On the Media Death Drive
In a week when Fox News settled to the tune of nearly $800 million in their dispute with to Dominion Voting Systems – the largest publicly known defamation settlement in history – hot-takes on media problems come thick and fast.
The Fox v Dominion case was over the fact that Fox continued to spread lies about the Trump electoral loss despite knowing otherwise. As one commentator put it: “The decision by Rupert Murdoch to spend $787.5m (£633m) to settle the defamation lawsuit brought against Fox News has allowed the media mogul to avoid having to take the stand and defend lies told on his television channel about the last US election. It’s an escape hatch. It’s also a massive humiliation.”
“Pre-trial hearings and disclosure produced evidence that Fox repeatedly aired the lie that Dominion was linked to Venezuela, and helped rig the 2020 election against Donald Trump, bribing government officials to use its machines in order to do so.”
If post-truth is pre-fascism is true, as the saying goes, this is a victory for America.
Here on Conter David Jamieson had an alt take on the real reasons for media demise – in Scotland and globally. Here he gushes context-free praise on Stuart Campbell and the ‘mainstream journalists’ like Glenn Greenwald; suggests “Since 2016, almost every ‘averse’ political development in the western world has been ascribed to Russian influence” (huge if true); and bemoans the fact that “as elsewhere, the Scottish press has had one message about the present war in Ukraine – the exact same message as almost every elected politician and public institution.”
Such consensus is down to “ideological commitment to the establishment.”
There are some problems with this assessment.
The first is that the idea that anything “diverging from official narratives” is repressed or censored is not born out by the reality of a media landscape that includes GB News, Fox News, a petri-dish of hate-blogs, and a daily dose of wild conspiracy theories that feed the new populism of the far-right. In fact, there’s a strong argument that this bogus anti-establishment conspiracism is a new establishment born into the world on the airwaves of paranoia and disorientation of a post-ideological era. Your timeline is awash with ideas “diverging from official narratives”.
In championing Campbell – Jamieson is blithely ignoring a dark pit of ethical and political problems (here’s one for starters) and the issues with Glenn Greenwald’s ‘journalism’ are too legion to cover here. In an interview he gave to the far-right journal The Daily Caller, Greenwald announced: “I would describe a lot of people on the right as being socialist. I would consider Steve Bannon to be socialist. I would consider the 2016 iteration of Donald Trump the candidate to be a socialist, based on what he was saying. I would consider Tucker Carlson to be a socialist.”
As Paul Street writes in Counterpunch: “For years now, the sly fascism-denier Greenwald has creepily thrown in with the white nationalist right. He downplays the seriousness of the fascist-putschist Capitol Riot of January 6, 2021. He defends Trump and other Amerikaner neofascists against the “censorship” of their supposed free speech right to spew sexist, nativist, and white power hatred on Twitter and Facebook but has little if anything to say about how numerous red states have definitely attacked free speech in viciously racist ways by banning honest public-school discussion of American white systemic racism past and present. He accuses 2020 George Floyd social justice and anti-police protesters of wanton violence but defends the fascist January 6th insurrectionists against government repression.”
Greenwald’s descent has been well document – Chelsea Manning has distanced herself from him. In 2021 In a series of tweets Manning wrote that she wanted to return to Greenwald a $10,000 donation he had given to her because, “I can’t deal with this anymore. I’m terrified of you and everything you do. you’re greedy, unprincipled, and I’m embarrassed for ever considering you a friend.”
Kevin Reed reported that: “Although she was not specific in her comments, Manning was clearly responding to the fact that Greenwald has evolved—since his initial defense of the whistleblower in 2010—into a proponent of extreme right-wing politics.”
Glenn Greenwald is not a ‘mainstream’ journalist.
There are very real problems with the media in Scotland, they are corporately-owned, frequently guilty of a culture of cringe, politically-biased, dominated by an unrepresentative demographic, and logged into a narrative that’s a mixture of the hyper-banal and the hyper-negative. But the idea that the answer to the media problems is Stuart Campbell and Glenn Greenwald is very odd.
The problem with assessments of the media such as that given here by Jamieson is that it comes full-circle. In revulsion for the ‘liberal’ and the ‘neoliberal’ you end up anywhere, or nowhere.