War in the Media

Some people may wonder why this YouTube starts halfway through a panel discussion from the Rebellious Media Conference at the weekend.

I certainly did. So I dug deep down in my appallingly scratchy notes and typed up a paraphrase of what Mark Curtis had said – the first speaker on the panel.

Warning – it’s not verbatim – it is interpolated from my illegible handwriting.

“War and the Media” : Panel Discussion : Rebellious Media Conference
8 – 9 October 2011 : Mark Curtis, Greg Philo, John Pilger
[Comments from Mark Curtis roughly reconstructed from jotted notes]

[…Tests the audience’s general knowledge about the world’s longest serving dictators…] It’s “Our Man in Oman”, Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al-Said.

We don’t hear much about Oman. Why is that ? Let’s make two assumptions, first, that journalists can read, and second that they are following government sources.

For the UK Government, foreign policy is increasingly about oil. UK has been developing relationships with the Gulf States. There is a policy of deepening support for the most undemocratic states in the region.

Britain continues to project military power. You can see this in a hundred years of UK foreign policy – just read a few speeches.

This is not what we are being told in the media. Was this a war for oil ? Is the Pope a Catholic ?

In the media, the view [expressed] is that Britain is about supporting democracy in the Middle East.

This country has two special relationships. The special relationship with the United States [of America] is about consumerism and investment.

The other special relationship is much less [publicly] known [communicated]. Saudi Arabia since 1973 […]

A problem – Saudi Arabia is funding radical Islam.

And when Cameron […] in Bahrain…I wonder what they were talking about ?

When Britain provides arms, the media reports that it contradicts our policy of promoting democracy – to maintain them in power. We don’t have a policy of upholding democracy. They are our allies. We don’t want them to fall.

Afghanistan received covert UK aid in the 1990s. They were our ally, and the main supporter of our enemy.

British leaders fear that if we know too much…The democratic threat at home. Ministers constantly lie. Biafra…UK…arms. Wilson – Vietnam – secretly sent forces.

Are we clear about the disinformation we are treated to ? For example, British support for Israel ? Colombia ?

Documentaries… where are the films ? [I read] de-classified open documents.

Let me tell you a joke : Andrew Marr’s “History of Modern Britain”.

A history of Britain with no history is like reading Hello! magazine – the more you read, the less you know.

BBC and Sky are straight-forward propaganda networks. It’s not conscious. Journalists believe they are being independent.

It’s impossible to watch these programmes if you have an IQ in double digits except as a student of disinformation. This is state propaganda.

The print media is better. Some is off-balance – they don’t question – Britain might not be supporting democracy. They purvey the idea of Britain’s basic benevolence.

I think we should be writing to individual journalists.

Campaigning non-governmental organisations (NGOs) should target the media in their work. Make the point that the media is a problem. Make the public aware of the media’s disinformation and propaganda role/function.

Need to be a bit careful about the Internet market[place]. Quite a lot of disinformation – a lot of wackos – the uprisings [in the Arab world] are not at CIA operation.

We need to exercise judgement.

Become the media.

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