Giving Up on Honesty 170

I enjoyed, as much as anybody, Emily Thornberry’s ambush of Michael Fallon over his past cultivation of Assad. It is notable that the media themselves have interviewed Fallon continually during this election – he has been put out as May’s deflector shield – and no member of the media has ever mentioned it to him. Contrast that with the media’s treatment of Labour and SNP politicians.

I remember back further into Fallon’s past. 32 years ago, when I was the young occupant of the South Africa (Political) desk in the FCO, Fallon was a positive enthusiast for apartheid. Together with fellow St Andrews extreme Tory ideologue Michael Forsyth, Fallon was among those stiffening Thatcher in opposing all international sanctions against the apartheid regime, and opposing all British government interventions in individual cases of human rights abuse. I recall him arguing that apartheid South Africa had the “rule of law” and we should not interfere in its internal affairs. I recall him calling Nelson Mandela a terrorist.

Yet I do not recall any journalist bringing up Fallon’s past as a supporter of apartheid when he continually refers to Jeremy Corbyn’s association with Gerry Adams or Martin McGuinness as support for terrorism.

There are regulations in an election governing the broadcast media in giving equal time to political parties. But what they do within that time is not at all equal. On Marr, Fallon stated that a 1 billion dollar increased defence spending commitment would be met by “economic growth”. Marr let this go. Contrast this to the media ridiculing every single Labour spending proposal, routinely, as uncosted and “magic money”. It then became completely ludicrous when Fallon claimed a deficit of over 7 billion pounds in capital spending commitments would be met by “efficiency savings”. Marr should be congratulated on raising the issue in the first place, but there is no doubt that Fallon’s pathetic and risible retort would have been seized on and worried to death had it come from a Labour politician.

Just imagine Labour saying they were giving 7 billion dollars worth of equipment to the NHS to be met from “efficiency savings”. The media howl would be ear-piercing. Nick Ferrari would snap for hours and Andrew Neill would turn the sarcasm dial up to 11. But with Fallon, they just let the totally crazed claim slip. Obvious retorts like “if there are 7 billion pounds worth of efficiency savings in the defence budget, why haven’t you made them already?” were not deployed. Fallon went unchallenged.

Contrast this to Marr’s treatment of Nicola Sturgeon immediately afterwards. Her appearance on Marr this morning was a major part of the SNP leader’s allocated “fair time” by the BBC. Yet Marr chose to spend 90% of that allocated time on one single issue – school education tables – on which she is perceived to be weak. Sturgeon dealt with this very sensibly by saying that there is a problem with slipping basic numeracy and literacy, since the introduction of an ambitious new curriculum. This mistake had been acknowledged and was now being urgently addressed.

But Marr refused to move on. He asked question after question on this single point, and all his questions consisted of figures designed to prove that the problem existed, when Sturgeon had already said it existed.

What Marr was doing was simply adapting the favourite Tory attack on Sturgeon and refusing to discuss anything else, forcing Sturgeon to “admit” again and again that this problem existed, and not allowing her to talk about anything else in her allocated time. It was the starkest contrast to his willingness to let Fallon move on instantly from his ridiculous “efficiency savings” contention.

I could spend the next month blogging non-stop about instances of media bias, but I will just touch on one more because it is so startling. The Guardian has an “in-depth” account of the Tories winning a council seat in Ward 19 of Glasgow City Council. Incredibly, nowhere in the entire article do they mention that the election is under Single Transferrable Vote and the Tory got elected fourth in a four member constituency, and on the 10th transfer.

In fact I find it impossible to avoid the conclusion that the article has been deliberately written in order to create the false, indeed lying, impression that the Tories won this seat in a first past the post election. We have seen so much propaganda, across the entire media, of the “Tory surge in Scotland” that I suppose we are becoming used to it. But the fact remains that the 25% the Tories gained across Scotland at the local council election is the best they might achieve on 8 June, and is significantly below what Corbyn is regularly polling UK-wide. The media storm of “Tories take Scotland” propaganda, in the face of all fact, is unrelenting and deliberately designed to push and consolidate the Unionist vote.

Long term, it remains a happy fact that by pitching political choice in Scotland starkly between Toryism and Independence, there can only be one winner.

I have given up on expecting any honesty from the media. In future, I shall only blog on this subject when pleasantly surprised by an example of fairness or ethical behaviour in the media. I do not expect to do this often.

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170 thoughts on “Giving Up on Honesty

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  • RobG

    On Friday, Corbyn gave a speech that none of the poodles of the last thirty years have had the balls to give.

    And you, Craig, apparently ignore that speech.

  • bevin

    “I have given up on expecting any honesty from the media.”
    The sinister aspect of these utterly shameless departures from the most minimal standards of fairness-evidenced in North America, for example, by the ‘russiagate’ nonsense; and internationally by the Assad/sarin gas false flag provocation- is that they suggest that, like a rouee with a month to live, the media has decided to expend all of its carefully accumulated credibility in one final splurge, after which it will expect nobody to believe a word they hear or read.
    Maybe that is the significance of the Facebook and Google campaigns to exclude ‘false news’ from public debate: coming soon a totally controlled media.

  • Strategist

    Fallon is the most snivelling, despicable wretch imaginable. He holds a ‘great office of state’ and all he does with it is to read out the attack line scripts handed to him by Lynton Crosby. The man is pure excrement.

    Unfortunately we in England are going to have to live with this guy and the creeps and spooks who grind the barrel organ. In Scotland, you have a choice. Take it! Flee!

    • Habbabkuk

      On a point of information, the Ministry of Defence (and for that matter its ancestors) is not ranked as one of the “great offices of state”.

      The “great offices of state” are – apart from the First Lord of the Treasury (aka the Prime Minister) – the Foreign Office, the Home Office and the Treasury.

        • Habbabkuk

          Accuracy is important, D-Majestic. Especially in the blogosphere, where any fool with a grievance or agenda can so easily mislead with impunity.

          • Dave Price

            So we’re all agreed the first paragraph of the original post should read:

            Fallon is the most snivelling, despicable wretch imaginable. He holds the office of Secretary of State for Defence and all he does with it is to read out the attack line scripts handed to him by Lynton Crosby. The man is pure excrement.

            Good work Habbs!

  • Jiusito

    Many years ago, when Andrew Marr was editor of the Indie, I ran an in-depth Q&A interview of him in the current-affairs magazine I then edited and he wrote and thanked me for our “meticulous fairness”. I find it sad that he doesn’t aspire to that himself now, though maybe he is a helpless pawn in the hands of his editor at the BBC.

    • Ian

      I would have expected more of Marr too. It is insidious how people like him are corralled into adopting the narrative circulated by people like Crosby. No doubt he doesn’t even think he does, but this was pathetic, and way off a reasonable interview. in the time allotted there was a wealth of subjects to cover, so a decent editor or producer would expect him to range across a good number of these areas.It is a real failure of journalism. The irritating Humphries deploys the same tactic on Today. He will have decided on a question beforehand which he will hammer into the ground, determined to prove some notion he has of their weakness on it. In the short time he has, this will mean the kind of questions a reasonable listener might want answered are ignored in favour of Humphries’ egotistical pursuit of some ‘controversy’ he wants his name on. It always results in me switching it off, as he talks all over them, insists on an answer to his prepared ‘ambush’, and avoids the obvious questions. They really are pathetic, these people, they think it’s all about them.

      • Ben MacIntyre

        I’m afraid I’ve given up listening/watching BBC news and current affairs (at 72 years of age and a lifelong supporter of the BBC ) due to the rank obsequiousness of Marr/Humphries/Robinson et al shown to the great and good including May, Fallon, Johnson and anyone with an anti Russian/pro Israel view.
        We have in the U.K. a government compliant media so we are forced to search the web for truth, it’s out there – keep looking!?

  • Republicofscotland

    It makes me wonder, are there any fair interviewers out there? Or journalists for that matter in the national press?

  • RobG

    Again, here, Corbyn’s speech on Friday (20 minutes)…

    It’s totally unprecedented stuff.

    That I’m sure that Craig will delete, because they don’t want you to hear it.

    Cue the next idiotic ‘cyber attack’, or the next idiotic ‘terror attack’, just to keep you all fearful and under control.

    • craig Post author

      Why would I not want people to hear it? You appear to be suffering from severe paranoia. I strongly suspect you can find very little in it I disagree with and indeed have not said myself.

      Perhaps you can also outline to us what you consider the most significant points, and thus make a more positive contribution.

    • Graham Fae Fawkirk

      I must say, I have never found people who sneer at others from a supposed position of lofty superiority of intellect and knowledge…to be particularly alluring. Just saying.

  • Tony_0pmoc

    Craig, do not give up on honesty. That is something I could never accuse you of – despite the fact that I disagree with most of your very strongly held views. I used to be a big supporter of our current MP. He is still young and good looking. I had voted for him for years. When he was really young he used to ask in Parliament extremely embarrassing questions of The UK Government re The Iraq War – which hardly any of the rest of them would do…

    But as soon as he gained a position of power and influence within The UK Power seemed that overnight his political positions had changed – and instead of voting against war…he is voting for it..I do check out these things. Maybe he is a really nice bloke and got brainwashed in Isr – oh well you know where.

    I am actually considering voting Tory – just to get rid of him…but I haven’t yet checked out the Labour candidate – where my heart lives. I reckon she is probably O.K…if its the same girl as last time, when I didn’t vote on principle.


  • Johnny boy

    What would interest me is an assessment of whether or not they know they are doing it. I liar does not recognise he is a liar because the ego protects him from that reality, it would be absolutely devastating. If all the media is institutionally conservative they’ll only accept conservatives and they’ll all exhibit such bias, and deny it, in blissful ignorance.

    While I understand your policy I suspect you are ceasing a valuable role as critic of the media, because audiences are not static.

    • D_Majestic

      The fact that if one registers a carefully constructed complaint, and then receives in reply a pathetic excuse which is quite astounding in its self-believing complacency and hubris, is proof for me beyond any reasonable doubt that they know exactly what they are doing.

  • Sharp Ears

    Whilst the little creep Fallon was scuttling around on the fringes of power, Jeremy Corbyn was protesting against apartheid.

    Jeremy Corbyn: Arrest for protesting apartheid shows why I am ready to lead Britain
    29 April 2017
    Jeremy Corbyn cited his arrest when protesting apartheid as proof of his prime ministerial credentials on Saturday as he launched an unashamed defence of his leadership style.

    In a deliberate attempt to counter Tory attacks over his suitability for office, the Labour leader attempted to make a merit of his protesting past.

    He said his “core values” had not changed during the 34 years as an MP and cited his campaigning against discrimination in South Africa and fighting “unfairness”.’

    The inability of the corporate media a) to discover for themselves what Craig reveals about Fallon and b) to expose him illustrates their incompetence and their lack of independence and moral fibre. Their salaries are all.

    Good on Ben Riley-Smith and the Torygraph although the piece continues with disparagement of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership qualities. Same old. Same old.

    • Courtenay Barnett

      Sharp Ears:-

      ” The inability of the corporate media a) to discover for themselves what Craig reveals about Fallon and b) to expose him illustrates their incompetence and their lack of independence and moral fiber. Their salaries are all.”

      It seems to me there is mainstream ‘conventional wisdom’ and a lot of MSM journalists stay well within the confines. To argue outside of those assumptions is to do serious investigative journalism or to engage in rigorous and challenging analysis.

      A sort of John Pilger approach, which earns respect and accolades over time – but – is far more difficult a road to walk than the safe inner confines of the journalistic beltway.

    • Habbabkuk

      “Whilst the little creep Fallon was scuttling around on the fringes of power, Jeremy Corbyn was protesting against apartheid.”

      …and showing than a slight sympathy for the Evil Empire (aka the criminal, terror-and-repression-based conspiracy going under the name of the Soviet Union) and for various ludicrously-named “peoples democracies” across the globe.

      True or false?

      • bevin

        For some reason my reply to this biassed and a-historical characterisation of the Soviet Union was removed. I hope that it is permissible to put it on record that the above posting is inaccurate and libels the leader of the Labour Party in the middle of an election campaign.
        Perhaps the moderator has fallen into the error of believing that this is a newspaper. And that s/he is its editor.

      • Ian

        But what was his stance on China? Zimbabwe? Nigeria? Chile? As a tireless researcher you must know.

  • Tony_0pmoc

    Possibly, the reason, why the polls get it so wrong, is cos unlike me (I just tell ’em what I think) my wife tells them no matter who they are – yes we are going to vote for – you – yeh you can put my husband down too – so that they go away.

    We are both more polite to the Jehovar’s witnesses.

    And then, they phone me up. They obviously did not get the message.


  • Republicofscotland

    “Yet I do not recall any journalist bringing up Fallon’s past as a supporter of apartheid”

    I wonder if Fallon, wore one of those infamous “Hang Nelson Mandela” stickers, that were quite popular with the Tories at the time.

    Of course David Cameron, ex-PM, and ever the consummate weasel, claimed when he met Mandela, that his Tory party had got it all wrong by branding Mandela a terrorist.

    No parties MP’s and PM’s flip flop quite like the Tories do.

  • mog

    As I said when it was called, this election is all about the mainstream media versus the online independent/social media.

    I am surprised that there have not yet been protests outside BBC house.

  • Graham Fae Fawkirk

    My thoughts on this whole tired, tiresome subject entirely. Everybody knows the mainstream media is rigged now. If they don’t, they either don’t care or don’t want to know. Exposing lie after lie after lie is just a waste of time that could be spent more constructively doing other, more useful things. like picking out navel lint, or rearranging a sock drawer. Not trying to be facetious, just so tired of this whole vile damned one-sided propaganda problem, when every day brings some new piece of rubbish to be incredulous at. Beyond sick of it.

    • bevin

      The calculation that they make, (which is entirely consonant with the Straussian philosophy of the neo-con warmongers) is that intelligent people are a tiny minority and that the masses can be controlled by dint of the constant repetition of slogans and the blanketing of the media with misinformation.
      mog’s position is correct, and it also implies, what is the foundation of democracy, that people, given the opportunity will choose truth over falsehood.
      The problem, in this unusual case, is that the forces of truth are hobbled by false friends, running for Labour, who tend to promote the lies and misinformation with which Corbyn is trying to deal.
      Does anyone recall an election quite like this? One in which the majority of the Parliamentary candidates, the staff of the party, the Deputy Leader and most of the party’s former grandees are actively campaigning against the party leader and hoping for defeat?
      Such things make it particularly difficult for the casual voter, preoccupied with the business of surviving in an increasingly challenging socio-economic environment, to separate the wheat from the chaff.

      • mog

        Labour Party office holders local to me appear to be attempting to scupper the constituency campaign.
        The issue of media decentralisation not only affects the intentions and interactions of voters, but also that of party members/ campaigners -i.e. their perceptions of whether their role is that of obedient consumer or active pursuader.
        The divide I see with regard to Corbyn is increasingly determined by whether or not someone gets their news exclusively from the BBC, Guardian, Independent etc. It really is seeming that simple, and amazing that Labour are polling where they are.

    • RobG

      Graham, you might be sick of it, and understandably so, but the majority of people still buy into the lies and propaganda.

      I write as someone who’s lived in France for many years now, and amazingly many French people were persuaded by the Macron bullshit (first round of the election, back in April). This is France, where there’s a strong tradition of worker’s rights, and all that.

      The power of the media.

      The power of nightmares.

  • Anon1

    “Yet I do not recall any journalist bringing up Fallon’s past as a supporter of apartheid when he continually refers to Jeremy Corbyn’s association with Gerry Adams or Martin McGuinness as support for terrorism. ”

    Association? Him and his mate McDonnell were fully fledged supporters of the IRA, both their aims and their methods, by the “bomb and the bullet” as that nasty shit McDonnell put it. Corbyn’s attendance at pro-IRA rallies even resulted in his arrest on one occasion. Any anti-British cause going for the pair of them, who hate this country, all it does, and all it stands for. Sound familiar?

  • Cuilean

    Marr’s questioning was atrocious. Nicola Sturgeon’s husband tweeted that Nicola would be on the Marr show talking about the General Election 2017. Education is devolved in Scotland so why Marr was ‘labouring’ devolved issues (he also then mentioned the NHS, also devolved, stating all sorts of nonsense that the nurses were about to strike in Scotland) was clearly not what the First Minister was expecting as can be seen by her increasingly angry Paddington Bear ‘hard stare’ at Marr towards end. The G E was only mentioned in the last minute by Marr. Dreadful interview. I wish Ms Sturgeon had said on education, whatever the figures you spout, here’s a curious thing, no Scottish head teacher has ever had to write to parents begging for money to buy books, unlike in Tory run England and our NHS is the best in the world, unlike England where the doctors are striking and will be in dire straits when all the EU staff leave. She was really ambushed today. I’ll never watch Marr again. It should be called like the daily Politics Show, the Theresa May Show. Only hope the English wake up to the Pravda esque BBC in 2017; the way we woke up to the BBC’s bias in 2014. I’ll say this, when we are in recession the BBC will not escape the cries of where were you to haul the Tories over the coals for their complete lack of Brexit planning. I doubt either the BBC or May are going to long survive once the English people wake up to the con and scam the Brexiteers are perpetuating on the UK

  • giyane

    Cameron lost the EU referendum and the protest vote against him has upturned UK politics. Neither strong nor stable. So Mrs May comes up with the idea of saying that this was the plan all along. So Cameron was weak and unstable and all they can think of to prop up their position is a lie about it all being a clever master plan.

    Right now I’d say Mrs May and the Tories look like a total failure. No wonder the BBC is so desperate.

  • tony_0pmoc

    It looks like I’m about to be banned from The Saker’s website too – and I am always very polite to The Russians…My last comment…

    “”This is off-topic – please take this conversation to the MFC. Mod”

    I respect The Saker and his moderators and I checked the MFC – but you did not move my comment there. You left it here. So a day later I replied to a reply here.

    You then edited what I wrote.

    I would never do that.

    Why didn’t you move what I wrote or simply delete it?


  • Glenn

    Great stuff as usual Craig, In the same interview Marr similarly failed to pull Farron up on more blatant lies used to justify the Libyan intervention namely that Benghazi was about to be wiped out in a massacre. Despite Marr referring to the foreign affairs committee report branding the Libyan outcome a mess he failed to debunk Farron’s ‘there was an imminent massacre’ justification which was also exposed by the same committee to be false. As a journalist Marr is as much use as an ashtray in a wind tunnel

    • John Spencer-Davis

      I despair. The most newsworthy and memorable aspect of that report was that it demonstrated that all the fearmongering about an impending massacre in Benghazi was false and unjustified. Marr is a journalist and he is aware of the report and its contents. He should have pounced on that like a cat on a mouse. He must be really stupid.

  • Dave

    “I have given up on expecting any honesty from the media. In future, I shall only blog on this subject when pleasantly surprised by an example of fairness or ethical behaviour in the media.”

    Shame. I appreciate your calling the bastards out, even if it does make me hopping mad.

    • Ian

      True. Even if you are tired of it, Craig, the circulation of your takedowns is a useful corrective to the false narratives so clumsily deployed and repeated ad nauseam. I saw links to your explanation of the tory ‘surge’ in more than a few places, so these kind of factual correctives do make a difference.

  • Tamas Marcuis

    I grew up dealing with the Soviet news. We all congratulated ourselves for learning how to read behind the state’s version to find something real. But we lived in great ignorance of the world.
    What I can say though is the Pravda style Soviet media was a lot more sophisticated than anything here which seems transparently false. The BBC relied on a monopoly and an indoctrinate belief from the general population that they spoke the truth at all times. After all did not the BBC tell you they were the envy of the World for fairness and accuracy. Have you ever actually heard that said by anyone outside the UK? I have never said it. Because I took it as just another state controlled news broadcaster, that was only honest until it required by UK government interests to lie. The honesty was the jam that disguised the poisonous lies.

    • K Crosby

      In the 70s, TradBBC did a series called “Propaganda with facts” but it’s unobtainable now….

  • fwl

    Interesting post re Fallon & apartheid. suspect some Blairites, who had thought about jumping ship will feel sufficiently baited by media bias to stick with labour.

    • Ian

      It’s the innate superiority he exudes, the patronising, pompous statements issued from on high, as if they are irrefutable facts, the tetchy dismissal of anyone who might dare to question these bland justifications of militarism and state violence which make him particularly loathsome.

  • giyane

    “Yet I do not recall any journalist bringing up Fallon’s past as a supporter of apartheid when he continually refers to Jeremy Corbyn’s association with Gerry Adams or Martin McGuinness as support for terrorism.”

    The truth is South Africa is far enough away for honesty to have happened, guilt assigned and corrective countermeasures to have been applied. By contrast, in Northern Ireland you will never see the UK government accept responsibility for funding terrorism and false-flag operations. You will see Israel admitting it created Islamic State to secure Iraq’s oil for USUKIS sooner than you will get the UK to surrender to the truth about Ireland.

    Fallon was mistaken about apartheid and can be forgiven for his appalling stance. But if Corbyn wants power, he will never be allowed to tell you the truth that the UK created all the tension in its own back yard by itself.

    I refer to this, in my religious vocabulary, as satanic double-bind. For example, you have been abused, but you feel guilty in some way for your participation as receiver of the abuse, so you cannot condemn it until someone from outside your sphere of guilt tells you categorically that you were being abused and they were the abuser.

    In the case of Jeremy Corbyn and his historical support for Sinn Fein no deus ex machina has told us that the UK was entirely responsible for the violence and guilty as hell. As indeed it is for the violence in the whole Muslim world, from Kashmir to Kandahar, from Delhi to Damascus, from Ibraheem Khaleel to Kharthoum.
    Neither side in Northen Ireland wlll ever admit that. They have been divided and ruled, the satanic political game the UK is grand master at.

  • Tony_0pmoc

    This should really be on the previous thread, but over the last 24 hours my computer running Windows 7 has got a virus – the first time in years – so I do sympathise with all these people in The NHS running XP….but the answer is not to upgrade it..just switch to LINUX. I have been told by a mate I used to work with that MINT is really good now.

    From a Windows point of view – my symptoms are – well the virus completely disables all network communications…

    What I did to get it to work again today ..after I checked what processes were actually running. Task Manager. To open it, right-click the taskbar(its probably at the bottom of your screen) and selecting Start Task Manager and go to processes. You may need most of the windows ones.., but most of the rest you don’t really need – and one of them was screwing up my computer communications. I just did end process tree on the suspect ones – and disabled them from restarting again by press The Windows key and R at the same time. Then type in Msconfig and press return.

    Then go to Startup

    Stop them from starting again.

    This is not a permanent solution – but it worked for me. I initially suspected a hardware fault and checked all the cables and everything first – and also used another computer and mobile phone – and they worked fine so I knew it was my Windows 7 computer that had been infected.


    • RobG

      Tony, despite all your computer problems, forget all this bollocks (if you run Windows you’ve got all this crap anyway).

      Let’s get back to Macron, who has mysteriously become President of France, but has no political backing whatsoever.

      You really couldn’t make this stuff up.

  • elgoldave

    Spot on Craig. Views on Fallon are accurate. The Marr programme was off the scale in focusing almost exclusively on a devolved single issue that is in hand. Other coverage on STV recognised in the round Education is doing well. And the Peston interview of FM today was more balanced. He can be incisive, and he is polite.
    Correct re newspaper articles too. Sometimes quite scurrilous.

  • Philip Dodd

    Most interesting Craig. I’m standing against Fallon at the GE, for the Green Party. I’d welcome any material like this that clarifies his positions on issues.

  • defo

    “Long term, it remains a happy fact that by pitching political choice in Scotland starkly between Toryism and Independence, there can only be one winner.”
    Yes Craig.
    Dancer !
    I came to the conclusion they weren’t the greatest of strategists when it became apparent they were going heavy on the constitutional question, even for the Locals. (you can’t lose a referendum that doesn’t occur too obvs) Equating No voter with natural Tory. Doh !
    This genie won’t go back in the bottle, and if you put a straight ‘Westminster Tory isolationist vs Holyrood in the single market Indy’ to the people of Scotland…
    Some here like to do the opposite, and equate every vote for a ‘unionist’ party as a natural No.
    Equally desperate.

    Cue whistles about swapping Westminster overlordship, for EU subjugation.

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