Media

Shrill Voices

Journalist Dave Fuller is concerned about the lack of context and accountability in new media outlets:

The internet is already testimony to the truth of the assertion that those with the shrillest, most extreme voices tend to set the frames of debate. The real danger for the media is that if world events contribute to yet more insecurity, the voices of extremism will get even louder.

Among those is the internet-based anti-media crowd, who are utterly secure in their views that the mainstream, liberal media itself is helping to drive us inexorably towards war and chaos. If the Iran/US standoff creates as much instability as the Iraq conflict, or September 11, then many more people will begin looking for answers, for certainty and security. The anti-media crowd offer that.

New media outlets such as Media Lens are the obvious beneficiaries of the breakdown in respect for the traditional media that the internet has unleashed, but they have none of the safeguards built into the mainstream media – they are unaccountable, both for complaints of bias, and even for basic factual checks.

As I found while examining their campaign to discredit Iraq Body Count (IBC), their theory of “unconscious bias” generally collapses when it is applied to real world events and real journalists. But this theory is essential to the Media Lens worldview, as it allows them to ignore or dismiss any “fact” in the media that questions their narrow anti-American/anti-Western version of events.

And unlike any other belief system, this dangerous and irrational anti-media worldview refuses to be tested in debate. For example, Media Lens have claimed that “we” are being “softened up” for an attack on Iran via the liberal media, muttering darkly about MI6 planting stories via the BBC. But when they were invited onto Newsnight to defend this they refused. And they continue to refuse to engage in any way that does not allow them total control of the interaction.

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