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John Pilger’s “leaked” emails August 10, 2011

Posted by dissident93 in Media Criticism.
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[Updated, Feb 2012 – Pilger has
again attacked Monbiot: see below]

I presume John Pilger allowed these email excerpts to be published. I like to think he originally intended them to be private, because slagging off people like George Monbiot – with non-specific (and thus unanswerable) assertions – achieves nothing useful in the public domain.

Here’s what Pilger’s (widely circulated) email is quoted as saying:

Chef Monbiot is a curiously sad figure. All those years of noble green crusading now dashed by his Damascene conversion to nuclear power’s poisonous devastations and his demonstrable need for establishment recognition – a recognition which, ironically, he already enjoyed.’ (Email from Pilger, 29/6/2011)

George Monbiot’s recent articles on nuclear power have sparked off a useful debate, with some reasonable challenges – but also with many knee-jerk misrepresentations of what he has written. Pilger’s assertion (that Monbiot had a “Damascene conversion to nuclear power’s poisonous devastations”) is clearly among the gratuitous misrepresentations.

The second part of Pilger’s remark – that Monbiot has a “demonstrable need for establishment recognition” – is the kind of unpleasant personal attack which usually indicates something other than a rational case. Pilger states that Monbiot’s “need” is “demonstrable” – but no demonstration is provided by Pilger.

Update (Feb 2, 2012)

I note that Pilger has once again attacked Monbiot (in another “leaked” email):

‘Since George Monbiot completed his Damascene conversion and decided the likes of Fukushima were good for the planet, and that smearing those who challenged other orthodoxies might be fun, he has barely drawn breath.’ (Pilger, email 24/12/2012)

This is, as noted above, a gross misrepresentation of what Monbiot wrote about Fukushima. Pilger goes on (in the same email) to attack Monbiot for not criticising the Guardian for having “supported and apologised for” the slaughter in Iraq:

‘Not a word reminds us of how the greatest, wanton slaughter of the new century – in Iraq – was so often subtly (and not so subtly) supported and apologised for in the pages of his own newspaper.’ (Pilger, email 24/12/2012)

This is remarkably hypocritical of Pilger, who, in a previous article, had praised the Guardian (along with the Mirror and Independent) for its Iraq coverage. Furthermore, pretty much all of what Pilger accuses Monbiot of omitting (over Iraq, including criticism of the Guardian/Observer, Andrew Gilligan’s claims etc) was covered by Monbiot back in 2004, in a Guardian article titled The Lies of the Press.

Note that both emails from Pilger were solicited (and “leaked” – presumably with Pilger’s permission) by a website called Medialens. For a decade, the editors of Medialens have waged what looks like a smear campaign against Monbiot. They claim that it’s “rational analysis”, but it looks more like a personal grudge. Back in 2002, Monbiot had written that Medialens were “narrow”, “not analytical, but ideological”. More recently, he described how Medialens launches an attack on him “every few months”. (I think Monbiot is being charitable here. Having read Medialens’s website and discussion forum for years, I’d estimate that on average they launch an attack on Monbiot every few weeks).

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