By Tim Hayward
July 22, 2017
• These past six months I have been getting to know the inter-media. They’re not formally part of mainstream, and they’re not very social, so I call them inter-media. They are like the maintenance team for the mainstream. To explain this, I’ll first say how I came to meet them.
The context of these encounters is writing posts on Syria. Doing so, I rely entirely on what others say. But the fact that we hear directly contradictory narratives provides a rare opportunity to test whose tale is the truer. Lies, whatever some bluffers and braggers may think, are infinitely harder to sustain, over time, than is the truth.
The impulse to write about Syria originated at a very specific moment, even if my curiosity had been piqued earlier by the Netflix White Helmets: Where are the fighters that are holding off the combined military might of Syria and Russia? How come they don’t mind you filming here? The moment, though, was when Eva Bartlett responded to a mainstream media critic’s question: “Sources on the ground? You don’t have them.”
And when Eva pointed out that the White Helmets were embedded with the fighters, this simply made more sense than Netflix had. But then I learned “That woman has been debunked.” (Note the way she is spoken about.)
So who by? Well, Snopes for one. Fine, but seriously? I was informed that the mainstream view was verified by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).
Here, now, was a reputable organisation that actually had doctors there on the ground risking their lives to save others under very dangerous conditions. Except, as it turned out, they did not, and so I came to write my first blog on Syria.
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I endorse particularly the call for straightforward debate on Syria, because this is what is lacking, at least across the divide.
Why is it not possible for there to be a discussion in the Western media with people like Peter Ford, or Alastair Crooke, or Tony Kevin – all of whom are like yourself, rational and dispassionate commentators with dissenting opinions?
Why can we not hear discussions with commentators from RT – like Peter Lavelle for instance – instead of merely hearing abuse of RT as a ‘Kremlin mouthpiece’? Sometimes I doubt that the ‘mainstream’ commentators have the faintest idea of what the truth is about Syria, even though it is, as you say an edifice built of lies which must be harder and harder to believe in.
But one reservation – the sort of debate we need is like that in Frome, and not like that in the pages of the Jacobin article cited above. It is a 5000 word demolition job on Hersh’s case, which relies on his source being unidentified, and resorts to generic abuse of Syria and Russia as ‘evidence’ that anything they say has no credibility.
The author’s credibility meanwhile rests on all those sources of false information that saturate Western media, from the AMC, or NGOs with baggage. I think perhaps in addition to ‘dispassionate debate’ between informed commentators we need a few attack dogs to argue live with the mainstream – like George Galloway for example. We also need people like him in the media who interview our politicians – to ask them difficult questions…
Unfortunately, in this dark world, with its perverted money system (in which money means life), the 1% and its tools and groupies make money by lying. There’s a public relations ‘industry’.
Something I’ve gotten into the habit of doing whenever finding a new website or whenever I’m buying books (sometimes, after they’re bought but better late than never), is checking on funders. The Ford Foundation eh. I just started reading John Dinges’s “The Condor Years.” I’m only a few pages in. Right away I had questions, due to having just read Douglas Valentine’s “The Pheonix Program.”
John Dinges relies heavily on official (declassified and other) for his book. So does Valentine, but Valentine makes it clear that 1. the CIA is expert at document forgeries and 2. the government alters officials documents.
Then looking at Dinges’s funders saddened and alarmed me. Ford Foundation is one. One or two others are unfamiliar to me.
Jan Oberg comments
You do not have to agree with the author to enjoy this long article which raises a series of very very important issues around media credibility.
I myself have lost quite a lot of faith in any one source after a single, short visit to Damascus and Aleppo. We have to surf and read a lot, draw from many sources and use our common sense in order to understand anything today. The mainstream media coverage of the conflicts in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya and now Syria compel us to be skeptical.