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Skull-fucked by David Edwards  
Posted by Russ Bridger on October 5 2007, 18:11 » Uploaded 05/10/07 19:14  

Interesting to see this concept of "skull-fucking" (see earlier), as it describes what must have happened to the legions of Medialens zombies. Our own "dav" (see his previous posts on this board) looks to have been royally fucked in the noggin by Medialens "editor" David Edwards, as he seems incapable of posting any idea which hasn't just come straight from Edwards.

We don't need more Medialens propaganda clogging up this board dav. There's enough of it already clogging up other places. As George Monbiot said, Medialens push "narrow", "intolerant" crap. And I see from below that they are now going after Naomi Klein. Brilliant, world-saving work.

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Comment 01 – dav October 05 2007, 19:53

Interesting (to nick the intelligible bit of your comment) stuff.

Are you available for children's parties?

Comment 02 – Woofles October 06 2007, 10:06

Russ, why keep quoting those words from Monbiot as his final, definitive view? As I quoted in another thread, he also said (after making those comments):

"Dear David and David,
I know we've had disagreements in the past, but I wanted to send you a note of appreciation for your work. Your persistence seems to be paying off: it's clear that many of the country's most prominent journalists are aware of Medialens, read your bulletins and, perhaps, are beginning to feel the pressure. If, as I think you have, you have begun to force people working for newspapers and broadcasters to look over their left shoulders as well as their right, and worry about being held to account for the untruths they disseminate, then you have already performed a major service to democracy. I feel you have begun to open up a public debate on media bias, which has been a closed book in the United Kingdom for a long time. As you would be the first to point out, this does not solve the problem of the corporate control of the media, but it does sow embarrasment in the ranks of the enemy, while reminding your readers of the need to seek alternative sources of information.

"Your columns in the New Statesman have been effective in reaching a wider readership, and I'm glad the Guardian gave you a platform: have you tried to persuade the BBC to let you on? I'm thinking in particular of Radio 4's programme The Message.
With my best wishes, George Monbiot" (Feb 2, 2005)


Comment 03 – Raoul Djukanovic October 06 2007, 12:37

He also wrote (subequent to the lines you quote):

"Is the real message I am getting here that [John Pilger's] role does not attract the critical scrutiny from Medialens that Fisk and I attract not because he isn't working inside the liberal media on the same terms as we do, but because you agree with everything he says, and he agrees with everything Medialens says? If so that's fine. But it would surely be better not to pretend that there is another reason."

The response from the Davids was unconvincing. Essentially they continue to attack anyone who dissents from their narrow and particular doctrine, while refusing to engage with substantive criticism of their serial distortions (especially from people who see from the inside how distortions get reported, as opposed to the fantasy agitprop pretence to "explain" it). As Noam Chomsky has written:

"Somehow they have to get rid of the stuff. You can't deal with the [dissident] arguments, that's plain; for one thing you have to know something, and most of these people don't know anything. Secondly, you wouldn't be able to answer the arguments because they're correct. Therefore what you have to do is somehow dismiss it. So that's one technique, 'It's just emotional, it's irresponsible, it's angry.'"

Cue the passive aggressive approach...

ML vs. Monbiot, round 94

Comment 04 – BBJE October 06 2007, 16:13

Woofles seems to forget that last time he posted the "nice" quote from Monbiot, I pointed out that Monbiot's remarks were made mostly in irony, the giveaway line being: "...performed a major service to democracy". Only those blindly devoted to Medialens would fail to see the humour.

Comment 05 – Woofles October 06 2007, 20:46

Raoul, I'm not sure what it proves that Monbiot doesn't like being criticised - certainly not that the ML editors are evil monsters.

BBJE. I'm not blindly devoted to ML but can find not a trace of irony in that email from Monbiot. He'd have to be pretty nuts to send such a detailed and lengthy effort at sarcasm and/or irony - a couple of sentences would've been plenty. And Monbiot's not nuts - he's a very sane guy. Maybe there was more irony in these comments from him in November of the same year:

... In the US and the UK, the study was either ignored or torn to bits. The media described it as "inflated", "overstated", "politicised" and "out of proportion". Just about every possible misunderstanding and distortion of its statistics was published, of which the most remarkable was the Observer's claim that: "The report's authors admit it drew heavily on the rebel stronghold of Falluja, which has been plagued by fierce fighting. Strip out Falluja, as the study itself acknowledged, and the mortality rate is reduced dramatically." In fact, as they made clear on page one, the authors had stripped out Falluja; their estimate of 98,000 deaths would otherwise have been much higher.

But the attacks in the press succeeded in sinking the study. Now, whenever a newspaper or broadcaster produces an estimate of civilian deaths, the Lancet report is passed over in favour of lesser figures. For the past three months, the editors and subscribers of the website Medialens have been writing to papers and broadcasters to try to find out why. The standard response, exemplified by a letter from the BBC's online news service last week, is that the study's "technique of sampling and extrapolating from samples has been criticised". That's true, and by the same reasoning we could dismiss the fact that 6 million people were killed in the Holocaust, on the grounds that this figure has also been criticised, albeit by skinheads. The issue is not whether the study has been criticised, but whether the criticism is valid.

As Medialens has pointed out, it was the same lead author, using the same techniques, who reported that 1.7 million people had died as a result of conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). That finding has been cited by Tony Blair, Colin Powell and almost every major newspaper on both sides of the Atlantic, and none has challenged either the method or the result. Using the Congo study as justification, the UN security council called for all foreign armies to leave the DRC and doubled the country's UN aid budget.[...]

More irony here from a couple of months back:

... But I write all this with the blush of the hypocrite, for I have been forced to concede that, I too, am complicit in the strategies of corporate power. A few weeks ago I was challenged by the editors of a website called Medialens over advertisements carried by the Guardian. Does not part of my living ultimately come from the companies I campaign against? Why don't I discuss this contradiction in my column?

It is a good question, and it requires an answer.[...]

Comment 06 – Raoul Djukanovic October 07 2007, 09:40

Do you think the ML editors like being criticised, Woofles? Their evil monstrosity or otherwise is in any case irrelevant.

Their rambling response Monbiot can be distilled into this point:

[C]onstant criticism of host media and host media advertisers +would+ pretty much guarantee a rapid exit for journalists. Would that be beneficial? Well, we have raised the issue of a dissident boycott of the mainstream. That's a pretty radical step - it might be effective if leading dissidents rebelled together, publicly refused to publish in the corporate media, and were able to reach people through other, non-corporate media. Would it be a wake up call to the public or a futile gesture? We asked Chomsky and Herman and they both said they weren't sure. Nor are we, to be honest - but we think it's worth thinking about.

Hold the front page...

ML not only refuses to engage with what alternatives might look like or how they might develop (let alone how they might be funded), the editors aren't even sure that it makes sense to step outside the system without access to the same audience by other means. Doh! Once again, my breath is taken (and I haven't even started on the things they make up...)

Yet, still they persist with the passive agressive exhortations to radical journalists to consider these weighty issues (without so much as a hint of discussion of the real ones, like how to make a living finding things out and telling lots of other people about them, if not by getting paid, however pitifully, by a publisher, or whether it's actually important to find things out at all, given their fixation on saying nobody does, with extensive reference to corporate media reports).

The problem, of course, is that Monbiot's criticisms of corporate media don't paraphrase the ML editors' bastardisation of Chomsky and Herman's critique. As the quote I posted noted.

All that said, the linked discussion was about the closest I've seen to Media Lens engaging in the serious self-criticism if demands of others. Were there more of it in evidence, their project mightn't be so easily ridiculed. It might also contribute something more constructive then making journalists wary of getting mailbombed (which probably doesn't change a thing they say or write, except in their responses).

That George Monbiot is capable of disinterring facts and common sense from distortions and smear campaigns is testament to something other than the corrective power of ML vision.

And it's notable, of course, that the ML editors keep refusing BBC invitations to spread their message to millions (despite having adopted a strategy that depends on mass enlightenment somehow corroding a rotten structure).

Monbiot might as well not have bothered writing.

Comment 07 – Woofles October 07 2007, 20:58

"Yet, still they persist with the passive agressive exhortations to radical journalists to consider these weighty issues (without so much as a hint of discussion of the real ones, like how to make a living finding things out and telling lots of other people about them, if not by getting paid, however pitifully..."

Actually I agree with you; it is frustrating that ML doesn't do more on alternatives. But on the other hand, maybe you've missed the point. It seems to me that their main reason for "demanding the impossible" (an anarchist book title, you'll recall) is to highlight the +existence+ of a problem - one that is never highlighted and certainly never admitted - in the hope that greater awareness can begin a discussion of the kinds of solutions you're talking about, and so make some openings.

And of course a lot of people were saying (perhaps you were one of them) stuff like: 'How on earth do you expect someone like George Monbiot to criticise the adverts that keep the Guardian in business? Be reasonable, leave him alone! Would it benefit anyone if he got the sack? It's just nasty, pointless.' But then this DID appear from George:

"The reason is that newspapers derive around three quarters of their income from advertising, and most of them are struggling. The media companies will not volunteer to lower their chances of survival. So the campaign for a ban on fossil fuel ads will have to begin elsewhere. I urge you, hypocrite lecteur, to lobby to reduce the income that all newspapers now receive, by demanding that they drop some of their advertisements."[...]

That wouldn't have happened without people "asking the impossible" of George.

Comment 08 – Raoul Djukanovic October 08 2007, 11:41

That wouldn't have happened without people "asking the impossible" of George.

There's nothing impossible about writing an article like George did; the only problem is that too few journalists seem to care about writing about radical changes to the ways the media work.

If Media Lens wants to change that, their addiction to circular arguments and serial distortions won't help any more than their naming and shaming obsession, even if big egos might occasionally get bruised into action of some kind (such as deleting acolytes' emails).

Having demonstrated fairly effectively that it's not a two-way street (by getting banned from their site for relentlessly turning the same approach on the Davids), I think that's pretty clear.

Incidentally, there's nothing particularly anarchist about authoritarian arguments (such as those wheeled out against IBC on the basis of smears and untruths). And the transitional demand that can't be met is designed to expose the corruption of the system, not to inspire people to discuss how to repair it (as the Davids always say when asked why they're not).

Frankly, I think they're stumbling deeply in the dark, or rolling deeply in the dust, or whatever they say the Guardian's doing.

Either they're interested in constructive change or they aren't. And if they are, transparent propaganda seems a poor weapon of choice, just as claiming to be trying to start a discussion (by needling people instead of actually discussing with them) suggests a deepseated sense of impotence instead of a clear idea of what's wrong and what might need doing differently.

But hey, I'm sure this last charge could be levelled at me. I'm just carping on a message board instead of running News 'R' Us. However, I haven't claimed to be correcting for anyone's distorted vision (with distortions disguised as "truth"). I'm just guarding the guards guarding the Guardians.

Comment 09 – g33kThug October 08 2007, 23:50

It's no big surprise Russ - dav and Miriam Cotton run Mediabite which copies the ML formula so closely that it looks like an Irish *franchise* version of ML.

dav is also a big fan of ML's smear techniques:[...]

If you follow the thread you'll find that he can't justify the position - suggesting that he's little more than an ML plagiarist.

Talking of "skull fucking", witness Miriam Cotton coming very unstuck here:[...]

You're either "with them" or "against them".

It's the intellectual equivalent of dealing with the equivalent of the political wing of Amway...

Comment 10 – Woofles October 08 2007, 09:40


You despise Media Lens and Media Bite - what do you think of FAIR in the States?

Comment 11 – dav October 09 2007, 12:53

So the Geek won the argument in 'reversie world'?

"The worldwide update on civilians killed in the Iraq war and occupation"

With his only response being this lame diversion, sorry 'skewer':

"Do you place *any* limitations on liability for the authors of data that can be misrepresented?"


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