A disturbing (but not surprising) new phenomenon has been brought to our attention recently: the emergence of new and apparently ‘independent’ media, whose journalists present themselves as being opposed to and outside of the corporate narrative, but who then go on to use whatever credentials this appearance gives them to train their fire on the few voices that really are prepared to call out the lies of the warmongering ‘mainstream’ imperialist media.
In a recent article in Proletarian, we analysed the Guardian’s vicious attack on Vanessa Beeley, Eva Bartlett and others whose work has done so much to expose the lies that are put out to ‘justify’ the unjustifiable war against Syria. (See Blunt hatchets: Guardian attempts to discredit real journalism on Syria, February 2018)
Who is behind Newsbud?
The vitriolic voices of the corporate liberal warmongers at the Guardian, Independent, Channel 4 and the BBC have recently been swelled by another, less obviously imperialist-aligned source: the apparently independent outfit Newsbud, whose tagline is ‘Where media integrity matters’, and which claims to be completely non-partisan and audience-funded. It also presents itself as being on the side of the Syrian people and government, and against the imperialist war against Syria.
A recent video entitled Syria under siege: guarding against wolves in sheep’s clothing, Newsbud’s founding editor Sibel Edmonds started by presenting the situation in Syria as one that is so complex and ‘multifaceted’ as to be impenetrable to outsiders.
Having made such banal but apparently unarguable observations as that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, she went on to talk emotionally about the fate of babies and children who are killed in war, and proceeded, with her co-presenter Spiro Skouras, to deliver an increasingly hysterical 75-minute tirade against the independent reporters Vanessa Beeley and Eva Bartlett, who, she claims, have fundamentally failed to abide by the essential standards and ethics of independent journalism, and who are guilty of the most heinous crimes and disinformation besides.
For a detailed deconstruction of the malicious content contained in the report, we recommend our readers watch Fact checking Newsbud’s ‘Syria under siege’ video by James Corbett of the Corbett Report website.
The only conclusion one can come to having watched both Corbett’s video and the Newsbud piece is that Newsbud is not at all what it pretends to be. No doubt an investigation into these investigators is overdue.
Singing from the imperialist hymnsheet
Tellingly, the main points that the Newsbud report made about Eva and Vanessa are along identical lines to those that were made in the Guardian hit-piece back in January. These include:
– That the two reporters have no journalistic qualifications and are not well versed in middle-eastern politics.
– That they spread ‘disinformation’ that harms the Syrian cause.
– That their pointing out that there are doctors in such organisations as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), etc working to support the terrorist agenda is an outrageous lie and absolutely beyond the pale. Doctors are, it is maintained by Edmonds, completely beyond reproach and are all motivated entirely by humanitarian concerns and the Hippocratic oath, and to call this into question is the most horrendous crime against journalism and human decency. (It is worth noting here that MSF was described recently by Syrian ambassador to the UN Dr Bashar al-Jaafari as a branch of the French intelligence service.)
– That they are denouncing innocent journalists online (“issuing fatwas”), and also reporting them to the authorities in Britain, the US and Syria, and asking for them to be jailed
– That they are 100 percent supportive of the Syrian government to the point of losing all credibility.
– That their funding is mysterious and dodgy, and that their claims to be self or crowd-funded are bogus.
– That they haven’t really seen what they claim to have seen, but spend their time in Syria in plush hotels in Damascus and the odd package tour and day trip.
– That they are arrogant ego-maniacs, with a personal agenda of self-promotion, who hope to get famous and make money out of the war in Syria.
– That they wrongly describe all those whom they oppose, or who oppose them, as being ‘not real Syrians’.
– That any useful work they have done was all plagiarised (a charge denied by at least one of the authors – Cory Morningstar – they are alleged to have ‘stolen’ from!)
In summation, the Newsbud team would appear to share the imperialist media’s outrage that a few independent voices have been able, through dogged work and the systematic use of social media, to bring true information to those who are keen enough to search it out, that they have exposed the imperialist lie machine and its presstitutes for what they are, and that their audience is growing as the national-liberation forces in Syria win victory after victory.
Going one step further than the hints in the Guardian hit-piece, the Newsbud report ended with an explicit call to the Syrian government to stop allowing Vanessa Beeley and Eva Bartlett into Syria, to the independent media to stop giving them a platform, and to social media outlets to ban their content, including an impassioned call for systematic censorship of social media, whether self-censorship instituted by platforms such as Facebook and Twitter or censorship imposed by governments from outside.
The video has been followed up by a concerted campaign by Sibel Edmonds on Twitter to try to get various independent media outlets to drop all connection with the two reporters, where she describes them as ‘fake activists’, ‘communists’ and embezzlers, besides hurling the most egregious of personal insults at them (all in the interests of promoting ‘ethical journalism’, of course).
Connections to communists
The report also referred to the two having received funding from the ‘Communist Party of Great Britain’. Since we assume that Ms Edmonds is referring to our party, the CPGB-ML, we wish to make it quite clear, for the record, that we do not fund and have never funded the work of either Vanessa Beeley or Eva Bartlett.
This is not because we do not think their work is worth funding, or because we would be ashamed to be connected with them. Quite the reverse. We make no secret of the fact that we consider the work they have done in smashing the narrative of the imperialist war propaganda machine to be more useful and more effective in laying the groundwork for a real anti-war movement than anything that has been done in 15 years by the Stop the War coalition (StW). Presumably, this is why StW never invites either of them to speak on its platform.
This is why we have helped to organise meetings at which they have spoken (one for Vanessa in Birmingham last year; one for Eva in London this January), and have mobilised for meetings in Bristol, Frome, London and Derry put on by other organisations. Unfortunately, since we are a small party and very low on funds, although we would have liked to have given more, the most either Vanessa or Eva received from us on each occasion was a train ticket, a meal and a bed for the night.
We make this clear not because we feel there would be anything wrong in our funding their work to a greater extent, but to illustrate how the “triple fact-checking” Sibel and her colleagues go about their business. We have no idea who informed her that we were funding Vanessa and Eva, but it was not a member of our party’s leadership, none of whom has been contacted to verify the claim.
No doubt such claims are also meant to discourage people from paying any attention to the testimony of Vanessa or Eva on the basis that if they receive funding from or associate in any way with communists, anything they have to say must necessarily be suspect. This is a well-worn bourgeois trope that doesn’t need dissecting in this article, except to note in passing that affiliation to the bourgeois Labour party, with the blood of millions on its hands, is never used in this way by such anti-communists.
A plea for censorship and repression
Accusing Vanessa and Eva of being “fake activists” and of conducting “vicious violent and malicious operations”, Edmonds goes on to call on “you the people, who value human decency”, and ends her report by making an impassioned plea for action to be taken against the “dangerous duo”:
“Any of you who is against online violence, profanity and terrorising, take it upon yourself to make it your priority to stop this operation. Do whatever you deem appropriate, for the sake of thousands of Syrian civilians, hundreds of decent journalists and activists, whose lives have been endangered, dozens of doctors who have been facing death threats …”
As James Corbett pointed out in the video cited above: “This is a concerted 75-minute in-depth hate piece that then ends with the launching of this campaign for ‘ethical journalism’ and ‘human decency’, which so far has only been and only is a drive to get Beeley and Bartlett expunged from the internet.”
Imperialism in trouble
The Newsbud report actually illustrates the weakness of the imperialists: they are on the run in Syria and their impotent rage is showing in such crude hit-pieces as we are now witnessing. The fact that such ‘mainstream’ outlets as the Guardian are no longer sufficient to the task of destroying an opponent’s credibility speaks volumes about the increasing lack of trust of official news outlets and the growing audience for independent sources of information about the world.
The campaign against media channels such as RT and Press TV, the growing clamour for censorship of social media, and the direct attacks on reporter-activists like Vanessa Beeley and Eva Bartlett are all symptoms of this rage and of the imperialists’ fear that they are losing their hold on the minds of the workers at home.
For our part, we can only see this latest attack as a sign that Ms Beeley and Ms Bartlett, and others like them, are doing useful and effective work, and they should take it as a compliment that they are being singled out for such treatment.
As the 19th-century Russian poet Nikolay Nekrasov wrote:
I hear the sound of approbation
Not in the dulcet tones of praise,
But in the roar of irritation.