Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Uncharted waters

Without the slight trace of irony in its reporting, the BBC has superseded this graphic summarising the Stockwell shooting...

with this one...

even though the old version is still available on-line, I’m still sure George Orwell would have had a good laugh.

I, myself, had a good laugh when I read this snippet from a news story today:

A police spokeswoman also refused to explain what Blair meant when he said it appeared Menezes disobeyed orders. She noted, however, that police never said Menezes had tried to vault the barriers at the Underground station or tried to run from police.

This quote gets the heart of one of the key issues that has so enragaged me about media coverage and how it has shaped peoples’ perceptions since 7/7. No, the police never officially claimed these things but they, and the government, were briefing in the background like Trojans. And all those journalists, like good little bitches, faithfully reported those briefings.

I wrote a post about this subject a while ago and the now almost entirely universal practice of reporting news without quoting sources or indicating their probable reliability. Instead of saying ‘Unofficial police sources informed us today’ or ‘My mate from the Prime Minister’s Office told me over a pint yesterday’ the press attributes all information to ‘It’.

It has emerged, it has become evident, it is looking likely, and so on.

The level of this kind of deceptive ‘reporting’ has been increasingly steadily since New Labour came to power in Britain but it has reached a kind of apogee since ‘7/7’.

And where does all of this leave us?

Those people, still thinking we live in a pre Blair, pre 1997 Britain, who believed what they were told will have a hard time rationalising this news. They’re not accustomed to the notion of people being executed on our streets, followed by blatent deceit by the police and government. Sure, it’s one thing to believe that our leaders tell the occasional whopper to cover up a bribery or sex scandal but this is much darker, nastier stuff. Like Americans, the majority of British people believe that their system is essentially a decent one and that truth and decency will always prevail.

It doesn’t.

The media is also acting a little surprised and has sensed that it might be blamed for the lies we were told. It is starting to turn on the police, particularly the Head of the Met, Ian Blair.

Even hardcore cynical bloggers I correspond with are a little adrift. For lots of good reasons we doubted the original account of the Stockwell Shooting put about by the police. We are not surprised at the revelations of the last day or so. What does surprise us is that so much of it came out so relatively quickly. Is someone playing games with us all? Was this material leaked as a distraction away from another story? Is the truth of what happened at Stockwell even nastier than the picture that’s now being painted? No-one has the faintest idea.

And what about the bombings on 7th July? The presentation of that day’s events has the same hallmarks of the Stockwell Shooting; missing surveillance tapes, disinformation circulated through unofficial briefings, inconsistencies in the official story you could drive a truck through, peculiarities in witness statements, assertions made by a Chief of Police whom no one in their right mind could trust any more, it’s all the same.

After yesterday’s leak it should be clear to even the most credulous Muppet that we cannot trust our newspapers, our government or even the people who run our police.

Where the fuck do we go from here?


InI said...

Thought you might this interesting. I wrote on July 30 and it's almost exactly as the 'leaked' docs report as having happened.

Stef said...

Yeah, I read that at the time - that must mean you are psychic as well.

Do you have any good horse racing tips?

InI said...

yes, the 3:30 at Stockwell

InI said...

Seriously though, I think your comment about where these stories originate from is also something I've written about and of course, it's all those 'off the record' comments given to journos by their 'connections' that make it so difficult to arrive at definite conclusions, but this is the entire point isn't it!

The same thing happened over the July 7 bombings with dozens of 'leaks' appearing, all containing different and often contradictory information, all designed to confuse and mislead.

Most important I think, it allows the authorities to 'adjust' subsequent accounts to 'fit the facts'. After all, the main objective is to project the government's agenda, namely to demonise Islam im order to deflect attention from a failed policy.

Sparkling said...

Journalists are no longer reporters, but more creative writers. I do love a good fiction.

Northun Munki in Oxford Circus said...

Journalists are just a bunch of cribbing ba**ards. Why bother reporting / checking facts / writing fiction if you can copy the next guys story.

I'm sure that this is a 'semi-official' leak. Designed to lessen the blow when the whole truth come out.

BTW - the Railtrack fiasco has gone a little quiet recently...