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Medialens responds... and my comments  
Posted by ALP on March 11 2008, 15:52 » Uploaded 11/03/08 16:36  

Medialens have responded to the critique I posted yesterday. Here are my comments (their responses are in bold)...

Attack or praise?

'We haven’t attacked Nick Davies or his book. [...] We repeatedly praised the book and in fact described it as “well worth reading”.' [Medialens]

Medialens's "repeated praise" is, in fact, only a token line or two. They write that the "occasional nuggets should be set apart from Davies’s analysis of the media system as a whole". The latter is what they (at great length) attack - as "flawed", "naïve", "old", "very superficial", etc - along with Davies's role as a "company man".

It's a stock-in-trade of Medialens to "praise" their targets very briefly, while the bulk of their "analysis" consists of rhetorical attacks. Thus, even while they were promoting the view that Iraq Body Count were "actively aiding and abetting in war crimes", they managed to write a line about how they respected the integrity of IBC.


The response of Medialens, to the criticisms of their equivocations, is to say: "you've failed to understand what we wrote", at which point they explain their original equivocations with further ones. For example:

We didn’t argue that Davies presents profit-making as innocent, but as “relatively innocent“ - a different point. So ‘relative’ to what? In essence, Davies argues that the media are just focused on making money; they’re not interested in propaganda and ideological manipulation.

After making the redundant distinction between "innocent" and "relatively innocent" (nobody was talking about absolute innocence - a meaningless concept; "relative" was a given), Medialens once again misrepresent Nick Davies, who in fact said the media is involved in: "the mass production of falsehood, distortion and propaganda".

On the equivocation over money-making and propaganda, Medialens write:

Yes, the primary purpose is to make money. But Davies argues that media corporations are focused on profit-making and +not+ on propagandising.

Not quite. Davies argues that the "primary purpose" is money-making, not propaganda. The keyword being "purpose". There's a distinction between ends and means. Davies doesn't argue that "propaganda" doesn't play a large part, just that it's not the end (but we may assume propaganda is an important part of the means, since Davies says it's "mass-produced" by the media).

Having already conflated "neutrality" with "truth", Medialens now conflate neutrality with "independence":

Davies +does+ repeatedly assume the neutrality of professional journalists, for example when he writes:

“it is possible that as much as 20% of Fleet Street’s work is still being produced entirely by independent journalists”. (p.95)

It should be clear that "independence" does not mean (or imply) "neutrality". But apparently it's not clear to Medialens. Result: another fundamental misrepresentation of Davies.

There's much more I could write on Medialens's equivocations - particularly over advertising and so-called "conspiracy", but they seem so hypnotised by their own rhetoric on this, that it would be a major exercise just to unravel their semantic tangle. And I have better things to do...

"Misused" quotes

This brings us to Medialens's claim that the quoting of their derogatory phrases was...

'...a distortion and in fact a complete reversal of what we wrote'

To assert that what you've written is a "complete reversal" of what you've written is, at best, comical. The following terms were used by Medialens against Davies, and were quoted accurately: "company man", "nothing serious to offer", "flawed", "naïve", "old", "very superficial".

Medialens's beef, that their comment, "nothing serious to offer", referred "specifically to Davies’s material on proposed solutions, not to the book as a whole", is disingenuous, as they write in their conclusion that Flat Earth News ("the book as a whole") may be "seen as part of the corporate media’s response to the growing clamour from internet-based “meddlesome outsiders”" - a remarkably damning verdict, given their views on the corporate media. This is in addition to their comments about Davies's theses being "so flawed", "very superficial", etc.

COMMENTS Post comment


Comment 01 – Russ Bridger March 11 2008, 17:22

Medialens spoke: "We didn’t argue that Davies presents profit-making as innocent, but as “relatively innocent“ - a different point. So ‘relative’ to what?"

They don't answer their own question, "relative to what?" And it's not clear at all how it's a "different point".

Just another red herring in Project Endless Rhetoric.

Comment 02 – ALP March 11 2008, 17:34

One thing I forgot to mention, which I found amusing. In response to the comment that:

"Davies doesn't argue that the media "merely" recycle ignorance. This is Medialens's reductionist gloss"

Medialens responded:

Shone has misunderstood our use of the word “merely”

I guess that's another "misuse" of a quote!

Classic ML. With other people you'd assume such a remark was a joke. But with ML you know they're not joking.

Comment 03 – Woofles March 11 2008, 17:36

ALP this is unimpressive:

"This brings us to Medialens's claim that the quoting of their derogatory phrases was...

'...a distortion and in fact a complete reversal of what we wrote'

"To assert that what you've written is a 'complete reversal' of what you've written is, at best, comical."

To suggest that Media Lens were arguing that Davies's book "had nothing serious to offer" when they actually said: "As an answer to the question of 'What is to be done?' Davies has nothing serious to offer", is a misrepresentation of what they wrote. And as you know, they actually said: "To be clear, there +is+ much of merit in Flat Earth News - the book is well worth reading."

That you would now seek to justify your misuse of their words, rather than accept the 'error' (let's give you the benefit of the doubt), is grim.


Comment 04 – Russ Bridger March 11 2008, 18:12

Note to board readers: Woofles is one of the fanatical Medialens disciples who pops up every now and again to defend his beloved masters against criticism. As you can see from this previous thread, he uses dishonest tactics:

Comment 05 – ALP March 11 2008, 19:47

I've had some interesting responses (I sent the original critique to many people - journalists as well as campaigners, media activists, etc) - positive responses, supportive of Nick Davies (with some expressing the opinion that the Medialens alert was "silly" or "counter-productive", etc) - also some other developments. More on this in the weeks to come.

Comment 06 – Corporate journalist outsider March 11 2008, 22:39

I agree with the remark that Medialens pass a "remarkably damning verdict" on Davies's book when they regard it as "part of the corporate media’s response" to outsiders. When you consider the Medialens "corporate is evil" universe, they could hardly be more damning. So their claim, after the event, that they are essentially praising the book, is transparently dishonest. It's definitely an attack on Davies, and it will likely backfire on Medialens.




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