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Medialens pestering George Monbiot again  
Posted by Russ Bridger on November 25 2007, 08:03 » Uploaded 25/11/07 15:59  

The Medialens Daves - Edwards, Cromwell... Wearing, Spart - are pestering Monbiot again. Look, Daves, Monbiot has more important things to do than respond to your nit picking.

Look, Dave Edwards and Dave Cromwell, Monbiot didn't reply to your first email. Take the hint.

And, Dave Wearing, do you really think you are helping the antiwar cause by taking up Monbiot's time in email correspondence and then asking him to "retract" what he's said to you. What pretentious, self-important, time-wasting bollocks you write sometimes. You give the antiwar movement a bad name. Try doing something useful (eg take the matter up with someone influential who supports an attack on Iran) and get off Monbiot's back.

Monbiot on Medialens: "Rather than offering a clear, objective analysis of why the media works the way it does, who pulls the strings, how journalists are manipulated, knowingly or otherwise, you appear to have decided instead to use your platform merely to attack those who do not accept your narrow and particular doctrine [...] As a result, you are in danger of reproducing the very problems you criticise. You appear to me to be confronting one form of bias and intolerance with another."


COMMENTS Post comment


Comment 01 – Peter November 26 2007, 17:18

Despite the protestations from Medialens regarding my charge (that they failed to publish Professor Marc Herold's objection to their use of his quote), they still haven't added Herold's objection to their offending article. (They posted it on their message board, but that doesn't count).

Imagine if Noam Chomsky objected (as strongly as Herold objected) to a misuse of his quote by a Guardian journalist, and the Guardian didn't publish his objection in the proper place. Imagine, further, if the Guardian editor rationalised by saying: "well, we don't agree with Chomsky's objection, so we're not publishing it in the proper place in the newspaper - we'll post it on a forum instead, where the people who like to ridicule Chomsky get equal prominence for their comments".

If that happened, I doubt you'd ever hear the end of it from Medialens. But they themselves don't exhibit even the basic level of courtesy and integrity that they expect from the newspapers they criticise. They're above that, as they're working to save humanity.

Comment 02 – Rixey November 26 2007, 20:35

what a comedian Russ is. Monbiot is an influential writer and should take care about what he says about the supposed nuclear threats threats from Iran. the Medialens eds were quite right to raise this.

Comment 03 – BBJE November 27 2007, 08:13

There is an important issue here, on Iran coverage and overstating threats. Journalists do have a responsibility to ensure that what they say doesn't leave the wrong "impression", even if it's right in fact. However, as usual, the Media lens people choose completely the wrong target for their criticisms.

Comment 04 – Peter November 27 2007, 12:46

Postscript: Medialens have, I notice, added a "postscript" right at the end of their offending alert. But it's just a link to a forum on which Herold's objections are posted. You'd probably miss this "postscript" if you were simply reading the alert - there's no indication in the alert itself (ie where they misuse Herold's quote) that there's any footnote or correction (unlike at ZNet, where a little more integrity and courtesy was shown to Professor Herold).

And the forum thread that Medialens link to doesn't contain the full exchange between themselves and Herold - it leaves out Herold's concluding remarks in which he (importantly) provides details of a study supporting his comments on the undercount of Afghan deaths (and refuting the remarks of Medialens):

Posted by marc herold on November 2, 2007, 10:16 pm[...]

Dear David and David:

Am I really mistaken to say that you are not comfortable with those whom E.S. Herman et. al so aptly label “…in service to the War Party” (see his essay at[...]) namely Human Rights Watch? HRW regularly reports at best one-third the civilian deaths counted by others (as in the cases of Yugoslavia and Afghanistan) when the bodies counted are those killed by U.S/NATO action ("bad bodies"). Now that would be news because this would mean HRW reports figures not one-tenth (as by IBC which raises your deepest, righteous ire) but one-thirtieth the figures you prefer, yet you are comfortable (= not angry) with HRW? Please…
As regards my statement about capturing ~50% of those killed in Afghanistan, well, a bit of bibliographic research by the JHU folks and yourselves would have revealed that a population-based survey carried out by Benini et. al. (2004) for Afghanistan came up with a figure of 5,576 persons “killed violently” between September 11, 2001 – June 2002 and even compared this directly to my 3,620 count (October 2001 – July 2002) of those killed solely by U.S air and ground action at the time. That looks like 65% to me, or even 15% higher than the 50% I was conservatively putting forth. But of course, since Benini was counting ALL those who died violently – a greater number than that which I was counting - this means that my count and Benini’s estimate are no doubt quite close to each other (with the difference of ~2,000 (5576-3620) violent deaths being caused by Taliban or Northern Alliance ground fire, etc.). BTW, this also lies to rest the canard that so-called “passive” counting covers at most 20% of population-based estimates. My much more stringent “count” captured well over 65% of a population-based count.
As regards my comment about the Ball's Guatemala study, I misspoke and should have written, it would be quite easy to shred the notion that Ball’s study convincingly demonstrates that reliance upon media reports captures at most 20% of civilian deaths.
Marc W. Herold

Comment 05 – Woofles November 27 2007, 16:01

Russ: Monbiot on Media Lens, more recently:

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....

With my best wishes, George Monbiot" Feb 2, 2005

If ML shouldn't challenge him, who shouldl? Is it better that no one challenges him? How do we decide who belongs in this special category of 'They shall not be challenged!'?


Comment 06 – Several Famous Epidemiologists November 28 2007, 11:54

Our peer-reviewed study* reveals that emailing people who've indicated a preference for not responding is not an effective communication strategy. It does however communicate something about the party repeatedly sending the emails. (*'Effectiveness in two-way communication channels', SFE, Science journal, August 2004).

Shame on Medialens for being amateurs in the field of communication ("time-wasters", in the scientific jargon).

Comment 07 – Raoul Djukanovic November 28 2007, 14:58

How do we decide who belongs in this special category of 'They shall not be challenged!'?

Ask the sainted Davids, who banned me from their board for wrong-thinking the answer...

Meanwhile, who should hound the "watchdogs" of the "Guardians of Power"?

Comment 08 – Russ Bridger November 28 2007, 17:02

"If ML shouldn't challenge him, who shouldl? Is it better that no one challenges him?" -- Woofles

Daft question. What you should be asking (assuming your brain is working) is: why waste everyone's time "challenging" someone with whom you essentially agree? (Answer: because you have an unhealthy obsession). And the follow-up question: who might you "challenge" without wasting everyone's time?



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