David Edwards of Media Lens responds to a Guardian article by Polly Toynbee in which she suggests that voting for Jeremy Corbyn would amount to a ‘betrayal’ of the electorate by quoting Ian Sinclair’s argument that in fact it is Toynbee, not Corbyn, who is out of touch with public opinion.
Sinclair noted that Corbyn supports a publicly run NHS, a position supported by 84 per cent of the public, according to a November 2013 YouGov poll. In addition:
- ‘He supports the nationalisation of the railways, a position backed by 66 percent of the public, including a majority of Conservative voters, according to the same poll.
- ‘He supports the nationalisation of the energy companies, a position supported by 68 percent of the public, including a majority of Conservative voters, according to the same poll.
- ‘He believes the Royal Mail should be publicly owned, a position supported by 67 percent of the public, according to the same poll.
- ‘He supports rent controls, a position supported by 60% of the public, including 42% of Conservatives, according to an April 2015 YouGov poll.
- ‘He opposes the retention of Trident nuclear weapons, a position John Curtice, Professor of Politics at Strathclyde University, notes is supported by a “smallish plurality” in “the majority of polls”.
- ‘He strongly opposed the 2003 Iraq War, which was also opposed by the more than one million people who marched through London on 15 February 2003.
- ‘He has long pushed for the withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan, a position favoured by 82 per cent of the public, according to a May 2014 YouGov poll.’
Thus: ‘Corbyn’s key political positions are in actual fact supported by a majority of the British public.’
Edwards ends: “Like Blair and the rest of the establishment, the Guardian and other corporate media claim their motivation is to preserve Labour’s electability, rather than to attack any and all politics that stray off the ‘centrist’, ‘modernising’ path.
“In reality, it could hardly be more obvious that this collection of profit-seeking, corporate enterprises – grandly and laughably proclaiming themselves ‘the free press’ – is opposing a threat to their private and class interests”.
David Edwards concludes a detailed and searing analysis of the way in which Blair’s 2003 “obvious web of deceit” was greeted, not even with whispers of dissent, but “with thunderous applause and praise by the political-media ‘club’ ”, by writing:
“For any rational viewer or reader, the cynicism, and the silence about that cynicism, was jaw-dropping. . .
“Much has been made of different newspapers being ‘for’ and ‘against’ the war in Iraq. But in fact all newspapers and broadcasters failed to raise even the most obvious objections to the case for believing the war was necessary, legal or moral. In March 2003, the way journalists feign fierce dissent while tossing feeble challenges for political executives, fellow ‘club’ members, to swat away, had never been more obvious.
“The Iraq war showed how the ‘free press’ is structurally hard-wired not to obstruct US and UK regimes bent on war. The corporate media – entrenched in the irrational and dangerous assumption that it should accept frameworks of debate laid down by ‘mainstream’ political parties – took key illusions seriously. As a result, the fraudulent discussion about Iraqi WMD raged on and on with the real world left far behind.
“And this was no passive media ‘failure’; it was an active, resilient determination to promote ‘the view from Downing Street’ and Washington. In 2002 and 2003, hundreds of Media Lens readers and other media activists – including journalists, academics, lawyers and authors – sent many hundreds of rational, referenced emails to newspapers and TV stations. Time and again, their crucial evidence and sources were simply ignored. The idea that coverage of the Iraq war represented a terrible ‘failure’ for the corporate media is an exact reversal of the truth. Iraq was a good example of how these media consistently excel in their structural role as defenders of powerful interests.
“The real ‘failure’ was the emergence of undeniable evidence that the media had all along been boosting Bush-Blair lies. But even this would have mattered little in the absence of Iraqi resistance and the vast death toll generated by the US determination to divide and conquer that resistance. If Iraqis had quietly accepted the conquest, the talk would not have been of ‘media failure’ but of ‘humanitarian success’, with all criticism dismissed as ‘carping’. This was indicated very clearly by the BBC’s then political editor Andrew Marr in April 2003, when he commented that the quick ‘fall’ of Baghdad, with Iraqis ‘celebrating’, had put an end to all ‘these slightly tawdry arguments and scandals. That is now history’. (Marr, BBC 1 News at Ten, April 9, 2003)
“It is a bitter, even surreal, irony that the media ‘failure’ on Iraq is being lamented by journalists who have since repeated the same performance on Libya, Syria, Israel-Palestine, Iran, Venezuela, WikiLeaks, climate change, and much else besides.”
“Assange and WikiLeaks have benefited the world by combatting undue secrecy, exposing illegal cover-ups and championing transparency in government”
In the latest Media Lens blockbuster, David Edwards quotes journalist Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers:
‘Political asylum was made for cases like this. Freedom for Julian in Ecuador would serve the cause of freedom of speech and of the press worldwide. It would be good for us all; and it would be cause to honor, respect and thank Ecuador.’
In considering Assange’s plight, it is also worth considering the tremendous good he has done at extreme personal risk. Coleen Rowley, a former FBI Special Agent and Division Counsel, commented:
‘WikiLeaks’ efforts combating undue secrecy, exposing illegal cover-ups and championing transparency in government have already benefited the world. And I’m convinced, more than ever, that if that type of anti-secrecy publication had existed and enabled the proper information sharing in early 2001, it could have not only prevented the 9/11 attacks but it could have exposed the fabricating of intelligence and deceptive propaganda which enabled the Bush Administration to unjustifiably launch war on Iraq.’
Does Assange have good reason to fear extradition to the United States from Sweden?
On June 19, in a final bid to avoid extradition to Sweden, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange requested asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Credible commentators argue that Assange has good reason to fear extradition to the United States from Sweden. Ray McGovern, who was a CIA analyst for 30 years, commented:
‘Not only is Julian Assange within his rights to seek asylum, he is also in his right mind. Consider this: he was about to be sent to faux-neutral Sweden, which has a recent history of bowing to U.S. demands in dealing with those that Washington says are some kind of threat to U.S. security.’
Rebutting Obama’s assurances
Former US constitutional and civil rights lawyer Glenn Greenwald supplied some detail: ‘The evidence that the US seeks to prosecute and extradite Assange is substantial. There is no question that the Obama justice department has convened an active grand jury to investigate whether WikiLeaks violated the draconian Espionage Act of 1917. Key senators from President Obama’s party, including Senate intelligence committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, have publicly called for his prosecution under that statute. A leaked email from the security firm Stratfor – hardly a dispositive source, but still probative – indicated that a sealed indictment has already been obtained against him. Prominent American figures in both parties have demanded Assange’s lifelong imprisonment, called him a terrorist, and even advocated his assassination.’
Greenwald argued that smaller countries like Sweden are more vulnerable to American manipulation. Moreover, Sweden ‘has a disturbing history of lawlessly handing over suspects to the US. A 2006 UN ruling found Sweden in violation of the global ban on torture for helping the CIA render two suspected terrorists to Egypt, where they were brutally tortured.’ Greenwald concluded that Assange’s ‘fear of ending up in the clutches of the US is plainly rational and well-grounded’.
Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights and attorney for Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, explained the risks associated with extradition to Sweden: ‘Sweden does not have bail. Now, these are on allegations of sex charges — allegations, no charges — and they’re to interrogate Julian Assange. But despite that, he would have been in prison in Sweden. At that point, our view is that there was a substantial chance that the U.S. would ask for his extradition to the United States . . . once he comes to the United States—we just hold up Bradley Manning as example one of what will happen to Julian Assange: a underground cell, essentially abuse, torture, no ability to communicate with anybody, facing certainly good chance of a life sentence, with a possibility, of course, of one of these charges being a death penalty charge… A UN investigation found that Manning’s pre-trial conditions of severe solitary confinement were ‘cruel, inhuman and degrading’.
As a serving US soldier, rather than a journalist, Manning was certainly more vulnerable to this type of punishment. But consider the ferocity with which US elites are pursuing Assange . . .
Read the scathing analysis in the second part of ‘Incinerating Assange – The Liberal Media Go To Work’ at http://www.medialens.org/