Last year I wrote about Medialens’s attack on Nick Davies’s book, Flat Earth News. I described how they’d attempted to portray Davies as a “company man” with “nothing serious to offer”, whose analysis is “flawed”, “naïve”, “old” and “very superficial”. Medialens then replied that:
This is a distortion and in fact a complete reversal of what we wrote. (Medialens editors, 10/3/08)
In fact, I’d quoted Medialens accurately, but they objected that:
Our “nothing serious to offer” comment referred specifically to Davies’s material on proposed solutions, not to the book as a whole. (Medialens editors, 10/3/08)
They also replied that they’d “repeatedly praised the book”.
Perhaps, at this point, you’re unclear about Medialens’s real opinion of the book. Did they “repeatedly praise” it, or did they dismiss it as “very superficial”, “flawed”, “naïve”, etc? Presumably they didn’t do both simultaneously – at least not congruently or sincerely. To help make your mind up, here (exactly one year later) are some new comments from Medialens on Flat Earth News:
Davies’s book was very superficial. His major ‘findings’ were absurd but useful to the mainstream propaganda system – the reason he’s had so much high-profile coverage. You’re not helping people by encouraging them to take him seriously. And of course it just encourages him… (David Edwards, email to Nik Gorecki, posted by the ML eds to their message board [see screen-cap], 9/3/09)
Davies is “a Guardian man,” as he’s happy to admit – that tells you pretty much all you need to know about the seriousness of his “expose” of the media. It’s like “a party man” declaring the truth about the Communist party in the Soviet Union and being hailed by the Soviet media as a courageous, amazing whistleblower. It’s complete nonsense. (Medialens editors, ML message board [see screen-cap], 9/3/09)
Just take a look at his book – honest journalists are under so much pressure these days they can’t do their jobs properly any more. Utter nonsense. I have literally received greater clarity in discussing these issues with my 11/13-year-old nephews and niece. […] It’s wrong even to label Davies’s analysis a high school-level production – it’s not that it’s dumb or ill-informed – it’s just not honest. And all these people pretending he’s saying something profound and important – it’s classic Emperor’s New Clothes stuff. (Medialens editors, ML message board [see screen-cap], 9/3/09)
In case the Medialens editors regard these quotations (of their own posts to their own message board) as a “complete reversal” of their views, I’ll include the latest example of their “repeated praise” of the book:
There are some good parts in the book – the Observer material on the suppression of Ed Vulliamy’s WMD story +is+ interesting – but should we really be satisfied with crumbs when he blithely misses the whole of the bigger picture? (Medialens editors, ML message board [see screen-cap], 9/3/09)
Do you get the picture yet? If not, this final quote from Medialens should do it [my emphasis]:
Davies’s book focuses on side issues and trivial nonsense, and simply ignores everything that really matters about the corporate media. But what’s so extraordinary is that these are really huge, blindingly obvious issues – really big stuff that anyone can see. But for him other stuff matters more. It’s a classic example of how thought control works in our society. It’s not something to be praised; it should be exposed. It’s this stuff that finally kills people. It’s this quiet turning away from what really matters, from what could change things, that ultimately leaves children without limbs in Gaza, mothers with their heads torn off. (Medialens editors, ML message board [see screen-cap], 9/3/09*)
So, while Medialens claim to “repeatedly praise” Davies’s book, they are saying it represents the kind of “stuff” that “finally kills people”. Medialens use a peculiar “logic” of attenuated complicity to attack their opponents (Davies, Monbiot, Adam Curtis, etc). They often seem to regard those who don’t share their beliefs as potentially (or actually) “complicit” in mass killing (in fact they once stated on their message board that anyone who voted New Labour, post Iraq war, was “complicit in war crimes”). They seem blissfully unaware of where this type of “logic” can lead (irrational scapegoating, witch-hunts, etc – their smear campaign against Iraq Body Count being a prime example).
John Pilger was a little more straightforward in his praise for Nick Davies’s book: “This brilliant book by Nick Davies, unrelenting in its research, ruthless in its honesty, is a landmark expose by a courageous insider. All those interested in truth – outsiders and insiders – should read it.” (John Pilger on Flat Earth News)