Several fundamental premises have urged me to open a separate blog with critique directed at the BBC World – its way of reporting, coverage, narration, its balance of points of view and representatives of those points of view, its objectivity and political biases, ethical presumptions. It's not that other Western big national and international TV channels haven't been going downhill in terms of their key function in the existing democracies, but it's precisely because the BBC World Service is one the best of the media institutions that the critique of it can, to an even larger extent, be applied to many other Western TV corporations. Simply put, if one understands what the hell is going on with such relatively high-standard TV as the BBC one can imagine what to expect from Fox TV, ABS, CBC and many other C's.
In the (not so) modern Western democracies, or, to be more accurate, quasi-democracies, the media institutions have the vital function and imperative ethical obligation towards the society – PEOPLE – to mediate the civil control over the state by getting and delivering objective information describing what exactly the state does and what the implications of its doings are for the society, and, on the other hand, challenging the state with the critical questions and demands coming from the society in terms of those implications. All of these have to be done based on certain presumptions, the first of which is that the state is an interested entity onto itself that doesn't not naturally choose the well-being of the nation as its first priority over the priority of the well-being of the state itself.
In simple words, the critical review of the state by the media can't be based on the presumption of innocence, but rather on the opposite, to make any rational sense within the democratic pact itself. In the modern, far from being perfect, form, Western democracies cannot function as such without the media institution as an intermediate agent which acts IN FAVOR of the society and takes the critical presumptions in regard to the state, the presumption of the corruptibility of the state not being equal to the presumption of good intentions and fair means of the state.
Democracy is premised on the rational doubt and distrust exerted by the people upon the state (not just a government or an state agency), for in those regimes that are based on the natural social trust in the state there's no need for democracy (they might as well be authoritarian dispensations). As long as other replacement mechanisms are still absent (though in future, with the technological development in the communication they can appear), the media function and its ethical obligation in realizing that rational doubt still continue to be irreplaceable and existentially important in sustaining democracy, so that the disruption of this function is a direct threat to democracy itself.
While with the advent of new information technology and infrastructure the technical sophistication of the states in terms of the control over their populations and promulgating its own interests and agendas have continued to grow at an accelerated pace, and the social sobering-up to and justified concern about this consolidation of the state power in the 21st century has also been increasing, the media trend has taken the opposite direction away from its aforementioned function and socio-ethical duty, heading for a major conflict with the requirements of democracy development in the West.
Rather the interest gap between the state and the media has narrowed and continues to do so instead of the opposite trend socially expected and demanded by democratic societies more than ever in the realities of the new millennium.
Be it the sudden revelations of the so-called whistle-blowers (the term so often used by the media to avoid the other one – 'dissident'), like Snowden, Assange, Manning etc, about the exploits of the Western states or the outrageous lack of critical ethical questioning of the Western states' decisions of military interference and war, or eerie silence about tremendous structural problems of the supra-national quasi-states like the EU etc, all of these are, to one degree or another, the manifestations of the same profound problem: the established tendency of the media to move away from its main democratic function and ethical responsibility.
And even more than that: some very-dangerous-to-democracy ideologemes are being spread and solidified in the public mind, such as the state being the source of the ethical good (not the other way around, when the state is challenged and changed by the ethical development in a society), that the state cannot ever be criminally unethical in its acts towards the civil society, that the phrase 'rule of law' per se justifies anything that's done within that very law (weren't many things done in Germany in the 1930s quite in accordance to the law?), that the very democracy is given by and emanates from the state (!!) - not the other way around where democracy is a politico-cultural system that allows the civil society to control the state. The latter is, arguably, the ugliest ideologem often disseminated by the TV in the West, reversing the cause and the effect by using democracy as an excuse for legitimization of the state acts towards society instead of using it, properly, for questioning the state acts, for democracy by its nature belongs to society, not to the state.
If, by way of an analogy, in a democracy its independent judicial system becomes practically dysfunctional (for whatever reason) in the sense that it cannot be used sufficiently as a tool of control over other branches of power anymore, then the injury to that democracy itself can be critical even to the point of a total degeneration thereof. It's perhaps the lack of the public realization of the fact that the function of the media, especially TV, is as critical as that of the independent and potent judicial branch of power, for its vital function is the control of the state by the society. If this function is virtually destroyed, so will the democracy itself insofar as the democracy is not just a nominal notion or religious belief in rituals of regular trips to the ballot boxes once per 4 years, but a rationally built system, a process effectively allowing the people to CONSTANTLY and MEASURABLY control its own state in a fully informed way in its actions.
There is no surprise nor tragedy in the natural fact that ANY STATE (in the form and shape we have known the state up until the present) is inclined to PROSTITUTE the democracy and democratic values when it's beneficial for it, and that's an intrinsic problem that is not going to go away (until, again, the states stop existing in the form and shape we know them today, which can't be expected in the foreseeable future).
Yet when the main constituent force and tool of democracy – the free democratic media – starts prostituting democracy and its values in a kind of pernicious moral treachery against the society in favour of the state, then it becomes an existential threat to the democracy itself, to the very system on political, social and ethical levels – a system the heart of which works on the principle of constant, ever developing and unrelenting control by the civil society – by the people – of the STATE (as opposed to just a particular government), and NOT from the presumption of innocence and good declared intentions, but from the presumption of self-serving acts with potential damage on the society. For it's not what good the state may do for the society during the course of history (indeed, there were right things that were done by absolute monarchs and even dictators) but what evil it may do for the people that concerns democracy and that ultimately justifies democracy itself.
How do the TV media do that – deliver what can be called mild (or not so mild) propaganda actually helping Western states to avoid the responsibility before their respective peoples (rather than bringing it into the spotlight), especially when it comes to the realm of the international affairs? Let's try to home in on a few things about 'how' before we touch upon a more complex question of 'why':
1. Special deliberate selection of the representatives of the public opinion and selection of opinions themselves corresponding to the impressions/emotions TV wants to propagate.
Well, everyone who's at least remotely familiar with TV in authoritarian countries like USSR (that very Soviet TV that was blamed and ridiculed by the West, and deservedly so, for its partiality and demagoguery in favour of the state regime) could recall with a sad smile how often in their coverage of, say, the necessity and impacts of a war or highly dubious military interventions by the state those 'puppet' TV channels conveniently invite to be interviewed only one 'expert' and that one 'expert' happens to be.. of course none other than a army or CIA GENERAL – either an active one, or a former one (this gives a certain 'elegance' and 'charm' – a whiff of seeming objectivity to some people, as if a former general was a more independent guest with his own independent 'expert' opinion than an active one).
Now, this is not a miracle for autocratic regimes TV, but it's pretty much 'Alice In The Wonderland experience' when you see such things happening on the Western 'democratic' TV channels with alarming regularity: e.g. BBC World inviting a Pentagon general to ask him opinions about the necessity and good of military operations, say, in the Middle East, and that without putting a single critical question either, and without a single other, impartial guest representative of the intellectual elites of the society or of a large cross-section thereof (not to mention that fact that in those discussions the presumption of the need of war has long been put on an equal footing by entities like BBC with the presumption of need of peace, as if those are ethically equal in their potential implications for human lives and the value of human life).
Or, for the sake of historical and ethical discussion of Hiroshima bombing BBC inviting only one guest – a former US undersecretary of state (!!) – to tell the world the 'impartial pundit' opinion of what a wonderful idea of the US it was to willingly annihilate and cripple hundreds of thousands of civil population by an atomic bomb in Hiroshima (a reasonably educated person wouldn't spend one's time to listen to this kind of 'discussion' by a former US state official for obvious predictability of his/her analysis of what under any other circumstances would be qualified as an act of total nuclear terrorism, comparable on scale only with Holocaust if it weren't for the fact that the STATE committed it).
The recent masterpiece of the “honest and fair news coverage” by BBC was inviting a single guest who was none other than a previous CIA Director Michael Hayden for his 'qualified independent opinion', at the peak of the public discussion of CIA-produced insinuations about Russia' essential impact through some hacking acts on the US 2016 presidential elections, the context of the political relations and difference of interests between the winning candidate D. Trump and CIA being pretty clear. Really?
This puts one in mind of not BBC but of the USSR major TV news channels in that on the political and social questions they first of all asked the opinions of KGB, even more so when 'critically' discussing what KGB had previously said to begin with – one can call it “double objectivity”. Well, at that time and within the obvious context of political motivations running at its highest in the US, also taking into account the history of CIA political involvement, for a media agent to do what BBC did would be not that far from, for example, inviting only one guest, say, Nazi Germany Propaganda Minister Paul Goebbels to ask his opinion about the veracity of SS 'factual' warnings about Jews conspiring against Germany.
Indeed, neither me nor millions of people in the West need BBC and other so-called 'independent democratic' TV media to learn CIA opinion about those very CIA statements, the potential falsity of which constitutes the very essence of the social critical discourse. CIA press-service alone is more than enough for satisfying that need, unless one admits that BBC has willy-nilly assumed that role..
It's hard but still probably not impossible to match these examples showing the degree of corrosion of Western, especially Anglo-Saxon, main stream TV media (and, it's precisely for the conservative caution why the examples of the BBC are given, for even nowadays, in relative terms, BBC is by far not the 'worst of the bunch' in the Anglo-Saxon West): not more than a week ago BBC World didn't think of anything better than inviting only one guest (as almost ever) for his opinions regarding the UK Foreign Secretary Boris Jonson's recent statements criticizing the militarism of Saudi Arabia which by that time had bombed Yemen into a lunar landscape (using, quite likely, the British weapons too). That single guest was no less no more than another correspondent of the BBC itself (the ancient simplicity and 'elegance' of this kind of solution – inviting its own correspondents in the 'werewolf' capacity of independent pundits – to meet the necessity of representing opinions and views for a seemingly objective discussion is in itself worthy of a separate note).
Let alone the shameful fact that the UK Foreign Secretary has had the guts to bring up the problem the size of Everest – the UK sleeping in one bed with Saudi regime and being involved in supporting what can easily be questioned as the international crime by Saudi Arabia in Yemen – before the BBC World itself has, that BBC guest's 'objective critical views' were a masterpiece of cynical demagoguery in its own right: the perverse '(anti)ethical logic' of that BBC-invited individual's view boiled down to this: Boris Jonson was a good journalist and that's why he said what he said, but he is a bad Foreign Secretary of State, because he said what he said, and what he said should not have been said by him, because it is truth, that makes evident another truth about another bad action by the UK, namely the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia (militant totalitarian anti-human-rights friend of the UK and US)!
In other words – and that became the essence of BBC discourse and coverage of the topic – starting talking the truth about and tacking the problem of the US/UK doing one evil is BAD, especially for the top statesmen of the UK, because it can lead to tackling and speaking truth about a second, even bigger evil – better to let them both continue to exist (and that's the view of a BBC correspondent too!!).
The art of diplomacy, according to this primitive BBC-promoted piece of demagoguery, should boil down boil down to the art of LIE and avoiding admitting and tackling the evil things that the UK for whatever reason has been involved for a shorter or longer time, and the main part of Foreign Secretary's set of necessary value-creating skills should be precisely that definition of diplomacy. Nice!
It is pretty ironic – even to the degree of self-parody – that this guest was himself a journalist and was talking in complements about Boris Jonson journalist's background skills in the past, unintentionally drawing attention to the impotence of BBC itself which happens to be lagging behind even the most senior political official of the UK, whom, that very BBC, is supposed to prod into action by critical questioning on critical topics.
Indeed, one would rather expect BBC to encourage, reward and transmit the coverage provided by their corespondents about those potential bad things the UK state (like any other state) may be involved in its cozy relations with potentially criminal regimes as opposed to asking their opinions of how well their own job was done by the UK state senior figures miles ahead of the BBC itself.
Incidentally, touching upon Boris Jonson, it is difficult to pass over another example, though it mostly belongs to the further section 'Outright demagoguery'. When Boris Johnson critically put in the limelight some apparent and pretty important similarities in some of the major goals between Napoleon, Nazi regime and the EU, namely unifying the whole of Europe with a super-state structure without democracy, there was an explosion of hysteric reaction based on the 'offended feelings', which the agents like BBC plunged in headlong to fan and thereby support. Literally Jonson registered his pretty rationally substantiated view by saying: “Napoleon, Hitler, various people tried this out, and it ends tragically. The EU is an attempt to do this by different methods”.
Well, it's all very moving and touching striking an attitude of offended feelings caused by criticism and justified accusations of the state or supra-state system, just as in the North Korea or Saudi Arabia (a good friend of the UK and the US therefore so warmly NOT covered by the BBC, or sometimes complimented with second rate lies like 'One year ago Saudi allowed women to vote..') people will probably jump on anyone who would dare to talk sad things about their state rulers, but that's not what a democratic and secular society's ethical basis accepts as a legitimate argument.
Too bad for those who entertain such loving warm emotions towards the giant technical apparatus of the EU super-state, basically uncontrolled by any real democratic mechanisms (and in this part the aforementioned comparison by Jonson is a pretty understandable and rational view). Well, Jonson is by far not the first person to bring up those concerns that entities like BBC are supposed to – actually MUST – bring up first and on the daily basis on the ethical grounds of their existence in a democratic system.
Before Jonson's comments millions of Europeans had been increasingly anxious and concerned about the presence of totalitarian traits and lack of democracy (hence legitimacy) of the EU Leviathan (I touched upon it http://dr-world.blogspot.ca/2012/02/eu-tribulations-have-political-not.html but many more people did it even better and more accurately), and while our 'democratic objective' BBC should have talked about that problem times more and deeper than it has (in essence BBC preferred mostly to shove it under the carpet and cover with silence), it could have at least started talking about the points brought up by Jonson – better late then never.
No such luck! Instead, the BBC didn't fail in its loyalty to the state institutions (from whose fallacies it is supposed to protect the people in its democratic duty of the critical challenge and investigation) as opposed to the nation, and talked only about that hysteria of offended feelings and the owners of the feelings. Well, probably, this hysteria wasn't that big at all, but the BBC tried its best to show it in the augmented reality mode and, at the same time, to fan it as much as possible.
Dear BBC 'owners' (or hijackers?), the UK and Europe are not Saudi Arabia – not yet, even despite you dereliction of the social and political duty in a democracy! We are not even supposed but we MUST to give the priority of investigating and discussing anything that even looks like a similarity between Nazi totalitarian regime and the present structures of state and supra-state power, NOT to shove it under the carpet as the BBC helps to do. The united Europe is good and possible, and the EU probably still can be reformed into a proper entity in agreement with European values and sustainable common development, but what the media like BBC does is not helping in saving the united Europe, but actually pushing it towards the crash. Silencing problems, dear BBC, won't help neither the UK nor the EU.
Or, e.g., more than 90% of coverage dedicated to the dissident Julian Assange seeking to protect itself from political prosecution was directed at the interviewing and voicing the 'opinions' of those who are state officials politically involved and interested in the prosecution (interviewing British state officials trying to extradite Assange to Sweden in contrast to the practically zero BBC effort on interviewing and hearing the opposite side legally representing Assange's interests and showing the facts about the foggy inconsistent circumstances around the Swedish charges, the silence and the absence of any desire of the Swedish prosecution to come to London and interview Assange). Of course, needless to say, that this habit of Western TV isn't limited just to the subject of war or Western dissidents or prisoners of war, and BBC 'independent' single guests aren't limited to generals or state officials either.
2. Controlled silencing and ignoring. Special deliberate selection of the topics to be covered and discussed, or careful selection of the topics that mustn't be covered and discussed, and should be ignored.
This is arguably one of the greatest 'weapons' of the modern TV media in the West that allows it to neuter the freedom of information to a very large extent in practice (and, by the same token, neuter its socio-ethical duty within the context of democratic society organization), give enormous advantage to the favoured sides while at the same time keeping the appearance of some objectivity and impartiality.
Ironically, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, this method is something that the modern propaganda-oriented TV in Russia has learned from the West: before that the Soviet media was mocked for its notorious outright lies and distortion of facts, whereas presently they learned pretty darn well from its 'Western colleagues' how to keep its mouth shut about one topic, and spout all day long about another.
This is very serious issue – a most dangerous ethical & political loophole that, though treated by the ethics on a theoretical level, exploits a very poor socio-ethical control in practice over what the big media exploit on the daily basis and what in its results is equivalent to pure gross lie on an institutional scale. It is still natural for large parts of the population to perceive ZERO as not a genuine number or perceive it as a somewhat inferior number: the stereotype that not informing about something cannot be equivalent to a LIE (or a criminal lie), but can only be more of a technical error, a natural forgivable mistake, just a natural bias of some persons (rather than institutions) etc still prevails in the public mind, whereas in reality it cannot be further from the truth.
Indeed, the grotesque side of this type of lies becomes pretty obvious if an entity responsible for informing the people about the causes/results of a war, say, only gives the summary of casualties on the enemy side, while keeping silence about the sons and daughters of the nation killed in the action. It is immaterial whether malicious misleading impressions and disinformation of the public on sensitive and fateful issues for its well-being and determination of its own destiny within a democratic society is achieved by an outright distortion/false 'concocting' of facts, or by selective inaction and silence in relation to some facts and contexts.
This goes together with one other exacerbating factor: lack of the social realization that the notion of 'informing' per se within the context of the functions of huge institutions (such as TV media) in relation to the public cannot have any rational meaning without the condition of sufficient coverage time. Simply put, the mega TV like BBC may (and do actually) cover or touch upon some 'inconvenient' topics once a week or once a year during a quarter of an hour, or even put such a topic into a program that doesn't belong to the political sphere at all, thereby creating the impression that it is representative, objective and impartial in its social duties whereas in actuality the portion of the public informed and the perceived importance because of the minuscule time share can be so low in comparison with other issues covered repetitively 24/7 as to practically render such coverage insignificant in terms of the informing of the public.
Yet that's precisely what is done, and it allows the media to build up an additional line of preventive defence in the implicit message: 'you see, we aren't afraid of any topics, we did talked about it!'. Good example of it would be programs like Dateline London, which on BBC World channel really constitute a rare good exception, but this exception only proves the rule, for this program, though covering sometimes really critical topics with really politically independent guests, is aired only one once per week for around 45 min or so.
Selective topic coverage and distortion of the information by silencing the context are enormously effective tool of 'propaganda under radar' and people can find rafts of examples of that when dissecting the activity of the Western 'democratic' TV. Examples are could be picked every day by viewers themselves, but to name but a few:
Of course, the problem of huge reputation damage done to the US in the 21st century (by the US itself mostly) and the 'temperature' of the anti-Americanism in the rest of the West itself (let alone non-Western world) should be considered by any reasonable person who cares the least bit about the fate of the Western political culture and democratic values and America itself as a critically important subject to discuss publicly (not least, for the good of that same US). In Canada, in my country that arguably is historically, linguistically and culturally the closest partner of the US, the proportion of Canadian people who don't like the US in general (not to be confused with 'hatred'), is actually staggeringly high which could be hardly concealed due to the amount of everyday social exchanges (no secret, that when some social stereotypes exceed a certain degree, even the absence of official statistical surveys can't hide the prevailing pervasive evidence on a social scale – when a particular attitude becomes a social stereotype).
If Canada doesn't like the US, it would be interesting to find what other country in the West still does (and by countries in this context are meant the NATIONS, not the states). This is a problem (perhaps a tragedy) the size of Everest, yet nothing is mentioned by the mainstream TV, BBC included, about it, without any reasonable doubt this reality being understood pretty well by the highly educated class running the information policies of those TV media. Of course we all know how much courage, excuse my sarcasm, our intrepid democratic BBC should have to conduct a social survey of, say, how many people believe in the global warming, or how many people in Russia don't like the US. Not so fast, though, when it comes to conducting much more significant surveys from the point of view of the Western democracy and its survival, like a survey in European countries or Canada about the true attitude of people in the West towards the United States – that suddenly puts a limit on the information bravery and independence of the TV media.
It's in the vested interest of the West, let alone the US, to understand the scale of negative attitude towards the US in the world, especially in the West itself, its causes and structure, before this problem can start to be tackled, and with it the terrible problem of radicalization, extremism, fanaticism in the West and towards the West can start to be solved – solved, not EXPLOITED as it is basically done by the media like BBC on a daily basis.
It is no trifling business that the manifest result of the modern-obsolete American political system nowadays is that out of ~330 000 000 Americans the presidential candidates (and the presidents themselves) are picked out of same families, so that dynasties are formed of Bush I, Bush II, Clinton I, Clinton II etc. How on earth it is compatible with true democracy that should meet the ever-growing requirements of the 21st century, how the US model of democracy has come to that point, what can or cannot be done to change this situation – to say that all those questions are just topical would be a gross underestimation of the state of affairs, for those questions are critical for the US, and, by extension, for the whole West.
Yet, those questions are not even discussed, they are obvious but they are SILENCED by the big main stream TV (not least, of course, the BBC), they are already at a ripe stage of being discussed by large swathes of the Western population, arguably they are close to the point of being scandalous, but the big TV pretty knowingly keep a lid on it, IGNORE it consciously, actually siding not with the people and democratic control over the State, but with that very state itself (playing the usual role that the media is designed to play in authoritarian regimes, the much ridiculed USSR included).
Of course, it doesn't take agencies like BBC too much 'reporting courage' to lambaste Robert Mugabe or, say, authoritarian Russia for lack of gay rights and for supporting rebels in the Eastern Ukraine that carved up a piece of territory for their unrecognized state around Donetsk. Yet when it comes to the problems of atheists in the communities in Texas (some of whom prefer to flee to Canada) or Turkey-held-and-protected unrecognized part of Cyprus ruled by rebels, or the problems with killed journalists and intolerance to gays in same Turkey, or the actions by Israel militarist regime in terms of Palestine's occupation that would have been questioned as decade-long international crimes in the case of any other country, or the actions of the regime in Saudi Arabia – a good friend of the US and UK (regime comparable in terms of human rights probably only with North Korea and it's hard to say who would come out on top of those two) – or Pakistan, Bahrain etc etc, not so many noises can be heard from the 'intrepid objective' TV media on this score (maybe because Turkey is a member of NATO?), BBC being a prime example of that.
Those realities are consciously and knowingly SILENCED by the 'democratic' Western TV media, which constitutes nothing less than propaganda, probably criminal – at least in the ethical sense – dereliction of their democratic duty. Of course, there's little surprise why Western states would use the democratic idea and human rights as a 'political prostitute', for the state itself is not the source of democracy, is still a force intrinsically directed against democracy when it comes to its own interest, and is rather supposed to be controlled by democracy, which is a tool of the NATION. Yet it is surprising indeed to see the above approaches exercised by the free 'democratic' Western TV, the burden of proof that it is NOT a conscious act on the part of the TV media of siding and helping the state basically in its effort directed against the people and democracy (within the context of democracy itself, the effort directed against the power of democracy is directed against the democratic NATIONS – the peoples of democratic countries – themselves) resting with those who under the present circumstances would like to make such a claim.
A special case of this category are topics that are tangentially mentioned (not even discussed or surveyed). The bonus is that, again, it can serve as a formal justification in the eyes of the public or institutions to the effect that a certain critical topic hasn't been completely silenced, whereas in reality, predictably, the topic has simply been avoided. As, for example, in the case of a recent event where HSBC banking giant was totally relieved by the US Dept of Justice of ALL the charges connected with helping criminal elements and terrorists to launder money or conduct illegal financial operations on the ground that the bank is 'too big to fail' (or even too big to be accused!!), our intrepid BBC World just gave a short message on the crawler for this 'secondary' matter.
No trifling business it would seem – having big banks in the democratic West absolved even of formal charges of, in essence, helping criminals and terrorists in financial aspects of their activity – a total untouchability that would have been even the envy of Egyptian Pharaohs. Yet it was just put on the crawling news line, without any discussion and inviting different parties for such a discussion.
It is not that the BBC doesn't know that, say, the actions by the rebels in Syria directed against the civil population are no less, and perhaps even more, cruel and criminal than the result of the official regime trying to recapture parts of the country in the conditions of a civil war nourished from the powers outside, and it is not that BBC will never mention something to the effect – no, but they will mention it at a dosage of 1-5% of and much later than the bulk of rhetorically embellished criticism they will direct at the Syrian regime. It is pretty artful in that the BBC can shed the social responsibility for a conscious misrepresentation of the reality based on the ploy of referring to the fact that they still 'mentioned something' about the opposite side.
The examples are enumerable, and the viewers themselves can enrich their collection of such consciously and maliciously silenced topics, the act of silencing of which is equivalent to a criminal lie to the public in the ethical sense within the democratic context (indeed you can expect from Zimbabwe or Russia such TV practices, for those countries aren't democracies, but it's more than surprising to see such practices in Western democratic space).
Another special subsection to the category in question, that is worth a quick mention, is the silencing of the context – a more virtuoso form of mangling a topic and forming a twisted picture in the public mind. For example, the almost 10 times difference in population between Germany and Sweden (the population of which is around two Londons) is pretty well known for the brave objective BBC World anchors, just as is the fact that a good proportion of the world audience doesn't know about that difference or doesn't keep it active in mind. Nevertheless it doesn't prevent those BBC broadcasters day in day out to construct their reports putting Sweden and Germany, for example, on a par – as approximately equal – in terms of their recent intake of refugee immigrants.
It is self-evident that such reports predictably produce distorted impressions and pictures in millions of people, playing in favour of Germany. To dwell on this example, even less mentioned about the difference in population and economic power between, say, same Germany and Lilliputian Greece or Hungary, when talking about their reluctance to take more refugees. Indeed, the equivalent number of refugees for Germany taken within a 1-2 years would be (instead of 1 million) 10 millions refugees if the difference in the total demographic power is taken into consideration (considering difference in economic power, it would have been more). Yet, BBC World reporters continue to ignore, or silence this context, of course producing a more negative impression of what Greece or Hungary do in the public mind – it's not that the level of education and competence of those BBC reporters is not enough to understand and predict this effect either.
It is all very well for the BBC World broadcasters to drop cheap and delirious rhetorical phrases like “Two biggest polluters in the world – China and the US”, addressing them as two quasi-persons and creating the impression in a goodly swathe of the public of equal politico-ethical responsibility for China and the US in terms of the pollution, totally and deliberately removing the context, creating the impression of 'non-uniqueness' of the US and mitigating the unsurpassed position of the US on that front. The ridiculousness and absurdity of such collation of US and China is obvious from any rational and objective standpoint once the real context is applied: indeed, Finland would become 'one of the biggest polluters in the world' it had the population of China.
Yet the BBC sentence indirectly (but logically unequivocally) puts the value of individual Chinese human lives (Chinese people who need to have no lesser quality of life and benefits than those enjoyed by those very BBC anchors living mostly in the UK) lower than that of the American human beings right in the inverse proportion to their populations ratio, for ethically what is first of all important is the pollution per capita. Of course BBC World broadcasters are more than enough educated to know the history and the objective realities of the industrialization and the inevitable price that, for example, England with their word 'smog' paid for accumulation of the industrial capital and shifting into the 'clean and cosy' post-industrial prosperity later. But who cares about the context of the Victorian era pollution horrors when twisting and distorting the moral impressions of millions of people in the world against China and whoever else in the developing world if it can help concoct some demagogic ploys to justify the carbon imprint of the US or the UK? (maybe somebody cares, but definitely not the megalodons of the Anglo-Saxon media like the BBC World)
Most of these 'lovely' tricks of the public misleading are based on a careful creation of false symmetries, like the aforementioned perceived symmetries between China and the US, Germany and Sweden etc. When the 'doctors' like BBC World in cooperation with their 'colleagues' awarding Nobel Prize create, say, a symmetry between Obama and Nelson Mandela in the public mind – as both being Nobel Prize winners – it can make it possible to gradually shift the focus from those high values that Nelson Mandela had proclaimed and suffered for towards the state demagoguery of the active highest state functionary, that is Obama (with all due respect to him on the personal side).
Of course even less context is provided when talking about N Korea nuclear tests, none of which has been considered a real nuclear explosion so far by the US and not surprisingly so too. Of course, it is no wonder why the US politicians and the US state representatives will use atrociously misleading scare-mongering rhetoric when talking about the so called 'nuclear tests' in the N Korea – if nothing else, it is a good straw bogey-man that can be justification for the US state in doing much less on the really important fronts in terms of its service to the American people (it goes beyond the purpose of this discussion how many other benefits the state gets from stirring up the public fears about the 'straw-man enemies'). But why would BBC World 'drain' this US state fluff without any 'critical digestion' and pour it as it is on the heads of the people (who hold the BBC in a position of trust as a democratic watch-dog of the state) cannot be understood without the rational assumption of the deliberateness of supporting the US state (or the British state for that matter), which amounts to nothing less than propaganda. (goes without saying, that the latter example doesn't imply anything positive about N. Korea tests either, but the real value, negative though it be, of those tests is grossly misrepresented).
The examples are enumerable, and, again, the viewers themselves can enrich their collection of such consciously and maliciously silenced contexts on a daily basis – just turn to our friends on your TV: BBC, CBC, ABC, CNN and so on and so forth.
3. The media splitting its domain of responsibilities and arbitrarily picking that part of its responsibility that would suit the information distortion the best.
Well, being a media agent encompasses more than one function of responsibility. Actually in the public mind the media activity is a pretty wide highway with sometimes not very well-marked lanes, which circumstance often is so usefully exploited by the media itself in switching between those lanes at will, distorting the objective reality in the public mind and protecting itself from being suspected of and blamed for busting its socio-ethical democratic duties.
To be more specific, one of the functions and responsibilities of the media is to deliver the primary facts of significance, among which, the statements of the state officials may or may not be on different occasions. Another function is to question both: their statements and them themselves critically, and it would not be a hyperbola to say, that the first mentioned function means zero without being subordinate to the second one within the context of the responsibility of the media in a democratic society to promote and support this very democracy. Well there's enough dichotomy in those two aspects for the media to play games by pretty effectively 'straddling the fence', claiming the merits and shedding the accountability.
Again, using our 'objective democratic' BBC as almost inexhaustible a source of examples, one can remember how the coverage of Greece's economic crisis went on during the toughest times. Apart from summer 2012, when the BBC World by far preferred to give majority of its air time to the London Olympic Games pomp rather than to Greece on the brink of humanitarian catastrophe (right in Europe before our very eyes in the 21st century – that very Europe part of which the UK considers itself to be!), at other times BBC just continued to churn out and regurgitate what all manner of ranks and positions of the EU, Germany, UK etc state officials were saying, without bothering themselves neither with their own analysis of the tragedy nor with inviting politically disinterested intellectuals (journalists, economists, social activists etc) from Greece and the rest of Europe (by 'politically disinterested' hereinafter are meant the parties who don't directly belong to the political establishment, and in any way by virtue of their situation may seek a position for themselves or anybody else in that establishment).
It goes without saying that by providing its air-time for transmitting the word of the involved officials without any critical challenge as an additional platform to the involved politicians on the hottest problems, like Greece's crisis, BBC just augments whatever influence those officials might want to exert – basically the BBC turns itself into an extension of the press-bureau of those officials or the official entities, into an additional amplifier or megaphone of the state officials and institutions, into a tool of propaganda to put it even simpler.
Well that is convenient, in the sense that the media like the BBC can always try to shed any responsibility for its implication in a 'blunt propaganda' cunningly appealing to the fact that they perform one of their main functions: delivery of important facts and events. So according to this 'line of defence' the media just broadcasts the statements of the officials because the statements of such a high level officials themselves constitute a significant fact or event. Well, in those turbulent periods, like the Greek debt-related economic crisis (which threatened to infect economically the whole of Europe), one can imagine that at any minute some official is making some kind of statement (of course many of those statements are overlapping or repeating each other), which provides the opportunity for the media to show 'live' hours and hours of statements of the interested and deeply involved state officials without a single word and challenge of criticism regarding what they are actually saying, and without too many independent views.
For hours BBC viewers could 'enjoy' Merkel press-conference statements interspersed with Jean-Claude Juncker appearances then Barroso comments etc – all of those are 'events' per se in themselves, so conveniently for the media like the BBC in that they can turn themselves almost into the USSR type of media (megaphone of the statesmen) and at the same time have the super-impudence to say that they perform their 'democratic duty' of reporting 'facts' and 'events'!
And for the accusations that such media doesn't perform its second role, without which the first one means nothing from the standpoint of its social democratic duty, as a last resort they can appeal to the lack of time, and, if the worst comes to the worst, to an honest error.
There should not be any doubt that the media that serves the purposes of the state establishment rather than the nation and democracy (and those can't be separated within democratic context), would not think twice before using the same toolbox of instruments and onion layers of defence to protect itself from accountability as those used by the state entities themselves; one of such tools is always safeguarding a safe spot for retreat by creating in advance a semblance of a context under which in the worst case scenario they would be able to claim “AN HONEST MISTAKE'. Just as well as BBC was helping figures like Tony Blair to appeal to honest mistake, BBC itself could be expected to use this tool for itself. What a nice, fuzzy warm feeling should murderous statesmen in the mould of Blair or Chaney experience before sending thousands of the nation's children to their death based on inglorious lies, knowing that in the worst case scenario, if held to accountability, they would just say 'sorry, that was an honest mistake..'. Little doubt that the BBC World is not averse to that warm fuzzy feeling too.
The scheme is simple but effective: the media in the discussed case just arbitrarily allocates the lion's share of its air time to transmit the statements of involved officials, and then can claim the honest effort to perform its duty of the objective event reporter, risking in the worst case scenario to be blamed for the mistake of a unreasonable distribution of their activity between covering the events and the critical independent analysis thereof. Of course, that goes this way only as long as it is beneficial for the BBC purpose, but as soon as it comes to, say, Assad's bombs dropping on hospitals in Aleppo, suddenly our 'independent' BBC turns into a most 'intrepid' challenger, asking questions in the street of the usual participants of events and questioning in the bravest way the actions of Assad's regime officials.
Not so fast when the US 'wedding crashers' kill accidentally people by their dozen in Afghanistan or Iraq or same Syria etc – in those cases they suddenly prefer to totally switch their air time to transmitting the statements of the US officials (especially the military ones) passing them for 'the important events' requiring broadcasting only, in arbitrary dosages determined by the BBC itself at that. No wonder, that, when talking about the civil war in Ukraine, BBC can spend half or more of their news bulletin on just transmitting the statements of Ukrainian officials without any questioning, yet when it comes to the Russian side within the same news release, suddenly, lo and behold as they say, on the screen comes a change: instead of transmitting the views and angles of the Russian officials in the same totality there pops up a BBC correspondent working in Russia – an intrepid fighter for democracy and independent journalism – who more often than not doesn't even connect to any Russian statesman, but, instead, just bravely lambastes or questions a set of points that he/she himself have just retold or presented as those that represent the position of the Russian officials.
Well, for this kind of 'independent media actions' probably one wouldn't need much more than Russian or Soviet type of media: they too were very brave when lambasting horrors in Honduras or the US crimes in Vietnam, and then suddenly switched into objective 'fact and event broadcasters' when it came to the blunt transmitting of speeches and statements the Russian/Soviet state officials.
Another type of this media 'fibrillation' or 'straddling the fence' (in that the media malignantly exploits the dichotomy of its functions to enjoy their agenda at the expense of their socio-ethical duties) manifests itself in the interviews done by the media. Among loads of examples, again, sticking to the BBC World case (as not the worst of the bunch), the Hardtalk program with its intrepid truth-seeker and sham-exposer Stephen Sackur with a black belt in demagoguery is probably worth a note (long gone are the good old days when that program used to be organized and regularly conducted by Tim Sebastian who preferred for some reasons to quit BBC and go to German Deutsche Welle.. but that was the age and the BBC that doesn't belong to the discussed context in our epoch).
Demagoguery as a hallmark of the Hardtalk program left aside (for the next section) as well as the choice of the invited interviewees, there's another dichotomy that is vehemently parasitised upon by the media, BBC Hard talk being prime example. On the one hand it is the duty of the media to subject to a critical challenge, doubt and questioning their interviewees (especially so within the Hardtalk program purpose context) – rational criticism to the best ability in good fairness being used by the media professionals from the vantage point of their knowledge and education and in the best interests of the people who don't have the direct opportunity and tools to question those agents of power upon decisions of whom their lives and the lives of their children are dependent (and these two things – knowledge and education – are not bad at all, talking about BBC broadcasters and anchors). Yet on the other hand there is also a role of communicator – messenger – of concerns/questions of groups of people within the society that the media agent, while playing that role, is supposed to deliver, as it is, so to speak, for the interviewed side to answer, no matter whether those concerns are shared or even acknowledged by the media agent himself.
Sweet! In the ideal case, or at least with some reasonable effort (on the part of, say, the aforementioned Stephen Sackur), there should not be too much conflict between these two parts, but in reality it couldn't be further from the truth, straddling of this fence being exploited ruthlessly by the media, the BBC being a prime example, to set the agenda and agenda-dependent context such as it wants (not such as it owes).
By way of an example how it works take a couple of recent Hardtalk interviews that took place in Nov 2016. One of them was with Antonio Scaramucci – one of the members of Donald Trump's presidential transition team. Well, our objective BBC has been an anti-Trump media institution from day one (and the number of expressed biases, outright untrue statements and demagoguery acrobatics against Trump that has been pulled off by BBC World would constitute a rather voluminous book in its own right, but that goes beyond the present framework, nor is there anything original about BBC in this respect in comparison to hundreds of other 'fair independent' Western media sources), so the directionality of that interview was pretty much predetermined in this sense.
So, first of all, the whole talk was more about Trump, rather than the guest of the program – Antonio Scaramucci. During the conversation a huge pile of rather second rate demagoguery was poured against the person of Donald Trump, that is, attacks ad-hominem. Immediately the whole 'interview' got peppered with prolific amounts of references to Trump 'unmeasured' behaviour (sold in the conversation as some universally accepted, really existing and ethically significant fact in a negative sense), language constructs like 'Donald Trump threatens' or 'Donald Trump poses a danger' for the world or peace and such like (those constructs even when used in a questioning form, implicitly but unequivocally impose the mendacious 'scary' premise that the very conditions to justify the validity of suspecting the person of Donald Trump of these terrible things have been proven), false statements or stated premises, in a 'matter-of-fact' form rather than opinions, such 'Trump anti-immigration' policy (this one our knight of truth and objectivity Stephen Sackur tried to hitch to the 'Mexican Wall' promise, as a false substantiation of the validity of this 'matter-of-fact' implicit claim that there exist such a thing as Trump's anti-immigration policy as an undisputed reality).
Well, all of these turns and twists of BBC anti-Trump rhetorical acrobatics are already ethically bad and even worse from the point of view of the socio-democratic duties of the media, but this belongs more to the next section (the author is a not a Trump supporter, rather the the opposite; all of the philosophies underlying Trump immigration policy, twitter use, international relations, wall-building etc can and should be criticized in a rational, honest, objective way on their own merits and drawbacks, but that couldn't be further from the case with the media in general, and the BBC in particular).
But what is important within this section is the implicit or explicit demagogic justification/defence that goes like this: 'Oh, it's not our BBC questions, in this case we just play a role of the messenger of the concerns and questions of some large groups of the population. Those constructs and premises aren't here to weave a web of demagoguery to smear Donald Trump, and even if they do, it's just an unintentional consequence of our duty to deliver people's questions and concerns, however wrong they might be, in their unadulterated form, from different cross-sections of the society – it's not necessarily what we know and believe from the vantage point of our knowledge and education and information'. Nice! A golden passport that the West media grants to itself to use demagoguery without ANY restrictions against ANYONE in interviews referencing its role of 'the messenger' of some groups of people!
So when it comes to, say, Trump or his team, that other role – the one of a rational objective investigator and challenger acting ethically from the vantage point of their knowledge – is just elegantly put on the shelf (for another occasion where using that would be more beneficial from the standpoint of the BBC own political involvement, that is from the point of view of the BBC expediency), and this role of the 'messenger' is used without limit as a substrate upon which proclaim the full right to use malicious demagoguery with the corresponding smearing, misinforming and misleading effects (especially when taking into account the institutional weight and the size of audience of the players like the BBC World).
Not so fast when it comes to interviewing figures like Tony Blare (or Bush) about their exploits that have subsequently become more than just their individual acts but the crimes or suspected crimes of the state: our objective BBC is in no hurry to play that 'messenger' for plenty of people who considers such like individuals as criminals personally guilty for acts that predictably exposed the UK or the US to terrorist threats, and sent hundreds or thousands of boys and girls in uniform to die in a war unleashed based on their lies, even though there's a pretty large percentage of people who is confident of precisely that.
It's hard to expect that you would hear our great 'people's democratic messenger' BBC to ask its guests questions like 'what can be done to prevent the repetition of such threats to the peace and our kids' lives as those posed by Tony Blair and his traitor's loyalty to the interests of the US rather than the UK?'. Not many questions or 'messages' of that kind would you hear from the BBC World in relation to, say, King of Saudi Arabia – one of the UK sweet buddies – even though there is a pretty good number of people who would be interested to question the head of the Saudi regime that in terms of the lack of democracy and human rights (the great preacher of which the UK state and its servant BBC is when and where it is allowed by that very state) may or may not be out-competed by the North Korea (the latter has a some little justification in comparison with Saudis in that it, at least, has to keep the bolts tighter than they have to be because of the total isolation, military stand-off and total economic sanctions that are supported from the outside world).
Of course it is only to be expected from the BBC to 'unintentionally and accidentally' smear in the public eye figures like Marine Le Pen, playing 'a public messenger's role' with her, and insinuating the template of a racist on the very person of Le Pen but not so much when talking about the senior figures of the police in the US with all those recent scandalous killings taking place by the policemen in the US. Don't expect the BBC to question the establishment figures personally with any tinge of implied suspicion that some of them are implicated in the effort to get cheaper labour to drive the profits in their pockets (or pockets of those who lobby them), or that their Middle East escapades were driven by the cheap oil drive and other dubious motives, or that part of their policies were specifically aimed at increasing the risks of terrorism inside the West countries because the fear-based fight with terrorism could give the legitimate grounds to reduce the democratic mechanisms and enlarge the powers of the state – even though there's definitely a good cross-section of the people who have concerns that part of the US and UK international policies were basically a covert 'blood-letting' and 'terror-striking' actions against their own respective nations, to dampen the democratic mechanisms and the state responsibility. In many of those cases the BBC swiftly puts on the shelf its 'messenger mask' and puts on a rational unbiased inquirer's mask.
Now, let's look at the opposite example – say, the interview taken 18 Nov 2016 by our intrepid knight of truth Stephen Sackur with the 'good guy' – the chief economic advisor of Obama, Jason Furman. Here, at its wise discretion (or rather apparent arbitrary whimsicality) the BBC easily puts away its 'messenger's mask' for the time being and puts on the mask of a rational academic scholar aiming for constructive criticism based on the substance of the matter analysis. Most of the questions and doubts were directed not at the person of Furman himself or Obama – his boss – but at some of the potential drawbacks and deficiencies of the economic philosophies, methods and results.
Probably the 'harshest' piece of criticism in that interview was the rising income disparity in the US, but even so the questions were posed without any tinge of suspicion that there was not enough drive and motivation on the part of Obama administration to deal with this problem to begin with, but rather the angle of those questions was a kind request of an explanation of that phenomenon, just as if him – Sackur – and his guest – Furman – both had tried hard enough in one team to lower the relative poverty in the US but for some reasons and technical subtleties it hadn't quite worked the way they wanted, which requires a constructive critical review.. No 'hard questions' premised on the assumption that Obama's administration didn't even make too much of a deal of this fantastic on-going inequality escalation in the US (even though it's precisely Democrats who is supposed to be interested in this type of questions), and that the promised reform of the banking/financial sector was never done or even started, and that the banks were saved with trillions of the US taxpayers money without ANY RETURN of that money (just a gift from the American people) and were allowed to capitalize twice on that by taking away property from that very American taxpayer that had saved them (foreclosures on many houses of those who couldn't recover and repay the debt inherited from the crisis and pre-crisis period), that instead of bailing out American people, Obama's government decided to buy back those very banks, these and many other questions that different cross-sections of American society would ask Obama and his advisors with a definite aim to question their motives and intents, yet... abracadabra.. lo and behold.. and the BBC magically turns from a 'messenger' of raw public concerns into an academic 'colleague' constructively criticizing a theory as an abstract subject.
One almost self-parodying example of BBC World enjoying the self-created arbitrariness in switching its roles at whim for the sake of protecting the state from democratic control is the interview of Admiral West that took place in the first days of January 2017.
Well, not to mention the fact that the BBC, as was described in previous sections, invited just one guest without any second opinion or view (and that guest was in the position of natural bias and professional involvement as regards the very topic to be discussed), the BBC broadcaster didn't ask a single self-evident critical question about the substance and potential consequences of his views in terms of the democratic control by the society of the state and objective informing of the society about what the state is/was up to.
In the aforementioned interview this gentleman – Admiral West – belonging to the military, posed as a 'historian scholar', spouting his deep concerns that the schools (in the UK and US) should be including in their curriculum or even textbooks the events of 9/11 – the terrorist bombing. He pointed out that there's already a new generation of people who don't have a direct memory of those events (since more than 15 years have passed), therefore, to avoid the influence of different 'wrong' theories about the causes and details of this tragic event the kids should be taught in schools the 'right' narrative about that event.. The right history from generals and state security functionaries (who simultaneously are in charge of hiding that very history in a dust-gathering pile of classified protected archives).
Well, all who know at least a little bit about the USSR totalitarian regime would feel a very familiar taste in their mouth: indeed, there generals of KGB and the military were regularly picked as the best 'scholars of history' and their – generals' – 'deep objectivity' and 'knowledge' and 'unbiased interpretation' of history can be matched only by their profound passion and enthusiasm about teaching (inculcating) that 'right' version of history (in the set of their 'views) to the young kids in schools – a very touching business indeed.
If the similarity of generals in the West and in the USSR is not something surprising, then the similarity in the pattern of action of the media (the BBC World in this case) is a much more 'refreshing', in its novelty, experience.
Goes without saying, that BBC broadcaster never took the trouble to ask during that interview about some problems connected with piles of the official information that is still classified by the US state (and will be for at least around 10 years, some maybe more), nor did the interviewer throw a single critical question about the existing unsolved questions about that event. Nay, nothing of that sort, the BBC broadcaster just played the role of an ancillary press-bureau of the general in airing his 'history academic' views. BBC immediately and arbitrarily switched to the role of the 'messenger and transmitter of the important views and facts just as they are' and 'accidentally' forgot about its duty to critically look into and challenge those views.
Not only that, but the possible pseudo-justification of this kind of 'sovietism' of the BBC cannot but include the implicit projected assumption that the very fact that a particular general concocted a set of 'views' (views presupposing self-evident critical questions) about how and when to teach the British or/and American kids about history in schools, is in itself a FACT of such a significance that it should be first covered and aired all over the globe in its unalloyed “objective” form. It would be half a problem, if the BBC would later on have remembered about its second role and socio-democratic duty before the society and dealt critically with all those views in the end at least – but that wasn't to happen of course.
4. Outright demagoguery by the media in pushing their agenda
Yes, how could the 'Neo-Soviet' tendencies of the media in the West do without this crowning flourish of vulgarism: the outright demagoguery practice by the reporters and anchors in pushing their agenda.
Resorting again to our 'objective independent' BBC World as a prime example, everything starts with the self-presentation: the flavor of the month (or rather the past decade) is those regular tacky self-advertisements where the BBC every so often shows off its huge glitzy new building in the same vulgarly self-extolling and self-glamorizing manner as it shows some of its own reporters in the light of being hardly short of Hollywood stars. Katy Kay walking and self-glorifyingly telling the viewers (with nothing more than cyclical reference to the BBC own authority) about the intrepid objectivity and uncompromising lack of bias and straightforwardness in dealing with any party in power, with any situation as serious as war, finishing with that almost military-certain conclusion (based on all this fluff) that the BBC is that very trustworthy news source because it's precisely the BBC that possess all those powerful, nay, heroic, qualities (with a 'delicate' hint that she – Katy – is a kind of embodiment of all of that glory too). Such like examples anyone interested can collect in dozens for free – just follow BBC World and enjoy rafts of them every day. It wasn't always like that, actually the opposite – professional modesty and lack of self-advertisement – was much more inherent in the BBC brand at one time in the dim past, but in 2000s the situation had changed direction diametrically.
This self-presentation can justifiably appear to some as cheap and vulgar in taste, but that's not the point, nor the purpose of those. The purpose is pretty straightforward demagoguery (even if the result may not be always successful) and the emotional intended message is simple: trust us because we sound good and trustworthy (not because someone else recommends us based on the rational critical analysis, or because the objective proved merits). This style is not new for Russian, let alone Soviet, TV players, but it is definitely a 'breakthrough' for their English free media counterparts.
Well, of course, it would be too hopeful to expect from that very, say, Katy (or Bob or Alice – the names don't mean much here because it's an institutional phenomenon) to intrepidly start interviewing the BBC itself on, say, the question of why only £2.4billion of its £5.1billion annual budget went on ‘public service content’ in the year to April 2014 or things like that, or expect really serious questions about the sweet friendship of the UK and Saudi Arabia regime and start asking more about the contribution of that friendship into the ongoing bombing of Yemen and millions of lives lost and to be lost in future (not that something like that wasn't done by BBC in the past – but that is the past).
Oh no, of course no, all that bravery and objectivity doesn't apply to those things. Hard to not to digress here when touching upon the dear Saudi friend of the US (and, automatically, of the objective BBC): the BBC World had, probably, hard time with Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia, because, even though the real reasons (likely shared by a good number of BBC reporters) for criticizing Trump for his friendly stand with Saudis against Iran were there, this criticism wasn't possible for BBC by today's 'democratic' standards (because the UK is so sweetly cozily in bed with Saudis too), so the broadcasters and reporters, in their 'unbiased desire' to critique Donald Trump limited themselves to reminding the viewer that Trump's narrative about Islam had been different in the past from what it was now in his speech in Saudi Arabia. Those comments (whether or not effective aside) were demagogic in nature: not that the difference between what Trump had been narrating in the recent past about his attitude to Islam extremism and what he said presently in S. Arabia was so evident or even so important, but what was really important is just to make an additional insinuation and impression on the public – however minuscule – that 'Trump says different things' which means he is a liar (which means a bad immoral guy). Well, Trump, as any US or UK head of government, might well be a liar and manipulator, but even he is seriously lagging behind from our intrepid civil watchdog of democracy – the BBC.
The BBC World attacks on Trump (as vulgar in their undisguised bias as, probably, ineffective in achieving their purpose, for the average viewer has probably become more educated and demanding in the 21st century and can finally develop more distrust to the BBC than even to Trump) are hard to miss in mentioning the media demagoguery practice almost on the regular basis. Whether it's just broadcasters making small mocking comments about Trump's obsession with Twitter in general or whether it's a big deal brought up by a BBC person with this alarmed, responsible and morally laden expression on one's face along the lines of 'why is it precisely NOW that Trump decided to fire one of his advisers or FBI directors' (not that the BBC folks don't acknowledge that there's more than enough grounds for that firing to take place, or that the US president is fully entitled to do so at his discretion, but it's just that informal fallacious logic that is tried to be exploited and activated with the viewers that it's precisely NOW as opposed to yesterday or tomorrow that makes Trump most necessarily the greatest suspect in colluding with Russians or with the Pope of Rome or aliens) – all of those pure, cheap tabloid-style demagoguery examples that can be had in spades when watching this intrepid objective criticism of Trump by the BBC (with apologies for the irony, are those examples of the trustworthiness of BBC that the aforementioned Katy Kay's self-advertisements of the BBC meant?).
Considering the BBC 'independent objective' crusade against Trump, the examples of demagoguery sometimes defy imagination: it's difficult not to recall one occasion when BBC invited one of their usual 'unbiased independent guests' (they actually have the same pack of several cards – guests – that they shuffle and invite day in day out within the framework of '100 days plus') to 'discuss' Trump, and the anchor asked that guest 'do you think Trump is a threat to the nation?', to which even that anti-trumpian guest said that he wouldn't go as far as discussing Trump imposing such a radical context.
Of course, such questions from the still deemed-to-be-reputable channel as the BBC World are used to convey the insinuated premise as a message to the masses that Trump can already be discussed within the context of his potentially being no less nor more as a national 'THREAT' (just a hair breath from considering Trump on a par with a potential terrorist – the enemy of the people, second Ben Laden)!! On that our objective unbiased BBC World probably managed even to challenge one of those professional demagogues they habitually invited for Trump '100 plus' crusade in terms of the degree of fear-mongering and smearing by using demagoguery.
Funny examples from the same endless 'Trump collection' include BBC World spouting a squall of demagoguery (not to be confused with rational criticism) poured on 'evil Trump' to the effect that he had ostensibly lambasted and derided Angela Merkel for her immigration policies. Those demagogic and clearly mendacious statements alluded to the previous fact that Trump, after explicitly expressing his respect to and even fascination with the achievements and qualities of Frau Merkel, noticed in the most correct way that in his personal opinion her decisions and policies regarding the huge influx of refugee immigrants (around 1000 000 in one year) were a mistake (definitely such a humongous, compressed in time intake of immigrants in just one year was, is and will be an absolutely normal legitimate subject of critical review and disagreement – not only in the case of Merkel – because it had its negative as well as positive implications and price to pay), it was also obvious from Trump's statement that this point of partial disagreement with Merkel was a rather an exception from otherwise an impressive acknowledgement of Merkel political merits (in fact, if anything, that particular statement of Trump was remarkably and surprisingly 'untrumpian' in its correctness and restraint).
Well, our objective BBC World is not a big fan of inviting and interviewing truly independent intellectuals on the most critical socio-political problems (problems upon which millions of lives and the quality of their life depends now and in future) – independent economists, writers, sociologists, historians, natural scientists, activists etc (speaking of which, the program Horizon, which at one time in the dim and distant past was really an example of excellent, gripping and objective report of the new scientific developments, by now has degenerated in terms of standards to the degree that sometimes in discussing strictly scientific problems the program doesn't interview a single real scientist in the field related to a discussed theme), and least of all such towering figures as, for example, Noam Chomsky (indeed, who needs in today's BBC World such guests as Chomsky who are independent and who do bring up the hottest issues and constructively criticize the political developments – God forbid it can help people prevent their government from getting involved in another war and send another thousand of girls and boys in uniform to the meat-grinder of war, which, by the way, provides so much news fodder for the modern 'independent' media like the BBC).
Yet even here there are wondrous exceptions: BBC World did make an exception inviting Noam Chomsky when it came handy and expedient for adding some weight to the attack on Trump (obviously, Chomsky, as any enlightened person cannot be a big fan of Trump, nor is he a big fan of other former presidential candidates from the last election). All the same in some short digression from that main Trump theme, the BBC 'intrepid objective' broadcaster, talking about Julian Assange saga, asked Noam – with that amused incredulous facial expression – if Chomsky really believes that there was a political risk for Assange to go to Sweden in terms of his potential extradition to the US by Swedish authorities.
It goes without saying that that BBC fellow knows better than anyone else about the details of the whole story of Assange hunt (including alleged direct proposals by some US politicians, including our kind Hilary, to kill Assange), and it would be interesting to ask him, in turn, if he would seriously consider the risks of a politically motivated extradition of him to the US, had he himself happened to be in the same situation as Assange? The only explicable purpose of such the BBC question was to implant as much incredulity as possible in the public mind about the fact that Assange did fear a politically motivated extradition from Sweden – that is, of course, demagoguery, albeit more subtle in that it was camouflaged in the form of a question (the implanting of false premises of which upon the viewer was much more important then the self-evident expected answer from Chomsky).
Incidentally, speaking of Assange, his Wikileaks and that animal hunt after him in broad daylight before the very eyes of the astonished public, and also speaking of Bradley Manning, not only was the atrocious demagoguery exploited by the political establishment to justify their 'kind tender care for public safety' to such a degree as to consider even killing Assange (just like in Stalin's USSR – as a designated enemy of the people) quite shared and spread by the media (not least by our objective BBC World) – that very media the atrophy of which as the main gear within quasi-democratic systems in the West induced this phenomenon of Wikileaks and such like to begin with – but also oftentimes it was augmented by the media.
Just a day ago Bradly Manning was released from prison – not a small deal of course, taking into account the significance of the revelations to the people of America and the people of the world about the “heroic exploits” of the US military, hence, automatically, the US state itself. Probably some childishly naive person, who still believes that the present media performs its moral socio-political function of democratic control of the West state apparatuses, would expect our objective intrepid BBC World to take the interview of Chelsea the next day.
In reality, though, quite the opposite should be expected to happen and did happen: not only wasn't there a whiff of such an interview, not only did BBC World not invite at least some independent human right and democracy watchdogs and activists, but BBC World, in full accord with its today 'quasi-Soviet' style, invited as the main and only guest to comment on the development no less a person as the former Spokesperson for the United States Department of State Philip J. Crowley during whose time in office Chelsea was arrested and thrown into jail!
Well, aside from having a surrealistic sense of Alice in The Wonderland, any critical viewer probably could guess what kind of judgments would be passed from such a 'independent pundit'. Well, verily one doesn't need any media at all to get the predictable demagogic fodder expected from the highest state officials in such cases – there are press-bureaus for that, unless, of course, we admit that the media itself performs the function of an ancillary extension to the state press-bureaus. Again, not much of a difference from Russian or even Soviet TV – one doesn't need neither the democratic media nor democracy itself to get the opinions from the state officials why they throw in jail people who reveal the bitter truth about their ugly activity that cost many human lives.
Of course, in this case the main demagogic element on the part of BBC World is trying to create the impression that state officials are 'just normal guys whose views have the same parity with any other parties on those matters where, in reality, those officials are either in a position of natural bias (in the best case scenario) or outright interest, be it individual or institutional.
By the way, ironically, Mr Crowley was famously fired in 2011 after giving a speech at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in which he called the Pentagon's treatment of Chelsea Manning "ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.", but definitely those statements and opinions were not the focus of the BBC interviewer (nor were the mentioned or referenced during that interview). It is even more ironic that a White House official had in the past more moral merit to question the jailing of a dissident (nowadays BBC World as well as other media prefer the term 'whistle-blower' for purely demagogic reasons trying to belittle the role, sacrifice and courage of those who question the acts of the state as potentially criminal and harmful for the sons and daughters of the nation) than that very 'democratic' media that is supposed to question and hold to account those very officials, not least our objective BBC World.
Of course, our intrepid BBC World demagogues immediately supported and concentrated on the line of conversation about how dangerous was what Bradley Manning did (probably that would be a theme that would rather belong to the past, to the time when Bradley had just been arrested many years ago – if he was a real criminal – but BBC made it a topical and exclusive aspect of the interview even upon and 'in honour' of the release of Bradley).
One should understand that the most convenient and “slough-off-responsibility” way that the media goes when using demagoguery is setting and implanting a fallacious context through a set of questions and their implicit premises, the BBC World being one of the greatest masters of the art (to simply put it in a hyperbola, it is a situation when a 'journalist' asks a question along the lines of 'are you against Brexit or are you for racism?' immediately implanting the false premises and dilemmas, forming the emotional negative attitude towards millions of people who are for Brexit for a whole bunch of reasons not to do with racism in any way, but the intent is not obvious and the ready excuse, if caught red-handed, is that it was just a error of judgment by the journalist or lack of time for other questions..).
Well, again, ironically, that very official – Mr Crowley – acknowledged that (surprise surprise) no serious repercussions for the world security (or the US national security) happened to have popped up out of Manning's actions. Now, in a better world (or with the other BBC World that we knew to exist in the dim and distant past), one could probably expect some serious questions addressed to that official, including those regarding the moral basis of the state using the 'maybe assumptions' about the potential security risks in future to throw a human being into solitary confinement for many years for sure and now in a situation where the state is a politically interested party. Political history contains a very large proportion of this old as the world type of 'state cannibalism': Hitler's regime too started to drive the Jews out of Germany and limit their rights in the 30s because it assumed their activities maybe to be dangerous for the security of Germany; all it takes is for the state to exchange ephemeral 'maybe' and 'in future' for oppressing and mangling the real human lives 'now' and 'today'. But of course nowadays it is really naive to expect on the daily basis even such simple questions from the media if its main role has turned into a political concubine of sorts.
Well it's hard to avoid dwelling a bit longer on the said example of the demagoguery based on fear, fanned and augmented by the intrepid Western media: Manning leaks and Assange activity created security risks.. right.. Says who? Says the STATE, which is not surprising (it would be strange to expect anything other than that from the state), AND the 'independent' media!
Well well, Manning leaks are dangerous.. (hard not to avoid the well-known motif from Jesus Christ Super Star: 'he's daaaaangerous!'). There's almost nothing completely risk-free in this world and there are all the grounds to believe that the highly-educated people of the West do understand this truth in contradistinction to the infantile 'nursery rhymes' given by the BBC World – 'intellectual insults' in the form of cheap demagogic fodder. Of course there are some risks that cannot be avoided but can be justified. That doesn't appertain, for example, to the start of the Iraq war, because the US and British state (with it's good-only-for-a-five-year-old fudge of the '45 min report' by Tony Blair) excellently knew that they definitely and predictably (not 'maybe') CONDEMN thousands of American & British boys and girls in uniform to their certain death, mutilation, post-traumatic syndromes and such, and hundreds of thousands people in the country they were going to invade to death, poverty, mangled lives, lost homes, living hell for decades (all those ensuing consequences which Nuremberg discourse ascribed to the crime of war aggression as the root cause and added them as aggravation the weight of this very crime of starting wars). It doesn't appertain to it because the criminal invasion of Iraq wasn't just 'dangerous' because it was predictably murderous. It would have been hard to come to any reasonable prediction other than that the probability of radicalization and, associated with it, chances of murderous terrorist attacks in the UK would significantly increase as a consequence of Iraq invasion – indeed why wouldn't it in any country under the same circumstances? In this respect the invasion was not only murderous but it was also dangerous in terms of the increased risks of losing British lives in the UK itself, not only beyond its borders. And that's what happened in London metro bombing terrorist acts in 2005, the moral responsibility for it totally lies upon the British state (whoever represented that state as its government) before the British citizens.
If the consequences of Iraq invasion in Iraq itself in a better world (really democratic, not quasi-democratic, world) should have put Tony Blair and his 'associates' in the dock of the Hague Tribunal was the crime of war of aggression (and all the insuring war crimes too), then the 2005 terror attacks on the British soil and all the Brits in uniform who suffered or died in that war should have brought him in the dock inside Britain itself (in fact, instead, for his outstanding Iraq exploits Blair was appointed... wait for it.. a member of the Middle East piece quartet!! How closer one can get to the Alice-in-the Wonderland experience!).
The very fact that the state powers can quickly escalate into the cannibalistic mode whereby the state 'Leviathan' throws the sons and daughters of the nation into the meat-grinder of war capitalizing politically on the blood of its own and other nations is neither surprising nor new: the states very often are interested in war because it can justify (based on fear) the weakening/repudiation of democratic mechanisms, give the state additional powers and freedoms (at the expense of the freedoms of the nation) and render the state unaccountable for many things – even things not always directly related to the war that otherwise wouldn't be possible for the state to fulfill.
The Iraq war (and a series of other wars, including the one in Afghanistan) just demonstrated how weak and insufficient the present democratic mechanisms of the UK quasi-democratic system are in the 21st century (especially seeing that an overwhelming majority of the Brits were flat against Iraq war, and gigantic demonstrations of protest were held in London against that war). Yet our 'independent' highly-moral, objective watchdog of democracy – BBC World – is not particularly interested in holding accountable the state for what was, unlike Manning revelations, not a 'dangerous' act, but an inevitably blood-letting crime of war.
What is really dangerous in this is that the Iraq war – and the likes thereof – can and, given time, will repeat itself if the proper criticism and pressure of historical proportions is not directed by the media including the BBC at the state in order to create the conditions and better mechanisms of the control by the civil society over the blood-thirsty beast of the state. In this sense, to the extent that the same BBC World forfeits the aforementioned duty in respect to the recent wars concocted by the UK (with the US), and doesn't apply due effort to prevent the repetition of such a state-organized blood-spill and terrorism-risk boost, as part of the democratic media, it itself is morally LIABLE for any such repetitions and their terrible consequences (on all counts: the deaths and sufferings of the British soldiers, the death and suffering of the civil population in the invaded countries, for the death and sufferings of its own citizens inflicted by the predictably increased terrorist activity inside the UK because of those wars and radicalization brought on thereby).
And the BBC World, unsurprisingly, is not preoccupied with the coverage of the problems revealed by those wars, and is complicit with the state in deliberately retaining the chances of the repetition of those 'sad mistakes' (that's how the state demagoguery calls its war crimes – mistakes – with the delicate support of its pocket media; it's not, of course, mistakes when it comes to Manning or Assange's effort to give the truth and control to the citizens of their states – it suddenly becomes a crime, and starts to be discussed in that context by the intrepid BBC World and the likes of it now and then, whose work basically he had been doing because the BBC wasn't and isn't).
To give the BBC World its due, it covered the Iraq war itself rather critically – that was the BBC World in the first several years of the 2000s, and the real pathological changes of this media institution started to transpire closer to 2006, and, again, this reflects the trajectory that formed not just for the BBC World but for the large media institutions as a whole.
Because the consequence of the 21st century military escapades of the UK and the US states predictably (and, possibly, no against some of the set purposes of those escapades) elevated terrorism threat inside those respective countries and, probably other Western countries (e.g. in Europe), the lack of effort of holding the state to the account by the media, the BBC World included, and, even more, the delicate or blunt assistance to the governments in providing the media platform for their demagogic self-justifications and even exploiting the induced terrorism for the advantage of the state (basically as a secondary 'mild' war on self-induced terrorism) places the moral responsibility with the media concurrently with the state (with the only difference, again, that the state is only expected to have the tendency and intrinsic interest to fan wars and exploit the increased terrorism to its benefit, whereas the media really betrays the trust placed by the nation and democracy itself), for instead of holding the state accountable and lowering the probability of the future terrorism attacks, the media serves the purposes of the state.
After terrorist attacks in France, for example, François Hollande stated that 'France is at war' (!) – no less no more – powerful militarization in the streets of the cities followed soon. It's only expected that the new type of war – the so called 'war on terrorism' inside the countries themselves (not just outside France or the USA) – gives all the same atrocious advantages to the state as the usual war does to weaken the democratic controls and increase the state powers, unaccountability and impunity (whether to the same or a lesser degree belongs to a separate debate).
It generates an apparent paradox that the terrorism may be seen as beneficial from the political point of view by both: the terrorist entities that conduct their ugly murderous activities (they gain the political support from their fanatical brain-washed supporters) and the STATES in the West that politically capitalize on the tragic consequences of those terrorist acts, by enhancing the terror/fear element of those consequences and getting a justification for the 'war on terror' inside their countries and outside their countries (the latter can manifest itself in a conventional war to breed a new wave of terrorism conveniently perpetuating the bloody cycle for the state power to feed upon). Insofar as the media like the BBC World knowingly refrain from challenging and let the highest representatives of the state (like Hollande) get away with such statements and declarations, it is morally liable for not only dereliction of their socio-democratic duties, but for the act of 'sabotage' of the democracy itself, legitimizing the morally criminal acts by the states against the nations.
Going back to the question of Assange and Manning (or Snowden for that matter and the likes), those are the people who really made meaningful effort to give the power of knowledge and information into the hands of the Western nations to understand what really their states do, hold them accountable, and, to this extend, lower the chances of the future wars and war crimes being started by those states, and for that matter, many of those individuals are worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize – that is, of course, IF that prize was awarded according to its declared purpose, not for inglorious political reasons as it is now when it comes to persons like Obama or the EU (that's a new fashion – to give the Nobel Prize to the states and supra-state entities, instead of individuals, or, at least, civil institutions, the main peace-making merit of the EU, apparently, being the 'pride-worthy' achievement of not making a third World War by Europe during the second part of the 20th century – what a fabulous exploit of peace-making indeed!).
While there will always be some instantaneous risks indirectly associated with the disclosures made by dissidents like Manning, the real tested and verified danger of a second, third, fourth etc 'Iraq war' (any war like those that took place with the West governments' initiative in the 21st century) AND the associated terrorism is so inevitable and gigantic in its proportions in terms of innocent people lives and sufferings, that a lack of effort, given the effective opportunity, to prevent this danger by enhancing control of what the states are doing is in itself morally hardly acceptable.
Of course, if it were the media institutions like the BBC World who performed that task according to the function placed on them by the civil society in a democracy, those residual risks of information release might be lower, but the BBC World prefers engaging in a different sort of business: playing the role of a conduit and amplifier of the most malicious, war-justifying, peacemaker-prosecuting state demagoguery based on FANNING POPULATION FEARS. That's one of the most fundamental things in common between those state political acts that are directed at starting wars, and terrorist acts by radical terrorist organizations: both of them are directed at exploiting FEAR in the population, hence both of them, from time to time, become seemingly strange partners in crime and mutual beneficiaries, that sponge on the blood of the people. One of the great differences, though, is that the terrorist entities aren't democratically controlled, whereas the Western governments are supposed to be.
Yet, the media that's supposed to be the main vehicle of such democratic control is more preoccupied by covering up that very state, and enhancing the state fear-based demagoguery – fig-leaf used to justify the prosecution the peacemaking dissidents and prisoners of consciousness (and torturing them by years of solitary confinement). In essence, at a deeper level, the media like BBC World in its 'political concubine' services to the state, directly and indirectly tries to change the very social discourse, pervert the very ethos of the society into stereotypical automatic acceptance of the quasi-religion of the state as the source and owner of the moral values themselves – a most ugly ideologem, a true germ of totalitarianism, not very different from Hobbs' state ethical relativism.
If the state sends 'just on spec' thousands of people to the slaughter of war to their certain death, it can be a “mistake” but it will never be BAD and CRIMINAL, because the state itself within this quasi-religion defines what is good or bad. Hobbs was not a big proponent of democracy, but the modern state political establishment (which, at least in Anglo-Saxon part of the Western world, acquired the attributes of what by same Hobbs's classification would rather fit the definition of aristocracy rule, rather than democracy) and their obedient media went a step further in terms of the level of sophistry exquisiteness of this moral statism: they, by subtly substituting the effect for the cause, try to use democracy itself (!) as a rationale to impart more legitimacy to the state ethical supremacy, ethical impunity, to absolve the state of even the applicability of the notion of CRIME to it (the state can't be criminal because it's the state, period).
The perverted 'logic' of this parasitic manipulation algorithm lies in the justification of the state by the presence of the technical democracy status. This ideology is aimed at first replacing the concept of a democratic country (democratic nation-state, in which democracy defines this enigmatic hyphen in the middle, meaning that the state is the function of the nation, controlled by the nation, not the other way around) with an absurd chimera of a 'democratic state' in the collective mind, and then turn the equation of the democratic nation-state upside down, mutilating it into the 'democratic' 'state-nation' where for the purpose of the statism it is the state that controls the nation and whose function the nation is, but for the purpose of shedding any moral responsibility and legitimizing any of its actions it resorts to the nominal status of democracy.
The whole ethical structure becomes twisted inside out, where it's not the democracy that is the CAUSE of the state being always potentially liable and ethically accountable before its nation, but, on the contrary, any state actions are non-criminal and ethically untouchable because it is a 'democratic state'. That's how the hijacking of democracy FROM the nations BY the states is taking place, and that's where the intrepid media, which is structurally supposed to protect the nation by controlling the state, actually has taken the side of the state.
The very fact that the nation goes once per four years on a trip to the ballot box (among some other very poor, critically insufficient, often out-of-date, but still better than nothing democratic mechanisms of bridling the state beast) doesn't make the state a 'democratic entity', nor does it render the state actions unharmed in terms of accusations of crimes. The technical presence of self-definition of a country as a democracy as well as the presence of some democratic mechanisms doesn't make, for example, an ethical crime into a merit or just a 'mistake' BECAUSE of those democratic premises, but on the contrary, it rather proves that those democratic mechanisms and democracy itself (insofar as it is based on the rational reasoning as opposed to quasi-religion and is measured by the efficiency of those mechanisms) is NOT GOOD ENOUGH, and an improvement of the people's controls over the state are critically required. Unfortunately those improvements may rather be advanced by dissidents like Snowden rather than the BBC 'branch of state power'.
A separate subsection within the context of the Western media sliding to the point of protecting the state from the nation rather than the opposite is needed for the media's sweet attitude towards state intelligence/security services (FBI, NSA, CIA, MI5, MI6, MI7, 8, 9... etc etc – all those beautiful nice entities whose declared heroic intention is the security of the nation and part of whose intrinsic interest often happens to be the opposite – protection of themselves, the state, part of which they are, and its powers in a form most uncontrolled by the nation and democracy). Nevertheless, this item can be mentioned within the section dedicated to DEMAGOGUERY – demagoguery in its most malicious form too: fanning the fears and playing on them, fears of the most primordial nature, related to the most treasured things like life itself, fears that tend to blind the power of reason most effectively in people and render the orchestrator free from rational criticism, check, hence, accountability – free from 'the fetters democracy' in one word.
The state security services (hereinafter, for shortness, SS – no allusion to German SS intended, though, fair enough, they were too a security service), are per se very special in a couple of aspects and different from other body parts of the Leviathan (using Hobbs' allegorical name).
If the situation around the financial sector goes downhill the chances are that the financial Ministry will have problems (its officials included) and be held accountable, if the situation with the national health deteriorates the natural tendency (weak as it may be, but still) is the health-care section of the government is going to have some problems and questions to answer, if there are problems with immigration the chances are the Immigration Ministry officials are in for being pressured and so on and so forth.. till we get to SS – that's not the case with this function.
Rather the opposite, the more visible (or 'saleable') threats to the nation are the greater chances are of a GREATER BUDGET allocated for SS, the more acts of terrorism take place within the country, the greater budget and powers SS may count upon etc etc. This upside-down motivation puts SS in a natural position of potential interest (basically that means, that SS as an institution can be more interested in creating security problems in the first place, to deal with those problems at the expense of the nation).
This situation is special, though not quite unique for SS, but rather intrinsic in all state FORCE agencies: the intrepid anti-drug agencies are intrinsically interested in the illegal presence of the drugs (and the illegal status of drugs too), the military is definitely interested in wars (the more and the longer the better), for it increases their number and their budget and so forth. Police, it should be added, in general, does NOT belong to this category for a number of reasons (though it is a government function, it doesn't have exceptional political powers and united institutional structure, lack of common institutional interest and political power being the result; there are some other reasons).
This 'extortionist' interest in creating the problems for the society is intrinsic in force agencies, has manifested itself in various things and not historically surprising. In this respect the force agencies of the state – at least in their worst manifestations – can be likened to the genitalia of the state itself whereby the latter rapes the nation to such a degree as the nation's level of deficiency of general education and democratic mechanisms allow it to.
It's also not a rarity that several force agencies can have common coinciding interests and derive synergy from a kind of ugly cooperation (unplanned though it may be): e.g. The Vietnam War is, on the one hand, a very “good” enterprise for breeding and feeding the army and its generals (and also for perpetuating war in future, for it is immensely difficult psychologically for a nation, once committing a massive crime, to acknowledge and repudiate it, so the scenario of glorifying the past war becomes more probable, which means the chances to start another war in future, say, in Afghanistan, in Iraq etc etc, will be much higher – war is often automatically an investment in new wars in future via this most grotesque self-perpetuating mechanism), but, on the other hand, it is also good for DEA because it helped to bring some new drugs into the USA and increase their illegal use, hence criminal activities around it. SS can magically produce so called 'evidence' of a 'scary weapon' in Iraq, and SS brother – the military – can conveniently start a war based on that evidence – a massive synergy, hence, “utility”, can be derived from the cooperation of the force agencies for their own benefit at the expense of the nation – its money, lives, fears and so on.
Yet SS, as opposed to its 'relatives' – other force agencies – can be prone to using these perverted mechanisms arguably in the most efficacious mode because it has another remarkable, and unique, tool of power: STATE SECRECY! Yes, state secrecy – the ultimate limit of the sweetest dreams of the raw state power (the military does have this tool to a degree too, but it's not surprising that the intelligence services have this tool at the highest level possible).
Well, these two things: the potential interest in the presence of the national security problems multiplied by the unprecedented right to keep the highest secrecy about its activity, its details and rational grounds, makes SS itself, taking into consideration the special state powers granted to it, a most (if not THE most) serious concern for the security of the nation (not of the state, but of the nation, for the security of the former is measured by its budget and power over the nation, and the security of the latter by the economic prosperity and peace, and this situation is in no way different for a democracy than anything else, with the exception that in a democracy, if it's a real democracy as opposed to nominal the nation has significant mechanisms to make the state co-direct its actions towards the nation's interest).
While the question about the necessity/inevitability of having SS in any form or shape in a democratic country as well as what that shape or form should be to avoid the above ugly pathology, is a separate deep issue, the mentioned SS tendencies are not going to vanish in the foreseeable future, and it's not only desirable but democratically imperative for the existing democratic mechanisms of control to do everything possible to mitigate and prevent those tendencies from actualization now (as opposed to future). And the present structure of democracies presuppose the media function as one of the main watchdogs controlling the state, whereas the media being trusted with this socio-political duty not only abandon this duty in relation to the watching and questioning of SS, but, actually tend to rather defend and play on the side of SS, engaging in pro-SS demagoguery (and selective silencing being the media's most effective tool for this)
Now, how 'touching' it is to hear the BBC World anchors to talk about 'feelings' among 'intelligence community' (!), trying to implant the collective impression that the state intelligence apparatus – institution filled with a class of functionaries united by common institutional interests, their education and the way of thinking of a very specific nature – is just another sort of COMMUNITY, something like Paris artistic circles or farmers of the North.. Nice! And because of this, the 'feelings' that proceed from the bowels of SS apparatus have kinda same legitimacy as a free loose communal association of people.
This 'intelligence community' item of the social discourse is, understandably, a favourite figure of speech among SS representatives when interviewed by the media, and designed to impart, on a social level, more credibility and legitimacy to the messages sent and spread by SS (and their aid – the democratic media), as if it's just same kinda 'community feelings' like that of a diaspora of, say, Armenians in France, or the community of vegetarians in Sweden, or an Amish village – just a pool of opinions nothing more... Very touching. Next thing the media may start calling 'community' with 'community feelings' will probably be the tax revenue service or the top management of Goldman Sachs.
It's just enormous frequency with which the media, including our objective BBC World, have lately been talking (with that set face of serious concern) about the dangers of the lack of people's trust in the 'intelligence community' (of course BBC doesn't mean any objective reasons for that are directly to do with that very 'community' itself..), not only avoiding questioning SS, but indirectly trying to implant the perverted mindset on a collective level that the people's TRUST in the SS is normal, good and justified status-quot, and that any galling diminution of that trust is a bad pathology caused by external bad forces.
Another 'flavor of the month' having appeared lately (somewhat provoked by Trump's confrontation with some security figures, but with implications going much farther than this) is the insinuation about 'independence of the intelligence services', in the sense of presenting them as no less than an independent branch of the state and power !! A kind of new guarantor of democracy – an alternative to the morally obsolete Judicial branch! Difficult to top that: CIA and FBI being an independent branch of the state power, a new guarantor of democracy – could one top that?!
This SS propaganda master-piece probably has been fathered by the very SS in the depths of their ideological caldron, but the media, like our objective BBC World, conducted this new 'glorifying crown of the modern democracy' to the audience in its unalloyed form with the same ease and effortlessness as a good sewer pipe drains the city waste into the nearby body of water (with the only difference of there not being any 'waste treatment plant' that the democratic media are supposed to be but obviously are not).
How many times in the last decade have we heard again and again the same old story after some ugly terrorist attack has taken place: 'the attacker has been on the security watch list' or on the potential terrorist list and so on and so forth (terrorist attacks in France, in Canada, in the UK etc). Well, after this pattern repeating itself year in year out the question of 'what's the good of those intelligence services if they are unable to prevent even those attacks on the civilian population (at whose expense they live) where they had known, monitored and held the perpetrators as suspects before the attack?' is the most gentle criticism imaginable that might occupy the mind of an ordinary reasonable person, let alone the media professionals.
A more adequate critical question by this point of time (in the light of the number of times when they, by their own acknowledgement, knew and watched the suspect potential terrorists) would be 'are we sure that the intelligence services don't knowingly allow some of those attacks to take place pursuing their own political interests?!' Don't expect those from our intrepid BBC World of course – God forbid! Nay, even that first, most delicate question about the technical deficiency of SS is completely taboo! To expect any such critical investigations into the efficiency of security services by the BBC World is almost as preposterous as to expect the Russian TV anchors to ask questions about the efficiency of FSB in protecting Russian people.
When in October 2014 a gunman killed a Canadian soldier and stormed the Canadian parliament, it transpired that he was on the terror watch list of Canadian security services. As a very ironic rare exception, one can recall the BBC World security correspondent Frank Gardner (but who was present in that particular program as an interviewed guest for his comment, not as a correspondent giving reports in his own right) dropped a comment of surprise that it doesn't make much sense to keep a guy on a terror watch list and not watch him – that despite the fact that Gardner himself, having military background, has an immaculate 'reputation' of covering the acts of Western state security services only in thick positive tones, approximately with the same 'professional diligence' and critical approach as an 'independent' Catholic priest would cover the acts of Vatican (well, today it would be hard to expect that BBC World would hire anyone of a lesser stature in terms of 'objectivity' and 'impartiality' as their correspondent on matters related to the security services).
That was a rare exceptional case indeed – the obviousness of the preposterous situation was so high that Mr Gardner couldn't help making that comment, not thanks to but in spite of his role with BBC World (but even that comment didn't pursue nor was it intended to any further course of critical questioning and analysis of what the heck Canadian security services had been doing or not doing), but the irony of this is that even in that case it was not the BBC World broadcaster who dropped that comment.
But the question about what the SS really had known, and what the state security services COULD but DID NOT prevent, and whether or not it could also have been intentional inaction, is not only a reasonable but IMPERATIVE question to ask for a society that dares to call itself a democracy, for the life, well-being and real security of its people and their future depends on it literally, and the main duty to conduct that questioning – at least within the present imperfect architecture of (quasi)democracies – lies with the media. The real security of the nation depends much more on how it is able to monitor and control its state security apparatus, rather than on the perceived and fanned security threats upon which that security apparatus feeds and thrives.
SS (just like the military and other force agencies) is a beast that eats only fresh meat, and won't sniff twice at the flesh of its nominal owner – the nation – when there's a problem with dinner or there's a chance to have a desert.. It doesn't mean, that the security services never do anything to stop the terrorist activity, but it means it of itself, without any proper democratic control, doesn't have any intrinsic interest in eradicating or even diminishing that activity in the long term, rather the opposite.
Of course, that's not what you will hear from the BBC World – not a whiff of it. On the contrary, after another criminal or terrorist act, it will just immediately switch into the mode of an ancillary press-bureau – a re-translator – of the fodder coming from SS about what a nice job they have done because (and that's the 'argument'!) otherwise even more people would have died, more people would have been wounded, and because all the bad guys finally were killed (as if their efficiency should be judged by how many bad guys were killed rather than by how few good people were killed).
By the way, it is a rather self-proving truth that if the society really care about the reduction in terrorism and murderous criminality the only rational way forward is to study this phenomenon, get understanding of deep underlying mechanisms of that and come up with possible solutions, it going without saying that the driving force of this process in the modern educated society must not be army generals and SS agents (so much beloved and 'caressed' by the intrepid media like the BBC), but by SCIENTISTS from different fields: sociologists, culturoligists, psychologists, historians and suchlike.
By the way, it is a rather self-proving truth that if the society really care about the reduction in terrorism and murderous criminality the only rational way forward is to study this phenomenon, get understanding of deep underlying mechanisms of that and come up with possible solutions, it going without saying that the driving force of this process in the modern educated society must not be army generals and SS agents (so much beloved and 'caressed' by the intrepid media like the BBC), but by SCIENTISTS from different fields: sociologists, culturoligists, psychologists, historians and suchlike.
Of course, if the BBC itself really was performing its ethical duty and role in the democratic society, it wouldn't be every time so much glorifying the fact that “all the terrorists were killed during the operation', because for the scientists to solve the aforementioned task the “bad guys” should be captured ALIVE to provide absolutely critical information for the study of such phenomena as radicalization, the mechanics of propaganda etc.
In 2011 a most unimaginable terrorist attack in terms of its monstrous scale and level of atrocity took place in Norway – that's the notorious case of Anders Breivik blowing up the government building and committing a massacre on one of the islands. Of course, our BBC World focused as much as possible on calling the public attention to the individual figure of Breivik as a lightening rod of criticism spinning the moral narrative into the same “5-year-old fairy tale” along the lines of 'the sky was blue, the birds were singing, and suddenly a bad witch flew in on its broom and did it all'.
Goes without saying that Breivik is a monster, but there are quite a few psychos in the world (probably not many, but a few is enough, taking into account the damage one person can do with the modern technological tools), and if the institutions that are supposed to prevent them from what they want to do, wouldn't perform their functions at all, there would already probably be no Norway (and no country for that matter) at all (but BBC World and other 'objective democratic media' would probably still exist to tell us the story about “a single bad guy that dropped a bomb from the sky”).
Now, Norway is one of the richest, most developed and technologically advanced countries on this planet, that has more than enough resources to sometimes send its troops to some distant corners of the earth, using its special forces (MJK and FSK) which are world-famous for its quality, and whose focus historically was placed on special anti-terrorist and sabotage-related action.
Well, in these circumstances it's hard to avoid having a couple of eyebrows raised about the fact that any help came to the island (where Breivik continued killing teenagers on mass) more than 40 min (!!) after the police had gotten a call (to top it all off, seeing the fact that Norway is not a XXL country of American size – not by a long shot, nor was that recreational island next to the polar outback of the country)!! Really?! An ambulance helicopter would probably come quicker to aid in the middle of Australian desert!
Well, one would really expect our intrepid, ever so critical, BBC World, as well as the other media, to ask a couple of questions about why on earth Norway people need and feed its security apparatus if it allows any psycho the comfort of almost an hour to continue to massacre the nations's children in broad daylight, with all the technical wherewithal to not to! No, in vain in deed would you wait for that to come from BBC World.
Of course a large dose of cheap, good-for-nothing, sensationalist trivia about that nationalist psychopath (and there are nationalist psychopaths, as well as religious and other fanatics, and there will probably always be – they aren't very different, on the contrary quite alike in many aspects, nor is that Breivik any exception) came in prolific quantities from our deeply-moral BBC World, distracting the attention from the accountability of the state and its agencies before Norwegian people, before the families that lost their kids!
Breivik went to prison (tabloid aspect of which was covered by BBC World all right), but it does ZERO in terms of both: the recovery of the lost lives or, which is more important, prevention of the repetition of the same. Probably if some governmental officials in the position of responsibility had gone to prison, or at least if some corrections in the mechanisms holding the state responsible had been created making this scenario realistic (officials going to prison because of massacre being allowed to escalate to such apocalyptic proportions), there would be more confidence in chances of the repetition of the same nightmare in the future.
Hard not to mention another aspect of those events: Breivik blew up the government building – of course with a self-made explosive! At that point of time, the explosive aspect of it probably caused some déjà vu even in some ordinary people very distant from the professional security or military field. The power of a single person in possession of an explosive is such that it can kill thousands of people, damage major strategic and economic infrastructure, bring on economic damage to the tune of billions of dollars, even incapacitate whole institutions – the dear reader probably will find nothing new in this accepted self-evident fact.
Well, over and over again terrorists here and there and everywhere have used or tried to use explosives around the world, in the West and in Europe in particular, and over and over again they made it themselves 'in the garage'; they don't buy it in an explosive supermarket or a drug-store, they don't steal it from a military base, they don't dig it out of some uncleared trenches of WWI or WWII – NO, the make it themselves, and they don't have too much creativity either, for the diversity of their chemical technology is very modest to put it mildly.
They used and continue to use the FERTILIZER, and every-darn-body knows about it (including our objective 'caring' BBC World their beloved security service), most likely because it's the only way how in the 21st century, in the midst of civilized Norway you can make an explosive – probably school boys know about it nowadays, let alone ever so swift and penetrating Norwegian security services.
Not only that, but the fertilizer that they use continues to be again and again the same – most likely because there's no alternatives available. And this 'mysterious' fertilizer is ammonia nitrate – that's it. The only way allowing one to make hundreds of kilos or even tons of harmful enough explosive is ammonia nitrate that is sold and can be bought freely and untraceable by individuals. And that very only fertilizer and its free retail sale, as was mentioned, puts at risks those thousands of lives, those billions of dollars, those institutions and what not. It had been well-known for a long time by the moment Breivik blew up the government building, so if the state (not only Norwegian one), never mind the security services (and let alone the intrepid media, like BBC World) had really been interested in protecting the lives of the people, probably they wouldn't find too much difficulty in bringing up that question, starting controlling and monitoring commercial circulation of this single 'ill-fated' substance – that is, ammonia nitrate – not a gargantuan task for the state institutions from the technical point of view. Well, probably the “ethics” of our intrepid BBC aren't based AT ALL on the priority of bringing those questions to light that will save millions of lives and prevent massive suffering.
Well, one may acknowledge the possibility, that the state may not hurry too much to do it – start controlling ammonia nitrate fertilizer – insomuch as the state in general acts according to the compensatory inertial principle (i.d., it does something necessary only when it's already impossible NOT to do it in the interest of the political self-survival or well-being, not the well-being of the nation though) when it doesn't directly harm its interest (as opposed to that of the nation); or the state will procrastinate even 'intentionally' in the case when the security services would actually consider the presence of such a possibility – for a potential terrorist to make explosive under radar – as a positive thing for themselves (going by the principle 'breed terrorism in order to fight and feed on terrorism, and get bigger budgets').
That can be expected from the state and its nature, but it's hard to understand why the 'democratic' media, our brave BBC World included, didn't ask these very serious questions, including Breivik's case, where the situation came to such a quintessential point of trying to destroy the government building: why didn't the state security agencies in general in Europe, and in Norway in particular, didn't bring up the question of control of the process of sale of ammonia nitrate as a fertilizer, if even school boys know how to make an explosive out of it and there aren't too many alternatives to it either??!
Definitely that question would have been asked many times by BBC World and its so-called security experts if the control of the state and protection of the people interest – the democratic duty – was a real motive and driving force of the media. It doesn't mean that there cannot be any problems with the regulation or any alternative at all, it means only one thing: that this question couldn't have been asked by the media only if the critical investigation into the actions of the state and holding it accountable before the people had not been the primary motivating factors and goals of the media (well, in the case, of, say, Fukushima nuclear disaster, one would too expect our objective BBC World, when covering 24/7 the accident, to invite a couple of independent nuclear engineers to leave a couple of professional comments on what was going on, but instead, BBC World was so preoccupied with regurgitating again and again the fodder coming from the Japanese officials of different levels, whose task as an interested party at that time was maximally to cover what could be covered and silence what could be silenced).
Of course, all this critical query is totally absent, but instead lots of standard demagoguery is present:
When something really bad happened, that gives all the grounds to critically look into what the heck the SS did or did not to prevent it, BBC World, instead, exploits and amplifies as best it can the collective emotional impact – frustration, panic, confusion, fear, drive for some compensation and consolation – to maximally diminish the public ability to think and question rationally the SS and the state in general and draw the attention from those questions away.
Typically, like a tabloid paper (but not for the same reason as a tabloid paper), our BBC World starts focusing on some emotionally moving scenes with a 'happy ending', where, e.g., one of the victims almost miraculously stayed alive and managed to get away; it focuses on some heroic stories where some person managed to do something to save a somebody else (which by itself of course is good, but it happens every day around the world, people do make sacrifices and lend a hand of help without too much ado or, for that matter, attention from BBC in many extreme situations and without any terrorist acts); it focuses on how BAD THOSE BAD GUYS WHO DID IT ARE!! (rationally, as BBC educated personnel excellently understand, it's a banal self-evident unhelpful fact that there are bad guys on earth and those who committed the atrocity are by definition ones of them, but they continue to focus on this mantra trying to channelize all the public frustration and suffering into the blaming the corpses – usually those bad guys are dead by the time of BBC report for they are killed by the police – because blaming the corpses is completely free for the state and doesn't hold it to account, absolves it totally, conveniently attributing all the responsibility to several evil individuals, dead too); it focuses, with a sentimental exaltation spin, on how united the society feels itself at such moments of tragedy and grief (of course the society feels itself especially united in times of such shocks, and it's one of the evolutionary mechanisms too, helping to recuperate from the stress and shock; this biological mechanism is exploited to a degree by hostage-takers when their hostages, gripped by the so-called Stockholm syndrome, become obediently cooperative and even protective of their criminal abusers, the same biological mechanism even more cynically exploited by the state and the obedient media when, using the stress and fear, it wants to divert the attention and the hammer of rational criticism from itself to avoid any democratic accountability) and so on and so forth.
Just recently, in June 2017, another terrorist attack took place right in the centre of London, and our BBC World spent almost all of its air time on the above demagoguery, especially extensively figuring in its reports were the repetitive 'heroic' recitations of how terrorists failed to destroy the democracy and the unity (well, indeed, the British people aren't afraid that terrorism can destroy democracy, but the state with the help of the so-called media probably can, not least using the terrorism as a pretext). Well, speaking of the 'failure to destroy democracy', after that terrorist act, next day or so, the British PM (Ms Teresa may) pretty swiftly, with little ceremony and 'foreplay', went on to propose cancelling a number of laws related to the human rights (!) in the UK precisely in connection to the terrorist activity. This proposition was so open and brazen that BBC World couldn't totally avoid mentioning it, but that's all there was to it – just a tangential mention. Our most objective democratic BBC World isn't averse to spouting in unison with the state officials for 24 hours per day about the triumph of democracy over the terrorism.. well but it doesn't care to spend at least 10% of its news-bulletin time trying to hold the state accountable for actually truncating democracy and castrating the human rights legislation justified by this very terrorism. Very convenient! Long live democracy with the help of its intrepid defender – the BBC World! (Well of course, the BBC would spend much more time on looking into a blow directed at human rights somewhere, say, in China – that's what we hear almost 24/7 from the BBC World didactically teaching some Zimbabwe or China about human rights, because it's easy and doesn't prevent the British state from doing the same; the Soviet media was a great master of showing lack of democracy and rights in some remote corners of the Earth too)
Actually, it is shocking, though not surprising on a closer examination, to see how those two different entities: a Western state and the terrorist associations have at times this ugliest symbiosis of interests, both capitalizing and parasitising on the terrible attacks, death, blood, fear and people sufferings: from the terrorists' point of view (we've got to keep in mind that terrorism is a political phenomenon and does include political purposes, ideology and control, so here by 'terrorists' we don't mean just individual indoctrinated performers, but the political level of organization or promotion of the terrorist activity) the main propaganda victory is the British Government trying to roll back some of the human-right legislation because of the terrorist attacks (which is especially meaningful for such terrorists as ISIS, because the human rights institution is a special anathema in their propaganda before their indoctrinated audience), whereas the UK state uses those attacks as a pretext to roll back that very democracy and those very human rights (any state wouldn't mind doing it, but the democratic mechanisms, imperfect as they are, put some limits to it, yet when death and war comes about, it can absolve everything and overcome these imperfect mechanisms giving the state a brilliant chance and excuse to enjoy, on the one hand, the legitimacy of a democracy and, on the other hand, act with the untouchability of an autocracy – just the statesmen's dream come true indeed!).
It's not just a technical coincidence of the benefits between those two, but both – the state and the terrorism – use the FEAR to the best of their abilities to grip more control over their respective audiences with as little accountability as possible. In this sense, actually those terrorist attacks can be a kind of 'gift' for the state apparatuses in the West, because they lessen the burden of the state democratic accountability before the nation.
In this respect, there are all kinds of grounds to assume that the true motives of a number of the Western states may actually be directed NOT at eliminating terrorism, but, on the contrary, at supporting the conditions that would make the terrorism a sustainable long-term reality – not totally out of control, but just enough for the state to derive its benefits by endlessly fighting a war on terrorism, and using that war for an endless 'emergency state' exempting it from the normal democratic accountability.
Within this context it's hard to overestimate the amount of 'sweet' advantages and changes that the American state during the Bush administration derived in the most cynical manner from the terrible tragedy of the 9/11 event: Patriotic Act – no problem, mass-surveillance of the population – no problem, extrajudicial renditions and imprisonments (like Guantanamo) – no problem, throwing thousands of American boys and girls in uniform into the inferno of two (!!) started wars – no problem and so on and so forth! Hard to imagine any other administration that would gain so many benefits and counter-democratic powers from terrorism.
Of course those things don't figure too much within the range of interests of our intrepid BBC World – not a whiff of it – rather it's much more preoccupied with taking delicate polit-correct interviews of the State Department officials, CIA and military generals providing them the platform to pour on all of us the cheep cynical demagoguery as to how important and inevitable it was to throw the nation and its kids in uniform into the meat-grinder of war. What a useful democratic watch-dog that BBC is, is it!! How could we learn the 'independent opinions' of blood-thirsty generals and statesmen on war without BBC?? (actually the flavor of the month is BBC World, without too much false modesty, actually hiring the former officials, like State Department senior figures, as their 'independent' observers!; definitely there's some new experience and 'now-how' that Russian TV news channels nowadays could learn from their British counterparts)
In regard to this it can be reiterated again: to that extent that the Western media, not least our objective BBC as a prime example, don't perform their duty of critical investigation of the responsibility of the state in preventing those calamities, including the conditions probabilistically conducive to those calamities, (terrorist acts, earthquake consequences because of the level of unpreparedness, technogenic catastrophes etc) the media themselves are morally liable for the terrible consequences of those calamities! Insofar as the media actually helps the state with promoting and amplifying its demagoguery to manipulate the public attention out of holding it accountable, the media is morally complicit in creating the conditions for the future calamities, boosting the terrible consequences there of, increasing the human price, helping the state apparatuses to perpetuate and make more moral crimes in the future – in one word liable for the deliberate destruction of the democracy.
5. Distraction: tabloid vulturism, infantilism-sensationalism, exaltation, hysteria, pseudo-fights for easy causes
Now, this item seems to be of a secondary significance in comparison to the previous ones, yet it may not be that harmless as it appears at first sight. The tendency of tabloidization of the major news media has been going up by leaps and bounds in the Anglo-Saxon West, and it plays an increasingly important role in pursuing the 'worthy cause' of eroding democracy and diverting people's attention from the really important issues related to the activities of the state (directed intentionally or non-intentionally against that very people who in a democracy are supposed to control that state) and its accountability.
This 'tool' is in some aspects similar to demagoguery, but the distinction is that in this case the 'emotional massage' of the viewer is not directly directed at a particular political item where direct manipulation of the public opinion is needed. Rather the emotional exploitation is used in general to distort the focus of the public attention, inhibit the rational basis of it, destroy to one degree or another the public ability of critical analysis and questioning, the rational system of priorities in regard to the events, their consequence and responsibility for them.
Human beings are emotional, and when, by way of a simplified example, a chunk of the society is seriously dragged down into a half-a-year long highly personalized emotional narrative of, say, a Malaysia Air Lines plane crash, the chances are that not so much attention will be paid (as could be otherwise) to other much more consequential events and their analysis that are much more significant in terms of their consequences to the people and to the future of their children.
What a nice moving, almost melodramatic, picture it is for our objective BBC World to show numerous times over numerous days the Nobel child Malala giving so significantly-sounding slogans in the UN 'One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world!', with all those grown-ups in the General Assembly of the UN humbly sitting in total silence all the while and hanging on each of her words and upon the end of her speech wildly applauding these gems of the Nobel mind's wisdom!
It can almost give an impression of the Delphic oracle chanting words of the ultimate and all-saving truth leveraged by the perceived innocence of pure good intentions of a child. It's not important that the aforementioned slogan is as trivial nonsense as nonsense could be (irrespective of the banal truth that books and teachers are important as well as inevitable in the survival and prosperity of our human kind).
What's important about it is this infantile exaltation (which this presentation as well as the BBC effort to show it hundreds of times heavily counts upon) induced in part of the viewers that conveniently shifts the focus FROM the laborious democratic process and duty of critical analysis of the socio-political reality in search of truth TOWARDS the easy psychological relief of picking some cartoon characters – 'role models' – (fed into the public by this very media) as the sources of good causes, because what they say sounds pleasant and uplifting and re-confirmed as really significant by the authority of such big institutions as the BBC. That's, if not a cult of personality, is a form of cult of personalities.
All that one should do after that is just to religiously follow what Malala says in front of the TV and do their democratic duty by saying 'yes I agree and support Malala – she knows what she is talking about, because she looks so childishly innocent and honest..' (even though what she says with that honesty is a second rate platitude melodramatized by guys like the BBC, let alone by the state demagogic apparatus which is served by the BBC). You don't need to study rationally what conditions breed and perpetuate poverty, terrorism, religious extremism in Pakistan, Afghanistan or elsewhere, and what conditions can mitigate those tragedies (and finally lead to those, generally accepted dreams of good education in the same Afghanistan, that have been voiced, acknowledged and fought for by millions before Malala, with a couple of differences though in terms of the depth, the Nobel awards and the BBC attention) – no, you don't need all of these, all you want is to hearken to the words of wisdom about 'one pencil and one teacher changing all the world', because that's what that Nobel mind says, the top figures in the UN listen to and applaud and the objective BBC World broadcasts 24/7 with such a laden air of significance mixed with a almost cathartic exaltation.
Probably one of the ugliest things one can imagine is using children as “hostages” to extort money or impose political demands. Well, quite apart from that level of immorality, but still, not without the presence of some core similarities, stands the cynical use of children for political manipulations, propaganda and such (of course, a partial justification that the media would use is that kids like Malala aren't victimized by such a politically motivated use – they, the guys like the BBC, wouldn't blink an eye before using the concept of invalidity of victimless crime in this case, they reject this concept only when it comes to the 'crimes' of dissidents like Snowden, because the state defines what crime is for its convenience, and the BBC helps the state in that).
The other ugly aspect of this game (and “game” is a very proper name for what the 'independent' media like the BBC do regarding this matter of political use of children) is that all those people who don't agree with those 'words of wisdom' channelized through the mouth of a wonder-kid, are not in a very good position to openly criticize those words because such rational and just criticism won't be seen as 'politically correct' and can be prone to demagogic attacks (from the same the BBC World to start with) and false accusations of 'ill-intended' attacks of criticism on a child – that's the 'beauty' of shielding the propaganda with the children (just like in the case of kidnappers, the calculation is that nobody will try to save the hostages because of the risks of harming a kid).
Well, to this I have to say: sorry, Malala is a very good talented child, but her speeches are mostly either nonsense, or commonplace truisms, and she's not to blame for it, but her BBC friends (and actual promoters and users) are in the moral sense, and deeply so. Nor do I see a shred of evidence that her acclaimed contribution to the peace in the world were significant in comparison to many other people who were much more worthy of a Nobel Prize, if their deeds were judged according to the claimed purpose of the Nobel Peace Prize (and the role and moral implications of giving Peace Prizes to Malalas, Obamas, the EU and suchlike by the so called Nobel Committee is a separate long story, which includes other numerous attempts to glorify dubious figures and institutions in the eyes of the people as new Mahatma Gandhis or Nelson Mandelas).
Nor is there any evidence that Malala is intrinsically the greatest communicator of the need to have equal opportunities for girls and good education in Pakistan among thousands of other Pakistani kids, the only difference being the BBC institutional support given to her internet activity, which could not be enjoyed by those thousands of other kids (who, in case of a Taliban attack and injury would not have the political back sufficient to transport them immediately to the top-notch medical facilities in the UK and save them, as was in the case of Malala).
Malala got this Nobel Prize, arguably, no least because of the very dramatic fact that she was injured in a vicious Taliban attack, and otherwise it would be hard to imagine that this award would have taken place (it's also not a reasonable assumption that Malala at that age really could understand the scale of the risks she was subjected to by this 'support' operation by the BBC, whereas the BBC couldn't but understand those risks pretty well).
Malala was a project of the BBC and some other media from day one, a 'test-tube pre-programmed' Nobel Prize winner – a political vehicle that conveniently has the authority of a grown-up Nobel mind combined with the immunity to any criticism of a child. There are a few other most cynical and unpalatable aspects of the Malala story as seen from the angle of the involvement of those institutions that provided the political and rhetorical muscle in managing this 'wunderkind' project, but that's a subject for a separate discussion.
Of course, it goes without saying, that Malala per se may finally get really good education and do things in future that could be much more rationally connected to the increased establishment of peace in the world than the mere emotional and tragic fact that she became a victim of a most inglorious attack by radical fanatical forces (the presence of which in Pakistan, unfortunately, is NOT caused by the accidental annoying absence of 'one pen and one teacher', but cause by other things, the real focus on the nature and repair of which, of course, doesn't figure too much in the BBC range of interests).
The cases of the BBC World tabloidization are numerous, and the methods of doing it are different. It was quite a 'feat' of vulturism when BBC World was almost 24/7 covering the prolonged event of Nelson Mandela dying, putting so much dramatic focus on that occasion as to eclipse both: the intensity of coverage of Mandela once he had still been alive, and all other events that were taking place in the world during that period.
It was not a vulturism aimed at Mandela's death, no. It was sentimental emotional massage of and, at the same time, cynical capitalizing on the process of his dying, with all the 'intrigues', turns and twists. Such occasions appeal to, probably, not the best emotional reactions and interests in part of the people, and the media is so good at exploiting those dark corners of the public anxieties and interests. When those interests are stimulated, less attention will be paid to the the activities and events upon which the real quality and safety of life of the people depends much more than upon Mandela's death.
The BBC World-promoted sensationalism alone about things like Felix Baumgartner's jump from a helium balloon in the stratosphere, is not that remarkable, but the attempted emotional manipulation of the public scale of values based on those sensations is more worthy of note.
It is not the sheer time that BBC World spent on its tabloid coverage of Baumgartner's jump (of course, all kinds of high showy jumps will always draw the attention of a substantial part of the public, just as circus acrobatics do – nothing new here), but the investment of the perceived authority into trying to sell this occasion as some act of heroism on a global scale (!) that is really important in this (one of hundreds of others) example.
It is this combination of, in fact, the exploitation of the tabloid flashy/emotional events with the perceived authority of a non-tabloid serious media source that is so 'convenient' and effective from the BBC World perspective. In that particular case I remember some of the BBC World celebrities directly stating something to the effect that 'the world needs heroes' (which cannot but put one in mind of the USSR or Nazi propaganda media that without a shadow of shyness took upon themselves the goal of DEFINING who heroes were and what heroism was, because it was important for replacing the critical search for truth with the cult of cartoon personality).
These attempts by the media to harness the human natural susceptibility to the cult of personality (in the broad sense) to create 'test-tube' heroes and, at the same time, silence the real achievements of global proportions in terms of lowering the suffering of millions, decreasing the chances of war, promoting the education and eradicating medieval religious ways of thinking (which directly lead to medieval methods of judgment of human beings and medieval 'morals') are nothing short of the attempts to distort or even engineer the very fabric of cultural space, trying to inhibit the rational part in it, with the sought-for result that it should be not the real heroic achievements that the BBC Word is supposed to cover and explain, but, the other way around, it should be what the BBC World covers as heroic that is supposed to be become heroic in the public mind. Well, this goal was the dream of the media function in the ugliest autocratic and totalitarian regimes known to history.
The media-promoted (especially when such big names as the BBC World are complicit in it), tabloidization, infantilization, sensationalization of the reality is very important in that it tries to create the fundamental conditions in which the critical analysis and rational assessment by the society would be as strongly inhibited as possible, and when it comes to the coverage and interpretation of the really significant events the manipulation and distortion of those events would be so much easier and risk-free for the same media to do.
In light of these ways of the media function at present, it is not surprising that the BBC World spent probably ten times more air time on covering the death of Kim Jong-il (which was nothing more than a bit of very cheap sensationalism – another North Korean Dictator died at an old age, big deal indeed) than the death of Václav Havel in the year 2011; it is not surprising that that the BBC World would spend so much time on covering 'obediently' the Nobel Prize award to Obama (which even he himself, to all outward appearances, didn't quite fathom out as to why it was given to him, such was the scale of that political prostitution of the Nobel Committee), and so little time on covering the real contributors to the peace in the world (like some of war correspondents, scientists, writers, philosophers, musicians, public activists and human right advocates etc who work day and night to contribute to the public ability to rationally understand what the true mechanisms leading to external and civil wars are, and who the real interested parties are that are prone to abuse those mechanisms); it's not surprising that the BBC spent so much time on sensationalizing in the greatest spirit of vulturism ever such an event as Alexander Litvinenko poisoning, yet didn't draw too much public attention to the question of what the British state should have done or should do in future to prevent the repetition of such acts on the British soil and protect their citizens from such like attacks and spread of radioactive materials.
Recently there was an episode shown by the BBC World about their own correspondent who, during his broadcast Skype session with the BBC studio, had found himself in a slightly uncomfortable position when his kids penetrated his room playing in the background and creating a kind of distraction (albeit not really significant). The footage went viral on YouTube and the BBC World, of course, didn't fail to capitalize on it later on, conducting an interview with that very correspondent about that 'unusual' appearance of his kids on camera during the broadcast before, and spending hours during the next several days transmitting that interview all over the globe.
Of course, nothing special or significant was there – just sentimentally funny tabloid stuff. But what was really interesting and unfunny in that story is that when that correspondent found himself in that (pretty banal) situation (with his kids playing behind his back while he was on the Skype video session with the BBC) one could see that inexplicable and unbelievable tension and graveness on his face (really, for a usual human being it's hard to refrain from a smile under such innocently comic circumstances, and even harder it would be for a professional journalist) – well, that is, inexplicable unless one assumes that for such innocuous circumstances a BBC correspondent can really lose his/her job or face some really significant job-related consequences!
Later, during his interview about that popular episode with the BBC he basically confirmed and acknowledged how he had been worried about that Skype session being the last session he was going to have with the BBC (!). Either one should assume that the correspondents working for the BBC corporation are just paranoid and full of completely irrational fears (which doesn't seem to be a valid assumption based on many pieces of evidence), OR one should assume that BBC corporation has really have such (anti)ethical (in)humane standards of dealing with their correspondents that such like innocent and unintended episodes as the aforementioned occasion can at times put under threat their careers and even jobs with it! Of course, such climate should create very good conditions of the true freedom of speech and independent journalism in the BBC! Just one more occasion that reminds that it is not JOURNALISTS who own the BBC and its performance, but it is the BBC who owns the journalists and usurps the real journalist freedoms. Well, there are so many more “independent” powerful media institutions in the West that aren't so different from our intrepid objective BBC, but the latter can be used as a glaring example.
It is not journalists but the media as an institution who started to kill the real freedom of expression and information in the West more and more. Dependent journalists is the best guarantee that the huge media corporations like the BBC World can select their agendas for the manipulation and distortion of the public picture of the reality and, at the same time, ironically, spout about and extol the high ideals of freedom of speech. In fact, it is precisely journalists as a cultural and professional community in the Western world, who was robbed by the media corporations out of their guardian roles for the freedom of speech, for the freedom of speech in itself, without a rational context, cannot be fulfilled properly without the microphone and camera, and those have been appropriated by the by the media institutions.
It is not the media institution that belongs to the community of the journalists, but, the other way around, it is the journalists (without a true community) that belong to the media institution, and their sword of a democracy defender has been gradually taken away from them.
The silver lining is that the level of the people's education has increased on the one hand and on the other hand the level of the people connectivity via the Internet have shot up in the 21st century and continue to grow, and so is the ability to form its own – people's – view and reflection of the reality.
Yet it is very important to remember that democracy is a never-ending dynamic process, not a final, static, ideal condition, and if the mechanisms of the control by the people of the state have stagnated in their development, it's only a matter of time when the Leviathan – the state – will start eating its own nation.
Those mechanisms that were effective a century ago for the people to control the 'gravitational force' of the state power, may not be even close to being enough today, while some other mechanisms may even naturally decay because of other realities of the historical process. But the state never stops evolving its own mechanisms of consolidating raw uncontrolled power and eroding democracy.