The great English poet and critic Samuel Johnson wrote that ‘Among the calamities of war may be jointly numbered the diminution of the love of the truth, by the falsehoods which interest dictates.’
In a roundabout way, that sums up our national media’s coverage of the NATO assault on Libya. Out of the window go balance and debate.
I’ve seen little outright condemnation apart from official Libyan spokesmen who are treated as hostile witnesses in a one-sided moral cause.
There has been little recognition of how many ordinary people back Britain’s involvement.
Words no longer mean what they say. ‘No Fly Zone’ means firing missiles at Gaddafi’s forces for what is called ‘regime change’. ‘Collateral damage’ means killing civilians despite mind-boggling denials that our missiles have not killed a single civilian.
Rather, the media are goading on the belligerent Western forces through propaganda designed to excite the public and whet their appetite for more of what is to come.
This is the same diet they fed us in the run-up to the war in Iraq. It was the journalist John Pilger who once said that journalists bear a moral responsibility for the way they report news and sell it to the public.
What a change from the way the Establishment and reactionary media reported the London demo against the cuts.
Attended by more than 500,000 people, this was the biggest protest march in decades and possibly the most all-embracing ever. Yet when I went for my Sunday paper, I found that only one out of the 10 on display mentioned the march on the front page.
A demonstration of this size in Cairo or Tripoli would have been hailed as mass support for regime change. Some reporters branded it a ‘rentamob’. Boris Johnson, well known to Portsmouth folk, called it Labour’s ‘master plan... to get a load of aggressive crusties and lefties to attack the Ritz.’
It isn’t just Libya and demos. We have been fed lies about the nuclear damage being done in Japan and now spreading round the world. Truth is certainly the first casualty of war and crisis.