Media Lens: The Syrian Observatory – Funded By The Foreign Office

4 June 2018 — Media Lens

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, journalist Peter Hitchens commented last month on the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR):

‘Talking of war, and Syria, many of you may have noticed frequent references in the media to a body called the “Syrian Observatory for Human Rights”, often quoted as if it is an impartial source of information about that complicated conflict, in which the British government clearly takes sides. The “Observatory” says on its website that it is “not associated or linked to any political body.”

‘To which I reply: Is Boris Johnson’s Foreign Office not a political body? Because the FO just confirmed to me that “the UK funded a project worth £194,769.60 to provide the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights with communications equipment and cameras.” That’s quite a lot, isn’t it? I love the precision of that 60p. Your taxes, impartially, at work.’

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Media Lens: WikiLeaks – The Smear And The Denial – Part 2

8 November 2010 — MEDIA LENS: Correcting for the distorted vision of the corporate media

MEDIA ALERT: WIKILEAKS – THE SMEAR AND THE DENIAL

PART 2 – THE DENIAL (Read Part 1 Here)

WikiLeaks – The Smear And The Denial – Part 2

The UK and US media smears described in Part 1 should be kept in mind when considering the gravity and importance of the latest WikiLeaks. In addition to thousands of previously unreported civilian killings, the leaks revealed more than 1,300 claims of torture by Iraqi police and military between 2005 and 2009. More than 180,000 people were detained at some point between 2004 and 2009, or one in 50 Iraqi males.

But these are only the incidents the US military knew about, or chose to know about, or chose to report; and the documents are an unknown sample of all documentation held by the US government. There are, for example, no reports from the “shock and awe” year of 2003, and none from the tens of thousands of after-attack Pentagon bombing assessments. The leaks also report no civilian deaths in major US atrocities, including the offensive that devastated Fallujah in 2004.

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Action Alert: The Washington Post Undercounts Iraq Deaths

Paper’s feature low-balls Iraqi casualties

10/27/08

The Washington Post’s weekly Saturday feature on “Iraq War Casualties” has consistently listed a “maximum count” of Iraqi civilian deaths that is dramatically lower than the likely civilian death tolls assessed through surveys of the Iraqi public.

In the most recent edition of this feature (10/25/08) which the Post has been publishing as a chart in the Saturday newspaper since August 2, the Post offers a “maximum count” of 96,719 Iraqi civilian deaths. Yet as the Post itself acknowledged in a footnote to its chart on June 15, 2007, there are studies that put the Iraqi death toll much higher: A 2006 survey by Iraqi physicians and overseen by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health estimated over 600,000 killed at the time.

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Media Lens: Propping Up Propaganda IRAQ, CLIMATE AND THE CORPORATE MEDIA’S FEAR OF THE PUBLIC

October 22, 2008

Since starting Media Lens in 2001, we have learned that corporate journalists are very often ill-equipped, or disinclined, to debate vital issues with members of the public.

In 2004, the esteemed Lancet medical journal published a study showing that 98,000 Iraqis had most likely died following the US-led invasion. John Rentoul, chief political correspondent of the Independent on Sunday, responded with sarcasm when we challenged him about his dismissal of the peer-reviewed science:

“Oh no. You have found me out. I am in fact a neocon agent in the pay of the third morpork of the teleogens of Tharg.” (Email, September 15, 2005)

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MEDIA LENS ALERT: ALL SMOKE, NO FIRE – THE NATIONAL JOURNAL SMEARS THE LANCET

January 22, 2008

MEDIA LENS: Correcting for the distorted vision of the corporate media

Last year, we described how mainstream climate sceptics had queued up to praise film-maker Martin Durkin’s now infamous documentary, The Great Global Warming Swindle. The Daily Mail, the Daily Telegraph, and their counterparts in the United States, used the film to heap scorn on the scientific consensus that climate change is a grave and rapidly evolving threat. In the event, the film itself turned out to be a swindle, one denounced by climate scientists far and wide – its media supporters quietly moved on.

A similar propaganda wave has been generated by a January 4 article in the US-based National Journal smearing the 2004 and 2006 Lancet studies on mortality in Iraq, which estimated 98,000 and 655,000 war-related deaths, respectively. Once again, distortions have been boosted through high-profile media, and through the blogosphere, to create the impression of a rational consensus. Once again, the targets are leading scientists working for some of the world’s most respected research organisations.

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Media Lens: Burying the Lancet – Part 2

6 September 2005 — Media Lens

Introduction

We learn some ugly truths when we compare the media response to Les Roberts’ report on Iraq with the response to his earlier work in Congo.

In our analysis we found that in both the US and the British press, news reports initially presented the estimates of 100,000 deaths in Iraq and 1.7 million deaths in Congo without critical comment. The difference lies in the days, weeks and months that followed. Whereas the Congo figures and methodology were accepted without challenge, the Iraq figures and methodology were subjected to steady, withering criticism by both politicians and journalists (with rare defences in comment pieces by, for example, Seumas Milne and Terry Jones in the Guardian). Continue reading

Media Lens: Burying the Lancet – Part 1

5 September 2005 — Media Lens

An Exchange Between The Independent’s Mary Dejevsky And Lancet Author Les Roberts

“It is odd that the logic of epidemiology embraced by the press every day regarding new drugs or health risks somehow changes when the mechanism of death is their armed forces.” (Les Roberts, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health)

As a test of the independence and honesty of the mass media, few tasks are more revealing than that of reporting our own government’s responsibility for the killing of innocents abroad. In an age of ’converged’ political parties and globalised corporate influence, few establishment groups have any interest in seeing such horrors exposed, while many have much to lose. Corporate journalists are therefore subject to two very real, competing pressures:

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Weasel words by the dogs of straw By William Bowles

19 November 2004

We have yet to discover the true scale of the slaughter that the US wrought on Fallujah but one thing is clear, if we rely on the British government for the numbers we’ll never know the truth. On 17 November the Foreign Office issued a response to the report in the Lancet that calculated that deaths in Iraq (excluding those in Fallujah from the current blitzkrieg and those of last April’s attack on Fallujah) were in the order of 100,000 and this number is more than likely to be on the conservative side.

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