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Medialens’s “silent” hypocrisy September 5, 2010

Posted by dissident93 in Medialens.

A search of Medialens’s writings reveals that part of their MO is to accuse people of being “silent” over various matters. It’s a rhetorical device – in most cases the accused isn’t literally “silent”, but has responded in a way that Medialens finds inadequate (see examples below).

Curiously (and trivially), Medialens seemed very much affronted when Channel 4’s Alex Thomson wrote of their “total silence” in response to a question he’d asked. (Medialens weren’t literally silent; Thomson thought they’d “totally evaded” his question). Medialens said this was a “baseless smear” that was “particularly wretched“. But Thomson had simply used a word (“silence”) in the same way that Medialens has often used it – as the following examples indicate:


Medialens wrote the following to George Monbiot (28 Oct 03):

“Your silence in response to our question about your views on the performance of the Guardian is remarkable. You say we betrayed your confidence. Even if true, that would hardly justify not speaking out honestly now on such an important issue.”

Had Monbiot really been “silent” in response to Medialens’s question? Negative. In fact he’d responded with the following:

Finally, you ask me “what is your view of the Guardian’s reporting on Iraq?” Last time I gave you my opinion on the Guardian’s coverage, I asked you to treat it in confidence. You betrayed that confidence.

That doesn’t sound like “remarkable silence” to me.

One of Medialens’s articles (a petty, spiteful, error-riddled attack on Iraq Body Count) was titled: “IRAQ BODY COUNT REFUSES TO RESPOND” (their upper case). Of course, IBC hadn’t “refused to respond” – they just hadn’t responded in the way that Medialens wanted.

Sometimes Medialens’s accusations of “silence” apply to the media as a whole. In an article titled “IRAQ CIVILIAN SUFFERING – THE MEDIA SILENCE” (their upper case), Medialens wrote:

Silence also surrounds the plight of Iraq’s children who are dying in hospitals for lack of the most elementary equipment. Save the Children estimate that 59 in 1,000 newborn babies are dying in Iraq, one of the highest mortality rates in the world. Up to 260,000 children may have died since the 2003 invasion.

Where do these figures come from? Medialens helpfully provides the source, which is none other than the Independent newspaper, one of those newspapers that’s so “silent” on these issues. It’s surprising how often Medialens relies on facts that manifest out of “media silence”.

Medialens has also written (1st March 05) that:

The notion of government and big business perpetrating climate crimes against humanity is simply off the news agenda. A collective madness of suffocating silence pervades the media, afflicting even those editors and journalists that we are supposed to regard as the best. (My bold emphasis – RS)

That sounds like an example of what Steven Poole (author of Unspeak) referred to as Medialens’s “childishly apocalyptic polemic“. But the point is that their claim of media “silence” on this issue is obviously false. The coverage may arguably be inadequate in various ways (of quality and quantity), but it’s hardly non-existent.

That’s just a handful of examples – there are plenty more. Medialens even wrote (in an article titled “SILENCE IS GREEN…“) that the “Green movement” is “silent” over the “disaster” that the corporate media system “represents”! Classic Medialens overgeneralising bullshit-rhetoric.

So, to conclude –

Alex Thomson evidently wasn’t guilty of a “particularly wretched” “baseless smear”. That’s just Medialens’s hysterical (and hypocritical) take on it. Nothing nettles them more, it seems, than being subjected to their own favourite rhetorical tricks (they even wrote a complaint to journalism.co.uk about Thomson’s remarks).

POSTSCRIPT (17 Oct 2010)
Just over a month after they accused Alex Thomson of “smearing” them, Medialens issued another article with the theme of media “silence” (titled: “DEATHLY SILENCE, OBAMA’S LETTER, NETANYAHU’S REJECTION AND THE MEDIA’S NON-RESPONSE” – their upper case). Lower down in the article, Medialens notes that the issue on which they claim the media was “deathly silent” was in fact mentioned more than once by the Guardian, and also by the Telegraph – and they’re not sure whether or not it was mentioned by the BBC. So, not exactly “silent”, then.