There is no smoke without mirrors

by Frank Millard

‘Plans to’, ‘is considering’, ‘could’, ‘may’, ‘is moving towards’, ‘is likely to’, are expressions used all too freely by contemporary news media, which has introduced a misleading element of conjecture and opinion, undermining any pretence at an objective chronicling of domestic and global events.

Meanwhile, the media seems to have become collectively partisan, offering little in the way of context or balance, possibly reflecting the increasing influence of the binary nature of social media. For example, it was obsessed with icons like Princess Diana in the 1980s and 1990s, but these days by more socio-political icons such as President Zelensky who has proved one of the most successful PR successes of all time.

Zelensky has been portrayed in hagiographic terms, or as Greek hero, against the villain, Putin, whose portrayal echoes that of Emanuel Goldstein, the object of the two-minute hate, in Orwell’s, 1984.

As propaganda it is brilliant. Too many people have no idea what it is and are stirred up by inappropriate nationalist and historical references, becoming little more than a baying mob uttering phrases on social media and in public that have been provided. In this case, like the ‘four legs good, two legs bad, chant in another of Orwell’s books, Animal Farm.

Putin says his war was against Nazis, so he was likened to Hitler. Pragmatism and caution are depicted as appeasement without any historical equivalence. Propaganda can be transparent and seem almost childish, but it works and mass hysteria looks entirely rational to those affected.

Anyone questioning the narrative is condemned as an appeaser or Putin lover just in the way others have been called climate deniers or anti-vaxxers – although those so condemned are rarely anti-, or deniers as such, but just prone to healthy scepticism.

Putin’s invasion of Ukraine was unjustified, but it did not just happen without context. Worryingly, links to mainstream news articles referencing the Pandora papers, the Azov battalion, Donetsk, and what happened in 2014, have been disappearing from search engines at an alarming rate, so robbing the public of a chance to understand where we are and why our governments have been taking the stand they have.

If the West is as liberal, blameless and honest as it claims, then surely the information given to its people should be open and true, not fast resembling that available in Red China during the Cultural Revolution or in North Korea or Russia now.

I want the Government to send aid to Turkey and Syria and weapons nowhere. That does not make me an appeaser. It makes me a human being.

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