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Medialens’s embarrassing archive (part 2) October 19, 2008

Posted by dissident93 in Iraq mortality, Medialens.

Medialens’s campaign against Iraq Body Count (IBC) started in January 2006. It continued into March 2006 with their “Iraq Body Count refuses to respond” article. IBC published a substantial response in April 2006.

Then Medialens rewrote history. Conscious of the fact that they were accused of waging a smear campaign against IBC (Peter Beaumont of the Observer later described it as “deeply vicious”), Medialens attempted to (falsely) portray IBC as the aggressors. Less than five months after starting the anti-IBC campaign, the Medialens editors wrote, incorrectly, that IBC had been campaigning against them “over the last five months” (Medialens message board, June 2, 2006).

When questioned about this apparently dishonest remark, the Medialens editors replied:

Quibbling about whether it’s exactly four, five or six months is neither here nor there. (Medialens editors, Medialens message board, June 2, 2006).

But it was no mere quibble. Medialens apparently hoped their own readers had poor memories. Only two-and-a-half months earlier (14 March 2006) they’d complained of IBC’s “unwillingness to respond”.

Here’s a brief history of Medialens’s campaign – posted for those with poor memories (originally posted by me to the PoV website, November 1 2006):

• January 2006. MediaLens [ML] release their first anti-IBC alert, politely worded, but with a stench of insinuation from the start (that perhaps IBC aren’t as anti-war as they seem, etc). And full of distortions, errors and unsupported inferences. IBC don’t respond, beyond a few brief, polite emails, basically hinting that they don’t buy the premises of ML.

• MediaLens and their supporters get royally pissed at being snubbed by “silent”, “non-responsive” IBC. Edwards & Cromwell [ML’s editors] issue more anti-IBC alerts, increasingly authoritarian in tone (basically dictating to IBC what the “honourable” thing to do is). Still, IBC sensibly don’t take the bait.

• Three months go by, in which we witness increasing fury on the ML board at IBC’s “failure to respond”. During this time the smears and attacks appear daily on the ML board. Edwards and Cromwell post the “aiding and abetting in war crimes” smear, and others. IBC are publicly accused of being “complicit in mass slaughter”, “assisting the US government”, being “cosy” with military and intelligence, “not caring” about the suffering of Iraqis, being “apologists” and “propagandists” for war criminals, etc, etc. John Sloboda is subjected to frequent personal attacks and character assassinations, both by email and via the ML board. On the ML board, these often involve people digging up old pieces by Sloboda, which are then quoted out of context.

• During all this time, IBC hasn’t criticised or rubbished the Lancet study 2004. [In fact IBC had previously issued a positive press release commenting on it – which describes the difference between IBC’s and Lancet 2004’s methodologies/figures].

• A few supporters and one member of IBC start posting to the ML board, mainly to deal with the factual distortions appearing there. Some of the anti-IBC crowd learn, to their surprise, that IBC have always stated that many or most deaths will go unreported. And that IBC use a long list of non-western media, etc.

• The anti-IBC campaign moves to a new phase. Les Roberts supplies the anonymous “IBC amateurs” quote, which Edwards and Cromwell milk, on the ML board, in emails to BBC journalists, in their next alert, etc. Roberts meanwhile (we assume) fails to point out to Edwards and Cromwell that their alerts have been based on claims from Roberts which are known [and admitted], by Roberts, to be erroneous. Odd one, that.

• After the smears have gone on for months, IBC finally publishes a defence, Speculation is No Substitute, which deals with, among other things, Roberts’s error – but which isn’t a criticism of the Lancet study (Roberts’s error was made outside of that study).

• After having been criticised, for months, for “failing to respond”, IBC are now attacked for responding (when they should, of course, be using their time to email Jon Snow, as demanded by the ML editors). Meanwhile, Les Roberts is running for Congress [or was, in 2006], and clearly doesn’t spend much time writing to media outlets to complain about their misrepresentations/omissions of the Lancet study. But this doesn’t seem to bother the ML crowd. After all, Roberts is an expert and a saint. IBC supporters are banned from the debate at ML. After all, they are supporters of apologists for war criminals.

• It all gradually dies down a bit (thank God), after Edwards and Cromwell are reduced to comparing a member of IBC to one of their ex-girlfriends. Typical of the quality of comment from Edwards and Cromwell at this time: “Where’s your message board, Josh?”

Medialens later resurrected their campaign, and continue to attack IBC.