In Wapping did Rupert Murdoch declare a stately pleasure dome – look on his works and despair

Posted in Afghanistan, journalism, Media, Murdoch by Deputy city editor on January 9, 2010

The Greatest Empire the World has ever Known

Today’s Times newspaper speaks of British forces handing ‘control’ of Helmand to the Americans in March. This is dishonest so many ways. In a story that is transparently briefed by the MoD and informed by the usual suspects, we are asked to believe that the British are in control of anything at all, when it is obvious the British Army is not in control, but has been soundly defeated.

Britain has already previously suffered imperial defeat in Afghanistan so it takes a government of special genius to come back for a second helping and an especially stupid and/or craven media not to notice when a tiny little event comes along to ruin the good war narrative  – like we lost.

The full stupidity and horror of British Army operations in Afghanistan has yet to be fully documented but it began with promises from the government that maybe not a shot would be fired. Then, a million bullets later, British officers were boasting how many Afghans they were killing. Then, the British were unable to move, because Gordon Brown had cancelled the helicopters, as the Taliban drove the soldiers back to bases from which they would emerge only to be immediately killed and maimed by mines.

A number that must now be close to 2,000 British soliders have been maimed, killed and driven mad and thousands and thousands of Afghans have also been killed, maimed and ruined in Helmand. Only for the situation to be worse. Thanks to us.

With at times no helicopters at all, the vainglorious, counter-productive operations of the Bitish army are entirely consistent with the press-on-regardless, even if it’s not working tradition of a fighting force that has been entirely incompetent for much of the past century, and with a long-time proven track record of failure against Muslims. That brave young lives have been wasted is to the shame of not just the politicians but also the senior leadership of the forces who value their careers over candour.

The result of the Bitish operations in Helmand is a place where far from there being any evident progress, everything is measurably worse, and a military-media-industrial complex has emerged to ensure that the truth about this is concealed. I am not reading about this in The Times.

The big stories like Afghanistan show how the important media in Britain and the United States are now almost entirely unreliable. The Times, a flagship of the Murdoch empire, a global media brand, is merely one example of  the institutions that have become ethically and professionally diseased, their pages given over to stories invented by people whose motives and agendas are undisclosed.

Media studies is derided but every young person must be taught that they are being lied to. Academic media studies normally ignore this point.

Content analysis of media always fails because it neglects the problem of what isn’t published. It is what is not said that is really important. What is not said is what counts.

As it was not said in The Times that Obama’s insane re-launch of the failed Afghan War is not even being delivered – because after capitulating to his generals, the Pentagon is finding it not so easy to deploy 30,000 soliders to Afghanistan, where every drop of fuel must be flown in, or fought for.

Surging all these soldiers into Sanguin by March! The Times as usual is sourced from Whitehall and so none of this seems to have occured to anyone, unless I have missed it. Doubtless someone at the Times could point me to various sceptical comments but it is the position of The Times, consistent with all Murdoch media, to support the extension of wars.

The Times has refused to report that the British Army has lost its bloody war in Helmand and is now getting ready to leave while buglers sound the advance, as they did in Basra. In Iraq, too, the Times pretended a false narrative. It was obvious for months or a year that the British had been defeated – but in The Times, they pretended that we were handing ‘control’ of the City to the Iraquis!

Spasmodic efforts by the Times that might have revealed the truth have been systematically gutted as with Anthony Lloyd’s series in which a lot of this was hinted at before the conclusion was reached that with one more heave everything might be alright. So there are passages of passable journalism – but with a conclusion that is consistently perverse.

The Times failed in Iraq and it is failing again in Afghanistan.

It is not just the Times – Sky and the BBC broadcast fantasy stories from the war zones every day. The Guardian is hated most of all by its own readers. The American mainstream media is equally psychotic. But the Times, where I once briefly worked, a long time ago, is a special disgrace. If it is not Rupert’s exclusiveplaything, it is only because it is now also the sandpit for James.

Why cannot journalists tell the truth?  I intend to explore this question further.

Journalists are dangerous and unscrupulous foes. I know because I was/am one. I have made more than my fair share of mistakes in the past but what I do not ‘get’ is how a newspaper that ought to be kicking down the doors (as Murdoch would have done, when he was young), has now become a satrap of government and corporate spin doctors. Murdoch is losing money on this paper and who can be surprised.

The dead hand of the print unions has been replaced by the almost-dead hand of a Rupert Murdoch and his gruesome minions building a palace to a dead religion by the Thames.


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