2016: The Year the Media Broke 223

Rupert Murdoch’s bid for a full takeover of Sky TV demonstrates graphically that the extreme concentration of media ownership has not yet run its course. It also yet again underlines the extent to which the Leveson Inquiry was barking entirely up the wrong tree. There is no question to which the correct answer is increased government control over free speech. Any inquiry into the media should look first and foremost at its highly concentrated ownership and how to instil more pluralism. It is probably now too late to expect that a vibrant, diverse traditional media is achievable. We can however be cheered by the continuing decline of the political influence of the mainstream media, as illustrated by its “Fake News” panic.

Even five years ago, if the mainstream media carried a meme that was fundamentally untrue, the chances of persuading public opinion of its untruth were almost minimal. Similarly if they wished to ignore an inconvenient truth, it would be very hard indeed to get it out to a significant number.

Four years ago, when the official version of the Adam Werritty affair was front page news for days, causing the resignation of the Defence Secretary, I discovered that in fact the real scandal ran much deeper. Werritty – who had an official pass but no official position – had held at least eight meetings with Matthew Gould, now Cabinet Office anti-WikiLeaks supremo. Gould had at the time of some of the meetings been ambassador to Israel, at the time of others Private Secretary to two different Foreign Secretaries, David Miliband and William Hague. On at least one occasion it was acknowledged by the FCO that Mossad were also present. For the three meetings which occurred while Gould was Private Secretary, I requested the diary entries under the Freedom of Information Act. The meetings were held on 8 Sept 2009, 27 Sept 2010 and 6 Feb 2011. The FCO sent me, in reply to my Freedom of Information request, the diary entries for those three days with only the dates – the rest was 100% redacted, in the interests of national security.

The Cabinet Secretary, Gus O’Donnell, in presenting his report to parliament into Werritty’s activities, blatantly lied and listed only three of Werritty’s eight meetings with Gould. Yet, even though the Werritty scandal was a front page story, I could not interest the mainstream media in publishing the truth. I believe that was because it touched on security links with Israel. To be plain, I was offering officially verified information at no charge to all the mainstream newspapers and broadcasters, and the only outlet which would touch it was the Independent. Tellingly, this paper, not controlled by the big news corporations, has since gone bust.

The reason I revisit this all now is to point out that when I published the true facts about Werritty on this blog, it was read here by tens of thousands. But four years later, when similarly I wrote about the story behind the mainstream media version of the Panama Papers, it was read by hundreds of thousands on this site alone. I had simply pointed out that the leaker had erred in giving the Panama Papers to the mainstream media and not to WikiLeaks, and therefore we were not getting the full picture. Media attention was focused on extremely tenuous links to Russia (ring any bells lately?), and remarkably no major British or American corporations or prominent individuals were named. In the event the full papers never were published by their mainstream media guardians, only a redacted “database”. No major British or US corporations ever were named. Unlike on Fox/Werritty, I was able to reach many millions of people with my writings on the Panama papers through the increasing power of social media.

These are homely examples from my own blog. But the real effect was seen in the WikiLeaks releases of the Podesta and DNC emails. The mainstream media contrived to ignore the damning content of those emails almost completely, but they were shared by many, many millions through social media. We now have the hilarious situation where the mainstream media is still hiding the content and denying the influence, while at the same time promoting a meme that the leaks were crucial and all the fault of Putin. What the mainstream media cannot squarely face is that 2016 became the tipping point, the year when they no longer control the narrative, the year the traditional means of population control by the 1% stopped working properly.

2017 will see the Establishment reaction to this. Control of “Fake” news by social media, and “ghost banning” are two of the weapons which will be used. The obvious weakness of the people’s social media revolution is its heavy reliance on the corporations Twitter and Facebook. There is every evidence that their fellow billionaires are working hard and with success to ensure that the new billionaire controllers of Facebook, Twitter, Google and Wikipedia become properly committed to the corporate news management agenda. We have already seen governments move across the Western world to increase powers of internet censorship “to counter radicalisation”, and expect these to be both strengthened and deployed against non-official news.

The 1% have all the money and we don’t because they are powerful, unscrupulous, sociopathic and very resilient. 2017 I suspect will be the year it becomes plain that new social networking media beyond corporate control are required, but I am confident the internet will work that one out by its collective genius. 2016 will be seen as a turning point. But there are still a great many hard battles ahead.

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223 thoughts on “2016: The Year the Media Broke

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  • Tony_0pmoc

    I can’t give my Annual award to Craig Murray – of journalist / writer of the year cos I have not read his latest book yet ..and I can’t give my award to the British / Irish and Canadian Girls – The Real Journalists – cos they were there when the boys were not..(too afraid)

    Well O.K Then

    No 1 Lizzie Phelan & Eva Bartlett

    Thank You – You Girls are Awesome.

    Real Journalists – what’s your mate called She was Brilliant too on RT a couple of days ago..She destroyed The American Idiot Live on TV..I like girls like you. You Care Speak Well and are Fearless…That is a Very Special Quality – but girls – also find time to give it all up and have a child – a Baby – they are Really nice – honest..They don’t shoot bullets at you.

    And the world will be really nice for your children – because you fought for it – with your journalism – by telling the truth as best as you could by being there and witnessing it and talking to the people who survived and telling the world what they said happened.

    Tony xx

  • Sharp Ears

    Murdoch’s economizing. He’s sold all the chairs at Sky News HQ. The puppet presenters and the ‘newspaper’ reviewers are all having to stand around a square plinth. The cameras are remotely controlled and are above their eye level so that the presenters et al have to look upwards.

    An uncomfortable and discomfiting image as the presenters are there for 3 hrs.

    It’s indicative of the harshness around us. Have you noticed the number of wage slaves, probably on zero hours, who have to stand at their work stations – at tills in supermarkets and stores and behind burger chain counters, for instance. There are also supermarkets whose staff are penalized if they do not keep to the required number of keystrokes and throughput at checkouts.

    Also this which I hope is not in operation now.

    Tesco accused of monitoring staff with electronic armbands
    Tesco forces its staff to wear electronic armbands which it uses to monitor them, a former worker has claimed.

    Whereas see p 54 here for the CEO and CFO salaries in £millions.

  • Rob Royston

    What is the Westminster government doing with their new North Sea klondyke? It was all doom and gloom when the price was rock bottom, but now that it’s at $55 and the Pound has crashed against the Petrodollar we must be raking it in.

  • Blair paterson

    Come on Craig even the dogs in the street know that America and Britain are being run by Israel I mean at the very least no one is allowed to mention Palastine or criticise Israel in any way and we all know we have been fighting their wars in the Middle East but they are never mentioned a bit of honesty would be nice but where are the honest people?

  • Sharp Ears

    Will Sir Philip Green do the decent thing at Christmas and pay the deficit he owes to the BHS pension fund?

    He knows the toothless HoC committee have no powers at present but they have a plan to fine him retrospectively. Pigs might fly.

    Sir Philip Green could face £1bn BHS fine under MPs’ plan
    Committee proposes ‘nuclear deterrent’ to stop companies trying to avoid responsibilities to pension schemes

    ‘The work and pensions committee, which is chaired by Labour MP Frank Field, has called for the government to introduce a “nuclear deterrent” to stop companies or individuals trying to avoid their responsibilities to pension schemes.

    This deterrent would be a fine from The Pensions Regulator (TPR) worth three times the amount it believes a company or individual should contribute towards filling the deficit in a pension scheme. Given that the regulator is understood to be seeking £350m from Green for the BHS pensions scheme, this means it could threaten the billionaire tycoon with a charge of about £1bn.’

    Rot in your hell Sir Philip. He hasn’t even lost his knighthood.

  • Republicofscotland

    For those of you who feel, pleased that the (ECJ) the European Court of Justice, has foiled Theresa May’s “Snooper Charter” I wouldn’t get too excited if I were you, and here’s why.

    (DRIPA), the Data Retention Investigatory Powers Act, expires at the end of the month, however, and it’s a big however, much of the that act, has been put into the Investigatory Powers Act, which was passed in parliament, at the end of last month – it’s due to come into forces by the the start of 2017.

    Add to that, the ECJ judgement, is only binding as long as Britain remains in the EU, and what’s to stop the British government bringing back the legislation after Brexit.

    Finally, we should all be aware that GCHQ, through its Tempora programme, (or a updated version) runs a full take system, meaning, that all data will still be collected no matter the ECJ ruling, that’s my opinion.

    Remember is was Edward Snowden, and his leak to the Guardian newspaper of the Prism programme, that highlighted that GCHQ’s data collection, is on large scale if not the worlds largest collection of personal data.

    GCHQ’s shares your data, with the NSA.

      • Republicofscotland

        Add to that, in light of the Berlin Market attack, Angela Merkel, and her cabinet have approved legislation to vastly, increase video surveillance in Germany.

        Problem, Reaction, Solution springs to mind, now Germany will probably become a “Big Brother” state, though I doubt it will have as many surveillance camera’s per-head as Britain has.


        • lysias

          I believe I remember reading, after Snowden revealed that the NSA was monitoring Merkel’s cellphone, that, when Obama visited Berlin to try to smooth matters over with the Germans, Merkel tried to use the scandal to get Germany admitted into the Five Eyes club, and Obama refused.

        • Bhante

          Add to that, in light of the Berlin Market attack, Angela Merkel, and her cabinet have approved legislation to vastly, increase video surveillance in Germany.

          That explains the motive for the Berlin market attack clearly enough

          In practice I don’t see video surveillance would prevent any such attack anyway – a brief moment and it’s all over. It’s just an excuse, as flimsy as always.

    • Sharp Ears

      Some expert on radio said yesterday that the electronic data collected is websites visited and e-mail contacts but not the content. Is that correct?

      • lysias

        I wouldn’t believe what they tell us about any limits on them. They have been caught lying too often.

        But, as I learned from courses I took on signals analysis when I was in military intelligence in pre-Internet days, an awful lot can be learned from metadata.

      • KingofWelshNoir

        Yes, it is. But your web browsing history comprises a very intimate account of your life. If they know you visited, say, a depression website, they hardly need to know what the content was.

      • Republicofscotland

        I’m not really sure Sharp Ears, however, this is the new ruling.

        The 15 judges on the ECJ said the security services could only intercept targeted communications, and location data in order to combat serious crime and terrorism.

        Rather than automatically keep all communications, there would need to be prior authorisation by a court or independent body, for each official request.

        I think this is the current set up.

        Interceptors have been placed on around 200 fibre optic cables (by GCHQ) where they come ashore.

        This appears to have been done with the secret co-operation, voluntary or forced, of the companies that operate the cables, potentially giving GCHQ access to 10 gigabits of data a second, or 21 petabytes a day.

        This info is a few years old, so expect larger quantities of data to be collected today.

        • Sharp Ears

          I don’t know what my father and his generation who fought fascism would think.

          Thanks anyway to all for the info.

  • Republicofscotland

    The outcome of this will be very interesting.

    The Israeli Prime Minister, Netanyahu, has urged the US to veto a draft UN Security Council resolution, that aims to condemn settlement activities on occupied Palestinian lands.

    The vote takes place today, Danny Dannon, a Israeli ambassador, claims the UN Resolution vote is an attack on the sole democracy in the region.

    It’s encouraging to see that Mr Dannon, at least has a sense of humour.

  • Dave

    The fact is the “two state solution” has been dead for years now and only the “one state” solution is viable, But as Israel is stronger than Palestine it will be an “Israel one state solution”, except once declared it will become a Palestine victory as Palestinians secure the vote in the “unified state”. In other words if Trump delivers victory to “Israel” by moving the capital to Jerusalem then this ends the war in favour of Palestine!

    Its one of the realities of the national struggle that after years fighting for an exclusive state, competing groups will reconcile in a “unified state”. That is secular Zionists will accept civil rights for non-Jews as long as the new hybrid state is called Israel. That is their loyalty to the name Israel is stronger than their aversion to non-Jews.

    • Sharp Ears

      I agree that the two state solution is dead in the as there is little left of Palestine as such. With the parties holding power at present and with continuing financial support from America, what you suggest is more or less pie in the sky. They will never share what they took by force.

      • Dave

        They will not concede what they took by force, exactly why the two state solution is dead, but a unified state would need to comply with international law in which Palestinians would become citizens of Israel with equal rights changing the dynamics behind western support for Israel.

  • lysias

    Commenter on Moon of Alabama:

    Unsourced but interesting none the less

    230 US Army instructors and 54 British troops, 8 French and two Dutch artillery specialists were trapped in Aleppo with ISIS jihadists by Syrian and Russian forces. The Americans asked the Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov to keep this quiet – for obvious reasons! I have this from a reliable source.

    • Bhante

      If true, I hope the lot of them are put on trial as terrorists. (I fear Putin will be far too lenient on them though).

    • Sharp Ears

      What a weasel. Straw that is. As for Wilson and Castle, well!

      ‘Where the law ends, tyranny begins.’ John Locke. 1632-1704

    • Sharp Ears

      He’s not even ‘President’ yet but starts in the way he means to go on.

      Donald Trump wants to expand US nuclear strength
      His comments come after Vladimir Putin called for Russia to “strengthen the military potential of its nuclear forces”.

      with a photo of him making that annoying sign with his thumb and forefinger – with both hands this time,

      At least he can pronounce the word unlike Dubya who used to call it ‘nucular’.

    • Bhante

      Not good. Without proper communication, a war is more likely to start. Kremlin says almost all dialogue with U.S. is frozen: RIA.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if the hawks want to try and start the war BEFORE the inauguration, and then declare martial law. Pretexts would be fabricated of course, but after that all sources of real information would be censored. What is clear is that they have very advanced plans in place, and part of those plans already enacted.

  • Aurora

    What the mainstream media cannot squarely face is that 2016 became the tipping point, the year when they no longer control the narrative, the year the traditional means of population control by the 1% stopped working properly.

    To be controlled by whom though? Fine if it means the 99% regain some control, not so fine if it means the 1% find even less democratic means to control the narrative. 2016 has seen an even more right-wing government come into power in the UK, with it’s latest in panoptic control, the chance for Murdoch to further monopolize news outlets, Trump in the US with an even more secretive right-wing corporate backing and promises to ramp up fossil fuel exploration, cancel global warming initatives, and increase military and security spending.

    Remember Craig Murray saying Clinton risked nuclear war? The news today of Trump facing off Putin with a nuclear arms race – nuclear arms for everyone mind – suggests that may have been a tad naive. The fact is the anti-Clinton push by WikiLeaks may well have helped usher in the exact opposite to a more transparent, accountable and democratic world. As people like Chomsky warned. Bu hey, who needs Chomsky when you have the delirious nonsense of someone like Zizek applauding the Trump era?

  • anon

    Interesting but what on earth has this got to do with the 1% you mention at the end? 1% = millions of randoms.

  • Thorvid

    Sadly now we have a lot of the controls on alternative (truth) media in place it seems that the MSM are now stepping up the fake news in what appears to be an attempt to further discredit the alternative source.

    Germany is currently considering a law that will impose a €500,000 A DAY fine on any article/post flagged as ‘fake news’ on social media.
    This will close the circle on ‘fake news’, and will be replicated throughout Europe, the U.K. and the US. with similar laws.

    How is the circle closed?

    This law would impose fines on all news flagged as ‘fake’, by the ‘fact checkers’, you know the Soras sponsored organisations, Snoops, PolitiFact, et al. That the social media sites are employing to find and flag ‘fake news’.
    There organisations will flag an article/post ‘fake’. Will it be left visible while its validity is disputed?
    No of course not, it will removed to avoid the fine.

    Don’t forget the US has just signed into law the ‘Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act of 2016’ and appointed a head to this agency all in the last week.
    Once these laws are enacted throughout the western world and the government organisations combined with the Neocon fact checkers are running at full speed, the approved narrative will be all that’s available for the majority of the public.

    Any alternative view will be difficult to find, when it doesn’t show up in any search engine, social media site or MSM outlet, and the sites have there bandwidth limited, DNS blocked, their contributors ‘ghost banned’, and state firewalls filter out access to sites deemed to be ‘propaganda’.
    And of course why would Joe Public go looking for what he’s been told is ‘fake news’ anyway, especially when the ‘trusted’ establishment news sites are doubling down on writing BS like the Guardian article on Julian Assange, or CNN’s claims of Russian retaliation to Obama’s expulsions.

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