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.




Comments (13)

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  1. Dave Millar says:

    Interesting, thanks for this. I’d always thought of Greenwald as one of the good guys. Media Lens quote him approvingly; what do you make of them?

    1. WeeDoogie says:

      He probably would call them “far right neoliberal fascist literal Nazis”.

  2. Wul says:

    I have to say, I can’t really follow it all nowadays. It feels like a bunch of political commentators all slagging each other off. I don’t know who is who or what they stand for or who is paying them. It feels irrelevant and nasty.

    Why is no-one addressing the public directly about the problems we face and promoting policies for positive change?

    It’s all very well for people steeped in this stuff every day. I can’t be arsed with it any more.

  3. Derek says:

    “But the idea that the answer to the media problems are: Stuart Campbell and Glenn Greenwald is odd.”

    That doesn’t make sense. Why is there a colon? It dictates that the “is” should be an “are”, and vice versa. Even with that, it’s an incomplete sentence.

    He can be a bit spiky, but I wouldn’t use that to tie Stuart Campbell to the U.S. right.

    1. Thanks you’re right that sentence is a bit wonky. I’m not tying Campbell to the US right, I’m pointing out he still hosts content by Eric Joyce.

  4. Denis Mollison says:

    I don’t see the justification for such an angry article. David Jamieson’s piece isn’t perfect, but is generally quite reasonable.
    You obviously don’t like Stuart Campbell, but Jamieson is right to credit him with leading on the current mess in the SNP.
    His latest piece – https://wingsoverscotland.com/putting-our-foot-in-it/ – is a neat demonstration of how the main media get stories from him while never acknowledging it. He has written some dubious stuff, but I can’t see what’s wrong with the link you give (`here’s one for starters’), which is to a guest piece by Eric Joyce from 2016.
    And he only mentions Greenwald in passing, without any endorsement.

    1. Hi Denis – its really not a very angry article at all.

      Eric Joyce pleaded guilty to making an indecent photograph of a child, a category A image, the most severe category of indecency. He is on the sex offenders register. If you cant see what’s wrong with continuing to host him I can’t help you.

      1. Denis Mollison says:

        Eric Joyce was arrested for the offences you mention in 2018, and sentenced in 2020.
        The article you linked to appeared on Wings in June 2016; he seems to
        have written two others in 2015-16, but none since his arrest.

        So Wings has not been “continuing to host him”.

        1. He continues to host his content (?)

      2. Frank Mahann says:

        Major Joyce, if you don’t mind.

  5. Alice says:

    It was inevitable when Nicola went that the huge power vacuum would be filled by joyous unionists of various writing and reporting skill levels. Happily I have body swerved most as they are just unionists on a political jolly. Things change so we shall see how the present difficulties play out .

  6. Alec Lomax says:

    Campbell is for all intents and purposes a unionist. He wrote a couple of months ago that he was going to vote Tory at the next election – the party, remember of Suella Braverman, Lee Anderson and co. Stuart will eventually get an MBE from a grateful United KIngdom..

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