All the ‘news’ that’s fit to invent By William Bowles

16 September 2003

So I figured by at least Tuesday (today) I’d read something of substance on the WTO meeting in Cancun in the major media, but aside from the Independent’s (16/09/03) short editorial that smugly informed me that it collapsed in “acrimony” and that it was “American and French unwillingness to face down powerful farm lobbies”, that lead to the failure, we learn nothing of substance.

So what does constitute the ‘news’ as far as the major media is concerned?

As anybody who reads this column on a regular basis will know, I normally use the Independent as a mirror of what the dominant culture wants us to focus on from day-to-day. Trying to read the Guardian brings on a distinct feeling of bile rising up my gullet even though I know there’s not much to choose between the two ‘liberal’ newspapers. Maybe it’s what passes for the Guardian’s ‘style’ that brings on the desire to throw up.

The Independent leads with the murder of a young girl aged seven, a victim according to the Independent of Britain’s ‘gun culture’, which as anyone with any sense knows, is the white middle class’s code word for ‘black on black’ violence, whatever that is.

According to the Independent:

“Drugs are at the root of most of it [gun violence], of course. A hard core of about 200 Jamaican and black British gunmen, belonging to 20 gangs, run the capital’s cocaine market.”

‘Of course’ the fact that the vast majority of the buyers will be well-off whites is not mentioned at all, nor the fact that criminalising drugs has in fact created organised crime in the first place. But these are mere details in the sensationalising and demonising of ‘black life’ in Britain.

Almost everyday on the TV we see joky references to ‘celebs’ noses (all white snouts ‘of course’) without a single reference to ‘gun culture’. So it’s fine for the celebrity culture to snort their lines in swanky clubs but don’t you dare connect it to the reality of working class life as it is really lived and who they buy their lines from. And don’t dare suggest that’s there’s any connection between the two. Snorting and selling shall never meet.

‘Of course’ the Independent likes to think that it’s a responsible newspaper, that its journalists and reporters, all trained in ‘objective’ journalism in the nation’s education factories are light years away from the tabloid sensationalism of the Sun or the Mail.

What a crock of shit! Dressed up as ‘prose’ maybe, but when you boil it down, it’s the same garbage, it just targets a different kind of reader, typically your smug middle-class white professional who feels threatened by all those ‘blacks’ whose lives simmer merely a few blocks away from their own, gentrified, urban ‘lifestyles’ no doubt fueled on Friday night by the odd line or two. The Independent’s lead is its own mea culpa to life as it is lived. Tomorrow is another day.

Meanwhile, the various and sundry ‘poverty pimps’ of one flavour or another, scratch their heads and ponder on the ‘reasons’ for the rise in violence. What could be going wrong?

And on page 6 of the same edition of the Independent we read how the Metropolitan Police spent £7 million apparently pursuing a racist witch-hunt against Scotland Yard’s highest ranking black policeman, against which all charges were either dismissed or dropped. Draw your own conclusions on the connection between the two stories.

The Straw ‘Wobble’
Meanwhile, what laughably passes for an ‘inquiry’ drags on with the latest ‘revelation’ added to the mix, being Jack Straw’s ‘wobble’ as it’s called, over whether or not to invade Iraq. Downing Street insists that Straw’s comment was merely a ‘contingency’ plan should the Blah lose the vote over whether to go to war.

All is opportunism, with maintaining power at all costs the major objective no matter that whatever ‘principles’ this gang of opportunists have to dump in order to stay on top. And ‘of course’ the Straws, Hoons, Blunketts, Reeds, Hewitts, et al will do whatever’s necessary to maintain their grip on power including adopting whatever view is necessary. And then they wonder why the citizen is so deeply cynical about the political process when it’s led by a gang of individuals that don’t have single principle worth noting between them.

And the Dyke ‘Wobble’
And ‘of course’ the various and sundry bosses of the media make their own mea culpas. Greg Dyke the DG of the BBC tells us that:

“What the processes of the last few weeks have certainly exposed is that politics and journalism are far from exact sciences.”

I’d like to know what university taught Dyke that politics or journalism are exact sciences to begin with and why is it that it took the events of the past few weeks to teach Dyke this? If I ever read a cop-out for the media’s complicity in creating the ‘news’, this is it. Will we ever know to what degree the BBC was complicit spinning the ‘news’ by responding to Campbell’s diversionary tactic of trashing the Beeb?

I mean what kind of idiot do you have to be to fall for such an obvious tactic? Clearly, the Beeb ‘stepped over’ an unspoken line as underpinning all the verbiage uttered by Dyke at the Hutton ‘inquiry’ is an acknowledgement that such a digression will never be permitted again. The ‘boys’ at the Beeb know their place and from now on, there will be no room for independent thinking (although it’s doubtful if any existed in the first place).

Deeply flawed
And amazingly, even after months of exposes of the lies told to the British public, the same mantra is rolled out day after day. But now it’s the intelligence service that’s the ‘problem’. But fear not, the Independent is not about to bite the hand that feeds it as at the end of the day, the problem is not one of lies and deception, it’s all down to “procedures” and the fact that “there was something deeply flawed about the intelligence reports offered to ministers.”

If, as the Independent says, there was something deeply flawed about the so-called intelligence reports, how come this doesn’t translate into a direct challenge on the part of the Independent over the case for war and a fundamental questioning of the relationship between the civil service and the politicians they serve.

There’s something deeply flawed about a mass media that can pussyfoot around with something as serious as invading and occupying a country and reduce it all to terms of “procedures” and “flaws”.

And in a deeply insulting rewriting of the facts, the Independent transforms the fake Niger documents by saying that they were:

“disparaged by the CIA, the International Atomic Energy Authority and every independent authority.”

“Disparaged”? What kind of word is this to describe a fake with? The closest my thesaurus comes to as an alternative to disparage that might mean fake, is ‘discredited’. So why not say discredited? In fact why not say fake: false, counterfeit, bogus, fraudulent and phony, in the first place?

You might well wonder why I put so much store by analysing the language used by the corporate and state media but ‘of course’ as we know, the use of language, especially language loaded with meaning has a powerful effect on our understanding and interpretation of events. We need only look at the mantra “Weapons of Mass Destruction” to gain some insight into the impact it had on our lives and the lives of millions of people in far-off lands. Will the Independent or the BBC ever describe the vast US arsenal of nuclear weapons in all of its ‘news’ reports as Weapons of Mass Destruction? And if it did, what kind of impact would this have on our understanding of the way the world works? We live in hope but don’t hold your breath.

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