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Medialens undone

WARNING: may cause cognitive dissonance
and anxiety in disciples of Medialens…

Medialens finger-pointers
[Medialens Undone menu below…]


A few years ago I wrote a piece about Medialens’s double standards. George Monbiot read it and linked to it. Medialens then issued an “alert” attacking Monbiot and myself. (George wasn’t impressed).

I originally supported Medialens – until they began an unpleasant, error-ridden campaign against Iraq Body Count (Medialens has yet to respond to my 2009 ZNet article documenting their errors). The Observer’s Peter Beaumont described Medialens’s campaign as “deeply vicious”. Among other things, Medialens promoted the insane claim that IBC was “actively aiding and abetting in war crimes”.

Monbiot criticises Medialens

Some criticisms of Medialens:

• George Monbiot, back in 2002, accused Medialens of being “narrow”, “not analytical, but ideological”, and guilty of “confronting one form of bias and intolerance with another”. More recently, Monbiot has charged Medialens with being “an apologist for genocidaires and ethnic cleansers”.

Steven Poole (author of Unspeak) wrote, in a Guardian review, of Medialens’s “counterproductive tendency to bathe everything in childishly apocalyptic polemic”.

Adam Curtis, writer/producer of the BBC series, The Power of Nightmares, characterised Medialens’s “media criticism” as “stamping your little feet and trying to whip up an attack of the clones”.

Stephen Soldz, an antiwar campaigner, psychoanalyst and writer for ZNet, wrote of the “mob psychology” of Medialens: “I used to think that we needed a group like Media Lens in the US. Now I am simply thankful that this particular flavor of Stalinism hasn’t yet emigrated”.

Noam Chomsky distanced himself from Medialens when I asked him to comment for the record on this. Prof Chomsky wrote: “I know almost nothing about medialens, their positions, or their reasons.” (email, Chomsky to Shone, 18/06/2011).

Peter Wilby (former editor of New Statesman magazine) wrote that Medialens “don’t do humour”, and that “The only analogy I can think of for their self-appointed role as media irritants is Mary Whitehouse, who also represented nobody but herself, and was also completely ignorant of what she was criticising.”

Peter Beaumont (the Observer’s foreign affairs editor) wrote that Medialens is “a closed and distorting little world that selects and twists its facts to suit its arguments”. He likened Medialens to “a train spotters’ club run by Uncle Joe Stalin”.

ZNet has refused to publish several of Medialens’s articles. In one case, the rejection was due to a passage which “implied that a very excellent journalist, George Monbiot, was protecting corporate interests” (in the words of ZNet editor, Michael Albert, who added that “We refuse to give silly and destructive claims and formulations credibility”). Other cases of rejection are cited here by Medialens (as a kind of boast – as if it makes them more radical than ZNet).

• [2012 Update] Since I posted this blog, there have been many criticisms of Medialens from commentators on the left – Mehdi Hasan, Sunny Hundal, Richard Seymour, Owen Jones, New Left Project, etc. Almost too numerous to mention, and much of this criticism is via Twitter.

A new Twitter account, Mediocre Lens, has started to compile some of this criticism (and has been retweeted by George Monbiot, Mehdi Hasan, Guardian assisant editor Michael White, and others).

Stephen Soldz criticises MedialensQuote source: Medialens message board 18/3/09

MENU – Medialens undone part 1
(externally published criticisms of Medialens):

MENU – Medialens undone part 2
(Medialens-related entries at this blog)

Screen captures (from Medialens’s message board):


Fun from the archives:

A little-known audio (CD) release from Medialens, circa 2001, featuring ingenious lyrics which equated the mainstream media (“MSM”) with Satan. A few of the songs used to be available on the Medialens YouTube channel, but they were removed due to popular demand: