Posts Tagged ‘Media Bias’

‘I’ Newspaper: Public Spending Watchdog Criticises Benefit Sanctions

December 1, 2016

Yesterday’s I newspaper for Wednesday, 30th November, contained a little snippet on its second page reporting that the ‘public spending watchdog’ had attacked benefit sanctions as useless. The report stated

Spending Watchdog Hits Out at Sanctions

Benefit sanctions that plunge claimants into hardship, hunger and depression are being imposed with little evidence that they work, according to a report by the public spending watchdog. It said use of the penalties also varies “substantially” across the country and referral rates have changed over time.

And that was it. It says much about the paper’s bias that, although there was a reasonably long article about the deep health inequalities in Britain, there were also much longer articles praising Theresa May for being a good manager, rather than a leader, and that the Tories had increased their lead over Labour in the polls. Though I’m not actually that worried about the latter either. The victory of the ‘Leave’ campaign and Donald Trump’s election to the White House both show that polls can’t be trusted. As Mike points out, they’re run by Tory companies that have very marked methodological biases. They’re essentially propaganda campaigns, run to tell the proles that, as everyone else is voting Tory, so should you. And the more people realise this, and reject them and their false claims of objectivity, the better.

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Young Turks on Fox New’s Attacks on Homeless Black People in New York

July 19, 2015

Okay, it’s been some time since I posted anything up here. As I’ve said, this is partly because I’ve been depressed by the Tory victory at the election, and partly simply because I’ve been caught up doing other stuff. However, time waits for no man and the sheer pressure of events calls on me to start commenting again.

This is another piece from the American internet news programme, The Young Turks. In it, John Iadarola and Anna Kasparian comment on another squalid piece from Fox News. In this piece, Bill O’Reilly, one of Fox’s main anchors and a notorious liar, talks to their journalist Jesse Watters about the increasing numbers of homeless people sleeping rough in New York’s Penn Station.

Watters interviews travellers using the station about seeing homeless people seeking shelter in the station. These people are mostly sympathetic to the rough sleepers. Including a Black child, who says they feel upset seeing people, who don’t have enough money for food and can’t afford a home of their own. It’s a sweet piece of simple, innocent compassion and pity. Unfortunately, as the programme goes on, it most certainly ain’t shared by Watters or his fellow perp, O’Reilly.

The rail passengers interviewed are nearly all White. The homeless people Watters and O’Reilly shows are all Black. As The Turks point out, this seems to be quite deliberate. It’s to paint homelessness as essentially a Black problem. They also show those with some kind of government income, like a stipend, and drug problems. You can hear Fox News almost shouting at you ‘Look! It’s their own fault. They’ve got money! They’re on drugs! They could get their act together, but they just don’t want to. It’s their fault, not that of the system!’

The answer to that one is the old Bill Hick’s line about coming to New York and being surprised by the sheer numbers of the homeless. ‘Now, what makes you think our system doesn’t work.’

Iadorola and Kasparian point out that you don’t know why one man has a government stipend. It could be because he’s a military vet. In which case, it’s probably no surprise he’s got problems that have led to him being homeless. As for drug use, they point out that people turn to drugs for escape, and so it points to there being a larger problem in their lives, rather than simply addiction being the result of personal choice.

Then Watters comes to the real point of his investigation. He doesn’t have any interest or sympathy with the homeless themselves. He’s just annoyed that White people see them. He states that it’s against the law for them to be sleeping in the station, and asks why they aren’t in the homeless shelters. The Turks point out that one reason is that the homeless shelters may not be safe.

They may well be right. This was certainly a very urgent problem two and half decades ago in the 1990s when New York began to suffer the massive increase in homelessness that has ultimately led to this situation. The city started closing down and moving people out of its homeless shelters and into private institutions due to the crime and personal violence that was breaking out in the municipal shelters.

Finally, there’s a party political angle in this nasty piece of biased reporting. Watters and O’Reilly seem to be covering the story in order to get at New York’s mayor de Blasio. But as they point out, it isn’t de Blasio’s problem. The rise in homelessness began long before, in 1991. New York’s population as a whole grew by 16 per cent from 1991 onwards, but the number of homeless people tripled.

They also point out a solution to the problem that Watters does not mention: building homes for the homeless. Arizona was faced with putting up their homeless in ER Rooms. This cost the state $16,000 dollars per person, while building a house for them only cost $11,000. So they built homes for them as that was by far the most cost effective strategy.

But not, it seems for anywhere else in America, or for the Tories over here. They’ve decided that homes should only be for the very rich, and everyone else should go back to living with their parents, or in cellars and basements, like they did in the 19th century before the Victorians started slum clearances and building improved homes for the poor.

As for homelessness being a Black problem, clearly, it ain’t. There’s a large number of hidden homeless in New York, including university graduates and young people staying on friends’ floors after failing to find places of their own after graduation. It may well be the case that a larger proportion of homeless people are Black, because of the economic deprivation and lack of opportunities for Black Americans in general. But the problem isn’t going to be unique to them.

It suits, however, Fox’s racist attitude towards the issue to present it as such. There’s a viciously racist streak running right through Fox News, reflecting the same bias in the Republican party. This sees Blacks very much in the same racist terms as previous centuries – morally weaker than Whites, and strongly inclined to criminality. Hence, many of their viewers would be inclined to shrug the problem off if it’s presented as a condition from which only Blacks suffer, or bring about on themselves. They’re not going to show the White poor or homeless, because that would destroy the illusion they’re so carefully trying to create. And they definitely aren’t going to show any White folks, who lost their jobs or businesses under Dubya.

Here’s the show:

I’ve reblogged this because, although it is an American programme commenting on American issues, it’s acutely relevant to what’s happening over here.

This includes both the despicable attitudes to homelessness, and the real danger of what will happen to responsible news reporting if the government get their way and privatise the Beeb.

One of the major issues in American homelessness is how it’s ceased to be a political issue, despite the fact that it’s increased since the 1990s. Back then it was very much a pressing issue, yet after Bill Clinton won the presidency it dropped from public consciousness. My guess is that it’s partly because the homeless became such an obvious presence in American streets. They were swept away from city cores to more marginal parts of the urban landscape.

Pretty much the way the government and local authorities are doing their best to clear Britain’s homeless out of town, and away from the eyes of the public. Go and see Johnny Void’s Blog for his very detailed and passionate coverage of this and the issue of homelessness in general.

It’s also important because Fox News could very much be the future of British broadcasting, if the Tories have their way. Fox is part owned by Murdoch, who has consistently attacked the BBC, largely because it’s the biggest impediment to him acquiring a commanding monopoly over British broadcasting. As for ITV, the formerly independent broadcasting companies swallowed each other up, one by one in the 1980’s and ’90s, and the network itself seems to have been bought, or come under the control of American companies.

The Tories this week made another attack on the BBC and the licence fee in what looks very much like a very partisan attack to see it sold off to their private backers, including multinational donors like Murdoch.

If that happens, then not only will far more of our television consist of American imports, but there’s a real threat that even the semblance of political impartiality now presented by British broadcasters could disappear. Murdoch claims his wretched propaganda outlet is, in the words of its slogan, ‘fair and balanced reporting’. Like so much of his channel’s content, it’s a lie. So much so, that Fox were incensed when, of all the news broadcasters, they were not given an interview with Obama on the grounds that they were ‘a hostile political advocacy group’. Which is exactly right – the network blatantly supports and has donated extensively to the Repugs. They just don’t want people to know it. And especially not when it becomes a major political embarrassment.

As for the BBC, it’s certainly not free of political bias by any means. I’ve covered before the way Nick Robinson, the Macclesfield Goebbels, flagrantly altered the reporting of his questions to Alex Salmond during the Scots Referendum debate. This was to give the impression that Salmond hadn’t answered his question, when in fact he’d given a fairly detailed rebuttal to Robinson’s objection.

And that isn’t the only case of the Corporation’s bias. Academic media watchdogs have found it to be consistently biased against Labour. It has also repeatedly either ignored, or deliberately under-reported, protests against austerity, including one held right on its very own doorstep. Even as it is, it’s far better than Fox News and the avowedly Right-wing media that would replace it.

Cassetteboy’s ‘Emperor’s New Clothes Rap’ against Tories, Bankers and Kippers

March 28, 2015

This is another video from Youtube, which I found on the SlatUKIP page. It’s the ‘Emperor’s New Clothes Rap’ from Cassetteboy. Cassetteboy, as I’m sure many of you know, is a prankster, who specialises in editing footage of politicians, celebs and criminals like David Cameron, Boris Johnson, Sir Alan Sugar and Jeremys Kyle and Clarkson, to make them look ridiculous and stupid.

In this video, he edits footage to show the Cameron and Osborne rapping about how they don’t care about the poor or the state of the health service, only about taking money from the masses to give to the rich. He then goes on to give Farage the same treatment, who is shown presenting immigration as the cause of every one of Britain’s problems. The Purple Duce then, in a moment of edited clarity, declares that their party is partly based on xenophobia.

The video is a publicity trailer for a documentary film with Russell Brand by the British director, Michael Winterbottom, in which the Goth anarchist ideologue goes after the bankers, who’ve wrecked Britain. The film’s due to open on the 21st April, according to the video.

The film seems to be following in the footsteps of the Capped Crusader, Michael Moore, and Morgan Spurlock, in combining film with social activism by hunting down and exposing the lies, venality and exploitative cruelty of the rich and powerful. And that’s no bad thing either. We don’t have such blatantly biased television in this country as there is in America, thanks to broadcasting regulations insisting on impartiality. Nevertheless, there is a bias there. We have some of the most of the most talented actors, directors and producers in the world. It’s about time somebody over here put on Michael Moore’s sneakers to give British corporate greed a hard time.

Chunky Mark The Artist Taxi Driver Interviews Frankie Boyle

June 13, 2014

Earlier this week, I wrote about the late, great Bill Hick’s brand of highly political comedy, and how he used it as a weapon to attack everything he considered to be oppressive, stupid and malign in politics and popular culture. Hick’s comedic description of the Reaganite senator Jesse Helms as murderous child-killer now strikes me as a pretty good description of our own Iain Duncan Smith. Smith’s reforms are leading to mass starvation and despair, with an estimated death rate of about 220 per week, or three every four hours. I cannot, however, see RTU finally having his conscience catch up with him, so that he ends it all by cutting his wrists in a bathtub under a pecan tree, while investigators find the bloody skins of all the children he’s murdered up in his attic. He’s also very self-aggrandising and self-promoting, so I doubt very much he’d ever write a suicide note saying ‘I been a bad boy’ either.

I did, however, find this interview on Youtube between Chunky Mark, the Artist Taxi Driver, and Frankie Boyle. Boyle is, of course, the comedian, whose remarks were so offensive he left the satirical panel show, Mock The Week, for his own late night show, Tramadol Nights, on Channel 4. Left-wing, outspoken, and with a seeming indifference or actual hostility to polite sensibilities and what is considered to be acceptable public discourse, Boyle shows himself in the interview to be intelligent, articulate and very well-informed, as well as political active for highly contentious and controversial issues. In the interview he discusses how he went on a hunger strike in support of Shakir Ahmed, a British internee in Guantanamo Bay, whom Boyle considers to have been wrongfully imprisoned. The conversation also touches on a number of esoteric, mystical subjects, like Vedantic (ancient Hindu) pantheism, Gnostic Christianity, Terence McKenna, Robert Anton Wilson, semiotics and conspiracy theories, the MKULTRA mind control programme, and the Bilderberg group. Fans of a certain Galaxy’s Greatest Comic will also note the way he compares the situation in Gitmo, where people have been interned without trial on a tropical island, with a 2000 AD strip. Zarjaz!

Boyle Careful in Speech about Non-Western Societies, also Concerned about Women’s Role Models

For someone, who became notorious for his offensive humour, it’s interesting to note how careful and well-thought out Boyle actually is about what he says. For example, at one point he talks about ‘primal’ societies. This is the approved, ‘pc’ term for tribal cultures. Note he does not say ‘primitive’. One of the reasons the term ‘primal’ was adopted in preference to ‘primitive’ was to make the point that these peoples are not primitive, but have their own, often very sophisticated culture.

He is also very definitely not a misogynist. He describes Pippa Middleton and other, upper-class women like her, as essentially Stepford Wives, promoting notions of female passivity. He defends making jokes about ‘rape’ but arguing that it is absurd to make it off-limits for humour, and points out that it depends on the type of joke being made. He wanted to make jokes that stigmatise the perpetrator, not the victim, and contrasted proper jokes of this sort with the type of treatment that is considered acceptable. He specifically mentions here two-part drama series on ITV, which he describes as the lowest kind, and pop songs about ‘rape’ that rhyme it with ‘cape’. As for the abuse doled out to women on Twitter, he agrees that this is part of an extremely twisted, misogynist culture. He sees it very much as part of a general ‘rape culture’.

Growth of Culture Where Attacks on Disabled and Poor Permissible

It’s clear that Boyle believes that there should be no limits to comedy, nor what should be able to be discussed, joked about, lampooned and satirised, in order to attack the oppressive and vicious. He and Chunky Mark, discussing the government’s welfare reforms, are shocked that Grant Shapps can actually declare – without shame!- that he’s proud of putting 5,000 cancer victims on workfare. Boyle states that he believes the government can get away with this because there is a silence about discussing disability in our culture, and so they can get away with attacking and bullying the disabled.

He is, however, extremely sceptical about the way humour is being used in the West to attack and criticise authority. He believes that it is now acceptable to make jokes attacking austerity, because there is now no difference between parties so that it doesn’t matter if these jokes are made. He argues that it was New Labour that began the transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich under PFI, and that this had been going on for fifteen years with no pretence that anything different was happening. Thus, Cameron can state that he is not worried about getting votes because of his policies, because he knows that a few days after he announces a policy, Ed Miliband will appear on TV agreeing with him.

British Satire and Romanian Comedy for State Propaganda

He also describes how shocked he was when a Romanian guide with whom he was working pointed out the similarity between a Romanian comedy programme and Britain’s own Have I Got News For You. The Romanian show featured a comedian, who started making jokes about the country’s minister of defence. The politico in question was actually in the audience at the time, covered in medals. And the comedian then went over to him for a bit of friendly badinage. Boyle says it was blatant propaganda, and when he remarked on it, his Romanian guide said, ‘But you have it in your country!’ When Boyle disagreed, the Romanian continued, ‘Yes, you do. It’s Have I Got News For You’. And Boyle states that when you see Boris Johnson on the programme, pretending to be a lovable oaf, and receives cheers and applause when it’s announced he’s going to be on there next week, that’s exactly right. ‘Satire should not be doing that’, he comments.

Scandals, Official Racism and Miscarriages of Justice Now Acceptable in British Political Culture

Boyle and the Taxi Driver also make the point about how British society has declined to the point where things, which would have provoked riots a few years ago, like the privatisation of the NHS and the racist vans, are suddenly possible. They criticise the public’s passivity in the face of the Health Service’s sell-off by the Tories, and discuss not just the racist vans encouraging immigrants to go home, but also the racial stereotyping of the Border Control Agency. They apparently stood at several stations in London, making note only of ‘people of colour’. He and Mark also discuss manifest injustice in the case of Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian student shot by mistake as a terrorist by the police. Despite the fact that many of the police officers committed perjury at the trial, they were not punished. Similarly wicked is the fact that it has taken over 20 years to break the silence surrounding Hillsborough and the authorities’ lies about that tragedy.

Media Bias Keeping Voters Ignorant

Boyle also discusses at length the problem of media bias. He defends the BBC, stating that there are some very good people in it, who do an excellent job by their standards, but its mixed in with their received class prejudices. He notes the way the Right-wing media have demonised nurses, teachers and firefighters. He also states that with the rape joke, he had 2,000 people laughing. The outrage there wasn’t public, it was that the TV companies were afraid of the outrage created by the media barons.

He also talks about the way the media shapes opinion by not reporting events and opinions. Mike’s covered this topic in his comment to his reblog of Inforrm’s review of The Knowledge Gap. In this case, it’s the way the media has omitted some of the real fears of the Iranian people. Chunky Mark states that he had an Iranian student, who told him how that country’s people were genuinely afraid of an American and British invasion. This is all too likely. Bush was banging on about the possibility of invading Iran when he was in office, and there were certainly protest meetings organised against it up and down Britain. Boyle points out that the Iranian government suggested that there should be a central bank of nuclear material, and that countries should be able to use it, after first getting permission from the controlling international authorities. This was turned down by America and Israel because they were for non-proliferation, which meant stopping other countries acquiring nuclear power.

Boyle is concerned about the way so little information now reaches the general public, because of the way the media is selectively managed. He states that a little while ago, the media used to talk about ‘low information voters’ when organising election coverage. These were people in the rural parts of America, who didn’t read newspapers or have the depth of knowledge to make an informed choice while voting. The term has now fallen into disuse, as so few people now have that depth of knowledge about politics that the media considers everyone to be a ‘low information voter’.

This selective reporting also extends to western environmentalists. Boyle points out that whereas a few years ago, the Green movement produced characters like Swampy, this is now absent from contemporary reporting. He feels it’s because the news corporations have learnt that if they concentrate on characters and personalities, like the above marshy gentleman, then the public will become sympathetic towards them. This is something the corporations wrecking our planet do not want.

British and American Exceptionalism and Imperialist Brutality and Exploitation

Boyle and the Taxi Driver also discuss and express their outrage at the way Britain, the US and their allies have slaughtered and exploited the developing world. For Chunky Mark, the banks, oil industry and arms industries are the motors of the economy, and so peace is definitely not something that their leaders want. Boyle here points out that Palestine is the test-bed for new military technology, which the Israelis then sell elsewhere. The full-body scanners now used at airports are an example. They also discuss the mining companies, and the murder, atrocities and misery inflicted on the developing world. Britain built its wealth through the exploitation of other nations when it was an imperial power. This has since changed, so that Britain is no longer an imperial power in its own right, but a client state of America. They also describe and criticise the exceptionalism that permits Britain and America to behave like this. Britain and America are terrorist states, but refuse to recognise this, as terrorism is only something that is done by their enemies. Boyle makes the point that when another country behaves like Britain or the US, it provokes an invasion. When we do it, it simply causes another meeting about the definition of ‘terrorism’. Boyle does not, however, blame the troops. He points out that there are some very good people in the British army. The atrocities and massacres come from the people who lead them.

Obama Greater Global Tyrant than Bush

Somewhat unusually, Boyle considers Barak Obama to be actually worse than Bush. Bush was constantly concerned to justify himself and win over the American public. Hence, he merely imprisoned people without trial in Gitmo. Obama is more credible than Bush, and so much more dangerous. He doesn’t stop at merely vanishing them into America’s gulag, but assassinating people without trial through drone strikes.

Criticism of SNP, Labour and the Lib Dems; Scotland Should be Independent, Best Party Green

Boyle is also outspoken in his views about Britain’s domestic politicians, and the institutions that support them. He describes London as a gigantic tax haven, which sucks in illegal money from around the world, citing the book Treasure Islands on the role of these places in the global economy. He and Mark both attack Tony Blair for his morally corrupt business interests around the world. He is dismissive of Ed Milliband, and notes with sardonic humour the absurdity of the Lib Dems, who have now started talking about what they would be able to do, if they weren’t in power. Boyle is unusual in that he supports Scots independence, but not the SNP. He states that it’s absurd that Scotland should be ruled by a completely different centre of power 500 hundred miles away, whose culture and interests are so markedly different. He believes that the SNP and Alex Salmond, in their heart of hearts, don’t actually want independence, just ‘autonomy max’, but within the framework of the British state. That’s why he believes the ‘Yes’ campaign is so lacklustre. He suggests that what should happen is that the Scots should vote ‘Yes’, then stop voting for the SNP altogether, and go and vote for someone, who would create the socialist republic the country needs. Like the Greens, who have a genuinely alternative agenda. It’s a point that has been made by the Angry Yorkshireman over at Another Angry Voice. And, of course, he is highly critical of the monarchy and its role in preserving Britain’s class structure. He’s also suspicious of Snowden’s revelations of mass NSA snooping. Not because they aren’t true, but merely because they’re being released now. So do the authorities want us to believe we’re being monitored in order to keep us in line. This might be a bit too paranoid. But even so, as someone once said, ‘Even paranoiacs have enemies. They just don’t know who they are’. Another conspiracy watcher also one observed that whatever you think they’re doing to you, the reality is far worse than you image.

Boyle’s views are controversial, and I know there are those, who take exception to his criticisms of the Labour party. Kittysjones in her blog has made the point that Labour aren’t as Right-wing as has been claimed. The interview was clearly filmed some time ago before Milliband began making some of the more radical promises that will undo much of the Tory programme. Nevertheless, it’s stimulating and worth listening to for the depth of knowledge and a different perspective Boyle brings to these issues. Like Hicks, Boyle is a comedian with a point. Not just a joke-blower being pointlessly offensive.