THE PROPAGANDA WARS TO HEAT UP? BBC CHIEF WANTS MORE MONEYJanuary 5, 2015
A regular reader here, Mr. S.D., sent me this article, and it's one of those pieces that if one doesn't really think about it a bit, and read a bit "between the lines," might be dismissed as not all that important. But I think it is a tremendously important piece for what 2015 might herald. Here's the article:
Here, in essence, is the problem, at least as far as the former BBC World Service director, Mr. Peter Horrocks, is willing to state it:
"Peter Horrocks says Russian and Chinese state-owned news channels are financially outgunning the foreign language international service of Britain's public newscaster.
"Horrocks argues that British government ministers should free up extra money for the World Service to combat Moscow-backed propaganda from the Kremlin's English and foreign language service RT, according to a report in The Guardian."
And a little later, again the same focus on "we need more money":
"'We are being financially outgunned by Russia and the Chinese, but there's no way we're being outgunned on the results [a global audience]. The role we need to play is an even-handed one. We shouldn't be pro one side or the other; we need to provide something people can trust,' Horrocks said."
The short article goes on to cite the cases of two western journalists who had "worked for RT" and then resigned:
"RT, formerly Russia Today — the Kremlin's well-funded foreign-language satellite channel — is expanding across the world. It recently announced the opening of a dedicated London bureau and is recruiting British journalists who can expect average monthly take-home pay of £4,300 ($6,720), according to Sarah Firth, the British reporter for RT who resigned in July disgusted with slanted coverage of the downing of Malaysian Flight MH17 in a suspected rocket attack over Ukraine. Firth said she was sick of being used as a propaganda tool for Putin.
"American anchor Liz Wahl, whose on-air resignation as Russia Today's Washington correspondent in March is now a YouTube hit, says RT understands it cannot reach the audiences of CNN or Fox News, but channel chiefs focus on "getting the message out."
"'Stories must conform to a basic principle: Make the U.S. and the West look bad. In doing so, you make Russia look better by comparison,' she said."
So what are we really looking at?
Here comes my high octane speculation (and an equally high octane prediction): first, I've long suspected that the cases of the RT resignations were a little "too convenient", and have entertained the idea that perhaps a scenario was concocted to make RT look bad. Everyone knows that RT is a propaganda organ, just as SeeBS or Faux News or Deutsche Welle or the BBC itself are propaganda organs. The real problem, if one reads a bit between the lines of Mr. Horrocks' complaint, is that the West is losing the propaganda war, at least among a more intelligent audience. And the Ukrainian fiasco was a crucial catalyst in speeding up the increasing cynicism and loss of trust in the West against the political and media elites: there is no easy way to "spin" the fact that a legitimate government was simply overthrown by a series of well-executed covert ops that installed what for all intentions and purposes is an even more corrupt government in Kiev, with very murky links to Fascist groups.
Enter RT. If you've ever watched RT over a prolonged period of time, two things will become evident (1) it is self-evidently a propaganda organ, but a very good one. Contrast it to the fanfare--blaring ham-fisted broadcasts from Radio Moscow of the Cold War and you'll get the idea of just how good it really is. Looked at a certain way, one could say that the Western media propaganda outlets, Deutsche Welle, The BBC, Radio Liberty, even (for those who can remember it), Radio Free Europe, didn't have to work all that hard nor be all that sophisticated in their presentations because Soviet propaganda at the time was so bad. In short, the Cold War made western propaganda sloppy and, over time, ineffectual, since they didn't have any real competition. (2) What makes RT so effective is that it does cover genuine news, often news ignored in the West, and does so with an aim to challenge the inherent systemic contradictions and hypocrisies in western policies and institutions.
And that's the rub, because those contradictions and hypocrisies are not going to go away, and hence, must be spun to the West's own audience. Mr. Horrocks, in this reading, is admitting, in other words, that the Western is losing its own people. The problem isn't therefore, a lack of money; the problem is that the western elite's playbook is old, well-known, and exposed, and they can't come up with anything genuinely new. The problem is simply declining faith in the responsiveness of Western elites and governments to their own people, and the declining trust that this has engendered, and RT carefully and deliberately speaks to that growing audience.
And that's why they need more money: they intend, as the article notes, to go toe-to-toe with Russia (and China), and specifically over the Ukraine issue, but they also need more money because their propaganda has to become much more sophisticated. They intend, beginning in 2015(here comes the prediction) to greatly intensify the propaganda wars against Russia and China. If they've been paying attention to RT and its growth(and they obviously have), one of the things they will do (here comes another prediction), is to restore trust in their media outlets by the admission, here and there, of the hypocrisies of western policies and institutions, while targeting their geopolitical agenda. They will of course, do nothing whatsoever to address and rectify those systemic problems in any meaningful or substantive way. So long as banksters aren't jailed, LIBOR rates continue to be fixed, derivatives of derivatives are traded, mortgage fraud is countenanced, military-industrial complexes are lavishly funded, covert operations and "regime change" to be the order of the day, then RT is going to have a field day, and the BBC is going to spend a lot of money for essentially nothing. But make no mistake, the propaganda wars are going to intensify, because both parties to it know the value of the individual human mind.
See you on the flip side.