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Feedback – Pilger’s “leaked” emails August 16, 2011

Posted by dissident93 in Medialens.
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I received this comment on my previous entry, from someone posting under the name ‘William’:

I like how you conveniently left out the events leading up to the publication of Pilger’s email. Pilger isn’t the one being “divisive”.Monbiot branded Herman and Peterson “genocide deniers” , and then attacked Chomsky, Pilger and Media lens. ML was right to publish the email and its arguments are obvious in the context of the alert.
(William, 15/8/2011)

Thanks, William. Most of my readers are probably familiar with the preceding “events”, and I provided links for those who aren’t.

My point was straightforward:- reasonable discourse isn’t served by quoting emailed personal attacks which are devoid of argument – even if the emails are from respected figures such as Pilger.

You’ll note that Chomsky’s emails on this topic weren’t quoted – because he strongly disapproves of his emails being used in this way (Pilger should know better). I recently corresponded with Prof Chomsky (one fairly long discussion, plus one brief one). It’s clear that whatever disagreements he has with George Monbiot (and another Guardian journalist), he doesn’t want them aired in public in the form of published correspondence.

[UPDATE: In fact, the Monbiot-Chomsky correspondence was eventually published – and it doesn’t present Chomsky in a good light. Some background plus excerpts of the correspondence are given here, whilst the full correspondence was originally published here, as supporting material for Monbiot’s Guardian piece).


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).

“Genocide”: a semantic quiz August 9, 2011

Posted by dissident93 in Genocide, Medialens.
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In today’s episode of Spot the Double Standard,
we quiz our readers over “genocide denial” & “smears”…

Semantic Quiz

1. Gerald Caplan, George Monbiot (and others) describe Herman & Peterson as “genocide deniers”. Is this a “smear”?

2. Herman & Peterson retaliated by calling Gerald Caplan a “genocide denier” and “genocide facilitator”. Is this a “smear”?

3. Monbiot says Medialens gives “support” to “genocide denial”. Is this a “smear”?

4. Medialens says the British media (specifically including Andrew Buncombe) has “systematically denied” genocide (and/or British “complicity” in it). Is this a “smear”?

5. Medialens disciple Gabriele Zamparini accused Antiwar.com of “hiding” the “Iraq genocide”. Is this a “smear”?

6. David Peterson coined the term “Bosnia Genocide Lobby” to refer to some of his critics? Is this a “smear”?

7. David Peterson says he’s doing “genocide reallocation”. Is he “smearing” himself?

8. Noam Chomsky has reportedly stated “unequivocally” that “he presumes standard accounts of what happened at Srebrenica to be accurate”. Is Prof Chomsky “smearing” himself, or is he “smearing” Herman, Peterson & Medialens?

How did you do?

• If you answered correctly, try saying “smear” less often to avoid being an “asshole”.* (This applies also to me, except when I say the word in irony).
• If you answered any question incorrectly, shame on you.
• If you laughed at any point, double shame on you.
• Bonus points if you have any idea who David Peterson is.

* In the same way that Herman & Peterson put the term “Rwanda genocide” in inverted commas (supposedly to indicate that they are denying “only” the “standard model” of the genocide), I’m putting the word “asshole” in inverted commas, to distinguish it from the standard insult.