, the corridors of power.

For example, when Media Lens was challenging the destructive impact of US/UK-led sanctions on Iraq, it quickly became apparent that we could rely on the testimony of Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck, in contrast to the propaganda from British ministers such as Robin Cook and Peter Hain. Halliday and von Sponeck were two senior UN diplomats who had resigned from their Baghdad-based posts running the supposed ‘humanitarian’ Oil-for-Food programme, because they could no longer stand to be part of a ‘genocidal’ sanctions regime that probably led to the deaths of over one million Iraqis between 1991-2003. For obvious conscientious reasons, then, they sacrificed their senior UN positions after decades of service to the ideal of universal human rights. That fact, coupled with their clarity, commitment and compassion, was a powerful challenge to the propaganda coming out of Washington and London.

How do you think that 21st-century digital technology is going to affect the democratic process in the UK and help young people’s campaigns for change?

Forecasting trends in social affairs is a tricky business, so it’s difficult to tell what will be the impact of 21st century digital technology on the democratic process and campaigns for change. Certainly there is huge potential for near-instant challenge of state-corporate propaganda by using the Internet. No longer do we have to wait weeks or even months to receive leaflets, magazines or books that expose the reality behind Western states’ latest ‘humanitarian intervention’ or a corporate bid to control whole swathes of industry while crushing dissent amongst their own workers of people in whose countries they operate.

The impact of online social networking – sites like Facebook, for instance – has already been seen in protests against bankers, fossil fuel dinosaurs and arms companies. As with any new technology, there is a potential for good and also a risk that it will be subverted for other ends. Unless people wake up to the latter possibility, the current window of opportunity may close as governments and media corporations take control of the Internet, limiting its use for grassroots campaigns that raise public awareness and challenge power. It would be a sad failure if the biggest impact on the democratic process was simply to be able to vote at home with one click of a mouse button, thus selecting a political candidate from a narrow range of options, all representing similar powerful interests in society. On the other hand, the internet makes it much easier for people to gain access to information and ideas challenging illusions rooted in the needs of power and profit.

What would your three top tips be for young people seeking to create a positive change in their world?

1. Think more deeply about the standard news framework. The main problem with corporate news is that it restricts the limits of thinkable thought. On the Six O’Clock News of March 20, 2006, diplomatic Correspondent Bridget Kendall declared solemnly: ‘There’s still bitter disagreement over invading Iraq. Was it justified or a disastrous miscalculation?’ The assertion that the alternative to the pro-war justification was to argue that the war was merely a ‘disastrous miscalculation’ offered a deeply personal, and in fact outrageous, view. The anti-war movement has always argued that the war was +not+ just a ‘miscalculation’, but a deliberate and criminal war of aggression. Many people, including former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and specialists in international law, believe that the invasion of Iraq was an illegal war of aggression. Many argue, along with the prosecutors at the Nuremberg trials after the Second World War, that the launching of a war of aggression is “the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole”.

2. Find a topic or course of action about which you feel real passion. Joseph Campbell, the US mythologist, insisted that the antidote to being immersed in either a personal and political wasteland is to reject what we are supposed to do and be, and instead discover what it is we really love to do and be - because this is when we are truly alive. He explained: ‘My general formula for my students is “Follow your bliss.” Find where it is, and don’t be afraid to follow it… In doing that you save the world. The influence of a vital person vitalises, there’s no doubt about it. The world without spirit is a wasteland. People have the notion of saving the world by shifting things around, changing the rules, and who’s on top, and so forth. No, no! Any world is a valid world if it’s alive. The thing to do is to bring life to it, and the only way to do that is to find in your own case where the life is and become alive yourself.’

3. Try to cultivate an enhanced capacity for compassion; not only for people we love; but also, crucially, for people towards whom we may feel indifference or even hate. Cogent arguments, buttressed by accurate facts, figures and references, are necessary but not sufficient. Try to avoid a cold, arid, even angry campaigning mentality. That way lies frustration, burnout and worse. Instead, try to develop the realisation that working for the benefit of others is far more satisfying, and far more meaningful, than working solely for our own benefit. For instance, we wanted to be full-time writers, but learned that writing when motivated by money and status is no different to working in any old corporate office; the sense of boredom and deadness are the same. We try to bear in mind that the corporate media is the source of some of the greatest, most lethal illusions of our age. We feel that challenging those illusions is of real value in efforts to combat human and animal suffering.

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  1. #1 Oliver Kamm 12 Jan 11

    The problem with this ’enhanced capacity for compassion’ is that, in Media Lens's case, it takes the form of denying war crimes and genocide when they find it politically convenient. This is hardly surprising when you consider that Cromwell and Edwards's mentor is Edward Herman, who denies the genocide of 8,000 Bosniaks at Srebrenica in 1995 and 800,000 Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994, using the same ’arguments’ - bogus demographics, libelling the victims, and so forth - as Holocaust deniers. Cromwell and Edwards of course know next to nothing about either the Balkans or Africa, but that's no excuse either for them or for you.

  2. #2 l 12 Jan 11

    you don't half talk some waffle kamm

    its a shame we can't keep you <i>inside</i> of the times pay wall :)

  3. #3 mary 12 Jan 11

    I second that #2. Amazing the speed at which certain entities emerge from the woodwork.

  4. #4 Erk 12 Jan 11

    Always bemusing to hear Kamm - an ardent supporter and continuing defender of the invasion of Iraq, which to date has lead to hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions of refugees/IDPs, to name only the worst consequences, and which was described as illegal by the U.N. Secretary General and the Foreign Office's own senior legal advisers - dishonestly accusing others of being soft on war crimes.

  5. #5 PJ 12 Jan 11

    Comical Olly can't leave it alone, can he?

    ML has endlessly debunked his 'genocide denial' accusations:

    I would respectfully suggest that he toddles on back behind Uncle Rupert's paywall.


    Dangerous Chomskyite cultist (lol)

  6. #6 Spandex 12 Jan 11

    Hey Kamm...

    Did nobody tell you it's cheating to use macros?

  7. #7 Badams 12 Jan 11

    Re: Oliver Kamm's comment: Oh what irony - (false) accusations of genocide-denial from an active genocide-denier.

  8. #8 David Cromwell 12 Jan 11

    Oliver Kamm's smears

    Re: Comment 1 above.

    From our media alert on November 25, 2009:

    ’One of our most relentless critics is Oliver Kamm, leader writer and blogger at The Times. Kamm joined the paper in 2008 having been an investment banker and co-founder of a hedge fund.’

    For the full text of this alert, please see :

  9. #9 Oliver Kamm 12 Jan 11

    As a journalist, I'm also familiar with the type of abuse that ML and its supporters level at my profession, none of which addresses the objections that I and my colleagues have to their behaviour. The comments posted here confirm that point. And so far from refuting my observation that Media Lens engage in genocide denial, Cromwell and Edwards's complaints merely reinforce it. For in all their heated denunciation, they never once address this question: how many Bosniaks were massacred at Srebrenica? Media Lens cannot give the right answer to this, because they are committed to Herman's worldview, and he is the leading Srebrenica-denier.

    Preposterously, Cromwell and Edwards declare, in their purported rebuttal to my charge, that Herman is ’perfectly entitled’ to deny that 8,000 Bosniaks were slaughterd. That puts them in the same camp as Holocaust denial, for the only way they can consistently say this is through ignorance (of which Cromwell and Edwards are certainly guilty) or fakery. I hesitate to get into a numbers game about something that emphatically isn't a game, but we know for a fact that more than 8,000 Bosniaks were killed, because their bodies have been found. The International Commission on Missing Persons has, through painstaking and harrowing work, located and identified by DNA analysis the scattered human remains of well over 6,000 of these people. So much for Herman's ’entitlement’ to deny the evidence.

    I've read NI for more than 30 years, and I'm dismayed to find it publishing such material about an organisation whose propaganda ought properly to be considered alongside that of David Irving - but for the fact that Irving, unlike Cromwell and Edwards, is a capable linguist and does know his way round the source material that he so grossly misrepresent.

  10. #10 Oliver Kamm 12 Jan 11

    Mr Cromwell, as you've entered the fray, and you notoriously decline to show the accountability that you demand of working journalists, let me direct these questions to you.

    1. How many Bosniaks were massacred by Bosnian Serb forces at Srebrenica in July 1995?

    2. Why do you refuse to answer this question? Do you believe that the answer is unknown, even though the ICMP has found and identified the body parts of more than 6,000 of the victims?

    Your (non) response will, I predict, demonstrate your essential identity with Holocaust denial, as NI readers ought to be aware.

  11. #11 Thoth 12 Jan 11

    I would be very cautious about accepting MediaLens just because they espouse the standard Chomsky approach.

    There are indications that they are rather reactionary in some cases. For instance their attacks on George Monbiot.

    Here is a rather penetrating expose of the MediaLens approach:

  12. #12 rippon 12 Jan 11


    Oliver Kamm (#10) says of David Cromwell: “you notoriously decline to show the accountability that you demand of working journalists”

    This is typical of Kamm: he can get so heated that he totally misconceives things.

    Cromwell (Media Lens (ML)) doesn’t “demand” anything of working journalists (or, indeed, anyone) – not least because ML is in no position to +demand+ anything, because they have no money or power (ML might currently have, at best, some marginal influence on public opinion).

    ML +demands+ nothing but +challenges+ a great deal, just as Kamm is doing here – +challenging+ Cromwell to answer a question. (Very many ML challenges happen to be directed at BBC employees, and are very often ignored, illustrating my point – ML can be ignored because they are in no position to +demand+ anything of the BBC.)

    It might help Kamm to understand his misconception that I am highlighting by pointing out that he himself would balk (I hope) at the suggestion that he is +demanding+ Cromwell answer the questions he has posed. (If Kamm does think he is demanding something of Cromwell, then he is making a fool of himself because Cromwell will probably ignore him, making a mockery of Kamm and his ‘demand’.)

    This is in stark contrast to the master (Murdoch) of Kamm’s sty (The Times): he is indeed in a position to demand things of very significant people (e.g. British prime ministers, newspaper editors and journalists). The best that ML can manage is to occasionally demand (by deletion, if necessary) that posters to their site observe the bounds to civilised behaviour. [This happens to be to Kamm’s benefit because it means that ML will delete any post that refers, however accurately, to Kamm with vulgarisms – which is a bit ironic because Kamm himself has allowed posters to his own blog to refer to him (accurately) as a ‘c*nt’.]

    Thoth (#11) suffers similar misconceptions to Kamm (though without tantrum).

    He says he would be “very cautious about accepting MediaLens”, the implication being that ML urges him +not+ to be cautious about accepting their output. That’s the misconception. ML (like Chomsky – who perpetually encourages people to follow-up his footnotes and sources for themselves, i.e. not take his word for it) urges everyone to be cautious about accepting anything from anyone (e.g. ML themselves) – that is “the standard Chomsky approach”. The problem with ‘the Chomsky/ML approach’ is that it can often be hard work and tedious. That’s why the ‘standard approach’ of others can be so appealing: for example, the ‘standard BBC approach’ is to say to the audience, ‘Take it easy; put your faith in us; if you want to understand what’s happening in the world then we’ll do the all the hard work so you don’t have to do any.’

    ML’s simple contention is that too many people do not apply the same caution to mainstream outlets (e.g. BBC) that Thoth is advising with regard to ML.

    Thoth’s other misconception is his notion that ML “attacks” George Monbiot. ML doesn’t +attack+ anyone, not least because they have no weapons. (If they had a readership rivalling, say, The Guardian, then they might at least be in a +position+ to attack – through smears which will receive a wide readership, a standard tactic of mainstream media attack.) No, ML doesn’t +attack+ (or make +demands+ of) anyone – they +challenge+.

    It is good to see that Oliver Kamm is still functioning. I had been behind The Times paywall for a while, and noted that he could seldom be bothered to post anything at all, let alone anything of substance (his posts were often simply recommendations that readers read stuff from someone he admired – perhaps because Kamm felt that he himself had nothing worthwhile to say), on his blog. It’s a shame, something which Kamm himself might be acutely aware of: his blog used to be a lively forum, but the paywall seems to have killed the enthusiasm of anyone inclined to visit and (apparently) the enthusiasm of Kamm himself for posting.

    Dear Oliver Kamm,

    Your questions about Srebrenica are clearly burning issues for you; but, I fear, David Cromwell might ignore you.

    There is no paywall at Media Lens, and, despite your delusions to the contrary, you are +not+ banned there (I specifically checked that with ML).

    Therefore, you are free to post those questions at ML and, if not Cromwell, then others will probably answer them for you.

    Moreover, the ML site is the perfect place to +challenge+ the Editors (and others) over +all+ their ‘distortions’ (including the Srebrenica ones).

    Indeed, that is exactly what ML tries to do: they try very hard to get their comments published on the sites of people with whom they vehemently disagree (e.g. BBC, Guardian). You (everyone) would do well to follow this example of ‘the standard ML approach’.

    Yours sincerely,

  13. #13 Thoth 12 Jan 11

    The ZNet editors thought MediaLens attacked Monbiot. They refused to publish the MediaLens article which attacked Monbiot. Michael Albert wrote to MediaLens saying “We refuse to give silly and destructive claims and formulations credibility”.

  14. #14 Thoth 12 Jan 11

    Correction of undisplayable characters:

    That's: ’We refuse to give silly and destructive claims and formulations credibility’

    (ZNet editors on MediaLens)

  15. #15 Robpeteuk 12 Jan 11

    Very odd that Kamm so vehemently attacks Cromwell, Herman et al for questioning the figure of 8000 deaths from a genocidal attack at Sebrinica when he praises so consistently the acts of one of the biggest killers of people in the world since the 20th century , the US. Where are his accusations of genocide against the US for the deaths of probably 1000's in Fallujah where it appears the US virtually copied the Serbs in removing children and woman from the city then slaughtering many of the men and boys left. The figures of people for both Fallujah and Sebrinica are impossible to verify but I do not trust figures promoted by the US and the UK leaders who are clearly supremacist, militaristic and liars with no compassion for anyone. That Kamm trusts them makes him either naive which I doubt, or a collaborator with the UK/US death squads which I think is more likely. I regularly read medialens, frequently disagree with some of the members and sometimes with the 2 Peters but I have no doubt that they are on the side of the good as is this magazine. Kamm has sided with those in favour of state brutality, terror and mass murders to develop a world that is subservient to capitalism enforced by its military wing the US.

  16. #16 Joe Emersberger 12 Jan 11

    Kamm's remark about Medialnes - ’they dance on a mass grave that they claim isn't there because Herman told them so’ - is libellous. As discussed in Medlialens reply (see link supplied by David Cromwell). When Kamm was asked to supply the quote that proved his allegations of he went hiding behind lawyers.

  17. #17 Rhisiart Gwilym 13 Jan 11

    Surely by now anyone with any knowledge of Olly's crazy chop-logicking, plus two pennorth of savvy of their own, knows that he's is a laughable nutter, not to be taken seriously. No good as a financial parasite; no good as a Murdoch hack; and cowardly with it, too: issuing specious threats that he then doesn't dare to back up with action. Spare him a little sympathy for his intractable problems. Otherwise, ignore the pathetic little poser.

    Incidentally, Olly, my invitation to you and your wretched Murdoch-rag to sue me for libel still stands. Sue and be damned -- if Rupe will let you.

  18. #18 Ed 13 Jan 11

    Oliver Twisted...’Please, Sir, I want some long as I don't have to fight in it’.

  19. #19 Oliver Kamm 13 Jan 11

    Any disinterested reader who has waded through the customary invective that journalists receive from Media Lens's supporters will have noticed that no one has answered the question I raised. The question is: how many Bosniaks were slaughtered at Srebrenica?

    Media Lens cannot treat this simple factual issue honestly, because they are committed to Edward Herman's position that the genocide of 8,000 men and boys by Bosnian Serb forces is a hoax perpetrated by Western media. The kindest thing you can say of this is that Cromwell and Edwards know next to nothing about the Balkans, but that is no excuse for defending a position that takes the same form and uses the same techniques as Holocaust denial. That's a point that ought to be raised whenever Media Lens, as here, are given an easy ride and presented as some sort of authoritative voice of media analysis.

    A small factual correction to Mr Emsberger, a Media Lens regular: I don't engage Cromwell and Edwards in debate, because of their genocide denial; their harassment of my friend and former colleague Bronwen Maddox, editor of Prospect; and their serial dishonesty in suppressing material they find inconvenient. But if they believe I've said things that are libellous, then it's open to them to take legal action against me. For that purpose, I provided the details of my legal representative (nothing to do with my employer) should Cromwell and Edwards wish to take that course. As I have no hesitation in repeating my remarks about Cromwell and Edwards's denial of the Srebrenica massacre, then that option remains open to them. For some reason, this isn't a course they wish to pursue, and you may want to ask yourself why that should be.

  20. #20 Toby 13 Jan 11

    Dear Mr Kamm, I'm afraid I don't have a subscription to the Times site to ask you over there, but perhaps you could let us know what you think of the following from the BBC editors blog as you obviously have an interest in these issues...

    ’The offensive against Serbia in 1999 was presented by western leaders as a humanitarian act to prevent widespread ethnic cleansing of Kosovo's Albanian population by Slobodan Milosevic's forces. This was widely accepted by western commentators at the time and since then reporting of the conflict in western media has been largely been framed as a story of Albanian victims and Serb aggressors. But some of the recent commentary (you can read examples here and here) has challenged this account and questioned whether the intervention and support for independence were misguided.’

  21. #21 Rhisiart Gwilym 13 Jan 11

    Just for the real-world record --

    Olly's ridiculous false allegations, just above, are nonsense. Interested readers should go to the link provided by Medialens Editor David Cromwell, further up these comments, to view a full treatment of this matter, to a level of honesty, truthfulness and compassionate decency which Olly seems simply unable to grasp.

    I say again: don't take this man seriously. Waste no time on him and his malign deceits. This is a man who, in my opinion at least, has provided fulsome evidence over time that -- if anything -- he needs psychiatric help. He seems to crave attention, and also to want to establish the preposterous idea that his crack-brained smears and distortions should be taken seriously. A useful pawn for a while to such global major-league crooks as Rupert Murdoch and his Liescorp TNC, I suppose; but a credible commentator on public affairs? Joke!

    To get an honest, real-world picture of the Bosniak matter, go to Medialens, Herman, Chomsky, et al. Confusing a dishonest small-time stirrer like Olly Kamm with commentators of such real intellectual and moral stature is to do injustice to your own good sense.

  22. #22 Esteban 13 Jan 11

    Whilst it is amusing to interact with Kamm, his trolling does have some limited impact. This should be a discussion about Media Lens as a force for good, not Kamm as a delusional force for negativity. His wearisome reiteration of (questionable) guilt by association, however, leaves Kamm open to having the same charges levelled at him.

    Kamm publically lists as a friend the historian Andrew Roberts. Roberts posed the following question in one of his books; ’Might it be that Hitler actually had nothing personally against the Jews, but just spotted that demonising them would be a rewarding political move?’ (

    Johan Hari wrote expensively about Roberts, revealing that he was a speaker at a dinner given by the Springbok Club, an organisation of white South Africans who “want our countries back, and believe this can now only come about by the re-establishment of civilised European rule throughout the African continent”. Roberts also appeared to offer a justification for the killing of 379 civilians in India by British soldiers commanded by Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer and his comments about the Boer concentration camps led Hari to quote an expert describing how “[Roberts] arguments about the Boer concentration camps are similar to the arguments of the apologists about the Nazi camps’.

    I would encourage people to read Hari’s excellent article and make their own minds up;

    Kamm has a real bee in his bonnet about Media Lens. He was the first to comment here and was among the first to comment on a Times review of Newspeak. To Cromwell and Edwards, I would say that this should be a sign that they are doing the right things and should continue.

  23. #23 Rachel- 13 Jan 11

    I think Oliver is a master debater!

  24. #24 Oliver Kamm 13 Jan 11

    Toby, you could have saved the effort of asking your question by reading The Times, which has dealt with the issue very thoroughly. Serb forces had expelled 300,000 Kosovar Albanians from their homes by the beginning of 1999. If Nato had not intervened militarily, then those people would now be either in squalid refugee camps or in mass graves rather than in their homes. Even though Media Lens denies the atrocities committed by Serb forces and is resolutely ignorant of the subject - its media alert on this subject laughably cited as a ’Balkans specialist’ a schoolteacher in Botley who is unable to read any Balkan language - these crimes are a matter of record. Nato put a stop to them.

    Mr Gwilym, you write to me and other journalists often in these terms, and I for one always courteously acknowledge your messages; but you should realise you've entirely undermined your own case. I've pointed out that Edward Herman denies the massacre of 8,000 Bosniaks at Srebrenica. You can check this yourself: his absurdly named ’Srebrenica Research Group’ declares: ’The contention that as many as 8,000 Muslims were killed has no basis in available evidence and is essentially a political construct.’

    In fact, the bodies of these people have been found. These are not a ’political construct’, but the dismembered human remains of victims of genocide. To deny this physical evidence is to engage in the same propaganda as Holocaust denial; and you admit that that's what Media Lens does. That's my point: case closed. NI has a distinguished publishing record, and its readers ought to be aware of the type of operation Media Lens is.

    As I predicted, Cromwell has not answered the question how many Bosniaks were killed at Srebrenica. NI readers are now aware of the reason for his reticence.

  25. #25 Esteban 13 Jan 11

    Mr Kamm,

    Please explain why we should take you seriously, given your affiliation with someone like Andrew Roberts, given his distinctly unsavoury views? I realise the two of you have much in common, you are the same age, have the same neo-conservative views and are both very, very short. However, should your association with the views Roberts publishes not discredit you as someone who seeks to smear others by association? Or would you like to take this opportunity to condemn the views of your friend Andrew Roberts?

  26. #26 Toby 13 Jan 11

    Thanks for the reply Oliver. You write:
    ’Serb forces had expelled 300,000 Kosovar Albanians from their homes by the beginning of 1999. If Nato had not intervened militarily, then those people would now be either in squalid refugee camps or in mass graves rather than in their homes.’

    Do you have any figures available on the numbers of people who became refugees or were killed after the start of the NATO intervention?

    According to the Guardian article linked to in the BBC blog...

    ’The subsequent 78-day ’humanitarian’ bombardment of federal Yugoslavia massively intensified the ethnic cleansing of Kosovan Albanians by Yugoslav forces. Between 2,000 and 10,000 Kosovan Albanians were killed by these forces, with between 500 and 1,500 people killed by the Nato bombing.

    But even after Russian pressure forced a Yugoslav withdrawal from Kosovo, ethnic cleansing and rights abuses in the region continued. Under the Nato occupation an estimated 200,000 ethnic Serbs, Roma and other minorities from south Kosovo, and almost the whole Serb population of Pristina, have been forced from their homes.’

    If this is true it would indicate that rather a lot of people ended uo in squalid refugee camps or mass graves despite, or as a result of the military intervention by NATO. What do you think?

  27. #27 Oliver Kamm 13 Jan 11

    I'm more than happy to take you through the history of the Kosovo intervention and of the region since, but I understood that you were querying the rationale for that intervention. And the answer is straightforward. The rationale was indeed humanitarian, to stop Milosevic from committing more atoricities. Your proposition that his intensification of ethnic cleansing - which is indeed what happened - was Nato's fault rather than his is obviously morally skewed. The mistake Nato made was not to go in earlier and more forcefully, but the fact is that it underestimated Milosevic's capacity for genocidal violence. That is, as it happens, true of Media Lens as well, because it denies, inter alia, the genocide committed by Bosnian Serb forces at Srebrenica - even though, to repeat, the bodies of the victims have been found and identified.

  28. #28 Esteban 13 Jan 11

    Mr Kamm,

    I repeat - given your association with Andrew Roberts, should your views and criticisms of Media Lens be taken seriously? Or would you like to take this opportunity to condemn the views listed previously?

  29. #29 Francisco L. 13 Jan 11

    Answer to Kamm's Questions

    Mr. Kamm,

    I'd be glad to answer your questions on Srebrenica.

    Your first question is, ’How many Bosniaks were massacred by Bosnian Serb forces at Srebrenica in July 1995?’ And your second question is ’Why do you refuse to answer this question? Do you believe that the answer is unknown, even though the ICMP has found and identified the body parts of more than 6,000 of the victims?’

    The answer is that the ICMP does not determine a cause of death. All the ICMP does is determine which set of remains belong to which individual, DNA analysis doesn't tell you how a person died. It only tells you who they are.

    You can not tell from DNA analysis whether somebody was a civilian who was executed, a civilian who was collateral damage in a combat situation, or a soldier who died in combat. You also can not tell from DNA analysis whether the person identified was even in Srebrenica.

    According to the civilian authorities in Srebrenica, there were 36,205 people in the enclave on January 11, 1995. This is the last count of the population they did before the enclave fell. The UN registered 35,632 living refugees from Srebrenica in Tuzla in August of 1995. 35,632 survivors from a population of 36,205 people doesn't support the allegation that 8,000 people were massacred. Of course the population could have changed in the months between January and July, but its hard to believe it changed that much.

    Another thing we know about Srebrenica is that military records were found in Tuzla for 5,371, or 70.1%, of the 7,661 people on the Hague Tribunal's list of Srebrenica victims. We also know that approximately 90% of the persons identified by the ICMP were military-age men. The ’victims’ to the extent that they can be called that were overwhelmingly military personnel, not civilians. And in case you didn't notice there was a war going on.

    Dead soldiers in a war zone isn't proof of genocide. It's proof of a war.

    That isn't to say there isn't proof that Bosnian-Serb forces executed some people from Srebrenica. Forensic investigators have dug-up 448 blindfolds and 423 ligatures among the bodies, and they've found spent shell casings in the graves. But this certainly isn't true for all the graves. But there is basis to claim that at least several hundred people were executed, but no basis whatsoever to claim that every body they exhume over there was executed by the Bosnian-Serbs.

    There was a war, and a lot of solders were killed in combat.

  30. #30 David Cromwell 13 Jan 11

    Oliver Kamm follows us wherever we appear on the net making these claims. For example:,news-comment,news-politics,bbc-is-not-impartial-independent-nor-even-particularly-truthful

    We have repeatedly answered him. See here:

    Our answer is always this: we have not written about the Srebrenica massacre other than to affirm that it was indeed a massacre. The media alert he mentions was not about Srebrenica; it was about the alleged ’genocide’ in Kosovo in 1999 - a different subject. Readers might like to ask themselves why, when we have written nearly 500 media alerts over 10 years on any number of highly controversial subjects, Kamm would focus endlessly on a subject we have just not written about. The purpose, clearly, is to smear our reputation.

    David Edwards and David Cromwell
    Co-Editors, Media Lens

  31. #31 Oliver Kamm 13 Jan 11

    Thank you for providing so perfect, and perfectly repugnant, an example of what I'm talking about: the techniques of Holocaust denial, as copied-and-pasted from Herman and faithfully retailed by Media Lens.

    More than 8,000 unarmed Bosniak men and boys were massacred in what the International Court of Justice determined was an act of genocide. They were killed after they had been assured of safety by Ratko Mladic. To insult them by claiming that they never existed, and anyway there was a war going on, is fascism.

    The exhaustive summary of forensic evidence and investigation of mass graves containing the victims is available here:

  32. #32 Thoth 13 Jan 11

    Well, what goes around, comes around. MediaLens has been out to smear George Monbiot's reputation for several years. See above.

  33. #33 Oliver Kamm 13 Jan 11

    There they go again. Cromwell and Edwards refuse to address the issue and thereby confirm the accuracy of my observation that they replicate the techniques of Holocaust denial. For consider: not even David Irving denies that there were mass killings of Jews in occupied Poland. He denies that approximately six million Jews were massacred in gas chambers. Cromwell and Edwards dissemble yet again by observing irrelevantly that they don't deny there was a massacre at Srebrenica. But the point is that they deny the massacre that ACTUALLY TOOK PLACE AT SREBRENICA, namely the murder of 8,000 Bosniak men and boys. Edward Herman denies it, and Cromwell and Edwards faithfully retail his claims. This sort of material is, as Paddy Ashdown rightloy described it, an insult and preposterous:

    NI readers will have noticed that yet again Cromwell and Edwards won't answer the simple and straightforward question of how many Bosniaks were massacred at Srebrenica. That's because they're committed to a view that employs the same methods - not even merely morally equivalent methods, but literally the same methods - as Holocaust denial. It's a reasonable inference that when people start squealing about smears rather than provide the answer that would demonstrate that I've mischaracterised them, then their response is mere bluster.

    Cromwell and Edwards know next to nothing about the Balkans, as they neatly demonstrated in their media ’alert’ about Kosovo. But that's no extenuation of a position that ought to be called for what it is.

  34. #34 JJBoulas 13 Jan 11

    Dear Mr Kamm

    No, they do not do anything of the sort. I am surprised that you fail to grasp the meaning of MLens argument, which is quite simple actually: That Srebrenica did indeed happen, but that has been singled out amongst other similar (and some much worst) masacres because it was politicaly expedient to do so.

    Happy to help



  35. #35 Oliver Kamm 13 Jan 11

    Full marks for gallantry, but none for the care with which you've read Media Lens's output. Cromwell and Edwards specifically say - you can check this - that Herman is ’perfectly entitled’ to dispute that 8,000 Bosniaks were massacred at Srebrenica.

    Oh no he isn't: he's even less entitled to dispute this than David Irving is entitled to dispute the number of victims of the Holocaust, because the human remains of the victims of the genocide at Srebrenica have been found and identified. This is the technique of Holocaust denial. And that's what Media Lens promotes and defends.

  36. #36 Erk 13 Jan 11

    As this interview with George Galloway makes abundantly clear, Kamm was a supporter and defender of Israel's actions during Operation Cast Lead at the time they were being carried out.

    He says in the interview that 'Israel has gone to some lengths to protect civilians' but that 'Hamas . . . hide behind civilians', implying taht any civilian deaths among the Palestinians were the fault of Hamas, and not Israel.

    But here's how the Goldstone Commission described those very same actions:

    ' . . . what occurred in just over three weeks at the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009 was a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population, radically diminish its local economic capacity both to work and to provide for itself, and to force upon it an ever increasing sense of dependency and vulnerability . . . the systematic and deliberate nature of the activities described in this report leave the Mission in no doubt that responsibility lies in the first place with those who designed, planned, ordered and oversaw the operations' - p.408

    It also found that, in regards to a number of documented incidents, 'the conduct of the Israeli armed forces constitute grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention in respect of wilful killings and wilfully causing great suffering to protected persons and as such give rise to individual criminal responsibility. It also finds that the direct targeting and arbitrary killing of Palestinian civilians is a violation of the right to life'(p.15/16

    Further, it found that there was 'no evidence . . . to suggest that Palestinian armed groups either directed civilians to areas where attacks were being launched or that they forced civilians to remain within the vicinity of the attacks'. (p.12)

    The mission concluded that 'some of the actions of the Government of Israel might justify a competent court finding that crimes against humanity have been committed'. (p.24)

    Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International also found that war crimes had been committed by Israel, and Amnesty, like Goldstone, found that there was no evidence of Hamas having used human shields - but lots of evidence of the IDF having used them. And in an unusual move, the IDF were publically condemned by the ICRC for failing to uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law.

    To all but rank apologists and the uninformed, then, Israel's actions during Cast Lead appear to have been utterly barbarous, and systematically criminal by international standards.

    Lest we forget, around 1400 people were killed in a little over three weeks, most of them civilians. Many more were injured, traumatised, displaced and made homeless.

    However, because Kamm's comments to Galloway were made before the end of Cast Lead, and so before the release of the Goldstone commission report and the various human rights NGO reports, it's possible that his views have since changed. So perhaps he can clarify.

    Oliver, do you still think Operation Cast Lead was basically justified on security grounds, and that Israel went to some lengths to protect civilians? Or would you now concede, as per the Goldstone and other credible reports, that it constituted a 'deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population', that war crimes and potential crimes against humanity were likely committed in the course of it, and that Israeli political and military leaders, as the main architects of the operation, ultimately bare responsibility and should be brought before the ICC?

  37. #37 Immoral Stalk 13 Jan 11

    ’Serb forces had expelled 300,000 Kosovar Albanians from their homes by the beginning of 1999. If Nato had not intervened militarily, then those people would now be either in squalid refugee camps or in mass graves rather than in their homes.’

    So if they were not in their homes at the beginning of 1999 then where were they?

  38. #38 Oliver Kamm 13 Jan 11

    Some fled to Albania and Macedonia, and others were internally displaced within Kosovo. Many of those were living outdoors. Those ultimately driven out by Milosevic's forces (i.e. also in 1999) amounted to around three-quarters of the total population of 1.8 million ethnic Albanians.

    I stand open to correction on this, but I believe that Milosevic's campaign of ethnic expulsion was thus the most comprehensive and extreme anywhere in Europe since WW2.

  39. #39 kurringai 13 Jan 11

    ’Cromwell and Edwards know next to nothing about the Balkans’

    If this is the case and as they have never written on Srebrenica, except to call it a massacre, why are you asking them?

    And how does this - you know, not commenting on something they know nothing about, according to you, except to call it a massacre - constitute the techniques of Holocaust denial.?

    Irving produced actively minimising holocaust deaths, informed as it was by years of access to primary sources?

    Oh, and how many people have died as a result of the illegal US/UK invasion of Iraq? More than 8,000? More thjan 80,000? What do you think?

  40. #40 Stephen O 13 Jan 11

    Before he became a ’working journalist”, Oliver Kamm was a prolific correspondent to newspapers, writing on a variety of subjects.

    Here he is echoing the widely discredited claim that half of all domestic assaults are carried out by women;

    Kamm's opinions on this are analogous with misogynistic groups such as the UK Men's Movement and there is a body of evidence to contradict these ramblings. Here are examples of contemporaneous rebuttals;

    Now, Oliver Kamm in his letter to The Independent baldly states that the study he cites is the ’most thorough and statistically robust“ the letters The Independent received shortly afterwards, and a mass of academic research, suggests otherwise.

    Mr Kamm, is it accurate to describe you as a ’reliable conduit’ for incorrect views on domestic violence?

    Mr Kamm's confusion about perpetrators and victims has been consistent throughout his writing, as anyone who has read his thoughts on Israel's actions in Gaza will know.

    Sincerely, supporters of Media Lens would be better off just ignoring him. Perhaps he'd go away. I know from experience, and correspondence with other ML supporters, that there is a great deal of amusement to be had in witnessing his rants but it does detract from the vital and valid arguments that Cromwell and Edwards brilliantly convey. Stun him with silence.

  41. #41 Rhisiart Gwilym 13 Jan 11

    Exactly! Ignore the twerp --

    Obviously he thrives on all the attention, just like any troll. His grasp of logic and sound evidence are -- well, to call it laughable is to put it kindly. Nor, when it comes to the crunch, has he the courage, or indeed the serious self-respect, to put his money, his 'reputation', or his writs where his silly mouth is.

    I wouldn't call him a liar, exactly, because I suspect that his grasp on truth and reality is so faulty that he isn't able to tell when his talking rubbish: If Olly says it, and wants it to be true, then no matter how daft it is -- and usually its prize bat-shit daft -- that's all that it needs to be affirmed as fact in his drivelling commentaries.

    Even this sort of attention, where almost all the comments are putting him down, doesn't seem to give him pause. This guy is a nutter. There are better things to do with our time and energy, in this time of supreme and still growing crisis, than to assist Olly in his petty attention-masturbation games. Ignore him.

    I for one am out of this Olly-game right now. I recommend others to leave him to it too. Anyone interested in real-world truth, offered by people of genuine honesty and intellectual capacity, should try a selection of the links variously given by the posters above. But really, giving attention to Olly and his silliness is a waste of life.

  42. #42 Erk 13 Jan 11

    Kamm is also on record as saying that 'any democrat' would be 'glad' that the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende was overthrown by a violent military coup in 1973. Or 'fell', as he euphemistically puts it. All within the context of defending the reputation of that great humanitarian Henry Kissinger:

    I wonder if he still holds this position as well?

  43. #43 maru 13 Jan 11

    I note that no reply has been forthcoming from Mr Kamm to Erk at #36 on the question of the 'greater shoah' enacted on the Palestinians in Gaza and promised by Vilnai.

  44. #44 Francisco L. 13 Jan 11

    Oliver, the International Court of Justice didn't determine anything about Srebrenica. The ICJ never did an investigation. The ICTY made a finding of genocide in Srebrenica and the ICJ cited that finding in its opinion. It didn't bring anything new to the table.

    The only finding that matters is the ICTY's finding of genocide in Srebrenica, but if you look at the underlying evidence it just isn't convincing. I invite anybody to read the judgments in the Krstic and Popovic trials and see if they agree with the court's opinions.

    Just because a court makes a finding, it doesn't mean that others have to believe it. I know you and I don't have the same views on freedom of speech, but I think people have a right to their own opinion.

    You can scream that ’More than 8,000 unarmed Bosniak men and boys were massacred’ until you're blue in the face, but you've got no evidence that so many people were executed or that they were unarmed. The outdated version of Manning's report that you posted here certainly doesn't substantiate any of that.

    You rely on the ICMP and DNA analysis to prove your claim, but the ICMP isn't making any findings about how anyone died, nor would they be able to. You certainly can not determine based on a person's DNA how they died, or whether they were armed or not.

    What you've got is a pile of dead soldiers in a war zone and you're trying to spin that into a genocide. It's absurd.

    You're arguments are sophomoric. You're like a child on the playground calling anyone who disagrees with you a fascist. And then you take it a step further and say that guys like Ed Herman don't even have the right to disagree with your opinion. You don't even believe in free speech, and you're going to sit here and call people fascists? Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

    Comparing the Bosnian war to the Holocaust is absolutely absurd, and you ought to be ashamed of yourself for doing it. In places like Poland and Estonia over 90% of the Jewish population was rounded-up by the Nazis and killed. Millions of Jews, men, women and children, were systematically slaughtered in extermination camps. Nothing even remotely similar ever happened in the Bosnian war.

    I can agree that a war crime was committed by Bosnian-Serb forces in Srebrenica, there is evidence that a large number of people were executed. But you are exaggerating the scale of that crime, and the intent behind it, far beyond anything supported by the evidence.

  45. #45 Oliver Kamm 13 Jan 11

    This thread is obviously well past the stage of conveying anything useful, but it's worth summarising what it demonstrates. Media Lens affects to be a voice of rational media analysis, but Cromwell and Edwards generally know little or nothing of the issues they berate journalists about - their media alert on Kosovo, in which they cited as a ’Balkans specialist’ a monoglot schoolteacher in Botley, was a particular joke, but far from the only one - and the bahaviour of its supporters is as set out here. ML supporters write to journalists in terms that are abusive, hectoring and barely literate. In the case of my friend and former colleague Bronwen Maddox, these extended to threats of personal violence. And those supporters are unabashed in advancing views that are identical to the ’arguments’ of Holocaust deniers: they insult the victims of genocide by denying that they ever existed. Their methods (see the two examples above) extend to bogus demographics and the systematic denial of established physical facts - which in the case of Srebrenica includes the human remains of the victims. This is fascism and rank xenophobia, which - along with the antisemitic bigotry you find among ML supporters on the group's message board, such as their celebration of Israel Shamir and Gilad Atzmon - is combine in strange netherworld of the far-Right fringe.

    But more particularly, note that Cromwell and Edwards still refuse to say how many people were killed at Srebrenica. They can't give the answer, because they're committed to the world view of Herman, who denies the genocide of 8,000 Bosniaks even though the bodies have been found and identified. So Cromwell and Edwards obfuscate and squeal. These are the same claims, using the same methods, as Holocaust denial, and if Cromwell and Edwards find it uncomfortable to be called on it, then I'm afraid they will have to get used to it.

  46. #46 Stephen O 14 Jan 11

    It's quite clear that Kamm is getting very, very excited. His use of capital letters to exaggerate his point, his use of the word ’squealing’ and, most amusingly for a self confessed ’pedant’, a typo. Ironically it appears as he berates ML users for the; ’bahaviour of its supporters ... in terms that are abusive, hectoring and barely literate’. The odd typo occurs, I'm as guilty as anyone, I point this out only to offer more evidence of what an unintentionally amusing phenemona Oliver Kamm is.

    He is clearly obsessed, with Media Lens, Noam Chomsky, George Galloway and others.

    Many points have been put to you, Mr Kamm, and you duck and run, using your Srebrenica mantra for cover. It's quite pathetic. Defend your friendship with Andrew Roberts, your endorsement of discredited misogynistic views and your denial of the massive scale of the dead civilians in Iraq, your favourite war. In his hardback pamphlet ’Anti Totalitarianism - The Left Wing Case for a Neo-conservative Foreign Policy’ Kamm speaks for the dead, wounded and displaced in Iraq saying that they knew a liberation when they saw one (I don't have it with me so can't offer a direct quote).

    He is beyond parody. I for one enjoy these spats but, as I have said, think that ML supporters should engage him on his own turf, rather than give him the attention he craves when he pops up to sling mud at Cromwell and Edwards.

  47. #47 Immoral Stalk 14 Jan 11

    ’Some fled to Albania and Macedonia, and others were internally displaced within Kosovo. Many of those were living outdoors.’

    If there were living outdoors during the winter then many would have died of hypothermia and exposure. I have never seen any reports of this happening. The UNHCR reports also state more actually went to Serbia proper and Montenegro a startling error and omission.

    ’Serb forces had expelled 300,000 Kosovar Albanians from their homes by the beginning of 1999.’

    So these displacements had nothing at all to do with the conflict with the KLA?

    As for Srebrenica - in any criminal investigation you need to be able to answer the following questions – who?, what?, when?, where?, why? and how? The ICMP’s figure of the number of identified bodies only answers the first of those.

  48. #48 Erk 14 Jan 11

    I think there's plenty enough evidence in this thread to show Kamm up as the kind of political thinker he is.

    Apparent supporter and defender of the war crimes, potential crimes against humanity and state terrorism inflicted on the Palestinians by Israel; supporter and defender of the disastrous U.S./U.K. lead 'coalition' aggression against Iraq i.e. 'the supreme international crime'; apparent supporter of bloody, anti-democratic military coups; and a propagator of questionable studies on the issue of domestic violence.

    All I would say to any 'neutrals' reading this exchange is that they should peruse Media Lens' output for themselves, and come to their own conclusions about its validity or lack thereof, rather than solely rely on what Kamm has to say about it.

    Because Kamm clearly has an agenda, and that agenda is (in general) to support, defend and promote various U.S., U.K. and Israeli foreign policy actions, no matter how brutal, murderous or criminal they may be. Actions which he usually tries to justify - and try not to laugh/cry at the sheer bare faced hypocrisy and cynicism here - on the grounds of democracy promotion, humanitarianism and anti-terrorism.

    He then tries to smear and discredit certain critics of those policies as being apologists of one shade or another, while endlessly apologising for various barbarisms himself.

    Basically, he's a glorified Fox News analyst.

  49. #49 Daniel Simpson 14 Jan 11

    Never mind Oliver Kamm's agenda, Ed Herman mispresents the proven facts about Srebrenica (as Noam Chomsky concedes by not disputing them).

    Why the editors of Media Lens can't simply say so is beyond me. The facts ought to speak for themselves. Instead, Media Lens uncritically recycles what Herman and David Peterson make up - see here for the gory details, at tedious length:

    I've been critical of Media Lens for this and other reasons, but that doesn't mean their work isn't useful (especially when it sticks to highlighting neglected facts, and showing the narratives that ought to be built from them, as opposed to berating all hacks as useful idiots).

    It would be significantly more so however if it didn't resort to distortions of its own (e.g. overstating the extent to which media foghorn propaganda - Herman and Chomsky are more realistic about the exceptions to their ’model’, which doesn't do much more than describe a general tendency).

  50. #50 rippon 14 Jan 11

    ’berating all hacks as useful idiots’

    Daniel Simpson describes ML as ’berating all hacks as useful idiots’.

    Could he expand on that, e.g. examples?

    I can't recall any instance of ML practice that fits that description.

    If anything, ML (like Chomsky) seem to suggest that mainstream hacks are (rather than ’idiots’) quite sophisticated - learning how to hone their words to fit parameters that they have the insight and intelligence to understand.

    Moreover, rather than 'berate', the most I can +recall+ (I stand to be corrected) is, at most, heated exchanges (where, most of the time, the heat comes from opponents of ML).

  51. #51 Fracisco L. 14 Jan 11

    Oliver, I've just read your posts about Kosovo and your understanding of that isn't any better than your understanding of Srebrenica. I'm beginning to think that you're some kind of bigot who gets a perverse thrill from smearing the Serbs.

    You act like the Albanian refugees were the only refugees there were during the war. 862,979 refugees (mostly Albanians) were registered in Macedonia and Albania during the war, but there were also 100,000 Serbian refugees from Kosovo in Montenegro and Serbia-proper during the war (i.e. before June 10, 1999).

    The ethnic make-up of the refugee population during the war matched the ethnic make-up of Kosovo's general population. Everybody was fleeing from the war, it didn't matter what their ethnicity was. The number of Serbian refugees was proportionate to the number of Albanian refugees during the war.

    If there had been ethnic cleansing going on there would have been a disproportionate number of Albanian refugees, vs. refugees from other ethnic groups. Kosovo's population decreased during the war, but the ethnic balance never changed.

    The only ones guilty of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo are NATO and the Albanians. After NATO occupied Kosovo and the Albanians took over, the non-Albanian population was expelled. About 200,000 non-Albanians were driven out and thousands of non-Albanian homes and places of worship were destroyed. The ethnic balance was changed after the war. There was real ethnic cleansing and you're on the side of the people who did it.

    Your claim that NATO bombed Serbia to to stop Milosevic's atrocities in Kosovo is bogus. Look at the war crimes indictments handed down by the ICTY against Serb officials in Kosovo. Every war crime the Serbs were accused of took place AFTER the commencement of the NATO bombing on March 24, 1999.

    The only exception was Racak, but the Prosecutor dropped those charges during the Kosovo 6 trial. I suspect because there is so much evidence that Racak was a staged atrocity.

    The ICTY has not been able to find evidence to raise charges or convict a single Serbian official of war crimes in Kosovo before the commencement of the NATO bombing. Every crime the Serbs are accused of happened AFTER the bombing started. Therefore you can not claim that the bombing was intended to stop Serb crimes, when there were no Serb crimes in Kosovo before the bombing.

  52. #52 Daniel Simpson 14 Jan 11

    Thanks Rippon. To my knowledge, they've never written ’all hacks are useful idiots’. However, the alerts are often structured with this implication, and ML subscribers operate on the assumption.

    Take, for example, Tony Shenton's comment, posted yesterday in response to a Comment Factory article by Robert Shone:

    ’can he provide examples of the mainstream media that seriously explore the claim that Iraq was invaded for reasons other than those presented in official discourse?’

    This is a crude oversimplification of the Propaganda Model, which itself is a verbose overstatement of what the ML editors summed up very well themselves in the Guardian (while ’explor[ing] the claim that Iraq was invaded for reasons other than those presented in official discourse’):

    ’[W]hat is regarded as neutral journalism today consistently promotes the views and interests of the powerful.’

    That's a reasonable statement - on the whole, news reporting adopts the assumptions of the government, big business and the military, or occasionally other powerful groups and lobbies (including NGOs) that question this received wisdom.

    However, views outside this consensus get less of a look in, especially when it comes to framing the news coverage (as opposed to comment pieces like the one by the Media Lens editors cited above).

    They do exist, however - see for example the Daily Mirror front pages in the Morgan-Pilger era:

    When it comes to discussions with journalists, I suggest you review the exchanges with George Monbiot and Andrew Buncombe (from alerts in 2002, and 2003 if memory serves).

    As Monbiot winds up concluding:

    ’Rather than offering a clear, objective analysis of why the media works the way it does, who pulls the strings, how journalists are manipulated, knowingly or otherwise, you appear to have decided instead to use your platform merely to attack those who do not accept your narrow and particular doctrine. Whenever a journalist takes a line at variance to your own, your automatic assumption is that he has stopped thinking for himself, and has been, wittingly or otherwise, coerced by dark forces. As a result, you are in danger of reproducing the very problems you criticise. You appear to me to be confronting one form of bias and intolerance with another.’

    I don't think he and I are collectively hallucinating. Ergo, the point stands.

    Best wishes,

  53. #53 David Cromwell 14 Jan 11

    Daniel Simpson implies George Monbiot's view of us from 2002 is definitive. As ever, he ignores Monbiot's subsequent comment, three years later:

    Dear David and David,

    I know we've had disagreements in the past, but I wanted to send you a note of appreciation for your work. Your persistence seems to be paying off: it's clear that many of the country's most prominent journalists are aware of Medialens, read your bulletins and, perhaps, are beginning to feel the pressure. If, as I think you have, you have begun to force people working for newspapers and broadcasters to look over their left shoulders as well as their right, and worry about being held to account for the untruths they disseminate, then you have already performed a major service to democracy. I feel you have begun to open up a public debate on media bias, which has been a closed book in the United Kingdom for a long time. As you would be the first to point out, this does not solve the problem of the corporate control of the media, but it does sow embarrasment in the ranks of the enemy, while reminding your readers of the need to seek alternative sources of information.

    Your columns in the New Statesman have been effective in reaching a wider readership, and I'm glad the Guardian gave you a platform: have you tried to persuade the BBC to let you on? I'm thinking in particular of Radio 4's programme The Message.

    With my best wishes, George Monbiot (February 2, 2005)

    That was impressive from someone we had criticised in several media alerts. What Monbiot thinks now, we don't know (we certainly don't expect to win any popularity contests with the journalists we challenge, although some, like Andrew Buncombe, Peter Wilby and Peter Barron have responded positively, to their very great credit). And by the way, we have never set out to ’smear’ Monbiot, as someone claimed here. Monbiot is a fine, compassionate journalist. We challenge him because he is among the best and because there are limits on what even he can say in the corporate media.

    DE and DC

  54. #54 Thoth 14 Jan 11

    Yeah, but after those nice words from Monbiot, who seems a genuinely decent, forgiving fellow, Cromwell and Edwards tried to smear Monbiot's reputation again in an article which ZNet would not publish, as it made ’silly and destructive’ comments about Monbiot, according to the ZNet editor.

  55. #55 Thoth 14 Jan 11

    And I've heard that Monbiot isn't on speaking terms with Medialens at present.

  56. #56 rippon 14 Jan 11

    Who cares?

    This is all rather trite, e.g. ’And I've heard that Monbiot isn't on speaking terms with Medialens at present.’

    The state of the relationship between ML and Monbiot is not something we should give a damn about; it is not of any significance.

    Only the issues are significant, e.g. climate change, illegal wars.

    ML and Monbiot talk about those issues; it is right and proper that they challenge each other over content and tactics. Who cares how they happen to feel about each other yesterday, today, tomorrow?

    Thoth makes a deeply fallacious equivalence between 'smearing' and 'making ’silly and destructive’ comments'.

    Let's assume ML did indeed make ’silly and destructive’ comments about Monbiot. That has absolutely nothing in common with +smearing+.

    Even Oliver Kamm can appreciate this (perhaps subconsciously). That is why Kamm can happily allow a reader to post to his blog that he (Kamm) is an ’odious little c*nt’; but Kamm (rightly) would never allow someone to post, say, 'Kamm has denied that the Nazis murdered millions of Jews'.

    The former is merely 'silly and destructive' (no matter how accurate it may be); the latter is a +smear+.

  57. #57 Daniel Simpson 14 Jan 11

    Thanks Davids.

    It is of course +breathtaking+ and +remarkable+ that you overlook subsequent public exchanges you've had with George Monbiot, preferring instead to cite an email in which he said nice things (as I've done too down the years). You might not like Robert Shone's take on those incidents, but he's not imagined them.

    Meanwhile, you still don't seem able to admit that Ed Herman has done rather more than imagine some bogus factoids about Srebrenica, or to retract your comment that he's ’perfectly entitled’ to dispute a proven death toll. That's your choice, of course. But it's a bit silly to complain when Oliver Kamm pulls you up on it, whatever his own apologetics for war criminals.

    Or are you making a Buddhist point about attachment to the causes of suffering?

    Best wishes,


  58. #58 Daniel Simpson 14 Jan 11

    For the record, here's ZNet's take on the spiked Monbiot alert:

    Some more screengrabs here from a run-in from 2008:

    That episode started with this posting:

    Here's the Media Lens response:

    Plus a follow-up from a subscriber, which includes an extended debate in the comments:

    Perhaps the Media Lens editors have a more recent endorsement from Monbiot they could quote? To my knowledge none exists.

  59. #59 Thoth 14 Jan 11

    Rippon: ’Thoth makes a deeply fallacious equivalence between 'smearing' and 'making ’silly and destructive’ comments'.’

    Nope. The suggestion that someone is ’protecting corporate interests’ is a smear in MediaLens's book, and that's what they suggested about Monbiot. Nasty, serious business. No question it's reputation ruining if circulated. You obviously didn't see the really nasty business from the people who took the lead of MediaLens, such as Peter Fainton, who said Monbiot was ’brainwashed’ and was promoting ’mass murder’.

  60. #60 Thoth 14 Jan 11

    Some more smears of Monbiot by MediaLens and their supporters are listed here:

  61. #61 Joe Emersberger 14 Jan 11

    Medialens has not smeared George Monbiot's reputation as ’Thom’ (who I'm guessing is Bob Shone) has outrageously claimed.

    The following words contain some of the harshest critcism Medialens has ever made of Monbiot:.

    ’How casually Monbiot has chosen to confront us with this damning public criticism. This, of course, is how internet-based media with essentially no resources are often treated by corporate journalism. If Monbiot had been targeting a powerful think tank or political party, he would perhaps have checked if the posting was 'correct'....

    The casualness of Monbiot's approach is even more depressing given that he has strongly supported our work, describing it as 'a major service to democracy'. (Monbiot, email to Media Lens, February 2, 2005)

    It seems that, on this occasion, feelings of personal offence weigh more heavily with Monbiot than concern for any service we might be rendering. ’
    [end quote]

    I believe, Michael Albert of Znet read an ’unintended’ implication in these words which he felt suggested that Monbiot sets out to ’protect corporate interests’ and noted that only a ’miniscule’ change of wording would have made the alert acceptable to him.

    The essence of Medialens' criticism of Monbiot was later summed up in the their latest book ’Newspeak in the 21st century’ [2009] where they wrote

    ’...the public is eager to read the honest and courageous work of writers like Fisk, Monbiot and Pilger. But it is precisely becasue their work is so valued that we perceived the media as more open, free and inclusive than it really is.’[pg 3]

    Kamm, in contrast, persistently libels Medialens (and Herman and Chomsky one should add) ’Dancing ona mass grave’ etc... Much worse than that , Kamm is an enthusiastic and very dedicated facilitator (not just a denier) of major war crimes.

    Comparing Kamm to Medialens - as THom does above - borders on lunacy.

    I somtimes wished that Medialens would win the lottery or something so they could afford to hold Kamm acountable in court for his persistent and malicious lying. However, even if they did win some vast amount of money, it should be much better spent. For example, it could used to pay legal fees and other costs to help Iraqi refugess - who number in the millions - to start new lives in the UK should they wish to. Better to help Kamm's victims rather that take pleasure in winning a court case.

  62. #62 Thoth 15 Jan 11

    Joe Emersberger, MediaLens wouldn't make the change of wording requested by the ZNet editor, suggesting that there was nothing ’unintended’ about their smear against Monbiot (ie the suggestion he was protecting corporate interests).

    Make no mistake, this was a serious smear. Did you not read the list of appalling smears of Monbiot which I posted (many of them promoted by Edwards and Cromwell on the MediaLens board).

    For example: ’ appears to me that you [George Monbiot] are fighting a proxy war on behalf of the military/industrial/gangster caball...’ - Edwards and Cromwell, for some reason, felt it necessary to promote this on their board (with several other such smears).

    You can say it's ’outrageous’ that I accurately label these smears as smears, and you can gratuitously misspell my username and make insinuations about my identity, but this doesn't change the fact that MediaLens has smeared Monbiot repeatedly and seriously.

  63. #63 Thoth 15 Jan 11

    Also Joe Emersberger, you write: ’Comparing Kamm to Medialens - as THom does above - borders on lunacy.’

    Please get your facts straight. I have not even mentioned Kamm once in any of my posts. Such sloppiness doesn't lend you credibility.

  64. #64 Joe Emersberger 15 Jan 11

    at post #32 you stated

    ’Well, what goes around, comes around. MediaLens has been out to smear George Monbiot's reputation for several years. See above. ’

    You wrote this just after Medialens responded - for the zillionth time - to Kamm's lies about them - to be exact just after Kamm's reply to them.

    I see no other conclusion that can be drawn from this but that you equate Kamm's disgusting behaviour and Medialens' respectful criticism of Monbiot. If that is false please say so clearly - and I'll gladly concede that I misinterpreted you. Otherwise my remark stands - equating Medialens with Kamm borders on lunacy.

    Sorry for misspelling your pseudomym - but why not use your real one?.

  65. #65 Thoth 16 Jan 11

    Joe Emersberger, forget your obsession with Oliver Kamm, and please answer these points:

    Why are you trying to defend MediaLens's repeated attempts to smear George Monbiot's reputation?

    Do you not concede that MediaLens's remarks in the spiked ZNet article were not ’unintended’ (otherwise they would have met ZNet's request to change the wording)?

    And do you not concede that the suggestion that Monbiot was ’protecting corporate interests’ (to quote the ZNet editor's characterisation of MediaLens's remarks) was indeed an unpleasant smear. And if not, why not?

    Furthermore, what (other than a desire to smear Monbiot) explains MediaLens's promotion of the claims that Monbiot was ’fighting a proxy war on behalf of the military/industrial/gangster caball’, that he was a ’mouthpiece for 'mainstream' rhetoric and 'official' views...’, that he showed ’personal cowardice’, etc. (

    All these smears were promoted by Edwards and Cromwell on their own website. They came from MediaLens's own followers, who were prompted to make these smears after reading MediaLens's own attacks on Monbiot.

    And you seek to defend this type of thing? You even say that it's ’outrageous’ for me to label it as ’smears’! Quite remarkable (particularly in light of the fact that Edwards and Cromwell themselves use the term ’smear’ to characterise pretty much any criticism of themselves, including the notion that they are ’biased’ in the way they run their message board).

  66. #66 Joe Emersberger 16 Jan 11

    ok ’Thoth’ I'll answer your question but this will be my last reply to you unless you answer the ones I put to you which were very straightforward - like why you don't use your real name:

    You ask ’Why are you trying to defend MediaLens's repeated attempts to smear George Monbiot's reputation?’

    Because I don't believe they've ’smeared’ Monbiot. They've been respectfully critical.

    You ask ’Do you not concede that MediaLens's remarks in the spiked ZNet article were not ’unintended’ (otherwise they would have met ZNet's request to change the wording)?’

    No. Disagreeing with Znet about the impication of wording proves nothing except tha they've disagreed with Znet, who have since published Medialens regularly - and Monbiot. To put it another way, Michael Albert is not God.

    You ask ’And do you not concede that the suggestion that Monbiot was 'protecting corporate interests' (to quote the ZNet editor's characterisation of MediaLens's remarks) was indeed an unpleasant smear. And if not, why not?’

    Michael Albert interpreted the words that way. That doesn't mean everyone should agree with him. See above.

    You ask ’Furthermore, what (other than a desire to smear Monbiot) explains MediaLens's promotion of the claims that Monbiot was ’fighting a proxy war on behalf of the military/industrial/gangster caball’, that he was a ’mouthpiece for 'mainstream' rhetoric and 'official' views...’, that he showed ’personal cowardice’, etc. (

    All these smears were promoted by Edwards and Cromwell on their own website. They came from MediaLens's own followers, who were prompted to make these smears after reading MediaLens's own attacks on Monbiot.’

    It's silly to say that Medialens ’promotes’ everything people say on its messageboard..

    You say ’And you seek to defend this type of thing? You even say that it's ’outrageous’ for me to label it as ’smears’! Quite remarkable (particularly in light of the fact that Edwards and Cromwell themselves use the term ’smear’ to characterise pretty much any criticism of themselves, including the notion that they are ’biased’ in the way they run their message board). ’

    The fact that you chose to rely on quotes from others - Michael Albert and other people who have posted on the messageboard to back up you accusation that Medialens has ’smeared’ Monbiot underlines the weakeness of you case. Yes, in my opnion your accusation is outrageous - and comparing Medialens to Kamm borders on lunacy for obvious reasons. Again, if I've misintepreted you on that then please clarify.

  67. #67 Thoth 16 Jan 11

    Joe Emersberger (who posts simply as ’emersberger’ at MediaLens, together with the vast majority of posters there who don't use their real names) asks me why I don't use my real name.

    Joe, when you reply to anonymous fellow posters at MediaLens, do you put their pseudonyms in quotes, to suggest that there's something suspect about them (as you did with me): ’Keith-264’, ’alquds43’, ’scrabble’, ’Hidari’, ’Mr Bombastic’, ’sandtrout2010’, ’rippon’, ’John’, ’spike’, etc, etc.

    No, of course you don't. The double standards you demonstrate even in trivial matters such as this extend to practically every argument I've seen you make. What's particularly galling is that when you apply double standards to serious issues such as smearing people, you affect to occupy the moral high ground, whilst insinuating things about the identities or characters of people expressing opposing views (generally known as ad hominem).

    You're right, of course, that it's often a matter of subjective opinion over what constitutes a ’serious smear’. The point I've been making is that MediaLens's attacks on Monbiot constitute ’serious smears’ by the very criteria that MediaLens applies to others. ’Smear’, in fact, appears to be one the most frequently used words in the MediaLens lexicon (I even remember them accusing someone of a ’serious smear’ for simply claiming that they were biased in the way they ran their message board!).

    So, please, don't tell me that the serious slurs, smears, attacks (whatever you want to call them) that MediaLens has written (or promoted, as proxy) about Monbiot amount to nothing more than ’respectful criticism’.

    It's not ’respectful’ to suggest that someone like Monbiot is ’protecting corporate interests’. Neither is it ’respectful’ to post malicious smears from third parties (you say this doesn't mean MediaLens ’promotes’ these smears, but what else can it mean, given that MediaLens has the choice of +not+ posting such vile remarks).

    You confuse ’respectful criticism’ with reputation-damaging smears couched in cloyingly phony ’polite’ language - a speciality of MediaLens, it seems. Michael Albert isn't God, but neither is he a fool - he spiked MediaLens's article for good reason.

  68. #68 Oliver Kamm 16 Jan 11

    I'd bowed out of this discussion, but I feel that I owe NI's editors some apology for having provoked this trainwreck of a comments thread. Nonetheless, I'm going to use it to indicate once more the nature of the organisation that this softball interview purports to examine.

    Daniel Simpson has no sympathy with my Blairite politics but he is an honest journalist who knows well the issues raised by the Balkan wars of the 1990s. And I entirely agree with him on the remark by Cromwell and Edwards that Edward Herman is ’perfectly entitled’ to deny the crimes of the Bosnian Serbs at Srebrenica.

    The notion that it's a legitimate point of view to deny the very existence of the victims of genocide, when their dismembered bodies have been found and identified, is foul and despicable. I have no hesitation in describing Media Lens as an organisation that promotes the same arguments and the same methods as Holocaust deniers. And every time Cromwell and Edwards cross my radar, I shall point out their undoubted ignorance is no excuse for denying genocide - for, in my apt metophor, dancing on a mass grave while claiming it isn't there because Herman told them so.

    Media Lens's supporters typically react to these uncomfortable truths in two ways, both of which are in evidence in this grim series of exchanges. One is unimaginative personal abuse, and the other is an attempt to bully critics into silence. You can see the first ad nauseam, and the second specifically in Emersberger's comments and Cromwell & Edwards's cagey remarks on the ML message board.

    And to the second, I can only say this: Cromwell and Edwards know well, as I've provided them with the information, that I shall continue to point out that their identity with Holocaust deniers and that if they have a problem with that, then they must direct their complaint to my personal legal advisers, whose details I've provided them with. But I shall defend myself vigorously if they make any such attempt, as I insist on the right to fair comment on a matter of public interest. Legal bullying in a vain attempt to suppress free speech is something I'm used to from ML supporters. I've defeated it before, and have voluntarily borne the costs of that abuse of the legal process in order to impress upon these fanatics that I'm interested only in free speech rather than in imposing hardship on them.

    If necessary, I'll fight again these outrageous attempts to suppress criticism - and, comrades, I won't be so generous a second time.

  69. #69 rippon 16 Jan 11

    Kamm said (#9):
    ’I've read NI for more than 30 years, and I'm dismayed to find it publishing such material about an organisation whose propaganda ought properly to be considered alongside that of David Irving [i.e. holocaust denial]’

    Thus, accepting Kamm's argument, it follows, then, that NI are promoting the views of holocaust deniers, not least because they have deliberately failed to elucidate the true nature ’of the organisation that this softball interview purports to examine [Kamm].’

    Promoting the views of holocaust deniers must be as low as any magazine can sink.

    In that case, then, Mr Kamm, do you now resolve to stop reading NI (after ’more than 30 years’)?

  70. #70 Joe Emersberger 16 Jan 11

    From a Medialens alert linked to in this discussion a few times now:

    ’...a leading European human rights lawyer, told us: ’If this Kamm chap can't provide any evidence for his claim, it really is a most damnable libel.’ (Korff to Media Lens, November 19, 2009) And of course we have never made any such claim regarding Srebrenica. On the contrary, as discussed, we have repeatedly affirmed that there +was+ a massacre.

    In a series of exchanges on the Times Higher Education website we asked Kamm to provide a quote from us in support of his allegation. Unusually for him, he failed to reply.’

    Kamm owes Medialens an apology of course. Much more importantly, He owes millions of Iraqi refugees an apology for the war he has gone out of his way to facilitate as a propagandist. He owes the people who died as a result of the war - and their families - who number in the hundreds of thousands - an apology as well. However, it is obvious that deceny from Kamm is extremely unlikely.

  71. #71 Thoth 16 Jan 11

    Joe Emersberger #66 wrote: ’It's silly to say that Medialens 'promotes' everything people say on its messageboard.’

    Actually, the examples I provided of Medialens-promoted smears were +posted+ by the MediaLens editors (not by other people). Here they are again (plus a few more):

    ’ appears to me that you [George Monbiot] are fighting a proxy war on behalf of the military/industrial/gangster caball...’ [Email to Monbiot, posted to ML by Medialens editors]

    ’...your role as a mouthpiece for `mainstream` rhetoric and `official` views...’ [Email to Monbiot, posted to ML by Medialens editors]

    ’Your silence speaks volumes, as an admission of charges levelled at you by Media Lens...’ [Email to Monbiot, posted to ML by Medialens editors]

    ’It`s not just personal cowardice in admitting [sic] that you were wrong...’ [Email to Monbiot, posted to ML by Medialens editors]

    ’a genocide that dares not speak it`s name, and countless number of men, womwn and children maimed and deseased, the social fabric of that country destroyed, a disastrous situation that you bear part of the responsibility and guilt, Mr. Monbiot.’ [Email to Monbiot, posted to ML by Medialens editors]

    And then there were the smears which MediaLens didn't promote (but which they obviously inspired and didn't mind hosting on their website), eg:

    ’I don't have a platform in a major newspaper or other media outlets to express my beliefs and opinions. But if I did, I would not use it to promote mass murder like your brainwashed hero George Monbiot.’ [posted to ML by ML supporter Peter Fainton]


  72. #72 lpcyu 16 Jan 11

    What It’s Like to Chill with the Most Ruthless Men in the World Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic: Confessions of a Female War Crimes Investigator

    What It’s Like to Chill with the Most Ruthless Men in the World
    Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic:
    Confessions of a Female War Crimes Investigator

    Retrospectively, it was all so simple, natural and matter of fact being on a boat restaurant in Belgrade, sitting with, laughing, drinking a two hundred bottle of wine and chatting about war and peace while Ratko Mladic held my hand. Mladic, a man considered the world’s most ruthless war criminal since Adolf Hitler, still at large and currently having a five million dollar bounty on his head for genocide by the international community. Yet there I was with my two best friends at the time, a former Serbian diplomat, his wife, and Ratko Mladic just chilling. There was no security, nothing you’d ordinarily expect in such circumstances. Referring to himself merely as, Sharko; this is the story of it all came about.

  73. #73 lpcyu 16 Jan 11

    Irrefutable Proof ICTY Is Corrupt Court/Irrefutable Proof the Hague Court Cannot Legitimately Prosecute Karadzic Case

    Irrefutable Proof ICTY Is Corrupt Court/Irrefutable Proof the Hague Court Cannot Legitimately Prosecute Karadzic Case
    (The Documentary Secret United Nations ICC Meeting Papers Scanned Images)

    This legal technicality indicates the Hague must dismiss charges against Dr Karadzic and others awaiting trials in the Hague jail; like it or not.

    Unfortunately for the Signatures Of the Rome Statute United Nations member states instituting the ICC & ICTY housed at the Hague, insofar as the, Radovan Karadzic, as with the other Hague cases awaiting trial there, I personally witnessed these United Nations member states openly speaking about trading judicial appointments and verdicts for financial funding when I attended the 2001 ICC Preparatory Meetings at the UN in Manhattan making the iCTY and ICC morally incapable trying Radovan Karazdic and others.

    I witnessed with my own eyes and ears when attending the 2001 Preparatory Meetings to establish an newly emergent International Criminal Court, the exact caliber of criminal corruption running so very deeply at the Hague, that it was a perfectly viable topic of legitimate conversation in those meetings I attended to debate trading verdicts AND judicial appointments, for monetary funding.

    Jilly wrote:*The rep from Spain became distraught and when her country’s proposal was not taken to well by the chair of the meeting , then Spain argued in a particularly loud and noticably strongly vocal manner, “Spain (my country) strongly believes if we contribute most financial support to the Hague’s highest court, that ought to give us and other countries feeding it financially MORE direct power over its decisions.”

    ((((((((((((((((((((((((( ((((((((((((((((((((((((( Instead of censoring the country representative from Spain for even bringing up this unjust, illegal and unfair judicial idea of bribery for international judicial verdicts and judicial appointments, all country representatives present in the meeting that day all treated the Spain proposition as a ”totally legitimate topic” discussed and debated it between each other for some time. I was quite shocked!
    The idea was ’let's discuss it.’ ’It's a great topic to discuss.’

    Some countries agreed with SpainÂ’s propositions while others did not. The point here is, bribery for judicial verdicts and judicial appointments was treated as a totally legitimate topic instead of an illegitimate toic which it is in the meeting that I attended in 2001 that day to establish the ground work for a newly emergent international criminal court.))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

    In particular., since ’Spain’ was so overtly unafraid in bringing up this topic of trading financial funding the ICC for influence over its future judicial appointments and verdicts in front of every other UN member state present that day at the UN, ’Spain’ must have already known by previous experience the topic of bribery was ’socially acceptable’ for conversation that day. They must have previously spoke about bribing the ICTY and
    ICC before in meetings; this is my take an international sociological honor student. SPAIN's diplomatic gesture of international justice insofar as, Serbia, in all of this is, disgusting morally!

    I represented the state interests' of the Former Yugoslavia, in Darko TrifunovicÂ’s absence in those meetings and I am proud to undertake this effort on SerbiaÂ’s behalf.

  74. #74 Thoth 17 Jan 11

    I note, for the record, Joe Emersberger's silence over the vile smears of George Monbiot promoted (ie +posted+) by the MediaLens editors (which I listed at #71).

  75. #75 Oliver Kamm 17 Jan 11

    Rippon Gupta, the answer to your question is no.

    Mr Emersberger, we've already been through this. Media Lens is averse to a free exchange of views. Cromwell and Edwards banned Daniel Simpson from ML's site when Simpson took highly informed issue with the denial by David Peterson of the crimes of Milosevic. Simpson is sympathetic to Media Lens, but he knows this subject and won't tolerate lying about it.

    Cromwell and Edwards also, utterly bizarrely, wrote to me to ask for a comment to publish on their site. They asked whether, as I'd supported Nato's intervention in Kosovo, I would support military intervention in Israel. When I patiently explained the none-too-abstruse distinction between the two cases, Cromwell and Edwards refused to publish a comment that they themselves had solicited for that purpose! The suppression of dissenting opinions clearly comes naturally to them.

    In the circumstances, it doesn't surprise me that Cromwell and Edwards should, as you urge them and as they imply in their comments to their own supporters, instinctively seek by legal threats to shut down opinions that they find uncongenial. But I'm afraid that I won't allow it. I've defeated one libel writ by an ML regular, and against the advice of my colleagues deliberately didn't put in an immediate claim against him for my costs in his abuse of the legal process. I'll fight vigorously to defend my right to fair comment on a matter of public interest.

    And my comment is that Media Lens expounds and promotes propaganda that is the same - the same arguments; the same methods - as Holocaust denial. The notion that Herman is ’perfectly entitled’ to deny the very existence of the victims of genocide - victims whose body parts have been found and identified - is monstrous. This ought to be obvious, despite Cromwell and Edwards's injured complaint that I won't debate with them. (Which is, BTW, true: I won't debate with them given their denial of the genocides at Srebrenica and in Rwanda, and the harassment - including threats of violence, which Cromwell and Edwards then lied about in their book Newspeak - directed by ML supporters against my friend Bronwen Maddox.)

    How predictable, then, that Cromwell and Edwards should try bullying to get their way. But haplessness always accompanies them, I fear. Just as their idea of a ’Balkans specialist’ is a schoollteacher in Botley who speaks no Balkan languages, so they turn for advice on libel law to someone of absolutely no competence or qualifications in the field. All I can say, yet again, is that if they have a complaint then they know how to pursue it. But I will defend myself, and will not be dissuaded from telling the truth about the deniers of genocide.

  76. #76 Oliver Kamm 17 Jan 11

    Incidentally, this is a minor point, but I'm fascinated by the mind of what Eric Hoffer termed The True Believer, and Media Lens regulars are a case study in that sort of psychology. Regardless of what view you take on Tony Blair's decision to commit British forces to the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, Emersberger plainly has no grip on rationality when he describes me as ’facilitating’ it. I'd challenge him to say how I did so, but it wouldn't be kind to him or to anyone still reading this thread.

  77. #77 Stephen O 17 Jan 11

    Questions for Mr Kamm

    Mr Kamm,

    Great to see you commenting again.

    Perhaps, now, you'd like to explain why you can or should be taken seriously given your association with Andrew Roberts? And also why, despite vast evidence to the contrary, you haven't retracted your idiotic claims about domestic violence?

    Mr Kamm knows a thing or two about ruthless suppression, isn't that right, Oliver?

  78. #78 Stephen O 17 Jan 11

    Another question for Oliver Kamm

    Do you know who katie60 might be? Any ideas?

  79. #79 Oliver Kamm 17 Jan 11

    Mr O'Neill, you've written to me on numerous occasions over many months, in increasingly insulting terms, and submitted very many comments to my website in similar language. I'm afraid that, as I've already told you in private correspondence, those opinions are not of interest to me, and the exchange between us, which has been conducted in unfailingly courteous terms on my side alone, is concluded. I should have thought it obvious, however, that Andrew Roberts - who has written some excellent books, notably his biography of Lord Halifax - holds different views from mine. And no, I have no idea who Katie60 is, and you, Cromwell and Edwards merely make yourselves look foolish by insinuating triumphantly that I use sockpuppets on the Guardian website. Why on earth would I adopt a pseudonym to state that Media Lens holds views that are the same as Holocaust denial? I say this in my own name, regardless of the abuse and threats, including death threats, that Media Lensers throw at me.

  80. #80 Stephen O 17 Jan 11

    Mr Kamm,

    I have never once been personally insulting and it is incorrect of you to claim otherwise. Nor have I threatened you or used swear words in our correspondence. My use of the word ’idiotic’ to describe your views on domestic violence is about as extreme as I have ever been but it is appropriate given your publicly stated position. For the record, I have never reproduced our correspondence anywhere, having given you an undertaking to that effect.

    Your constant references to threats emanating from ML supporters are bizarre. You weren't responsible for the insults directed at me from your supporters on your blog, which included being labelled an IRA apologist. Melanie Phillips isn't directly responsible for her being listed as a favourite author on the football hooligan's social networking site Casuals Reunited and Douglas Murray isn't directly responsible for the crudely bigoted comments left on his Telegraph blog. Similarly, Cromwell & Edwards can't be held responsible for the behaviour of everyone who reads their work and decides to act. And, in fact, out of everyone previously listed, Cromwell & Edwards are the only ones to urge politesse and restraint.

    Thank you for offering some clarity about your association with Andrew Roberts. Far more worrying, however, are your as yet unretracted views about domestic violence. Would you like to comment on this issue? As you'll know, it isn't just me that takes issue with your views, I provided contemporaneous rebuttals and would suggest you look at the following resources;

    Also Walby & Allen (2004), Kelly & Lovett (2005), Dodd et al (2004), Humphreys & Thiara (2002) as well as numerous studies by Dobash & Dobash and others, as listed in the response from Women's Aid to your previous comments.

    By the way, I have never commented on the Media Lens board – I am not the Stephen there. You spend far more time on the Media Lens site than I do.

  81. #81 Oliver Kamm 17 Jan 11

    Mr O'Neill, I've carefully explained the reasons that, while I courteously acknowledge your messages, as I do with all other Media Lensers, I do not any longer engage you in debate. The manner of your comments here, which you've sent me several emails to reiterate in the past 48 hours, underlines that judgement. As it happens, I'm one of few financial economists to hold a postgraduate degree in sociology, and I am, in fact, familiar with the contemporary literature that you cite but appear not to have read, and the methods employed in that research.

  82. #82 Stephen O 17 Jan 11

    Mr Kamm,

    You are getting confused. I haven't contacted you in the past 48 hours, the last E-mail was sent on Friday, thanking you for your continued courtesy. Perhaps this lack of attention to detail explains your accusations of me becoming ’increasingly insulting’.

    I don't doubt that you have a postgrad in sociology but if you were familiar with the material I cited, which isn't particularly contemporary as it happens, you would realise that the views you espoused in 1995 are extremely damaging and plainly incorrect. Of course critical thinking can be clouded by a person's political beliefs, so perhaps that explains why you hold the views that you do.

    There is a common theme here - the confusion of perpetrators and victims. Melanie Phillips also does it. I took an interest in neo-con attitudes to domestic abuse having read a particularly vicious article by Ms Phillips blaming civilians in Gaza for their victimisation in exactly the same kind of language used by misogynists to justify domestic violence or dismiss it using ’whataboutery’. I do have to say that I was surprised you endorsed these crude views, but there you have it.

  83. #83 rippon 17 Jan 11

    fanatical mass movement

    I'm grateful to Oliver Kamm (#76) for expanding my horizons: I had never heard of Eric Hoffer before.

    Out of curiosity, I looked him up.

    The full title of Hoffer's classic is: 'The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements'

    From Wikipedia:
    ’Thesis and background

    ’The book evaluates and sometimes disparages all mass movements including communists, fascists, nationalists, and Christianity. Part of Hoffer's thesis is that movements are interchangeable and that fanatics will often flip from one movement to another. Furthermore, Hoffer argues the motivations for mass movements are interchangeable: religious, nationalist and class-based movements tend to behave in the same way and use the same tactics, even when their stated goals or values are diametrically opposed.’

    One question that this raises is:
    Obviously, ML does not currently constitute a mass-movement; so, Mr Kamm, do you fear there is a danger that ML and its followers will grow into a fanatical mass-movement? (They would obviously take exception to 'fanatical', but I think they will be flattered that an ardent opponent might regard them as a potential mass-movement.)

    Another question:
    Can you give any examples of ML behaviour that qualifies as 'fanatical'? I appreciate that, so far on this thread, there are two charges of deeply immoral behaviour, i.e. denial of genocide in one or two instances, and a determination to smear others (e.g. George Monbiot).

    But do you have any others in mind? - because, after all, the issues of Srebrenica and Monbiot's integrity represent a minuscule fraction of ML output.

  84. #84 Daniel Simpson 17 Jan 11

    I can't speak for Oliver Kamm, but the underlying problem is what the Media Lens editors might call +structural+, or +systemic+.

    Their modus operandi isn't always what it might seem, unless the aim is to mislead their readers, as was the consequence in the examples I pointed out (above, in comment 52).

    They're not countering propaganda with The Truth (whatever that might be) - they're making propagandistic arguments themselves. Presumably, they think that's OK, because they're ’The Good Guys’ (or compassionate dissidents running on a shoestring, or whatever), and the targets of their critique are ’Acquiescent In Horrendous Crimes’.

    However, when they skew the facts to make their case, or endorse the hyperbole (see the Monbiot case) or untruths (as in Srebrenica) of others, they do more than pull a few forgivable fast ones. They morph, as Monbiot noted, into the mirror of what they're meant to be +against+ - i.e. dishonest propaganda, and ’incivility’ and ’hounding’ (the latter two being the ’crimes’ for which I was banned from posting to their message board, where I spent much of my time trying to interest them in more constructive action).

    I wrote about the tendency a few years ago, in the context of an essay about media alternatives. The two paragraphs below sum up the way the wheels come off. It's not that drumming up dissent is wrong, per se. It's pretending that propaganda is The Truth. That's what the whole project is meant to oppose... so little wonder subscribers get misled. Most of the time, it's just a difference of interpretation. But when lies get promoted, and honest hard-working writers get ’smeared’ (as the ML editors define all criticism of them, as if they were somehow ethically infallible), I hope you can see the problem I've been getting at.




    Media Lens and its subscribers berate journalists for pushing facts through an interpretive framework that obscures their significance; for sacrificing analysis on the altar of novelty; for accumulating information without joining up the dots. Editors tend to favour news stories that recycle the idées fixes of conventional wisdom in their presentation of background material. These are regarded as unbiased, while those structured on alternative interpretations arouse suspicion. Newspapers consequently devote forests of column inches to supposed scepticism, which takes as its starting point the premises of those it purports to challenge. This “feigned dissent”, according to Edwards and Cromwell, is the stock-in-trade of liberal commentators, whose heft and vigour belie their conformity to established opinion. More outspoken dissidents, whether opinionated reporters like the Independent’s Robert Fisk, or investigative columnists like George Monbiot at the Guardian, survive in pockets, but they don’t get to take editorial decisions. As such, the Media Lens editors argue, they may do more harm than good. “Dissident appearances in the mainstream act as a kind of liberal vaccine,” they assert, “inoculating against the idea that the media is subject to tight restrictions and control.”

    This is an absurd claim, predicated on the assumption that there could, even in theory, be any such thing as a truly free press. The repeated references to this holy grail suggest, however, that it is necessarily elusive, serving as a kind of Trotskyist transitional demand with a Situationist twist. “Be realistic, demand the impossible,” as the sloganeers of 1968 would have it. Or, more bluntly: “No replastering, the structure is rotten”, as if it might somehow crumble of its own accord once enough people noticed. Chomsky and Herman’s propaganda model identified five filters distorting media coverage: the interests of parent companies, pressure from advertisers, dependence on official sources, flak from the government and other powerful lobbies and an ideological belief in free-market capitalism. Media Lens seeks to raise awareness of these issues by demonstrating that there are limits to what many journalists are prepared to discuss. More honest reporting is impossible, Edwards and Cromwell argue, unless the filters blurring their vision are removed. “We cannot change the mass media,” they write, “until we change the culture, which cannot change until we change the mass media.” Their objective is to lobby for a revolutionary restructuring of society by highlighting flaws in journalism, which they ascribe to an all-encompassing theory passed off as axiomatic fact. In effect, then, they are manufacturing dissent.

  85. #85 rippon 17 Jan 11

    Thanks, Daniel.

    Re the first half of your post:
    You say, ’I hope you can see what I'm getting at.’
    Well, I can see that you're reiterating your assertions that ML promotes untruths about Srebrenica and smears Monbiot. But I reiterate my request for examples beyond those because that's a minuscule fraction of their output.
    The rest of what you say is highly tenuous and dubious. For example, there is no point in criticising ML for believing they possess The Truth or for making propagandistic arguments: everyone who debates any side of any debate believes they are positing the truth (and you can't be suggesting that, for ML to be more honourable, they ought to promote arguments that they +don't+ believe to be The Truth). Also, any side in any debate typically asserts that the opposition is making propagandistic arguments; so, again, this 'criticism' contains no substance.

    Re the second half of your post (the essay bit):
    Again, there is hardly any substance to be squeezed from all this verbiage. There is this piece of substance: the ML claim (outlined in your first para) is an ’absurd’ one. But your reasons for asserting the 'absurdity' are serious misconceptions about ML (i.e. +absurd+ themselves) ...
    One reason you give is the 'ML (flawed) assumption that there could be any such thing as a truly free press'. But ML (and Chomsky - whose media arguments ML basically just endorse and adopt) has never argued this. With respect to 'free press', they simply assert that some writers have more freedom than others. ML has more freedom than mainstream journalists because they are not part of a hierarchical corporate structure with line-managers to answer to and an editorial line to be conscious of. But even ML are not ’truly free’: they have their own constraints, e.g. one of them could only be part-time 'til recently and either/both of them might have to go part-time at any point in the future. It's nonsense to talk about ’truly free’: that doesn't exist anywhere, and it certainly isn't a holy grail that concerns ML (nor, indeed, anyone). Moreover, if by 'free press' you mean 'unbiased', ML certainly don't argue for that either. They argue that journalists ought to be +biased+ towards the perspective of victims rather than power-brokers. Their criticism of the BBC is not that it is biased, but, rather, that it chooses bias in favour of the powerful instead of the vulnerable and, moreover, claims to be +unbiased+. That is why ML does not criticise The Economist (for example): that journal makes it clear where its loyalties lie and what it's outlook is (e.g. faith in capitalism), so, in a sense, it is above criticism, certainly compared to the BBC.
    ’Their [ML's] objective is to lobby for a revolutionary restructuring of society’ - This is complete garbage. Their objective is actually very narrow - to challenge the mainstream media over its flaws, distortions and deficiencies, to encourage others to do so, and to encourage others to consume alternative media (e.g. Democray Now!, Real News Network, Wikileaks, ZNet, Counterpunch, ... the list is long).
    Your confusion is further illustrated by your final sentence: ML are ’manufacturing dissent’. What does that even mean? Maybe it means they are building an army of followers who are all heeding ML's call to challenge mainstream media. In that case, you mean ML's project is achieving exactly its aim, so you are saying that, despite your 'criticisms' (inverted commas because, behind all the verbiage, there is actually hardly any criticism), ML should be commended. Or maybe it means that ML is just 'manufacturing' dissenting material for the sake of it (some masturbatory pleasure) - in that case, then, examples beyond the minuscule fraction that is repeatedly asserted (Srebrenica, IBC, smearing Monbiot) could potentially be enlightening. If ML is ’manufacturing dissent’, then it's not even clear that that is a criticism; because you are basically throwing Herman-Chomsky's (HC) words back, and they certainly didn't mean it as a criticism of mainstream media delusions - they meant it as a recognition (even respectful recognition, in fact - Chomsky often remarks how effective the 'manufacturing consent' system is) of the powerful ways that mainstream media work.

  86. #86 Daniel Simpson 18 Jan 11

    Thanks Rippon. Since you've convinced yourself that views you don't already hold are ’complete garbage’, you've answered your own questions.

    Media Lens does not provide an accurate account of how journalists distort the news, even if it notes many of those distortions accurately. This matters a great deal, and not just because it leads serious and sincere readers like Tony Shenton to the absurd conclusions I highlighted above (in comment 52).

    Firstly, it reduces an already vague and borderline useful ’model’ (whose contents can be summarised in a sentence - as per the ML article quoted) to a meaningless bludgeon.

    Secondly, it confuses readers as to what the solution needs to be - not least because the Media Lens alerts do +not+ much (as claimed in the NI preamble above this thread) ’encourage the critical study of current news, by comparing the way alternative media sources cover stories with the way they are covered in the mainstream media.’

    If they were to explore what it is that makes +some+ (and by no means all) coverage on the outlets you cite more insightful, and sought to codify what that alternative was, they would provide a very important contribution to building alternatives. Instead they just attack the BBC for being what it's set up to be (i.e. not in any way radical) and the Guardian, for retailing ’liberal herrings’.

    Regarding your credulous incredulity about their non-use of such misleading rhetoric as the idea of a free press, here's one of many examples, from 2002, back in the early days (when they were much less verbose, as was I):

    ’In short, as a necessary (but insufficient) start, the public requires a genuinely free press. The Guardian, despite the occasional glimmer of hope and dissent, does not and probably cannot - for commercial, structural and other reasons - fit the bill.’

    Nor can anything else, even if all five filters were removed, as misleading reports on alternative media prove, regardless of whether they state their bias clearly (though this is to be encouraged). What matters is which framing conditions are used, which sources are consulted and why, and what gets left out, and what that obscures. All of these are important considerations. There's little point just whipping people up to rant about the Evil Corporate Media, and to idolise the Good Guys On The Internet.

    George Monbiot tried to explain this sort of thing repeatedly, and was ridiculed for it. I did the same, and was banned from the ML message board. This was the final posting that irked the editors:

    “as your archive of alerts demonstrates (Buncombe and Monbiot are examples that spring to mind) you tend not to take much account of what your interlocutors say to you, except to dismiss it as having no bearing on the case you’re asking them to accept as proven.”

    If you're interested in thinking critically about Media Lens, I'm sure you don't need me to give you pointers, though you might do well to ask Monbiot or Buncombe. Of course, you're free to be a True Believer.


  87. #87 Tony S 18 Jan 11

    Here's a passage from Manufacturing Consent that explains the central argument of the Propaganda Model

    ’...views that challenge fundamental premises or suggest the observed modes of exercise of state power are based on systematic factors will be excluded from the mass media even when elite controversy over tactics rages fiercely’(xii)

    In other words, the mass media will not seriously argue that 'our' leaders invade countries for reasons other than those presented in official discourse i.e. spreading democracy and fighting terrorism etc. Thus, even in the Mirror, Guardian and Independent, the debate was restricted to questions such as: are our noble goals really obtainable? Are our leaders using the right tactics to achieve their noble aims?

    According to Daniel Simpson, asking critics to provide counterexamples is a crude oversimplification of the Propaganda Model. Perhaps he could explain why.

  88. #88 Tony S 18 Jan 11

    Here's a passage from Manufacturing Consent that explains the central argument of the Propaganda Model

    ’...views that challenge fundamental premises or suggest the observed modes of exercise of state power are based on systematic factors will be excluded from the mass media even when elite controversy over tactics rages fiercely’(xii)

    In other words, the mass media will not seriously argue that 'our' leaders invade countries for reasons other than those presented in official discourse i.e. spreading democracy and fighting terrorism etc. Thus, even in the Mirror, Guardian and Independent, the debate was restricted to questions such as: are our noble goals really obtainable? Are our leaders using the right tactics to achieve their noble aims?

    According to Daniel Simpson, asking critics to provide counterexamples is a crude oversimplification of the Propaganda Model. Perhaps he could explain why.

  89. #89 Daniel Simpson 18 Jan 11

    Thanks Tony,

    Did you read the Mirror in 2002 and 2003? Did you click on the link above in comment 52? It shows a banner front page headline screaming ’This War Is A Fraud’, after which John Pilger explained why.

    The Propaganda Model isn't a model. It just says most media mostly foghorn elite propaganda. Which they do. What matters far more is why, how, and how daily news might be reported differently, while still telling people what's been happening. Democracy Now tries to do that, so alerts comparing its reports to those on the BBC might be insightful. But attacking the BBC for not being Pilger is either daft or a misunderstanding of Chomsky and Herman (who already overestimate their ’model’).

    To sum up, its only predictive power is to say that it's rare for news to be framed with critical arguments (e.g. a clause pointing out that a planned ’humanitarian intervention’ would be ’the supreme international crime’). I'm not saying that's not worth telling people. I'm questioning how insightful it is to repeat it without getting more sophisticated in the analysis, to show what might be doable instead, and to codify different models for reporting. The news we get turns out the way it does not because of filters, but because reporters and editors choose to write in a way that looks from the outside to be much the same as if it had to be filtered that way. It doesn't however, as the examples of exceptions to the trend show. And whoever's going to produce better news coverage (whether working for free on the Internet or in the face of the buzzsaw, where it's unquestionably harder), they can't just pluck ideas out their backsides - there has to be some kind of reporting paradigm (i.e. which sources to turn to and why, what background to present and where, and how much bias to allow, and how explicit to make it).

    Here's what the New York Times printed on March 20, 2003:

    ’President Bush ordered the start of a war against Iraq on Wednesday night, and American forces poised on the country's southern border and at sea began strikes to disarm the country, including an apparently unsuccessful attempt to kill Saddam Hussein. [...] With his four-minute address to the nation, delivered after he finished a quiet dinner with his wife, Laura, in the White House residence, Mr. Bush embarked on one of the country's most ambitious military ventures since Vietnam.’

    Since they went on to say lower down that ’Germany, France and Russia have declared that the war is, in essence, illegal’, they could of course have framed the whole story differently.

    Instead it could have kicked off this way:

    ’America defied the international community on Wednesday night, launching an attack on Iraq that repeats, in essence, the supreme crime of aggression for which senior Nazis were hanged after World War II.’

    Constructive media alerts would use examples like this to show what's possible according to prevailing reporting rules, and ask reporters to justify why they shied away from framing stories that way. A useful model would thereby be developed, instead of harping on about why such things can't be done. It's true that no New York Times editor would print that, but we need alternative news outlets that might, and to develop them, we need to think seriously about what reporting is. Media Lens treats it with derision, like most other aspects of ’professional journalism’, even though it provides them with their facts. Look at the links in their alerts, or the footnotes to Chomsky books - the awkward truths get published. They just get buried.

    That's why Manufacturing Consent says: ’That a careful reader looking for a fact can sometimes find it with diligence and a sceptical eye tells us nothing about whether that fact received the attention and context it deserved, whether it was intelligible to the reader or effectively distorted or suppressed.’

    Just saying this much is a waste of everyone's time. Critics need to show what wouldn't amount to suppressing it, and start trying to produce news that does that. Unless, that is, they think the most important story is that no one reports the news properly. And even then, the answer remains the same.

    Hence my continued criticism of Media Lens, which reduces a useful starting point to an end in itself, thereby misleading their readers, and actively obstructing constructive solutions.

    Best regards,


  90. #90 Thoth 18 Jan 11

    Tony S, have you read John Pilger's remarks about the Mirror and Independent:

    ’It was the Mirror at its most potent; not since it distinguished itself as the first mass-circulation paper in the western world to oppose the US invasion of Vietnam and, before that, the British invasion of Suez, had it confronted the rapacious policies of a British government and its principal ally. [...] the Mirror reported that Bush and Blair were lying, that the ’liberation’ of Afghanistan had installed warlords as barbaric as the Taliban [...] the Mirror, along with the other anti-war daily newspaper in Britain, the Independent, was vindicated. Today, Bush and Blair are universally distrusted and reviled, and the defeat of their atrocious enterprise seems assured. [etc, etc]’

    Have you emailed Pilger about this yet, Tony?

  91. #91 Oliver Kamm 18 Jan 11

    Anthony Shenton, when you write to Pilger, let me suggest that you have the minimal courtesy honesty to disclose that you have no conception of the confidentiality of private correspondence. Your publication on Media Lens's website of a private email from Prof Chomsky, whose views on the conventions of civilised debate are well known and in my opinion entirely justified, is disgraceful. Dishonesty and subterfuge may be Media Lens's stock-in-trade, but it's time they stopped.

  92. #92 rippon 18 Jan 11

    Daniel (#89),

    The essence of your argument is:
    1) ML's analysis of the way msm operates is shallow and/or, like Herman-Chomsky's (HC) Propaganda Model, weak.
    2) ML simply keeps harping on about the failings of mainstream media (msm) instead of developing a better model itself.

    Now, let's assume 1) is correct. Then that is simply another example (like the Srebrenica and smearing-Monbiot charges) of ML being criticised for something that constitutes a minuscule part of its output. They spend almost zero time deconstructing media and discussing alternative models. They basically just accept (rightly or wrongly) the analysis that has already been done by others, e.g. HC, Glasgow Media Group (GMG), and then just get on with exactly what you recommend in 2).

    Their most recent media alerts (listed below) demonstrates this. That list shows that they basically do what much of other alternative media do: simply shed a very different light and perspective on the world than mainstream media. The only thing that marks ML out amongst alternative media is that it ascribes itself a particular role of challenging msm journalists and editors.

    One of your most ridiculous statements is ’attacking the BBC for not being Pilger is either daft or a misunderstanding of Chomsky and Herman’. When has ML ever done anything like ’attacking the BBC for not being Pilger’? Firstly, the notion is ridiculous - that a corporation can be compared to an individual. Perhaps what you meant was ’attacking BBC journalists for not being more like Pilger’. When has ML ever done that? What ML does is challenge BBC journalists over the veracity (e.g. the merrily repeated falsehood that Saddam expelled inspectors in 1998) and integrity (e.g. whose interests are being reflected - power-brokers or ordinary citizens?) of their output. There are many sources - e.g. journalists (e.g. Jonathan Cook), historians (e.g. Mark Curtis), aid organisations, NGOs, media analysts (e.g. GMG) - which ML draws upon to substantiate their challenges to journalists; Pilger is nothing more than one of those sources.

    The overall problem with your 'criticisms' of ML is that they are often based on actions/behaviour that you +ascribe+ to ML, but which ML is not doing anyway.

    ML media alerts sample (for illustration of above):
    What Happened To Academia? Part 2
    Created: December 15, 2010
    2 What Happened To Academia? - Part 1
    Created: December 14, 2010
    Created: December 02, 2010
    Created: November 24, 2010
    5 ’Put the Palestinians on a Diet’
    Created: November 17, 2010
    6 Wikileaks - The Smear And The Denial - Part 2
    Created: November 08, 2010
    7 Wikileaks - The Smear And The Denial - Part 1
    Created: November 03, 2010
    Created: October 21, 2010
    Created: October 07, 2010
    Created: September 28, 2010
    Created: September 17, 2010
    Created: September 07, 2010

  93. #93 Stephen O 18 Jan 11

    Oliver Kamm and the ’the conventions of civilised debate’

    It is ironic to see Oliver Kamm attack someone for not keeping correspondence private given that you have no problems accusing me of ’insulting’ you and on another occasion sending ’abusive’ E-mails. Neither accusation is correct and you will be entirely unable to offer any evidence to the contrary.

    Mr Kamm, I hope that any threats, especially death threats, you have received, from people purporting to support Media Lens or otherwise, have been passed to the appropriate authorities.

  94. #94 Daniel Simpson 18 Jan 11

    Thanks Rippon,

    I think you've misunderstood. Perhaps I could have been clearer. The BBC's objective is to be impartial, not to contextualise the news with radical analysis. In reality, neither are possible: its reporters are on the whole partial to official spin.

    But Media Lens alerts are often premised on the assumption that they could, and should, take contrary positions. The archives are full of examples. The aim is to show readers how these journalists are compromised, because they're hamstrung and unable to speak out like Pilger. For example:

    On June 11, 2005, senior BBC news presenter, Huw Edwards, provided the commentary for Britain's Trooping The Colour military parade, describing it as ’a great credit to the Irish Guards’. Imagine if Edwards had added:

    ’While one can only be impressed by the discipline and skill on show in these parades, critics have of course warned against the promotion of patriotic militarism. The Russian novelist Tolstoy, for one, observed:

    ’'The ruling classes have in their hands the army, money, the schools, the churches and the press. In the schools they kindle patriotism in the children by means of histories describing their own people as the best of all peoples and always in the right. Among adults they kindle it by spectacles, jubilees, monuments, and by a lying patriotic press.'’ (Tolstoy, Government is Violence - Essays on Anarchism and Pacifism, Phoenix Press, 1990, p.82)

    Edwards would not have been applauded for providing this 'balance'. He would have been condemned far and wide as a crusading crackpot, and hauled before senior BBC management.

    Quite. Then readers of the alerts follow up by chastising such people for doing what they're hired to do. Don't you think that's a pointless displacement activity? Wouldn't it be better to stick to challenging reporters on facts, and appealing to the higher-ups to rein in their framing (according to impartiality requirements), instead of all the overblown rhetoric, which winds up with the sorts of emails sent to Monbiot? Meanwhile, someone still needs to write radical stories. Instead of just providing Pilger with a few quotes, why not try to clone him by deconstructing how he works? The alerts have rather lost their way in my view. Feel free to disagree of course.

    As for the Srebrenica ’charges’, check the facts (i.e. how many were killed, and what Herman and Johnstone have said to obscure this, as per the references on the link above). Or do you think, like the Media Lens editors, that they're open to interpretation because Herman says so? If so, I rather think you're proving my point.

    Best regards,


  95. #95 rippon 18 Jan 11

    Daniel (#94),

    You express this opinion: ’The BBC's objective is to be impartial, not to contextualise the news with radical analysis. In reality, neither are possible: its reporters are on the whole partial to official spin.’

    And you ascribe this to ML: ’The aim [of ML] is to show readers how these journalists are compromised, because they're hamstrung and unable to speak out like Pilger.’

    It follows, then, that ML aims to show readers the truth of an opinion that you yourself hold.

    This is another example of why your 'criticisms' of ML don't seem like criticisms at all - in fact, often, you effectively commend them (unwittingly, it seems - because, despite your commendations, you continue to insist that you are highly +critical+ of them).

    In your penultimate para, you indulge exactly the same malpractice that I've highlighted previously - ascribing to ML actions/behaviour that they're not doing.

    Moreover, once again, you effectively commend them. I'll explain ...

    Your (correct) argument is that it would be plain silly for Hugh Edwards (BBC) to quote Tolstoy (re the ruling classes), as ML invites us to imagine.

    But then you say, ’Wouldn't it be better to stick to challenging reporters on facts, and appealing to the higher-ups to rein in their framing (according to impartiality requirements), instead of all the overblown rhetoric ... ?’

    By ’overblown rhetoric’ you seem to mean the Tolstoy stuff (as far as I can tell: I struggle to make sense of your words sometimes, either because my powers are limited or because you sometimes write nonsense - I suspect the latter). But the Tolstoy stuff was simply an aside, a tiny thought experiment ('imagine if'). Maybe it was a crap bit, but it does not constitute ML ’overblown rhetoric’ because it is a tiny, incidental, disposable nugget that has little/nothing in common with the rest (overwhelming majority) of that alert.

    So, to criticise ML, you would have to consider the bulk and thrust of that alert, and lo and behold: that alert is overwhelmingly about challenging BBC personnel over their chosen framing - something you yourself call for. Thus, once again, you effectively commend them.

    Thus, once again, it's difficult to see what your actual position with respect to ML really is. It seems:
    You are largely in sympathy with them and their project, but, because they promote falsehoods/smears on certain subjects (Srebrenica, IBC, Monbiot), and worse - deliberately/mendaciously so, then you must inevitably have a serious problem with them.

    That serious problem is perfectly reasonable if that's what you believe about those subjects. But, clearly, your problem has blinkered you to the point where you 'criticise' them (+believe+ you are criticising them) even when you are actually commending them.

    You actually provide another example of your propensity for misframing a situation:
    I have asked (more than once now), 'But where does ML ever do what you say they do?' Well, you also say (to me): ’Feel free to disagree of course.’ - But where was there ever any suggestion that I would feel otherwise?

  96. #96 Daniel Simpson 19 Jan 11


    It would be difficult to argue with the ’elementary truisms’ (as Chomsky might say) of the propaganda ’model’ (at least if it's not over-egged): as you note, they're self-evident in most news coverage.

    So, once that's been established, the question is what to do about it.

    Why whip up readers to email corporate hacks and ask them why they're so corporate? Media Lens says it's mainly to educate the public (as opposed to the hacks). In other words, they use emails to try and tease out more examples of journalistic subservience to power, then write more alerts with them.

    A side effect might be minimal improvements in news coverage (according to the Editors). But not if the emails scorn the premises on which it's constructed (i.e. the tenets of derided ’professional journalism’), and its practitioners (e.g. in the terms directed at Monbiot, who is about as close to the ML position as corporate hacks get).

    This comes about because of the way the alerts are written, in my opinion, having watched the process for nigh on a decade. Some are better than others, and sometimes email campaigns can be constructive, but most of the time they show how ML has confused its readers (perhaps because the Editors are themselves confused, unless they're intentionally misleading people), as per the example cited above from Tony Shenton (see comment 52).

    Since I've said all along that I agree there's a big problem, and stopped working in newsrooms because I'd had enough of it, it's hardly surprising I'm ’sympathetic’ (as Oliver Kamm puts it) to Media Lens. It's also hardly surprising that I'm as sceptical as George Monbiot about its methods, especially when they amount to saying it's better not to reach a large audience than to give the corporate media a figleaf (see the links in comment 58 for more on this).

    It would be far more constructive to devote more effort to promoting alternative reporting outlets, or at least to concede that in their absence most facts are relayed by the corporate media, however twistedly the coverage contextualises them. That way people's efforts might be focused on building alternatives, as opposed to howling impotently at The Man.

    The implication you might not feel free derived from your postings here, not least on the subject of Srebrenica, on which you do now seem to concede Media Lens promotes falsehoods. Perhaps you'd like to challenge them on that some time.


  97. #97 Tony S 19 Jan 11

    Daniel, you ask: ’Did you read the Mirror in 2002 and 2003? Did you click on the link above in comment 52? It shows a banner front page headline screaming ’This War Is A Fraud’, after which John Pilger explained why.’

    But the paper's editorial position undermined everything Pilger wrote: As Cromwell and Edwards reveal in this alert:

    ’Even the profoundly anti-war Mirror wrote:

    ’Even though the Mirror disagrees strongly with Tony Blair over his determination to wage war on Iraq, we do not question his belief in the rightness of what he is doing. It is one thing to have principles others disagree with, another altogether to have no principles.

    ’Mr Blair and Robin Cook have helped to restore the integrity of parliament at this crucial stage in the nation's history. Both have made compelling arguments on each side of this debate - and both have been listened to with respect.’’;view=article&id=255:falling-at-the-feet-of-power-blairs-sincerity-and-the-media&catid=17:alerts-2003&Itemid=42

    If one looks hard enough one may be able to find a tiny number of counterexamples, but that does not mean Herman and Chomsky ’overestimate their ’model’’. In fact, as Chomsky explains in Understanding Power (p.18), ’the Propaganda Model is one of the best-confirmed theses in the social sciences’.

    By the way, I think for myself. I do not write to journalists because Edwards and Cromwell 'tell me to'. Am I wasting my time? Possibly, but I hope not.

  98. #98 Daniel Simpson 19 Jan 11

    Thanks Tony,

    It's hard to see how the layout of a paper's front page could contradict its ’editorial position’, since the editor generally signs off on it, but I take your point that not everything in the Mirror was Pilgeresque.

    Why the fixation on the model though? It doesn't actually say anything that can't be said in a sentence or two, and can't predict more than a general trend. Whether you're wasting your time depends on what you're trying to achieve. If you'd like to help democratise news agendas, I think there are more constructive things to do.

    More to the point in this context however, have you written to John Pilger to challenge him on his shameful apologetics? If not, why not? Would you if the Media Lens editors did first?

    Best wishes,

  99. #99 macky 19 Jan 11

    What a comical trio of critics for ML ! If this is their sharpest critics, then not only have ML nothing to worry about, but it’s also confirmation that they must be doing something right.

    As ridiculously predictable as ever Oliver ’I’ve created a smear against ML & am going to use it’ Kamm was the very first commentator here, which is true to his notoriously history of being an obsessive internet stalker, when right from the early internet days, he was one of those that actually gave definition to the term ’Troll’, as he would spend both day & night continuously posting nonsensical critical ramblings on the Chomsky Newsgroups, as he alone in the World could see that Chomsky was an intellectually fraud; quite ironic, but an obvious required self-delusion if you are in fact an intellectual pygmy yourself. After all this is the man, who together with a Worldwide group that could fit into a telephone box, declared in all seriousness that ’George Bush made the World a safer place’ !

    It’s no accident that whenever Kamm posts against ML, that Daniel Simpson should also usually appear, as it’s from Simpson that Kamm gets all his info & ’arguments’ regarding the Balkans, and they work together as a desperate tag-team, despite superficial ’differences’, both strongly united by personal grudges against ML.

    Daniel Simpson is a sly, and more credible opponent for ML than the clearly demented Kamm, as he comes across as so reasonable in the deluge of polite words that he so carefully crafts, but actually say very little. It’s no coincidence that he also has a history of being an obsessive internet Troll, who masqueraded for years under a false Balkan name, and plagued the Balkan Newsgroups with his agenda of demonising the Serbs. His obviously feeble attempts to camouflage his Balkan grudge against ML, by trying to pretend that he also has issues with how ML seeks to implements its aims, is clear for all to see, not just to rippon.

    Finally we have the mysterious (or maybe not) ’Thoth’; His problem seems to be that nobody should be allowed to criticise journalists, (especially for some strange, but admittedly very touching, concern for Monbiot). Apparently all criticisms directed at the Sacred Enlighten Embodiment of Goodness & Light that is George Monbiot, are automatically sacrilegious ’smears’ in this True Believers religious devotion to the Cult of Monbiot. Perhaps unknown to us all ’Monbiot’ was an ancient Egyptian God, and apparently the Egyptian belief system is know to have many modern adherents, especially to those who like to give themselves Egyptian like names, such as ’Thoth’.

  100. #100 David Cromwell 19 Jan 11

    Kamm writes of ’the harassment - including threats of violence, which Cromwell and Edwards then lied about in their book Newspeak - directed by ML supporters against my friend Bronwen Maddox.)’

    In nearly ten years of Media Lens, Kamm is literally the only individual to allege that our ’supporters’ have issued threats of violence. In 2008, Alastair Brett, then legal manager of News International's Times Newspapers, did indeed claim that then Times journalist Bronwen Maddox had received ’vexatious and threatening’ emails from Media Lens readers, which constituted ’harassment’. But Brett made no mention that these emails included ’threats of violence’ and none were ever sent to us.

    Former New Statesman editor Peter Wilby investigated the claims and wrote about them in the Guardian. He began:

    ’We journalists are accustomed to dishing it out, but have the thinnest of skins. At the merest hint of criticism, we are apt to turn to our lawyers. One reason for this professional sensitivity, I suppose, is that journalists are insecure egotists who like to occupy the high moral ground. Criticism assaults their sense of self-worth and, since their colleagues and potential employers are assiduous consumers of print, it may damage their future prospects.’ (

    He added:

    ’Maddox tells me she received 'dozens of emails, many abusive or threatening' and 'they [Media Lens] stir up some very nasty people'. However, the only example specifically quoted by her or Brett was from a man who claims to be 'the second coming of Jesus Christ'. 'You have until 4 pm Monday to respond ... or I will deem you to be fired,' he warned Maddox. He has emailed dozens of press and TV journalists and Media Lens itself in similarly alarming terms.’

    If The Times had examples of emails threatening violence to Maddox, why did it not make them available to Wilby, and to us, when it was threatening us with legal action in 2008?

    If such emails do exist, they would be testament to the sheer perversity of human nature, given our endlessly expressed opposition to violence and hatred. The whole point of Media Lens is that we believe that the problems of our world are rooted in a +lack+ of compassion. We think answers lie in reason, kindness, patience and restraint. Even Kamm has a role to play. Like lifting heavy weights to increase muscle strength in the gym, his constant smears help us strengthen our patience and tolerance. As Geshe Tsultim Gyeltsen said so well:

    ’Truly, the person who creates a very embarrassing incident serves as a true spiritual master, in the sense that that person gives us a wonderful opportunity to develop our patience.’

    DE and DC

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