15 February 2018
On 18 December last year Gumshoe News published an article of mine on the continuing bias of the Australian mainstream media. It was suggested that this bias, which takes two major forms, was a potential threat to Australia’s national security.
The two major forms were firstly, wilful misreporting of events, as in the ongoing wars in Afghanistan, in Iraq and Syria where there is a constant misrepresentation of facts on the ground. This has potentially serious implications as Australia is involved in each of those wars, illegally as I have consistently argued, and each could easily escalate into a full-scale conflagration with two nuclear superpowers, Russia and China.
It hardly needs emphasizing that a war with our largest trading partner would be monumental stupidity on a number of levels. Notwithstanding what should be self-evidently the case, our politicians continue to make ill considered remarks that potentially damage our essential relationship with China. Similarly, there is no obvious national purpose served by the constant denigration of Russia.
It has been observed that no business ever went broke under-estimating the intelligence of the public. That could be adapted to our politicians who consistently under-estimate the intelligence of the electorate. While the latter may display periodic gullibility, when the penny does drop their reaction can be and will be devastating.
The second major failing identified is the withholding of information that the public is entitled to know. The key to effective decision-making is to have cognizance of all the relevant facts. The withholding of key information undermines the whole principle of having an informed electorate, the better able to choose whom to represent them. In the case of Australia’s involvement in the three wars mentioned above, those two fundamental flaws coalesce: we are constantly fed misinformation on the one hand, and refused relevant information on the other.
Let me demonstrate that point with a recent glaring example. One of the persistent themes of contemporary western propaganda is the constant demonization of Russia and it’s President Vladimir Putin. This demonization takes many forms and even when solid evidence emerges that the supposed origins of Russia’s alleged misbehaviour is a complete furphy, as with the so called ‘Russiagate’ which turns out in fact to be more of an ‘Intelgate’. There is now solid evidence that Russiagate was the creation of a self-serving exercise by the FBI, the Democratic National Committee, and sundry intelligence agencies. Notwithstanding these revelations, the mainstream media blithely continues as though the evidence did not exist.
Another very powerful impetus to the “Russian aggression” meme was given by the Dutch politician Halbe Zijlstra who had alleged that Putin harboured ambitions of a greater Russia that would incorporate Belarus, Ukraine, and the Baltic States, while Kazakhstan was “nice to have as well”.
Zijlstra claimed to have been at a meeting of businessmen (when Zijlstra was an executive with the Shell Oil Company) in 2006 and had overheard Putin make the alleged statement. Zijlstra announced this to a political party conference in 2016 and it was immediately adopted as true by the western media and used repeatedly ever since.
To its credit, the Dutch newspaper Volkskrant was skeptical and made further investigations. Volkskrant discovered that Zijlstra was not even present at the meeting in Russia at the relevant time.
On 13 February Zijlstra admitted to the Dutch parliament (where he held the position of Foreign Minister) that he had lied. He immediately resigned. The whole Greater Russia story fell apart as indeed it should have done when it was first advanced in 2016 and shamelessly repeated ever since.
If you were unaware of this development you could be forgiven if you relied upon Australia’s mainstream media. It did not rate a mention on either ABC or SBS News bulletins, and a Google search of The Australian, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Guardian websites turned up a blank.
It seems that we’re not entitled to know that, yet again, one of the major propaganda themes of this new cold war era had collapsed, had been based on a lie, and was totally devoid of any substance. We should not be surprised. It is entirely consistent with the mainstream media’s approach to its obligations to fully and fairly inform us of all relevant facts. This is especially true when it involves a matter of Australia’s national interest. The approach seems to be; if it doesn’t suit their geopolitical objective, then it doesn’t exist.
Far better in their view that we are distracted by the extramarital shenanigans of a country bumpkin.
*Barrister at Law and geopolitical analyst. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org