Wednesday, August 16, 2006

TRUTH MATTERS

Looking for a round-up of the mounting evidence against Green Helmet Guy and his role in staging news from Lebanon, I came across a post over at EU Referendum - Why the Left is Worried.

(WARNING: Contains graphic images on its home page, should you click through.)
Belatedly, the Left is beginning to wake up to the danger of "Qanagate". But they're too late. They haven't even begun to realise how much evidence we already have, and how much more we have stashed away, ready to publish.

So far, the issue has been mainly the province of what are termed "right-wing" bloggers – such as our very own Little Green Footballs. And, to date, the stridency from the Left (not least in the hate-mail I have been receiving) has been focused on our critique as an example of pro-Israeli bias.

Only now that the cease-fire is in place in Lebanon (sort of) have they understood the real target – the liberal (not) media and its constant diet of lies and distortions in support of its favoured causes.

...

The point is that, while we all fight our separate battles, we all have a common enemy that protects our individual enemies – a lying, corrupt, wholly inadequate media. It does not just lie on the Middle East. It lies about affairs on the Beltway, in Whitehall and Brussels, and everywhere else that its malign presence is felt. So, when we see a weakness in the fortress walls, we should not go on hacking at our own little bit. We should all pile in and put our efforts into creating a breach. That's why we, with many others, "piled in" to Qanagate.

And that's why the Left is worried.
Perhaps someone should introduce him to the MediaLens obsessives - they too are convinced that we have "a common enemy that protects our individual enemies – a lying, corrupt, wholly inadequate media." Unfortunately, I'm sure the MediaLensers would conclude that because of their actions, it is the Right and right-wing media who are worried.

I'm unconvinced that poor journalism is exclusively the preserve of the Left or the Right - there are thousands of blogs devoted to fisking incompetent journalists from both camps.

The author is correct in that most of the work exposing Reuters and co has been done by right-wing bloggers and for this they should be applauded.

For those having trouble keeping up with all the fake, fake-but-accurate and accurate-but-fake-looking photos that have been doing the rounds, photoblogger Zombie has collated some of the more compelling examples of Reuters' shoddy journalism over the past few weeks.

Returning to the EU Referendum piece, if he weren't so keen to use examples of photoshopped or staged photographs to score political points by tarring the Left with the same broad brush, the author might have made a very valid point: that there are indeed certain sections of the Left to whom the term "truth" is wholly alien.

Considering the response of some to what can only only be described as Hezbollah propaganda dressed up as reporting called to mind a passage in Ophelia Benson and Jeremy Stangroom's "Why Truth Matters", a great book I read whilst on my travels a couple of weeks ago.



On the dangers of postmodernist thinking, they write:
There is a frivolity, a lack of responsibility, an indifference to canons of coherence, logic, rationality and relevance - which are reminiscent not of the Left or progressivism, but, as Richard Wolin argues, of counter-Enlightenment and reaction.

That is not an accidental association, it is what counter-Enlightenment and reaction are all about: the rejection of reason, enquiry, logic and evidence, in favour of tradition, religion, instinct, blood and soil, The Nation, The Fatherland. That is the sort of thing that remains standing once canons of coherence and relevance are stripped away. The Left is not well-advised to discredit or undermine reason and respect for truth, because those are ultimately the only tools the Left has against the irrationalist appeals of the Right.
Quite.

Despite past form, it was therefore encouraging to see Arianna Huffington congratulating Charles Johnson on CNN's Reliable Sources for his work exposing Reuters' photoshopper Adnan Hajj.

Too often I read apologists for dubious journalism using the "Fake, but accurate" line of defence. The lack of reaction from some on the Left to modified or staged photographs from Lebanon highlights how uncritical people can be when the "evidence" fits their preconception of how Israel behaves.

And not that the Right are immune from this way of thinking - similar excuses were made when stories of banks banning piggy banks to avoid offending Muslims were doing the rounds last year.

Noone with any sense is claiming that Qana never happened or that hundreds of civilians haven't died in Lebanon over the past month. It's just that some of us prefer our news to be news, rather than CrimeWatch reconstructions.

Truth matters.

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