Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Jon Snow's standard, but not very constructive, dismissal of Media Lens

There's been a most illuminating set of exchanges between Jon Snow of Channel 4 News, the Editors at Media Lens and other Twitter contributors.
Media Lens had tweeted Snow to flag-up an excellent letter from regular ML contributor Ed Murray on Snow's appallingly tame interview with Hillary Clinton:
Media Lens: An uncomfortable email for @jonsnowC4 to read - which he will likely ignore or brush away. http://members5.boardhost.com/medialens/msg/1404548492.html
 Ignoring Murray's points and ML's tweet, Snow later tweeted:
Jon Snow: Media Lens: 18,000 Tweets; 14,000 followers/ JSnow 8,500 Tweets 424,000 followers:If only you were more constructive, you might help!
A direct exchange between Snow and Media Lens followed:
Media Lens: @jonsnowC4 Jon, 'You say what you like, because they like what you say.' From our alert (which has 229,577 hits) http://medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/alerts-2013/731-you-say-what-you-like-because-they-like-what-you-say.html
Jon Snow: @medialens but have you thought that perhaps they don't follow you because they don't like your hostility to ordinary hacks?
Media Lens: @jonsnowC4 The only people saying we're hostile to hacks are (some) hacks. Most readers understand we're asking reasonable questions.
Most readers seemed to agree, taking Snow to task over his boastful claim:
Robin Monotti: Very narcissistic argument @johnsnowC4 that's the kind of comment that gets us on @medialens side
Anthony Atanasio: @jonsnowC4 @medialens: Its hypocrisy, pandering, and propaganda that most of 'us' feel hostile towards. @medialens is a breath of fresh air
Seemingly realising his faux pas over journalistic 'status' and follower numbers, Snow evaded another reader's challenge:
Irk Hudson: @jonsnowC4 There's a mere handful of people in positions from which they can reach national audience; only reason for your follower numbers.
Jon Snow: @IrkHudson Irk there's a hunger for a constructive critique of mainstream journalism: if Media Lens provided it, followers might gather!
Ariel Adam: @jonsnowC4 my dogs bigger than your dog. And it ate my homework.
Jon Snow: @Ariel_ Adam And Media Lens for some reason keeps eating its own homework instead of campaigning constructively!
And here:  
James Van Wilson: @jonsnowC4 Made yourself look a bit self absorbed and without an actual point to make there Jon. Twitter equivalent of pulling rank.

Jon Snow: @jamesvanwilson It's simply that Media Lens is remorselessly negative..I cannot think of one time when they have sent a constructive Tweet!
As most contributors to this exchange, and other endorsers of Media Lens (reminder for Snow: ML consists only of its two editors and webmaster, not its followers) recognise, there could be no more non-abusive and positive project currently shining a critical light on woeful media performance.   
But what does Snow mean exactly by 'constructive'?
One only need watch Snow's interview with Clinton to see the safely-moderated version that passes for 'probing journalism'.

Is this the kind of 'constructive' approach to 'challenging' power, 'challenging' other journalists, or 'challenging' journalists on their claims to be 'challenging' power, that Snow thinks Media Lens need to adopt?

As her cosy engagements with Jeremy Paxman, Jeremy Vine and other media notables showed, you can be pretty sure that Clinton and her protectors would not have permitted Snow an interview had he posed any real threat of critically-constructive questioning.
For example, the interview includes Snow asking Clinton about the West's 'failure' to press Israel on illegal settlements. All seemingly 'constructive'. But why is US-Western 'action/inaction' actually viewed by Snow as a 'failure' - a regularly-repeated line which assumes fair, neutral and benign input?
Instead, why didn't Snow highlight America's role as a principal and criminal supporter of Israel, and specify the $3 billion a year it gifts the Israeli state to continue its brutal military Occupation? Why didn't he call out the US as a fundamental cause of the problem, and grill Clinton on her own complicit part in that 'failure'?

Where, elsewhere in the piece, was the serious indictment of US-directed murder and mayhem in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt and Syria? What of Washington's protection of terror state Saudi Arabia? 

If she so now 'regrets' supporting the invasion of Iraq, why isn't she calling for its perpetrators to be prosecuted for war crimes? Is she herself fit for public office after her willing participation in such a crime?

Where was the question on her husband's wicked sanctions policy that killed half a million children in Iraq?

And, rather than cordial nods to her becoming a grandmother, deferential citing of her book and conjecture on her presidential candidacy, where was the reminder of her infamous, inhuman line: 'We came, we saw, he died'? 
Whatever proprieties one expects of interviews, precisely none of those questions lack real constructive intent. None need be posed in abusive terms. They simply require to be put firmly and courteously to power, and held up to journalists claiming to hold power to account, as Media Lens routinely do.  
Is it lacking in constructive observation to say that in this interview, as in so many other liberal 'interrogations' of elites, Snow has not just 'failed', but is part of a deluded journalism that helps sustain the illusion of a 'constructively critical' media?  
Which, again, is simply what Media Lens is asking in its relentlessly polite tweets, alerts and other output.

Is it 'hostile' or 'negative' to ask why Snow is so unwilling to partake in constructive discussion on how power should be spoken to, and what part people like he himself play in that dialogue? Rather than trite dismissal, why doesn't he engage in evidence-based discussion of the issues?
Doesn't Jon Snow's own hostility to such engagement speak volumes about the pretensions, boundaries and self-preserving ego of liberal journalism?               

1 comment:

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Don't let the ever-so-slightly less evil become the enemy of the good, John.