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Puppets and liars and the myth of the non-existent camera

There have already been a couple of Samizdata quotes of the day, the first officially labelled thus, and the second an SQOTD in all but title. Had there been no such copying and pasting postings so far today, then I would have put up a quote from this (“MSM sacrifices itself for Hezbollah”), such as, for instance, this:

The MSM usually claims that it is better than the blogosphere because it can filter and detect fraud. The Lebanon conflict shows that claim to be a flat out lie. The MSM may possibly speak truth to power but it seems keen to speak falsehood to the rest of us and to support the terrorists. I assume MSM support of the terrorists is based on the idea that idividual journalists may die or lose access to “scoops” unless they uncritically regurgitate terrorist propaganda, whereas they see no downside to criticising Israel or the USA becuase these countries have a tradition of press freedom. Unfortunately that analysis seems to be at the usual level of MSM strategic thought – poor. In the short term they are correct. In the long term they are as wrong as it is possible to be. Aside from state supported outlets such as the BBC the MSM depends on advertising revenue to survive and that revenue is roughly proportional to the audience size. If the MSM are shown to be puppets and liars then they will lose audience (which they are) and hence lose money. Eventually they will be out of a job. And even the BBC will feel the chill wind of financial cuts if it loses credibility – there is no reason to assume that the next UK government will not force the BBC to wean itself from the license fee and even less reason to assume that once weaned it will not see a drastic downsizing.

Meryl Yourish thinks this means that the terrorists are winning the propaganda war, to me it seems more likely that they are helping the MSM destroy itself. It really seems to me that Lebanon is going to be the place where the MSM collectively martyred itself, fighting for the cause of an Iranian backed terror group that seeks the utter destruction of Israel and the imposition of Sharia law and press censorship that would be antithetical to the MSM itself.

My thanks to Nigel Sedgwick (who urls himself as something to do with this) who flagged up this piece in a comment on this posting here yesterday. For me, one of the the biggest bullshit pretence who-the-fuck-do-they-think-they’re-kidding come-off-it-sunshine lie that the blogosphere and related social media are finally nailing now is the Myth of the Non-Existent Camera. Time and time again, on the telly (and it is just as ridiculous with documentaries about lone travellers intrepidly trudging through deserts and forests, accompanied by nobody and nothing . . . other than several vanloads of camera people and helicopter drivers and helicopter chartering experts, as it is with news gatherers and news creators), you see what looks like a certain particular thing. But it is actually, if you give this certain particular thing a further moment’s thought, something quite different, namely that one thing, plus all the palaver involved in that one thing being filmed or being photographed.

The MSM collude with one another to deny this, by deftly editing out any sight of the cameramen. It’s part of their professional ethos. Yet the presence of cameras profoundly impinges upon the events themselves, often completely altering the behaviour of those being photoed, and giving local power-seekers something to perform in front of, often in a deeply misleading or outright mendacious way. All this is now coming out, thanks to the blogosphere, and no thanks to the MSM to whom it is all a terrible embarrassment. Us, the story? Perish the thought. We don’t do navel gazing. Reality is reality, and we just photo it, is their line. We just, you know, heard about it and happened to be there. Sometimes, no doubt, this is exactly how it is. But anyone who has watched these processes close-up, or better, been part of such processes, knows that when they photograph it they are at least liable to change it, and that often it goes far beyond a mere bit of alteration, the reality being that the ‘reality’ they are photo-ing is a lie, told either by some local, or by the MSM themselves.

I had my first close-up look at this kind of thing when I was an architecture undergraduate at Cambridge University in the early seventies. I and a gang of lefty acquaintances (one of them was an fellow architect) were sitting around doing nothing in a lefty mate’s room. Suddenly, a dwarfish individual who identified himself as a cameraman working for The Daily Telegraph popped his head round the door and told the assembled throng that the notorious Enoch Powell was visiting Cambridge that afternoon, and that he had been sent to Cambridge to photograph the resulting riot. So, please would they oblige with a riot.

He got his photos. In a sense these photos were accurate. He didn’t doctor them or anything. But they were also a complete lie. The lefty rioters did not organise the riot, the way the photos said. The photographer organised the riot. He was the ringleader. But try writing a letter to the editor of the Telegraph about a thing like that. Forget it. If there had been blogs then, I would have been a blogger then and I would have been all over this. And if I had had a digital camera then, I would have photographed the photographer, and nailed him for the liar that he was. Or so I like to think. Now, this is what is actually happening.

Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop, which is the great comic novel about the lying, manipulative intrusiveness of the foreign correspondent industry, is now being written and published in real time.

5 comments to Puppets and liars and the myth of the non-existent camera

  • Steven Wood

    For info – hizbollah do not claim anywhere that they wish for the utter destruction of Israel. It’s not true. The only place you will find that comment attributed to hizbollah is on the ICT website, hardly the most objective place on the web.

    Hizbollah are in fact hostle to the groups the western media constantly try and lump them in with i.e. al-quaeda, and they condem many of their actions like the kidnapping of journalists etc, don’t see this reported anywhere though.

  • RAB

    Well how fucking big minded of them!!!

    Now- about these hundreds of rockets raining down on Israel? they contain nothing more sinister than leaflets inviting their beloved neighbours to a Haj party do they?

  • Steven Wood

    Thanks for that comment, and I think your point adds to my take, rather than subtracting from it. Hizb Allah don’t kidnap journos, and are critical of other groups which do and which recommend this. It figures and it fits. They are busy conning them and/or colluding with journos to fabricate or bend news stories. The last thing they’d want to do is antagonise them.

    And it also fits that the MSM would NOT mention this, because that would again put them and their pivotal role in these kinds of conflicts in the spotlight, and that they do not want to do.

    As for big hearted, I just reckon Hizb Allah have a sensible one-enemy-at-a-time strategy. Destroy the immediate enemy, while making nice with all the others, until it’s their turn. I’ve always regarded Al Qaeda as strategic buffoons, hell bent on uniting all their enemies against them. And against Hizb Allah, which Hizb Allah find very aggravating, I’m sure.

    However, I do lump Hizb Allah in with Al Qaeda. They both want the same thing. Hizb Allah are just somewhat smarter. I can quite see that they wouldn’t want people doing that, and that this makes them angry. As the bewhiskered Serjeant in It Ain’t Half Hot Mum used to say: Oh dear, how tragic.

  • emil

    Steven Wood – for YOUR info

    Speaking at a graduation ceremony in Haret Hreik, Nasrallah announced on October 22, 2002: “if they [Jews] all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.” [Lebanon Daily Star – 2002]

    A Hezbollah statement in 1992 vowed, “It is an open war until the elimination of Israel and until the death of the last Jew on earth.” [New York Sun – 2005]

    In an interview with the Washington Post, Nasrallah said “I am against any reconciliation with Israel. I do not even recognize the presence of a state that is called ‘Israel’. I consider its presence both unjust and unlawful. That is why if Lebanon concludes a peace agreement with Israel and brings that accord to the Parliament our deputies will reject it; Hezbollah refuses any conciliation with Israel in principle.”
    [Washington Post – 2000]

  • Steven Wood

    Glad to see at least one person can react to the news that not every arab group who takes up arms wants to destroy the western world starting with israel. There are many quotes from nasrallah also claiming that their rockets were for defensive use, it’s certainly difficult to see what miitary purpose they still serve other than to get the israelis to pound lebabnon and help hizb. recruit a few more volunteers. Anyway – my point is that any arab group is – by tony blair and bush – instantly dismissed as fundamentalist and evil and unable to be negotiotated with. A group founded to resist the occupation of lebabnon is labelled a boil that had to be lanced. Hizb. founding statement mentions nothing about islamic statehood, infact it states that the lebanese could choose the govt. they wanted. You wouldn’t know that now though..

    Although it’s been said many times before, it took a bit of bravery in my country (the UK) to actually sit down with and talk to the IRA, even though they are/were murdering terrorists.