Posts Tagged ‘MSNBC’

Jimmy Dore: Real Journalist Tells News Anchor CIA Is Lying about Trump

January 15, 2017

I’ve put up a number of blog posts recently arguing that the accusations that Russian hacking was responsible for the embarrassing leaks of information about Killary’s corruption and corporate interests are lies concocted by the CIA, FBI and other intelligence agencies for their own purposes. Quite apart from them being a deliberate strategy by Clinton herself and the corporatist Democrats to deflect attention from her numerous failings and abysmal failure to govern in the interests of ordinary voters against big business.

It also seems that the CIA and the rest have also put together a very short, two-page dossier, claiming that the Russians have recorded Trump performing various perverted or scatological acts during his visits there, and are using it to blackmail him. In this segment from the Jimmy Dore Show, the American comedian shows how this is sheer rubbish.

He firstly argues that Trump himself is such a shameless figure with no qualms about lying about Muslims and Latinos, claiming the latter are largely rapists, that even if the story about him urinating on the bed is true, he wouldn’t be at all worried about this coming out.

He also plays a very interesting clip from the Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC, in which a journalist, Richard Engel, goes through these allegations and states why he doesn’t believe them.

Engel says that he’s heard these allegations for months now, complete with details about where some of these events supposedly occurred, and naming the individuals that were allegedly involved. But when he’s tried to corroborate them, he’s been unsuccessful. He finds it extremely suspicious that this information is supposedly coming out now. He thinks it’s because the intelligence services are angry at Trump, and are trying to warn him to pay more attention to and support them.

The reaction from Rachel Maddow herself is also very revealing. MSNBC as a channel supports the Democrats, although as Dore, The Young Turks and others have argued, this is not the same as being left-wing or liberal. MSNBC isn’t. It has staunchly supported Hillary Clinton against the party’s progressive wing, headed by Bernie Sanders. And Maddow herself earns $30,000 a day, far more than the average American earns in a year.

He points out that Maddow really doesn’t want to hear this, and curtly thanks Engel for his information with the comment that it’s blackmail, ‘even if it isn’t true’. It clearly shows the network’s bias towards the Clintons and these allegations.

This is important, as these allegations of Russian hacking and blackmailing of the president elect are being used to promote a far more aggressive policy towards Russia, one that could take us to war. But as has been pointed out time and again, there seems to be little foundation, if any, to these rumours. At the end of last week, the newspapers announced that a British diplomat, Steel, who had obtained information about the Russians’ hacking, had fled into hiding. This seems to add verisimilitude to the allegations. Despite this, Craig Murray, the former British diplomat, who took custody of the WikiLeaks material, has said that it didn’t come from the Russians. It came from disaffected Democrat insiders. And now this journalist, who makes the point that most of the other foreign correspondents aren’t in Syria, has been unable to verify the stories of Trump’s mucky shenanigans. Even when he checked with the Russians and senior intelligence officers.

These allegations about the Russians are, simply put, rubbish. It’s disinformation – false information put out by the western intelligence agencies and the corporatist Democrats. It serves the Clintonites by reinforcing their power in the party and that of big business, and the American secret state and military-industrial complex in their campaign to shore up American global military power.

Trump is truly a foul man, and his policies are going to hurt millions of Americans. But in this matter he’s the innocent victim, however, bizarre that sounds. The Democrats and spy agencies are lying. They are pushing us towards confrontation with Russia, a confrontation that could result in nuclear war.

Jimmy Dore on Media Censorship of the War in Syria

January 4, 2017

In this video from the Jimmy Dore Show, the American comedian and his team comment on media censorship and lies about the war in Syria. They start off by playing a clip of Wesley Clarke talking about how a general he was interviewing told him, and handed him a paper, showing that America was going to invade seven countries including Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Syria and Iran. The general did not know why these countries were targeted for invasion, and there was no new evidence against them which would justify invasion.

Dore also makes the point that Obama, despite all his rhetoric about ‘hope’ and ‘change’, has expanded the number of wars being fought by America from two to eight. If this had occurred under Trump, the public would be horrified, by as it has been done under supposedly liberal Barack Obama, it’s been apparently acceptable.

Dore also describes how Google, which owns YouTube, are attempting to stifle independent comment and reporting on the war on Syria by demonetising videos that are critical of American support for the rebels. This has been done not just to Dore, but also to another poster.

He then shows another video of a rare instance where a reporter in the mainstream media has criticised the official reporting of the civil war. The presenter, Ken or Ben Swan shows scenes of a crowd in east Aleppo celebrating that part of the city’s liberation by Assad and the Russians from the rebel groups supported by America. He makes the point that if Assad is as bitterly hated by his own people, as the media claims, then why should they be celebrating his victory?

Swan goes further and demolishes the notion of ‘moderate’ rebels, who America and the West are supposedly helping to defeat Assad. In fact, these moderate rebels don’t exist. The Free Syrian Army was disbanded last year. They gave their weapons, which had been supplied by America, to the Al-Nusra Front, which is the name for the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda. And the biggest force now fighting Assad is ISIS. But the mainstream media simply refers to them as ‘rebels’. It does not tell the American public that their government is supporting ISIS and al-Qaeda.

Swann also shows footage of the buses that were sent into eastern Aleppo by Assad to evacuate the civilians there. These were attacked and set on fire by the rebels. It was done deliberately to prevent the civilians from leaving, as the rebels hide behind them.

Dore makes the point that you will not hear any mention of the above on any of the mainstream channels, such as CNN, MSNBC, Rachel Maddow and so on, and jokes about Swan himself being assassinated.

Here’s the video, which contains strong language.

Although Dore is commenting from an American perspective, the same is very much true of British journalism on Syria, with some exceptions. The I did report the attacks on the buses sent into evacuate the civilians in eastern Aleppo. However, we have had various Tory MPs jumping up and down demanding that we send planes in to bomb Assad and support the non-existent ‘moderate’ terrorists, who are going to liberate Syria for Islamism. With the exception of the I, and possibly the Independent, I don’t recall anyone making the point that ISIS is now the largest opposition group, and that if we send troops into the country, we will joining forces with them.

The media are deliberately feeding the American and British peoples lies to promote a war that has absolutely nothing to do with spreading democracy.

Trump and Putin Revive Nuclear Arms Race

December 24, 2016

Yesterday, Mike put up another piece commenting on statements by the American president-elect and Vladimir Putin that they want to strengthen their countries’ nuclear arsenals. Trump had made a tweet on Thursday saying “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.”

Trump did so the same day that Putin issued his own statement, declaring that “We need to strengthen the military potential of strategic nuclear forces, especially with missile complexes that can reliably penetrate any existing and prospective missile defence systems.”

Mike makes the point that the threat of nuclear Armageddon will not make the world more secure. It will not make rogue states like North Korea abandon their nuclear programmes. Instead, Mike urged us to listen to George Takei, whose family personally experienced the horror of the atomic bomb in Japan in World War II.

Star Trek’s Mr Sulu tweeted “Trump wants to expand our nuclear arsenal. I think of my aunt and baby cousin, found burnt in a ditch in Hiroshima. These weapons must go.”

Absolutely. I can remember the very large, and vocal demonstrations against nuclear weapons in Japan during the new Cold War of the 1980s. The Japanese had every good reason to demand the reduction and abandonment of the world’s nuclear arsenals: their country had experienced the terrible carnage produced by these horrific weapons.

Mike also reports that back in May, Trump also stated that he would support South Korea, Japan and Saudi Arabia acquiring nuclear weapons for their own protection.

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/12/23/why-are-trump-and-putin-suddenly-keen-to-revive-the-cold-war/

Mike’s also reported that Trump has followed up his idiotic tweet by making his intentions clear in an interview with Mika Brzezinski, one of the presenters on MSNBC’s Morning Joe programme. He said, ‘Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all’.

Mike makes the point that his comments risk needlessly inflaming tensions with Russia, pointing out that what is currently repeated in the western media about eastern Europe and the Middle East is propaganda designed to manipulate public opinion. He also argues that Putin could adopt the opposite approach, and concentrate on saving precious money and resources through the same policy, that has been considered by Labour Jeremy Corbyn. This means killing or otherwise neutralising terrorists’ leaders through surgical strikes, leaving them without effective military direction.

He also points out that technological weapons are also increasingly susceptible to infiltration and sabotage.

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/12/24/while-trump-spends-all-his-money-on-nuclear-weapons-what-will-the-russians-do/

Trump’s determination to ramp up America’s nuclear arsenal is bizarre, given his previous statements during his presidential campaign in which he deliberately gave the impression that he would be scaling down America’s military intervention around the globe. However, on examination this does seem very much in line with Trump’s determination to go back on every single one of his election promises, with the exception of repealing Obamacare.

Remember the noise he was making about going to Washington to ‘drain the swamp’, and would stop the corporate domination and corruption of Congress? That’s gone. After attacking Hillary for being a fully paid-up stooge for Wall Street, Trump has himself gone and appointed Wall Street bankers – including one from Goldman Sachs – to his cabinet. In fact, if anything, he’s increased the amount of corporate corruption. He’s allowed his daughter, Ivanka, to stay with him during negotiations with heads of government in either Japan or China, despite the fact that Ivanka Trump is also a businesswoman, who could use the information from these interviews to gain a clear economic advantage. And his sons have been raising money for their father by selling tickets to the extremely and not-quite-so filthy rich for them to attend dinners with him and go on hunting trips. All Trump’s talk about tackling corporate power has been a lie. Instead, it’s very much business as usual.

And it appears to be very much the same here. Counterpunch has published several articles over the past couple of months discussing how Barack Obama has been talking to senior military staff in Washington. He has already started to expand America’s stockpiles of nuclear weapons. He has also considered the possible use of low-megaton ‘battle field’ nukes in a limited nuclear war in Europe. The American comedian Jimmy Dore has several times ripped into Obama on his internet show, bitterly attacking the false image of the soon to be ex-president as some kind of dove and peacemaker. Far from stopping wars, Obama has carried on George Dubya’s brutal military policies in the Middle East, from Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, as well as Libya and Somalia. And so this new policy, announced by Trump, really isn’t new at all. It is, as Max Headroom used to say, merely ‘more… of the same’. The difference here is that Max was a fictional character with a satirical edge talking about pop music. The pilot for his series, 20 Minutes into the Future, showed a decaying Britain with massive poverty and homelessness, dominated by ruthless and unscrupulous media corporations. It’s a dystopian vision that is still very relevant today, even if the human brain is far too complicated to be successfully mapped and modelled electronically to produce an AI like Max.

As for the reason behind this dangerous policy, Counterpunch also published a piece describing Hillary Clinton’s vision of America’s role in the world. She seemed to be intent on expanding America’s military power to the utmost. She and the rest of the hawks talked about ‘full spectrum domination’, which means that America is the superior, dominant military superpower with the ability to bomb everyone else back into submission. At the same time, her domestic policies were aimed at keeping the working class as poor and as desperate as possible, so that she could sell American products cheaply to the emerging east Asian market.

It’s also been argued that America spends so much on the military because it is the only way that the American state can stimulate the country’s economy. Leftwing commenters and political analysts have argued that the experience of the Second World War after the Great Depression taught the American industrial and political class that America needed state intervention to create prosperity. This is, however, the Keynsian economic position, which is vehemently rejected by the Republicans and Libertarians as ‘socialism’ or even ‘Communism’. The only way the American state can effectively intervene in the American economy in a manner that is ideologically acceptable, is by doing what the Nazis and Fascists did in Germany and Italy, and invest massively in a re-armament programme. And like the Fascist states, the state has to use its armed forces to maintain its investments and public support for the rearmament programme. This was part of the reason for the outbreak of the Second World War.

As for Trump’s statement that he is prepared to allow South Korea, Japan and Saudi Arabia to acquire nuclear weapons, this is grossly irresponsible. Especially in the case of Saudi Arabia. In the case of Japan, it unacceptable for the same reason that the country has difficulty launching its own spacecraft. In the 1980s Japan developed its own rocket launcher to carry its satellites and probes into space. One of these probes was amongst the small flotilla of spacecraft that met Halley’s Comet in 1986. From what I’ve read, the country has only used its launcher a few times because of fears that it would be taken as a missile attack by the Chinese. The same would be true of South Korea. Political scientists and foreign policy analysts have argued very strongly against threatening China, as they respond by passing on nuclear technology and armaments to other nations, such as Pakistan.

And I cannot imagine anything more stupid, more calculated to result a nuclear holocaust, than giving atomic weapons to Saudi Arabia. This is a militant theocracy that has sponsored horrific terror campaigns throughout the Middle East and against America itself. Elements within the Saudi aristocracy and political elite, including its intelligence minister and possibly, if I remember correctly, the current king, sponsored al-Qaeda and ISIS. Terrorist organisations like them, who use suicide bombers and deliberately target civilians, simply cannot be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons. But that is what would happen if Trump allowed Saudi Arabia to acquire them.

Trump’s renewal of the nuclear arms race is therefore simply a continuation of Bush’s, Obama’s and Hillary’s arms policies. And it’s insane. During the Cold War of the last century, there were at least three instances where NATO and the former Warsaw Pact were on the edge of full-scale nuclear war. We escaped some of these by the skin of our teeth. This time, we may not be so lucky.

Private Eye Anti-Corbyn Jeering and Anti-Democrat Party Revolt in America

August 13, 2016

Last week I put up a piece commenting on the considerable anti-Corbyn bias in Private Eye. The Eye has run a series of articles attacking the Labour leader since he won the election, including a series of cartoons, mainly raking over controversies from the 1980s from the angle of the Blairites, entitled ‘Focus on Fact’.

In its issue for 5th-18th August 2016, the magazine ran another series of pieces attacking Corbyn. One of these was the following satirical commentary.

Private Eye Anti-Corbyn Joke

It shows a photograph of Corbyn side by side with the American Democratic Party politicians and presidential nomination hopeful, Bernie Sanders. If you can’t read it, the text runs

Spot the Difference 2

America

Grey-haired old socialist politician with a cult-like following accepts that for the good of his party he must step aside to end party infighting that will gift government to their ultra-right opponents.

Britain

Grey-haired old socialist politician with a cult-like following refuses to accept that for the good of his party he must step aside to end party infighting that will gift government to their ultra-right opponents.

It’s a spectacularly bad piece of political analysis, but it shows very clearly the very strong bias towards the Democrat and New Labour political establishment running through the Eye. Bernie Sanders, who campaigned against Hillary Clinton, was denied the Democratic nomination through dirty tricks. The Democratic establishment and party machine under Debbie Wasserman Schultz rigged the caucuses in Shrillary’s favour through the use of superdelegates, along with other machinations. The result has been a major political scandal. Sanders’ supporters turned up to protest at the Democratic National Convention the other week complaining that they were silenced. Sanders stepped aside, and urged his supporters to vote for Hillary, despite the fact that she stands for everything that he and they oppose: corporate power and corruption, the indiscriminate use of military force, the overthrow of democratically elected left-wing regimes and their replacement by brutal fascist dictatorships, further welfare cuts and poverty in the American heartland. It’s been pointed out by The Young Turks that Sanders was massively more popular than Shrillary, and stood a far better chance of beating Fuehrer Trumpf. But Bernie was too left and radical for the Democratic establishment to stomach. So they knifed him in the back, just like the Labour rebels are doing to Corbyn.

And the discontent generated by the Democrats’ betrayal of Bernie Sanders is challenging the entire American two party system. Counterpunch has run a series of articles commenting on the way younger, radical Democrat supporters are now turning to the Green party and Jill Stein. Geoff Dutton ran a piece in the magazine, ‘Let’s (Third) Party’, arguing for the inclusion of third parties in the American ballots to stop Clinton and Trump. See: http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/08/05/lets-third-party/
More recently, the magazine’s columnist, Barbara Ellis, wrote a piece entitled ‘Found – A New Major Opposition Party’, arguing that a third mass party was emerging from voters dissatisfied with the way the two dominant parties follow the agenda of the major corporations against the wishes and interests of the 99 per cent. This is partly based on the history of American third parties, like Minnesota’s Farmer-Labor party, which emerged in the 1930s, and became so powerful that the Democrat party sought to make it part of their umbrella organisation. See: http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/08/10/found-a-new-major-opposition-party/

The Young Turks and related radical internet news programmes have also commented on the growing support for Jill Stein, the Green Party’s presidential candidate, and the bitter resentment against a corrupt political system that denies severely ordinary Americans a voice. In the clip below, for example, The Turks’ reporter Jordan Cheriton talks to a young political scientist professor, Rex Troumbley, at the Green Party convention. Troumbley teaches at Rice University, and was a supporter of Bernie Sanders. He then switched to the Greens when the Democrats did the dirty on the people’s candidate. Troumbley explains very clearly why young millennials are dissatisfied with the two party system, a system that is ‘set up to disenfranchise’. He makes the point that they are far more receptive to radical views about their nation’s history – those that take into account the fact that the Founding Fathers hated and feared democracy, the genocide and dispossession of the Amerindians, slavery, Jim Crow and the rest, rather than the upper-class White male perspective pushed by establishment outlets like Fox News and the Republicans. And these kids want radical change.

In the piece from The Young Turks below, Jordan Cheriton talks to Bernie Sanders supporters, who have formed the Demexit campaign, modelled on Britain’s Brexit. Just as Britain, in their opinion, left the Union when it felt it was no longer part of it, so the Bernie Sanders’ supporters are leaving the Democrats to move to Jill Stein and the Greens because of the way they are not represented by Shrillary and the establishment Democrats.

And I could go on. Clinton and Trump between them are the most unpopular presidential candidates in American history, ever. In a recent poll, only 27 per cent of American voters were happy with Trump’s finger on the nuclear button. And Clinton was only marginally higher at 38 per cent. And the dissatisfaction is growing. The Liberal hosts of one American political programme on MSNBC went into absolute meltdown the other day when they found out that John Negroponte had endorsed Hillary Clinton. Negroponte’s a truly heinous individual. He was one of Reagan’s people responsible for arming the death squads in Latin America, amongst his other crimes against humanity. Jimmy Dore, another reporter from the TYT, made a point of criticising them for only just waking up to how horrible HRC was, after they had criticised her opponents, like the Turks, as ‘misogynists’ and ‘Bernie Bros’, and derided Susan Sarandon as ‘insane’.

I’m putting this up because, although it’s American, it parallels what’s happening over here with the attempts of the Labour establishment to stick the knife into Jeremy Corbyn. The Blairites are corporate warmongers exactly like Clinton. Tony Blair modelled New Labour on Clinton’s New Democrats, which took over the pro-corporate, anti-worker, anti-welfare policies of the Republicans. Private Eye and the Blairites sincerely wish that the Labour left, who have found a voice with Jeremy Corbyn, will shut up and abandon him, leaving them to continue the same policies of courting the middle classes and the corporate establishment, including the right-wing media, while privatising everything and destroying the welfare state. They’re aghast that the working class they have marginalised, ignored and sneered at are supporting Corbyn and abandoning neoliberalism. But, looking at what’s going on in America shows that removing Corbyn won’t change anything. He’s started a grassroots movement. If they get rid of him, people will leave the Labour party en masse, and a major third party will emerge from his supporters. It could be either the Greens, or parties like the TUSC, the Socialist Party, or Left Unity. Or it could be a completely new third party. Either way, the demand for a genuine, socialist alternative will remain, and it will challenge the Labour establishment. Regardless of the lies and spin the Blairites and Private Eye want us to believe.

The Anti-Semitism Allegations: A Very British Coup Against the Left

May 18, 2016

I was sent this clip from RT’s Going Underground by one of the great commenters on this blog. In this piece, the anchor Arshid Rattansi talks to Max Blumenthal about highly politicised nature of the anti-Semitism allegations. Blumenthal argues that they are being made to defend Israel from criticism, particularly after the Gaza conflict, and shows that those accused also include religious Jews, and those of Jewish descent, whose anti-racist beliefs and pride in their heritage should not be questioned.

Max Blumenthal describes himself in the clip as ‘an anti-Zionist’ Jew. He’s the author, according to a pop-up text in the show, of Life and Loathing in the Greater Israel. He says he was struck by the strong similarity between the accusations of anti-Semitism, directed at Jeremy Corbyn and the plot of the book, A Very British Coup, by the former Labour MP, Chris Mullens. In Mullens’ book, a former steelworker, Harry Perkins, becomes the British Prime Minister, and embarks on a very left-wing, Marxist programme, nationalising industry and setting up anti-nuclear zones. Perkins is very popular, and to topple him from power, the British establishment, the press and the right-wing of the Labour party, aided by the security agencies, manufacture quotes smearing him as an anti-Semite.

Blumenthal states that this is what is being done to Jeremy Corbyn, including groups within the Labour party that are close to the Zionist lobby. These are the Blairites in the Progress party-within-the-party and Labour Friends of Israel. Corbyn himself has said nothing anti-Semitic and has attended a meeting of the Labour Friends of Israel. On the other hand, he has embraced much of the programme of the BDS campaign – Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement, which seeks to persuade firms and consumers from dealing with firms or purchasing goods made in the occupied West Bank. He has also opened his office to anti-Zionist Jews, including Blumenthal himself. Blumenthal also makes the point that this started two years ago in 2014 when Ed Milliband, who was also Jewish, criticised the Israeli attack on Gaza. Mark Regev, the Israeli ambassador, who has joined in these allegations, was previously one of the spokesmen for Likud regime defending Israel’s actions during the attack. The definition of anti-Semitism used to justify these actions is highly partisan and politicised. It is not the definition used by some Jewish journalists and philosophers, which is that it is hatred of ‘Jews simply as Jews’, but hatred of the state of Israel. Regev even falsely accused Corbyn’s spokesman, Seaumas Milne in an interview, of saying that he wanted Israel’s destruction, before having to take that back 35 minutes later.

Some of those accused of anti-Semitism include Jews, and people of Jewish descent, whose character should be beyond reproach. In Britain, these include Jacqui Walker. Walker is a black woman of Jewish heritage, who is an anti-racist activist. She was suspended on these charges for a tweet she made saying that slavery was the Black equivalent of the Holocaust. Rattansi states that this isn’t anti-Semitic, just a very strong statement condemning slavery. In America, Bernie Sanders, also Jewish, has been attacked for being anti-Semitic for being critical about Israel. He was also forced to sack his ‘Jewish Outreach Officer’, Simone Zimmerman. Zimmerman is a very religious Jew, who is active in her community. But she also committed the heinous sin of objecting to Israel. Blumenthal states that Sanders and Corbyn have had some contact, but that criticism of Israel is far more muted in America, because AIPAC, the Zionist lobby in America is much more powerful than BICOM, its British equivalent. Blumenthal mentions an awkward moment during an interview Bernie Sanders gave to Rachel Maddow on MSNBC. Sanders’ raised the point that Comcast, the parent company, was owned by someone, who donated to AIPAC, and that one of its leading journalists, Wolf Blitzer, was also a leading journo and researcher for the lobbyists, and that therefore the show would not broadcast any material critical of Israel. Blumenthal makes the point, however, that there is a grassroots movement in the Democrats away from supporting Israel. This is largely from younger people, who are more secular, and because the country has become much more diverse.

The show has a caveat at the end, stating that they tried to get into contact with Comcast, who made the statement that they do not interfere in the editorial contents of their shows.

Here’s the interview:

CounterPunch have also published a series of articles about the anti-Semitism allegations, pointing out that these are all about the Zionist lobby trying to protect its own interests and Israel against what are perfectly legitimate criticisms. Blumenthal mentions that some of the allegations were made against people, who have criticised the Israeli premier, Benjamin Netanyahu. There’s nothing anti-Semitic about this. I can remember going to a science talk given by a British scientist, who was a staunch supporter of multiculturalism and who had clearly worked in Israel. He had nothing but contempt for the man, whom he described as ‘That b*stard Netanyahu’. There was no condemnation of Israel qua Israel, and certainly no condemnation of the Jewish people. Just a fair comment about the brutal thug governing the country.

As for the extension of the definition of anti-Semitism from its accepted meaning ‘hatred of Jewish as Jews’ to ‘hatred of the state of Israel’, this also won’t wash. Those on the left, who object to Israel, do so because they see it as a White, colonialist settler state, like apartheid South Africa, or indeed the USA. They do not object to it, because its people are Jews.

Moreover, the accepted definition of anti-Semitism, as hatred of Jews simply because of their ethnicity, is that of the person, who first invented the term, Julius Marr. Marr was the founder and leader of one of 19th century Germany’s leading anti-Jewish groups, the League of Anti-Semites. Marr coined the term to describe hatred of Jews based on their racial heritage, rather than their religion. Again, his definition doesn’t have anything to do with the state of Israel. The only way an anti-Semitism allegation against someone based on their opposition to Israel would be correct by that definition, would be if their objection to it was purely or mainly because Israelis were Jewish. This doesn’t appear to be the case in most of these allegations, if any.

As for the suspension of Jacqui Walker for commenting that ‘Slavery was Black people’s Holocaust’, it’s extreme and highly emotive, but it’s one that has certainly been said before. I think it was first made by the highly respected civil rights pioneer, W.E.B. DuBois, after he became a citizen of Ghana after the War. He compared the treatment of Blacks under slavery to the atrocities against the Jews by the Third Reich. In 1994 Bristol’s involvement in the slave trade came under the spotlight once again with the TV adaptation of Philippa Gregory’s A Respectable Trade, and the exhibition of the same name at the City Museum. One particular point of controversy is the statue to Edward Colson on the city centre. Many Black Bristolians wish to see the statue removed. Colson was a wealth patron, who donated generously to charity for the people of Bristol. It was with money donated by him that Colston girls’ school was set up, which still continues today. He made his money from the slave trade, however, and that’s the reason why his statue is so controversial. Gregory presented a feature on Bristol’s legacy from the slave trade during which she interviewed Paul Stephenson, a Black civil rights activist in the city. Stephenson, obviously, had nothing but hatred and contempt for Colson, saying that he was responsible for ‘a holocaust in Africa’. As far as I know, no allegations were made of anti-Semitism against Stephenson for his remarks.

And their people’s experience of persecution and exile from their ancestral homeland through slavery and its aftermath has led some Black writers to identify with the Jewish people. Also back in the 1990s the Black British writer, Caryl Philips, that the historical experiences of Blacks and Jews in this fashion were so close, that sometimes he believed he was Jewish. This caused a little controversy, with Hilary Mantel, the Jewish author of Wolf Hall, writing in reply that Phillips shouldn’t be so daft, as the Jewish experience was unique to Jews. Phillips might be mistaken about the identity of Black and Jewish historical suffering, but he was not anti-Semitic. Far from it.

However, underlying these accusations is a renewed feeling of insecurity amongst Britain’s Jews. There have been reports that anti-Semitic attacks have gone up, especially after the Israeli attack on Gaza. A few years ago there were a couple of festivals celebrating the Jewish contribution to British culture. There was a festival of Jewish literature, which was a general festival of books by Jews. Non-Jews were welcome to come, and the writers speaking at this event included, I believe Howard Jacobson and Hilary Mantel. There was also a festival of Jewish comedy, which was featured on the One Show. It was also covered on Radio 4. The blurb for the radio programme about it stated that one of the reasons it was being staged was because Jews were facing competition as comedians from other ethnic groups. There has thus been some insecurity amongst British Jews about their place in Britain, partly caused by the growth of other ethnic groups in Britain’s changing diverse society. The allegations of anti-Semitism made by the Zionist lobby against Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party reflect and draw on this insecurity. Of course, attacking Jews because of the actions of the Israelis is wrong, and should be condemned as anti-Semitic. But this does not make condemnation of Israel for its actions and treatment of the Palestinians anti-Semitic.

Democracy Now Talk to Palestinian Reporter Rula Jebreal about Pro-Israel Bias at MSNBC

May 16, 2016

In this piece from Democracy Now! from 2014, Amy Goodwin and her co-presenter talk to MSNBC’s Rula Jebreal about that channel’s censorship of Palestinian voices and pro-Israel bias. Jebreal is a Palestinian, who grew up in an Israeli orphanage and is married to a Jewish man. She found out that she also has a Jewish sister, through a relationship her mother had with a Jewish man. She states that she also has both Muslim and Christian sides to her family. I think this was fairly common in Palestine and Lebanon, where Christians have formed a sizable minority. The Irish comedian Dave Allen, who was certainly no friend of religion, said in a radio interview about 20 years ago that he played in Lebanon, and there were Christian and Muslim branches of the same families in Lebanese society before the place descended into civil war in the 1980s. So, Jebreal herself comes from a religiously mixed background, and should not be accused of anti-Semitism.

She’s also quite a courageous journalist, having suffered censorship because she dared to ask leading politicians awkward questions. She worked as a broadcast journalist in Berlusconi’s Italy and in Egypt. She was thrown out of Egypt because she dared to ask a minister about his government’s torture of dissidents. In Italy, il Ladro Barone shut down her show after she dared to ask one of his ministers a question about the treatment of immigrants he didn’t want to answer. She was the only person of colour on Italian TV at the time, and the minister concerned went into a foam-flecked rant and her called her ‘n*gger’, or the Italian version of it. He was forced to resign shortly after, but she lost her show.

Which left her all the more confused after she found her speaking dates cancelled by the network after she made the cardinal sin of asking one of the network’s management about their bias in favour of Israel. She raised this topic following the controversy about the network pulling Ayman Mohyeldin, their Palestinian reporter in Gaza, off the air. Mohyeldin had lost his job because he reported a little too much for American media’s comfort during the Israeli bombardment of Gaza. Mohyeldin had seen, and stated on camera that he had seen, four small boys killed by Israeli fire. Indeed, he’d only been playing football with the lads a few minutes before. This was too much for the network heads, who axed Mohyeldin. A public campaign by outraged viewers got Mohyeldin reinstated.

Jebreal raised the issue in an interview with one of the managers, and asked him about the preponderance of people speaking for the Israelis far beyond the number of Palestinians given airtime. She said that if there was a programme about the Israel-Palestine conflict, then the show would have perhaps 45 people all speaking for the Israelis, and a much smaller number, say 11, speaking for the Palestinians. This resulted in Jebreal being taken off air. She states that she doesn’t know if she still had a job, and was genuinely deeply shocked. This was America, where free debate and free speech was supposed to be a vital part of the country’s democratic tradition. It wasn’t supposed to be like Italy or Egypt, the one run by an authoritarian egomaniac, and the other by an overt dictator.

The Young Turks have also had their experience of censorship and biased news at MSNBC, to the point where they don’t consider it to be a liberal network anymore, for all that it is supposed to support the Democrats. This incident also shows the power of the Israeli lobby in America, that it can have journalists censured and the news suppressed when it does not fit the picture that they want to present.

Outfoxed: Documentary on Corrupt Journalism in Fox News

April 6, 2015

This is another documentary I found on Youtube. It’s about the massively biased reporting and complete lack of any kind of journalistic integrity on Fox News, the American news channel owned by Rupert Murdoch. Amongst the speakers are journalists, free press activists, politicians and ordinary people, who were interviewed by Murdoch’s hacks. The documentary sets the tone in the very first minutes by comparing Fox news and its management to a scene in the Godfather. Murdoch and his cronies are the gangsters of television journalism.

Among the programme’s revelations is the fact that the executives at Fox News sent memos to their staff every morning laying out what the stories they wanted covered that day, and how they wanted it presented and slanted. The journalists themselves were spied on and punished, if they did not follow the party line. Murdoch himself when he was negotiating to take over the channel, assured the federal authorities that he would bring ‘diversity’ to news broadcasting.

He didn’t. In fact, he did anything but. He was always a supporter of the Republican party, and fervently admired Reagan. As a result, Fox News acted as an arm of the Repugs, broadcasting press releases from the Bush’s administration almost unedited and without any kind of factual analysis.

This could get awkward for the journalists themselves, as they were expected to present the actions of Murdoch’s political heroes as those of heroic grandeur, even when nothing impressive or remotely grand was happening. One journalist talks about the problems he had doing this for Dubya, on days when Dubya wasn’t acting heroically. Another journo talks about the grief he was given by the studio executives for not giving a sufficiently grand and impressive image of the celebrations of Reagan’s birthday. There were a couple of schools there at the Ronald Reagan Memorial Library to valorise the old brute, but nothing much was actually going on. The hack did his best, trying to present the crowds there as far larger and the celebrations more impressive than they actually were. But you can’t make up what isn’t there, and the hack’s attempts to do so were judged inadequate and insufficient by Murdoch’s minions.

The speakers on the documentary go on to describe the subtle bias in the selection of guests or opposing speakers on the News. When covering political conferences or gathering, Fox News made sure they showed the big, well-known Republican politicians. When it came to the Democrats, they gave airtime only to the unknown, obscure figures in the party. The Channel also made sure that Republicans were on there commenting on the news fives times more than Democrats.

Those Democrats that were invited on were very carefully selected. One of the former Fox journalists describes them as ‘Faux Democrats’. They had a liberal façade, but were actually Conservatives. They were chosen because they didn’t really disagree with the Conservative line the network was taking. They even extended this bias down to the personal appearance of two of Fox’s anchors, Hannity and Colmes. Sean Hannity, the Conservative, was big, good-looking bloke. His liberal partner on the programme, Colmes, was described as ‘weaselly’. It’s harsh and ad hominem, but the comment’s a fair one in a society and industry where celebrities and politicians are carefully chosen and judged on their physical attractiveness.

And then there’s Bill O’Reilly. O’Reilly is one of their main anchors, with a highly confrontational manner and an absolute disregard for anything like objective truth. He’s been caught out recently lying about his early career in journalism, when he claimed to have covered the Falklands War, Northern Ireland and El Salvador from the combat zones. In reality, he wasn’t anywhere near the fighting. The man lies so often that he’s collected the nickname, Bill O’Liely. There’s even a video around of Fred Phelps, the pastor of the notorious Westboro Baptist Church, denouncing O’ Reilly as a liar. How much of a skunk do you have to be, when even a monomaniac, pathological bigot like Phelps looks down on you?

O’Reilly is shown trying to rebut his reputation for telling his guests to shut up. This happened only once, a few years ago, he tells the audience at a news convention. Wrong! And the documentary gleefully shows O’Liely exploding over and over again, telling everyone to shut up.

They also interview a young man, Jonathan Glick, who managed to hold his own while being interviewed by the old bully. This so infuriated O’Reilly that Glick had to be rushed out of the building before O’Reilly turned violent. And for months afterwards, O’Reilly returned to the interview to lie and twist what Glick had actually said.

Glick’s father was one of the victims of the 9/11 Twin Towers attack. Glick himself was one of those, who signed a letter against the invasion of Afghanistan. When questions about this by O’Reilly, by Glick states calmly that the people of Afghanistan didn’t carry out the attack. It was a group of mujahideen, who had been funded and equipped by the US.

This is absolutely true, but not something that O’Reilly wanted to here. He started shouting at Glick to shut up, and tried to invoke Glick’s father and respect for the other victims of the atrocity. Glick calmly stated that he loves and respects his father, and is following his father’s views, and criticises O’Reilly for invoking the victims’ memory in support of his own views. This was all too much for O’Reilly, who angrily ended the interview.

Glick was told to get out of O’Reilly’s sight for his own safety by a couple of producers. He then went up to the green room, and was then urged to leave the building by another couple of staff, who were afraid that if he stayed around, O’Reilly would be hit with a legal writ.

Over the next four months or so, O’Reilly began lying about the interview in subsequent broadcasts. He claimed that Glick was some kind of far-left Communist, and a Troofer. Glick was neither. He contacted one of the media monitoring groups, and told them he was thinking of suing O’Reilly for lying. The group’s lawyer told him that it would be difficult to get a conviction, as he’d need to prove that O’Reilly knew he was lying. And as O’Reilly was such an inveterate liar, he may well have been pathological and actually believed what he said.

Going on to political campaigns, the documentary describes how Fox uses the headlines and small, running snippets of news presented in the text at the bottom of the screen to frame the bias for the rest of the news. They were also less interested in important issues like health, education and welfare, which lacked the emotional impact that would appeal to right-wing groups. They preferred to concentrate on highly controversial, ‘hot-button’ topics, like abortion and gay rights, that would generate and provoke right-wing attention and support.

The issue of gay marriage actually proved more difficult for the Channel to manipulate than it thought. Rather than the outrageously costumed, theatrical sexuality of gay pride parades, which Fox was used to covering, most of the gay men and women, who came forward to get married were middle aged and looked severely normal. Fox couldn’t get any mileage out of presenting them as sources of outrage and a major threat to American society, so they ditched the issue and concentrated on religion instead.

When it came to individual politicians, they took every opportunity to denigrate the Democrats. When Bill Clinton was in office, they consistently attacked him, only to reverse their bias against the president when their boy, George Dubya, won. When it came to John Kerry, they concentrated on the issue of whether or not he had thrown away his medals after serving in Vietnam. If there was a downturn in the economy, it was because the markets were worried about Kerry. In fact, there were a number of issues that would have effected the markets, but the line Murdoch wanted pushed was that it was all down to Kerry, who would be a disaster for America.

Unlike the disaster for American, and global journalism, that is Rupert Murdoch.

And the network was responsible for extremely biased reporting when it came to the Bush’s election. At the time Fox made the announcement that Bush had won, the actual stats were still unclear and it was undecided. The ethical response from traditional, mainstream journalists would be to admit that. Fox didn’t. They declared Bush the winner. And within minutes, this was parroted by the other channels, who clearly hadn’t done their own, independent research.

The documentary makes it clear that this one of the most pernicious effects of Fox News: it’s corrupting the other networks, from MSNBC to CNN as they attempt to copy its style and political bias. And this is alarmingly destroying journalistic standards in America. The documentary gives the stats showing that Fox viewers actually know less about the world, and believe that their government’s actions are right, far more than other Americans. The journalists commenting on this state that for other channels, this would be a source of shame and an indication of failure.

It also has had an effect in making the number of journalists and presenters from ethnic minorities coming into television much smaller. A Black journalist in the documentary describes how this has effected not just Blacks, but also Hispanics, Native Americans and Asians. Their numbers have declined, as Fox has centralised its broadcasting, and cut down on local stations.

One of the positive things that has come out of Fox News, however, is that more people are aware of media bias. The producers warn of the dangers of television journalism being concentrated in the hands of five or so networks. They urge viewers and listeners to write and contact their local stations demanding that they report the news better and more objectively. They also report a few cases where communities have set up their own radio stations out of dissatisfaction with the bias of the existing broadcaster.

It’s a fascinating expose of Murdoch’s corrupt journalism. Several times in the show they describe Murdoch’s channel as like Soviet propaganda under Stalin. Unlike Stalin’s media, Fox News is far more pernicious. In the Soviet Union, it was clear the news was bias. In the West, the news claims to be independent, and so its bias is far more hidden. Especially on a channel that keeps boasting that about it’s ‘fair and accurate journalism’.

This is a show that’s clearly more relevant to Americans. But it’s also important over here. Murdoch would like to see the BBC sold off, so he could purchase it, or expand to fill the vacuum left by its demise. At the moment we have legislation prohibiting biased reporting. So did the Americans until the 1980s, when Reagan repealed the ‘fairness doctrine’.

A few weeks ago the Radio Times carried an article by one of its journos arguing that British broadcasters should similarly be able to abandon any pretence of objectivity, and so create the kind of vigorous material that has supposedly rejuvenated American journalism with Fox. This documentary shows the reality: a horrendously biased network, that keeps the public ignorant while celebrating the actions of the Right.

And it hasn’t rejuvenated American journalism. The average age of the Fox viewer is 68, and the network has been described as less of a broadcaster, and more of a retirement community.

Whatever Fox is, it shouldn’t be the future of journalism, either here or in America.

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Republicans Blocking International Disabled Rights Legislation

March 30, 2015

This is another piece of news from America, which is also relevant over here. In it, the left-wing news anchor and political commentator Rachel Maddow discusses the Republicans’ refusal to ratify an international treaty promoted disabled rights and accessibility worldwide. The treaty is itself based on legislation, which George Bush SNR signed was back in 1990. Maddow describes it as making the American laws stipulating public access for disabled people the ‘gold standard’ around the world. It had large, bi-partisan support, and was being promoted by the both the leaders of the Democrats and Republicans. This included John McCain, the former Republican presidential candidate, who addressed the senate from his wheelchair.

It was, however, turned down and blocked by the Repugs for what Maddow describes as ‘tin-foil hat’ reasons, that she said she wouldn’t dignify by repeating. If it’s like other international legislation that has been voted against by the Republicans, then my guess is that it involved fears about loss of sovereignty. Almost a decade ago, when the American Right was loudly denouncing Islam for the practice of Female Genital Mutilation, they refused to support an international motion in the United Nations to ban it around the world. Why? The reason appears to me to be the same reason that America has never signed up to the Human Rights court to try war crimes in the Hague. There’s a deep, pernicious fear amongst Republicans of allowing foreign nations reciprocal rights over the US. It contravenes the deep feelings of American exceptionalism in the party. This demands that America should have the freedom and power to enforce its moral standards around the world, but should never have to submit to legal constraints or judgements from other countries. This piece of news shows how far this attitude seems to go, right up to the point where it actually contravenes an American initiative to promote their standards as that of the world’s on a social issue.

I also decided to put this up because of the brief background information it gives on the disability rights movement in the US. Or at least that part of it, which campaigned for mandatory access to public transport. It came from a group called ADAPT – Americans Disabled for Access to Public Transport, which was set up in Denver in 1983. They staged a series of campaigns where they tried to get on buses en masse, despite being turned away and arrested, as the video shows. Colin Firth and Anthony Arnove include a piece by the Bristolian disability activist, Liz Crowe, ‘Catching Buses’, in their anthology of radical historical texts, The People Speak: Democracy Is Not A Spectator Sport. In it, Crowe describes her campaign to get disabled people access to public transport. The piece is from 1999, nine years after George Bush made it law in America.