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The News Media Offers Wall-to-Wall Propaganda Every Day. We Only Notice When a Royal Dies
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A few lessons to be learnt from the wall-to-wall coverage of Prince Philip’s death in the British media:

1. There is absolutely no commercial reason for the media to be dedicating so much time and space to the Prince’s death. The main commercial channel, ITV, which needs eyeballs on its programmes to generate income from advertising, saw a 60 per cent drop in viewing figures after it decided to broadcast endless forelock-tugging. Audiences presumably deserted to Netflix and Youtube, where the mood of “national mourning” was not being enforced. Many viewers, particularly younger ones, have no interest in the fact that a very old man just died, even if he did have lots of titles.

The BBC, the state broadcaster, similarly ignored the wishes of its audiences, commandeering all of its many channels to manufacture and enforce the supposedly national mood of grief. That even went so far as placing banners on the CBBC channel for children encouraging them to forgo their cartoons and switch to the BBC’s main channel paying endless, contrived tributes to Philip. The resulting outpouring of anger was so great the BBC was forced to open a dedicated complaints form on its website. It then had to hurriedly remove it when the establishment threw a wobbly about viewers being given a chance to object to the BBC’s coverage.

2. The BBC is reported to have heavily invested in coverage of Philip’s death for fear that otherwise it would face a barrage of criticism from Britain’s rightwing press for demonstrating insufficient patriotism and revealing a supposed “leftwing bias”. That was what apparently happened when the BBC failed to grovel sufficiently to the royal family over the Queen Mother’s death in 2002. But if that is the case, doesn’t it simply underscore quite how vulnerable the supposedly “neutral” state broadcaster is to pressure from the rightwing billionaire owners of the establishment media?

If Rupert Murdoch and company can force the BBC into alienating and antagonising many of its own viewers with endless homilies to a royal little loved by large sections of the population, how else is the BBC’s coverage being skewed for fear of the potential backlash from corporate media tycoons? Is the fear of such repercussions also responsible for the BBC’s complicity in the recent, evidence-free smearing of a socialist Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, or the BBC’s consistent failures in reporting honestly on countries like Syria, Libya, Iraq and Venezuela – all of them in the oil-rich regions of the Middle East and Latin America that the United States and the west demand control over?

If the BBC makes its editorial decisions based on what rightwing and far-right newspaper tycoons think is good both for the country and for the world, then how is the BBC not equally rightwing?

3. The BBC is also reportedly afraid that, if it is not seen to be deferential enough to the royal family, it risks being punished by the ruling Conservative party, which regards the institution of the monarchy as sacrosanct. The BBC’s licence fee and wider funding – which need government approval – might be in jeopardy as a result.

But that is no less troubling than that the BBC is kowtowing to billionaire media magnates. Because if the ruling Conservative party can wield a stick sufficiently big to dictate to the BBC how and to what extent it covers Philip’s death, why can the government not also bully the BBC into giving it an easy ride on its failures to deal with Covid and its cronyism in awarding Covid-related contracts?

Similarly, if the BBC is quite so craven, why can the ruling party not also intimidate it into ignoring the current biggest assault on journalism: Washington’s relentless efforts to imprison for life Wikileaks founder Julian Assange after he exposed US war crimes?

And what would there be to stop Tory leader Boris Johnson from arm-twisting the BBC into ignoring the rampant racism documented in his own party and pressuring the state broadcaster instead into presenting the Labour party as riddled with antisemitism, even though figures show that Labour has less of a problem with racism than wider British society and the Tories?

And there is the rub. Because that is exactly what the BBC has been doing, serving as little more than a propaganda channel for the right.

That same fear of the ruling Conservative party might explain why the BBC keeps filling its top posts, and its most influential editorial jobs, with stalwarts of the right. Most egregiously that includes the BBC’s new chairman, Richard Sharp, who is not only one of the Tory party’s biggest donors but helped to fund a firm accused of “human warehousing” – stuffing benefit recipients into “rabbit hutch” flats – to profit from a Conservative government scheme.

It would also explain the appointment in 2013 as head of BBC news of James Harding, a Murdoch loyalist and former Times editor who vowed that he and his newspaper were unabashedly “pro-Israel”. It would explain too why Sarah Sands, editor of the unapologetically rightwing Evening Standard, was seen as suitable to serve as editor of the Radio 4’s morning news programme, Today.

4. The truth is that these factors and more have played a part in ensuring there have been only wall-to-wall tributes to Prince Philip. Corporate media is not there simply to make quick profits. Sometimes, it is seen by its billionaire owners as a loss-leader. It is there to generate a favourable political and social climate to help corporations accrete ever greater power and profits.

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Manufacturing the pretence of patriotic solidarity in a time of supposed national loss or calamity; cultivating a reverence for tradition; promoting unquestioning respect for socially constructed authority figures; reinforcing social hierarchies that normalise grossly offensive wealth disparities is exactly what establishment media is there to do.

The corporate media, from the rightwing Daily Mail to the supposedly liberal BBC and Guardian, is there to make the patently insane – mourning an entitled man most of us knew little about and what little we did know made us care even less for him – seem not only natural but obligatory. To refuse to submit to compulsory grieving, to state that Philip’s death from old age is less important than the deaths of tens of thousands of people in the UK who lost their lives early from the pandemic, is not rudeness, or heartlessness, or a lack of patriotism. It is to cling to our humanity, to prize our ability to think and feel for ourselves, and to refuse to be swept up in a carnival of hollow emotion.

And most important of all, it is to sense – however briefly – that the wall-to-wall propaganda we are being subjected to on the death of a royal may look exceptional but is in fact entirely routine. It is simply that in normal times the propaganda is better masked, wrapped in the illusion of choice and variety.

(Republished from Jonathan Cook by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: American Media, BBC, Britain 
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  1. Rahan says:

    Saw this earlier today
    https://www.cnbc.com/2021/04/11/op-ed-biden-is-securing-americas-place-in-world-with-infrastructure-plan.html
    Every bloody sentence is like from Brezhnev’s time. This is not me being hyperbolic.

    The very title:

    Op-ed: Biden is securing America’s place in the world and challenging China with his bold domestic agenda

    Then the “key points”:

    Though President Joe Biden has suffered a great deal of misfortune in his life, both personal and political, the stars have been aligned since his election.

    In Biden’s first 100 days in office, he sought to recharge America while at the same time improving U.S. odds in its escalating contest with China.

    Biden made sure no one missed the connection to China when he rolled out his infrastructure spending proposal last week week, which he called “the single largest investment in American jobs since World War II.”

    Then the article itself.
    Opening paragraph:

    It is hard to overstate the audaciousness of President Joe Biden’s first 100 days in office, which will be marked April 30. Behind it lies a presidential ambition to recharge America while at the same time improving U.S. odds in its escalating contest with China.

    Second paragraph:

    Biden’s boldness can be measured most graphically by the numbers: the $4 trillion and counting that he hopes to generate to finance an American pandemic rebound, a surge in U.S. jobs and growth, and a mountain of national infrastructure investments (defining “infrastructure” liberally)

    .
    Third paragraph:

    Never in my memory has any U.S. president so closely associated domestic investments with U.S. global standing—and now he is acting on that conviction.

    Un-freaking-believable. How North Korean can these parasites get?

    • Replies: @Wielgus
  2. The BBC has always been a propaganda organ. They regurgitated the crap pumped out by Sefton Delmer pretending it was “news”. Post war it returned to almost reliable until Margaret Thatcher decided that there would be funding cuts every time it picked up on something she didn’t like. Then it became a true government propaganda organ.

    That even went so far as placing banners on the CBBC channel for children encouraging them to forgo their cartoons and switch to the BBC’s main channel paying endless, contrived tributes to Philip.

    Cartoons, for at least 25 years, have been used to indoctrinate children. They became blatantly “woke” before the adults became targets. That is why so many of our young buy into it. The only thing the CBBC did was shift the target of the propaganda.

  3. TGD says:

    The late Christopher Hitchens who was a fierce opponent of the British monarchy chose to live in the USA. Why does Mr. Cook choose to live in northern Israel? Would he return if the monarchy were abolished?

    Also wondering if the Prince’s obituaries and tributes made mention of the fact that his 3 sisters were all married to high ranking Nazis?

    • Replies: @Art Deco
  4. Franz says:

    …why can the ruling party not also intimidate it into ignoring the current biggest assault on journalism: Washington’s relentless efforts to imprison for life Wikileaks founder Julian Assange after he exposed US war crimes?

    This is a common error all over the world: That the regimes in London, Washington, etc, are in some way free and independent of each other.

    The politicians, pundits, professors and performers all work for the same global banking concerns, mostly from the hive mind that started wherever Moses decided he had a tablet that gave orders to the whole world. They really think they own it.

    There are Israeli censors in Hollywood. Likely they rotate, and maybe do some time in UK studios too. Then Canada, Australia… you get it. The oversee the presses and the universities too. Thinking these are diverse nations with their own power structures is the showrunners greatest hit of the century so far.

  5. dimples says:

    “And there is the rub. Because that is exactly what the BBC has been doing, serving as little more than a propaganda channel for the right.”

    Mr Cook needs a better definition of right. Certainly the BBC is pro-Jew, pro-war and pro-establishment, but it cranks out climate change and diversity programming 24-7. Here’s their Chief Diversity Officer whining about the lack of diversity in a BBC TV show:

    “BBC’s Chief Diversity Officer Miranda Wayland said the lead character of the crime drama series Luther, played by actor Idris Elba, was not “black enough to be real,” because he “doesn’t have any black friends” or “eat any Caribbean food.””

    If it’s pro-Jew, pro-war and pro-establishment, and promotes the policies of the left, I’d call it neo-con.

    Frankly if a generally esteemed (by the older generation) member of the monarchy kicks the bucket at 99 after a lifetime of stupifyingly boring service, I would expect the media to cover it wall-to-wall for a few days, its a mark of respect. There’s no fake news about it, so where is the propaganda aspect?

    • Replies: @joe2.5
  6. The corporate media, from the rightwing Daily Mail to the supposedly liberal BBC and Guardian, is there to make the patently insane – mourning an entitled man most of us knew little about and what little we did know made us care even less for him – seem not only natural but obligatory.

    Not really related but..

    The marketing concept of the royals as some variety of Brand Ambassador’s to the world may be some factor in the hysteria, but generally any ‘Govt-for-profit’ eventually becomes fully controlled by the ‘true-believer’ managerial class- including the 4th estate – who no longer really see this for the maudlin, cheesy nature that it has actually devolved into.

    Probably the best marker indicating an individual or institution that can actually be trusted, is that they don’t really change or modify their behaviours or opinions based upon how much they may be ideologically aligned with a particular party, faction or viewpoint.

    For the true believer management class, the only hold that they have upon a public consisting in large part of those who no longer trust them, is to glorify and promote institutions that already failed them long ago.. but may remain essential business partners of said managerial class.

    The royals offered nothing to all the English grooming victims tossed on the heap during their self enriching rule.

  7. Similarly, if the BBC is quite so craven, why can the ruling party not also intimidate it into ignoring the current biggest assault on journalism: Washington’s relentless efforts to imprison for life Wikileaks founder Julian Assange after he exposed US war crimes?

    There was a slender reed of hope that Donald Trump might have been persuaded to pardon him, if only to drain the swamp, but that sure isn’t going to happen now.

    As for the US’s war crimes, UK fingerprints are all over those– 1917-18 and 1941-45. The Krauts and their poofter leadership were none of our concern. The Lindberghs were right.

  8. “It is there to generate a favourable political and social climate to help corporations accrete ever greater power and profits.

    Manufacturing the pretence of patriotic solidarity in a time of supposed national loss or calamity; cultivating a reverence for tradition; promoting unquestioning respect for socially constructed authority figures; reinforcing social hierarchies that normalise grossly offensive wealth disparities is exactly what establishment media is there to do.”
    Thank you – hit the nail on the head.
    Australia has also shown an obsessive commitment to celebrating the prince’s life ad nauseam ‘ on both public & commercial media.
    The thought of the Queen “popping her clogs” shortly — well it will make Phil the Greek’s death look like a classified Ad’ in a rural church’es newsletter…..

  9. Art Deco says:
    @TGD

    Also wondering if the Prince’s obituaries and tributes made mention of the fact that his 3 sisters were all married to high ranking Nazis?

    He had four sisters. All four were married in 1930 and 1931, each one married a cousin, and none of their husbands were members of the Nazi Party at that time. Two of these men joined the Nazi Party in mid-1937. These two were not ‘high ranking”; they just had membership cards (one died in the fall of 1937, so only a member for a few months). The last brother-in-law was a colonel in the SS-Waffen, based in Italy and North Africa. Not ‘high ranking” more middle management.

  10. Wielgus says:
    @Rahan

    The Pravda with Khrushchev’s portrait marks him being awarded Hero of the Soviet Union for the third time. Even Stalin only received it twice, and typically wore only one of the medals.

  11. Jiminy says:

    It’s the same here in Oz, where the ABC national broadcaster is now basically a propaganda arm of the liberal government. Chairman Morrison and his cronies cleaned out the ABC and put their own “yes “men and women into management positions there.
    We too had to endure endless hours of ,“ Phil shagged this model and had so many bastard children with that nanny.” Maybe though, to spice things up a bit, the prince should have laid in repose with his cheek out, so the great unwashed could amble up to kiss his butt. That’s what he deserved and that’s what the queen should have demanded. It’s just a shame that the black princess couldn’t show up as well.
    Of course once the next elections are over and we again have a new government, it will be out with the old and in with the new in relation to the ABC management.

  12. joe2.5 says:
    @dimples

    Mr Cook needs a better definition of right. Certainly the BBC is pro-Jew, pro-war and pro-establishment, but it cranks out climate change and diversity programming 24-7

    What has this got to do with “the left”? Climate change and “diversity” have nothing to do with the class ownership of means of production, international working class solidarity or fighting imperialist monopoly capital… In fact, they are the true-and-tried means of deviating it. The main organ of US imperialist aggression, ie the very embodiment of “the right”, the Democrat party, is all for climate change and diversity.

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