One of the results of the current partisanship and ideological motivation of the mainstream media is that the old journalistic skills of objective research and basing articles on evidence have largely disappeared. In many cases, journalists have just become stenographers faithfully parroting and quoting think tanks and anonymous political or intelligence officials without any checking.
Maybe there are objective reasons for this. The rise of digital media and the wider variety of information sources means the classical mainstream media can no longer afford proper journalism. But there are also the current geopolitical divisions which pressure the mainstream media to disseminate only approved narratives and to actively attempt to discredit the alternative narratives. All without any checking of the claims made in the narrative or used to support the narrative.
But there are some good journalists around. Journalists who do their own research, fact-check claims, use evidence and resist the political and ideological pressure to suppress information. Aaron Maté is a good example. His research and reporting on subjects like the Syrian war, the US “Russiagate” scandal, politically motivated and misleading reports by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and coverup of their exposure, and the long-running conflict in Ukraine have been outstanding.
The video above shows how a Guardian reporter attempted to smear Maté by citing an evidence-free report from the US state-funded Institute for Strategic Dialogue and the Syria Campaign claiming he is “the most prolific spreader of disinformation” about Syria. The video includes Maté’s phone call to the Guardian reporter where he asked for evidence to support the claim – and an explanation for why he was not contacted for a comment to be included in the article. The reporter’s refusal to engage in the discussion and the very weak response of the Guardian illustrate how some media outlets are happy to indulge in smearing real journalists doing real investigations work and feel that they can simply report their own biases or opinions as if they are facts.
Readers must approach the media critically and sensibly
I have always urged readers to take a critical approach to the media, to all media (including alternative or independent media), to do their own fact-checking, attempt to find alternative sources and always look for the evidence rather than accept unsubstantiated claims (or claims substantiated by “anonymous sources” – as is the current fashion). I am sad to see how otherwise intelligent media will simply uncritically accept media claims, including media smears like that of the Guardian. Or how they uncritically reject other media reports without any attempt at checking.
Unfortunately, confirmation bias, rather than evidence, seems to determine the approach of most people to the media.