Friday, 30 October 2015

Media reporting of the Swedish neo-Nazi killer and other white extremists

Appropriately grisly subject matter for Halloween. I have written before about how the media reports of racially motivated murders when the assailant is white. Here are some more case studies:

A week ago (23rd Oct 2015) a Swedish terrorist stabbed a teacher and pupil to death while 2 others are in hospital recovering from wounds. It was deemed a neo-Nazi hate crime by the police and given little coverage by the mainstream. It has sharply fallen off the agenda since. This happened in a town where mosques were burnt down in the 90s. Imagine it was white majority churches.

How many would remember the attacker's name or even the incident itself?
How much profile does the media give acts of extremism when the perpetrator is white? Researching this article has proved a lot harder than you'd think for a story about a Nazi violence only a week old.

Some analysis of the narrative:

The terrorist motives are clearly being softened. They emphasise the killer's mask being like Star Wars character Darth Vader which is firstly inaccurate and secondly not as attention-worthy as the true intention behind the crime. This trivalises a terrible act. The mask actually represents his own perverse tribute to the Nazi storm-troopers. They also did not specify which ethnicity he targeted. Minority lives don't matter in their agenda.

 Dog-whistle site for sinister bigots, Breitbart implied the school of mainly migrants deserved attacking with this divide and conquer headline:

There is a similar narrative from Daily Beast. Another terrorist Dylann Roof, murdered 9 black people at a Charleston, SC church in another racially motivated act of terror. DB acknowledge he was a white supremacist contradicting their initial defence of him based on superficial Facebook journalism.

In the aftermath there was extensive burning of black churches which you would think would be major news. The UK TV outlets that covered the killing did not broadcast any of this. Too much truth for Middle England let alone Middle America.

Michael Brown, the black teenage police victim in the incident which sparked the Ferguson riots was even compared unfavourably to white serial killer Ted Bundy by the relatively liberal New York Times. The lengths the media go to provide this good/evil judgements contributes to a racial landscape that sees significant funds raised for the killer policeman and rallies in support of him.

The black shooter in Virginia never received such a defence from the same publication:

It seems the media pick and choose who they apologise for. How can the killer have played the 'race card' when his former employers settled out-of-court on his lawsuit, effectively acknowledgement of  his claim of discrimination.

Based on such evidence, it is hard to defend Daily Beast against accusations of racism in the reporting of killers. There is growing evidence that this exists at multiple media organisations, including unsurprisingly Fox News but even the liberal news outlets mentioned. Tim McVeigh was afforded this measured humanising piece from the Washington Post in 1995. How many of us even know who Tim McVeigh was? The only terrorist who saw proper US judicial process after killing 168 people including 19 children.

Even the justice system seems to have a problem. This is the shocking case of a US cop who executed a black man and was given immunity.

The Huffington Post do a brilliant synopsis of the whole issue:

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Thursday, 15 October 2015

The establishment groupthink at the heart of the BBC

Print journalism was famously called 'the Fourth Estate', a remark attributed to MP Edmund Burke at the 1787 introduction of press reporting in parliament. He was emphasising the importance of holding government to account with complete independence - unlike the 3 other estates of the time (the Commons and two Lords).

The following highlights the conflict of interests within the supposedly culturally diverse BBC undermining Edmund' Burke's tenet of democracy in the contemporary media landscape. 

James Harding, Head of BBC News

  • Went to same independent school as George Osborne.
  • Went to Cambridge.
  • Worked as a financial journalist.
  • Worked at The Times owned by Rupert Murdoch.
  • During his time at the paper he had to apologise for withholding information to the High Court during the Leveson inquiry.

Laura Kuenssberg BBC political editor

  • From a well-connected family. Relatives include the last Governor-General of colonial Nigeria, a High Court Judge and the founder/president of the Royal College of GPs.
  • Worked at ITV

James Landale, BBC News Deputy Political Editor

James Landale in David Cameron's kitchen
  • Went to Eton with David Cameron.
  • Worked at The Times.

Andrew Neil, presenter on the BBC Daily Politics

David Cameron and Andrew Neil
 Andrew Neil with David Cameron, Grant Shapps and Spectator editor Fraser Nelson
  • Tutored by Vince Cable during his University of Glasgow days, who he would later interview many times.
  • During university was a member of the Conservative Club.
  • Worked for Rupert Murdoch as Sky's chief mover in the early days.
  • Worked at the right-wing free market Economist and right-wing Sunday Times.

Andrew Marr BBC Marr Show presenter and ex-Political Editor
  • Married to Jackie Ashley from another mostly establishment media org The Guardian and daughter of a Labour life peer. Life peers are a thing that exists in 21st century Britain
  • Made use of a High Court super-injunction to prevent the media reporting the truth, nevertheless he continues to be regarded highly as a journalist in mainstream circles.
  • In April 2003 made the report below celebrating  Blair's illegal Iraq invasion.

Allegra Stratton, BBC Newsnight reporter
  • Cambridge alumnus
  • Married to James Forsyth political editor of the right-wing The Spectator magazine owned by tax exiles the Barclays Brothers, who also own the right-wing Daily Telegraph

Nick Robinson ex-Political Editor 2005-2015, now at BBC Radio 4 Today show
  • Founder member of Macclesfield Young Conservatives
  • ex-Cheshire Young Conservative Chairman
  • Former Young Conservative National Advisory Committee member
  • As a student he was President of the Oxford University Conservative Association

The BBC Board of Trustees

Rona Fairhead, Chairman of Trust

Rona Fairhead being questioned about financial irregularities
  • Cambridge alumnus
  • Also works for HSBC and PepsiCo
  • Declines to answer questions about Swiss banking irregularities.
  • Admitted failings when her bank received a fine for money-laundering 
  • Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for 'services to industry'

Roger Carr, Vice Chair

  • Worked in the City
  • Business background at Thames Water, arms company BAE systems & energy giant Centrica
  • Knighted

What does this mean for any public interest issue that challenges the weaknesses in their inevitable consensus. It doesn't have to be conspiracy for decision-making to be influenced by mostly privileged backgrounds. All homogeneity by definition has blind-spots.

Would James Harding ever take aim at his powerful old boss about his bigotry or non-dom status?
Would Allegra Stratton ever scrutinise on the financial matters of the Barclays Brothers?
Would Rona Fairhead ever green-light an investigative series on the workings of HSBC, a bank that has already proven to be corrupt and a major part of our economy?

The names are inter-changeable, the outcomes similar.

Below is some background to journalists at The Times I published previously here

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