February 7, 2011

A FEW THINGS TO THINK ABOUT

I have a couple of things that I need to focus on in my private life, so to those few who do wonder why I am so uncharacteristically quiet, this would be the reason. I have, of course, noticed the revelations about Mr. Suleiman in Egypt and wish I could write something meaningful about it, other than America still hasn't learned anything, but there is so much information out the, pieced together by so many people, that I would not have anything insightful to say that hasn't been stated by them.

I also have noticed the whole pomp and circumstance in the media world about the threat by WikiLeaks to take the Guardian to court for libel.

At some point I think I shall have to sit down my former colleagues in the mainstream media and take a big book, preferably a leatherbound one, and beat some actual knowledge into their so obviously vacuum-cleaned heads. And explain the difference between libel and embarrassing somebody by revealing hitherto unknown facts. Libel is a legal measure designed to help stop the spreading of factually incorrect information, lies or incomplete information, the publication of which is designed to hurt somebody's reputation. It has nothing to do with transparency or the free flow of information, which incidentally should mean the free flow of factual information.

Considering that the Guardian has verifiably lied, so has the New York Times, I would shut up quite quickly before somebody like me starts to completely dissect each of the different accounts and point out the holes in them, not to mention the big whopping lies of Mr. Bill Keller of the Times, as in the Guardian got the cable datain October, right, Bill? Because they had that data in the second week of August, according to their own misrememberings. And yes, I know that is not a word, but what the hell, I'll use it anyway. Mr. David Leigh of the Guardian was looking at them during his vacation in August. Ooops. Lie Number One. Question is only, did the Guardian lie to you back then, Mr. Keller? Or are you lying now? You really don't want somebody to take apart your ridiculous little article, for while it may take me two or three days, even a perfunctory glance at it shows at best shoddy journalism, at worst a willingness to spin the truth in ways that would Peter Mendelsohn get a boner of Downing Street-like proportions.

But content analysis has never been the strong suit of media pundits, and never will be. Why? Because it takes time and effort, and pundits all like to hear themselves talk.

As for libel, gosh, the media would never do such a thing, right? I mean, make up stuff? Us? Why, we never! Ask Kate Winslet, then, who won her libel suit in 2009 against the Daily Mail. Ask the many celebrities (other than Gwyneth Platrow, she may give you some kind of "I am sooooo poor" crap) how many times they had to deal with libelous "journalistic pieces". And how many times they have won their court cases.

Ask why every article focuses on Assange, despite the fact that other people on the WikiLeaks side were involved. They get a mention. Once. As if they weren't even there. As if they didn't say anything in meetings like the ones described by the Guardian and the Times and Spiegel and Vanity Fair.

Ask yourself that. In this week. On this day. And on any other day. Why. And who benefits. Who benefits by making Assange the story? Is it him? I mean, really? No, it isn't. The guy couldn't keep his zipper straight and faces the possibility of a trial (not yet, though). No, the media idiots did what they always do. They turned a politically relevant story into a three-ring circus. Because they think that you - the reader - is more interested in whether Assange had shaven or how he smelled instead of truly important information, the kind WikiLeaks relased on its own during the days of the Egypt protests. Information that shows close links between Egypt's current No. 2, Omar Suleiman, with the CIA. Cables that name Suleiman the point man for the CIA's torture program. Cables that make you wonder why the hell exactly Hillary Clinton can claim that he is the right man for Egyptian change. What, Hilalry? Because he is already your bitch?

And then ask yourselves why none of the aforementioned big media outlets, not the NYT, not the Guardian and not the Spiegel were capable or willing to publish this kind of information... in November. They had all the cables. Were they not looking for relevant stuff? And by relevant I mean things that would show criminal behaviour by governments?

No. No, they weren't. They were interested in gossip. Because that is all they are good for now. Beltway or Berlin gossip. Gosh, Germany's Guido Westerwelle is a loudmouth and a moron? Oh, why I never! There were unflattering reports on Putin? Give it to me now!

Ask yourself. What was important to them.

And you will find that the "professionals" in this scenario were not working for the media.