Sky News and the ministry of fabrication of information

Posted in defence, defense, Delusional journalism, Iraq by Deputy city editor on April 1, 2008

British sailor heroically protects Iraq’s oil. (Not why we invaded.)

The descent of Sky News into an ever more ass-licking school of PR-journalism is reaffirmed with a classic of the genre entitled Royal Navy Lead Protection of Iraqi Oil.

This is a story that illustrates exactly how:

(1) Sky accepts access under conditions that are not made clear to the viewer.

(2) The story has been or may as well have been scripted in advance by one of 400 Ministry of Defence press officers.

(3) Visually exciting airtime is cynically built on the trope of Our Brave Boys and broadcast with no irony precisely at a time when the abandoned British sector of Basra has been in a state of near civil war, a new open-ended military engagement has opened in Afghanistan (Sky is broadcasting equally delusional embedded reports from there) and our hopeless prime minister is paralyzed & clueless.

Is this new? I think the science with which this orchestra is being conducted is really quite novel. What is happening is that the MoD has, after various disasters (like the embarrassing capture of Royal Marines by Iranian revolutionary guards, a spectacular PR stunt gone wrong), re-ordered its operational priorities so that successful PR is now the ONLY objective. Entire battles (Engagements”) are effectively staged for the benefit of the TV crews. Nobody ever asks where all that ammunition explodes, or shows pictures of killed Afghani children. Anything that obstructs the official narrative is ruthlessly swept away, including the coroners who puncture the official narrative.

It is not new that information is fabricated but that the entire MoD seems now seems to be turned over to this task is, surely, worthy of remark.

As one watches what is happening in Afghanistan, and Iraq, what is plain is that Sky News – and it is representative of a much-wider problem – has become essentially a broadcasting asset of the MoD. This serves everyone’s interests: cheap stories for Sky News, propaganda for the MoD, except those of the viewers, who should wonder what it might mean to “win” these conflicts, and ponder the mediatisation of armed conflict into a series of controlled images retailing approved narratives.


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