How and why the media should bolster democracy

There can be few figures in Irish politics north and south who’ve attracted the opprobrium that the Republic’s Justice Minister, Michael McDowell routinely endures from both his political rivals and the media in general. This week he has mostly been taking flak over his Nazi propaganda remarks about Fine Gael’s Richard Bruton. Earlier he was picked out and accused by Phil Flynn of blackening Flynn’s name. His tough line on immigration and his very public ruck with Frank Connolly have made something of a hate figure primarily amongst those on the left of Irish politics. Although at least one blogger has a crush on him. But recently he gave a fascinating talk that revealed some classically liberal values at the core of his thinking.McDowell can have an intimidating presence. Something reminscent of an African chief, he is large both in physical and intellectual stature. Judging by early reactions to his RTE/UCD Lecture on Broadcasting Society and the Law, he can cast a shadow over sections of the Irish media as well as his political rivals.

The lecture itself is well worth re-visiting. In it he draws heavily on the work of British journalist, John Lloyd, whose essay What the media are doing to our politics, has led to a vigorous debate on the role of the media in a democracy in Britain. The pointed question McDowell asks is: where is the Irish John Lloyd?

And finally:

Indeed even the most serious discussion on the Irish media has tended to focus on media ownership and the allegedly nefarious nature of proprietorial influence. Too often this gets further reduced to a black hat/white hat game of heroes and villains.

This is something McDowell takes on board in his lecture:

In a prosperous Ireland with a growing population, Irish editions of British newspapers are engaged in a proxy circulation war. Their editors are engaged in “hand to hand” fighting for Irish readers as never before. In terms of choice of paper, the Irish newspaper reader has never had it so good. Whether that can be said about choice of quality newspaper content is highly questionable. Indeed recent developments have evoked distinctly audible murmurings about circulation wars leading to “a race to the bottom” in terms of standards.

He notes that the sometimes traumatic changes currently being faced by the media do not threaten them with extinction, but, that “the relationship between society and the media [is] changing very rapidly”. He then turns his attention to agenda setting journalism and the at times none-too-subtle encroachment into the political space:

There are signs that a minority of journalists and programme makers have decided they want to be political players – that their legal obligations of impartiality and objectivity are boring, outdated, style-cramping counsels of perfection. There are signs that some of them want to be agenda setters. There are signs that some feel that they are better at choosing the battlefields for elected politicians than are those politicians themselves.

These signs are by no means universal – perhaps not even general. And I do not want to exaggerate them for effect. I believe that in general our public service broadcasters are delivering in accordance with their vocation and the law. But it would be idle to ignore the signs to the contrary.

Of course it is tempting to become part of the story. Of course it is tempting to drive the story onto centre stage. Of course it is tempting to hype up the story. Of course, it is tempting to dumb down the story or to de-complicate it for effect. There is a human desire to make, rather than report, history. It is a desire that public sector broadcasters should recognise and resist. If you are a public sector broadcast journalist, you are a different beast; you are not as free as a print journalist to succumb to these temptations. Nor is your editor free to ask you or encourage you to do so.

I believe that public service broadcast journalism is and should remain the most effective defence against over-weaning media power transforming our democracy into a “mediocracy” with all that is entailed in such a transformation. The ultimate question I pose for your consideration is this: “What form of public service broadcasting journalism serves the common good in the long term?”

Along the way he quotes from the end of Lloyd’s essay on the felt relationship between a free press and elected politicians:

Representative democracy and discursive politics are everywhere under pressure. Most media, and many new political movements, implicitly or explicitly prefer some form of plebiscite – through polls, or mass rallies, or audience figures – to the voting of representatives. It is clear from 20th century history to what dangers that leads. The strength of the British state, as of many others, has long been the ability of elected representatives to make the judgments and effect the compromises necessary to relatively peaceful, relatively prosperous, relatively equable and civilized life. The media have been the beneficiaries of that: time, now, to take a more active hand in its protection.

Can we imagine a journalism which is civic? One which defies its own natural instincts to make celebrities of itself; which acts as an adjunct to activity and reflection; which presents to its audience first drafts of history which are absorbing and subtle, strong on narrative but attentive to the complexity and context of every story; which is not struggling with political power, but struggling together with that power’s best instincts to make the contemporary world at once comprehensible and open to the participation of its citizens. If we can imagine it, we should be able to create it”.

That this message comes from the Minister of Justice, and not from within Irish journalism itself, is a poor reflection on the maturity of the debate in Ireland north and south.

,

  • mark

    Mick,

    Do you see this speech from McDowell as important or challenging?

    It seems like a clear attack from a minister under pressure. He is accusing the media of being political by highlighting certain areas.

    Mr McDowell seems to bluntly say, he knows better and the media would be better off reporting the issues he and other politicians (some politicians, the government ones) think are important.

    Are you trying to highlight how he deals with the media focusing on a series of his blunders recently?

  • Mick Fealty

    Mark,

    That’s certainly one of the interpretations I’ve deliberately linked to. But to a degree I was attempting to highlight the contrast between the way his character is widely portrayed in the media and the text of his actual argument. I’m not so interested in speculating about his reasons for citing it.

    There hasn’t been much in the way of self critiquing within the Irish media. Any regular reader of Slugger will have seen that even here, most of it focuses on issues of individual ownership. Like I say above, “that this message comes from the Minister of Justice, and not from within Irish journalism itself, is a poor reflection on the maturity of the debate in Ireland north and south”.

    It would be much more useful for the debate had this level of critique come from within the media itself. That it hasn’t is not the Minister’s fault. And he doesn’t pretend that he’s the one who can prosecute it further.

    Is it an attack? Well John Lloyd’s view (which is clearly central to the piece) is based on the belief that the public ownership of the BBC places it’s journalists outside commercial pressures and, as such, in an unique position to provide an exposition of classically good journalism.

    Being a journalist, Lloyd has much greater scope for delving into specific arguments than McDowell as a politician has. For instance, he opens with Andrew Gilligan’s early morning accusation on BBC Radio 4 that Blair’s dossier mention of Sadam’s capacity to get weapons of mass destruction together in 45 minutes was a lie, was simply a case of sensationalist editorialising taking the place of honest journalism.

    Interestingly Lloyd observes that the major problem with Gilligan’s approach, is that in his rush to judgement he may have pulled a vital thread too quickly, and thus our capacity to follow the real story was snapped off – the opportunity gone.

    But the meat in the thesis is precisely what McDowell has picked up:

    Journalists confuse being subservient to politicians (which no free media can allow themselves to be) with being subservient to democratic politics. The media have claimed the right to judge and condemn; more, they have decided – without being very clear about the decision [my italics] – that politics is a dirty game, played by devious people who tell an essentially false narrative about the world and thus deceive the British people.

    So is it a desperate attack? Well it seems rather too intellectually competent to smack of desperation. I’m also not sure what obvious pressure he may have been under when he gave the address in early February.

    The real question is: does it hang together, and does it make sense? And if so, when is journalism going to get its act together and start holding politicians to account for what they do (and plan to do) rather what we suspect they might be up to?

  • Pete Baker

    A couple of quick thoughts on this, Mick..

    It would be much more useful for the debate had this level of critique come from within the media itself.

    Indeed it would, and the fact that it didn’t reinforces the thrust of the argument by the Minister.

    But, “The real question is: does it hang together, and does it make sense? And if so, when is journalism going to get its act together and start holding politicians to account for what they do (and plan to do) rather what we suspect they might be up to?”

    Does it make sense? In an abstract way yes.. but no-one, except perhaps John Lloyd, lives in an abstract world.

    The idea that a journalism..

    “.. which defies its own natural instincts to make celebrities of itself; which acts as an adjunct to activity and reflection; which presents to its audience first drafts of history which are absorbing and subtle, strong on narrative but attentive to the complexity and context of every story; which is not struggling with political power, but struggling together with that power’s best instincts to make the contemporary world at once comprehensible and open to the participation of its citizens.”

    .. may appeal to the abstract notion of an ideal world.. but it’s not grounded in the real world. Indeed it seems, from the extracts, to be embedded only in the idea of public service broadcast. That’s not the sole, nor any longer dominant, arena any more.

    Then there’s the argument that the idealism John Lloyd appears to seek a return to never actually existed.

    In short, speaking truth to power should not, by definition, involve helping that power disseminate its own message.

  • Mick Fealty

    You’ve got me with this one Pete:

    “In short, speaking truth to power should not, by definition, involve helping that power disseminate its own message”.

    I’m with you, if you insert the word ‘uncritically’. But journalists are obliged to serve the over riding purposes of democracy, surely? A vote every five years is not perfect, but its beats spurious moral authority of the circulation figures.

    I must admit, I didn’t have Lloyd down as a Platonist. The entirely proper ambition of getting at the truth (whether it serves your aims or not) is an imperative not an absolute requirement – ie it should frame your efforts, even if it is impossible to get there.

    Just picked out another good quote from Lloyd. It’s from the American essayist, Adam Gopnik who notes how media relations with politicians have changed over the last four decades, “from dining with politicians to dining on them” and and another that covers a lot of Irish journalistic output, “spleen without purpose” (ever counted how many times the word “fury” pops up in an average week?).

  • Robert

    Mick Fealty wrote:

    “But recently he (McDowell) gave a fascinating talk that revealed some classically liberal values at the core of his thinking.”

    We judge people by how their actions support their words. In McDowell’s case it’s clear he is no respecter of dialogue and open discussion. He abuses those with whom he disagrees, to a point where it seems his belief is that there ought not to be any alternative opinions at all. This is the total antithesis of the classical liberal position.

    His quick resort to Nazi jibes has a history. It’s part of the McDowell pattern of smear. The real immaturity in Irish political debate is that no one pulled him up when first he came for Sinn Fein….

  • mark

    Mick,

    You seem to be alluding to McDowell starting some long over due debate on the relationship between the media and politics in Ireland (something he ignores when other parties/people are on the receiving end or raising the topic) but his comments cannot be isolated from the political context.

    McDowell is currently under huge media pressure over failings within his department and ill judged invective.

    He is also about to launch new proposals on defamation, privacy and a press council.

    In my view his speech doesn’t indicate any ‘liberalism’ but is scene setting for a legislative battle he faces in a climate were the media is increasingly highlighting his failings pre-election.

    If he had initiated the debate when he wasn’t about to legislate on the media I’d be more inclined to believe his comments were honest and heartfelt, as it is he is appears to be trying to ensure safe passage for laws that allow the government to have a larger element of direction over the press and silence it more easily.

    This seems cynically timed and entirely political. The debate is overdue but McDowell wants to have it in a context that benefits his political agenda and would seem guilty of what he accuses the press – scene setting for self interest.

  • Mick Fealty

    I’m sure current context is important. I’ve no wish to stifle any reference to context. But text is also important. If we wilfully ignore what a politician actually says, in favour of a poor (or even good) reading of his supposed motivation for saying something, we are eminently in danger of getting back into ‘Don’t listen to him, he’s a bollix‘ territory that so plagues the discussion of anything vaguely abstract in Irish politics. In effect it becomes a habitual supplanting of substance for personality.

    Robert,

    Someone, no actually several people, noted on this site that the Nazi slur may have been a way of stirring up media interest to distract them from problems surrounding A and E problems in the Republic’s Health Service. I’ve no way of knowing whether that is true or not.

    But the irony is that the kind of journalism advocated by McDowell would circumvent a politician’s capacity to manipulate a media more intent on following personal fortunes than cutting into the reality of what politicians and political parties are actually up to.

    As for ‘coming for Sinn Fein’, I’m not sure what you mean? Can you be more specific?

  • mick de dublin anarchist

    Translation: The state media should be the mouthpiece of the government.

    Absolutely nothing else to it that isn’t just rhetoric.

  • Robert

    Mick Fealty wrote:

    “Someone, no actually several people, noted on this site that the Nazi slur may have been a way of stirring up media interest to distract them from problems surrounding A and E problems in the Republic’s Health Service. I’ve no way of knowing whether that is true or not.”

    Indeed. That’s why context is so important. And the context here is that McDowell has a history of easy resort to Nazi and associated jibes, for want of a better argument when he comes under criticism. Those aren’t the actions of someone with a great deal of respect for free and open discourse. A respecter of alternative opinions and views.

    He had a go at RTE Prime Time. He called the Irish Examiner, Pravda. He similarly attacked Daily Ireland before they’d even published one word. Himself and his colleagues also attacked CPI, another source of potential scrutiny. There’s quite a lot of history there, before you start giving him the benefit of implausible doubts.

    Additionally he succeeded in focussing attention on his very dubious Garda proposals. And he’d be unlikely to do that consciously in the manner you’ve suggested above, even to spare Harney’s blushes.

    The point anyway is that what you’re seeing is what McDowell normally does. Cheap jibes and unsubstantiated smears.

    “But the irony is that the kind of journalism advocated by McDowell would circumvent a politician’s capacity to manipulate a media more intent on following personal fortunes than cutting into the reality of what politicians and political parties are actually up to.”

    And there again, his actions tell us something very very different. He’s in the process at the moment of introducing privacy legislation which will make it even more difficult for Irish media to scrutinise public figures.

    You see, McDowell really wants to tell media what it ought to be. That’s the thrust of the article you quoted above. He’s speaking much more as totalitarian, than anything that can be descibed as liberal.

    The liberal approach is totally different. “Laisser faire”.

    Let media do as it does, warts and all. So long as you get the diversity right there’ll be all the self-correcting mechanisms you’ll ever need.

    That’s classical liberalism!

    “As for ‘coming for Sinn Fein’, I’m not sure what you mean? Can you be more” specific?”

    His history of similar smears and unsubstantiated allegations against Republicans is well known. But he’s overreached in attacking Bruton. They always do. And then they expose just how hollow what they’ve been saying really is.

    If you really want to understand where McDowell is coming from, you could do worse than paying attention to Eoghan Harris’s regular statements on the matter. When at RTE Harris was one of the big supporters of censorship. Now outside RTE, Harris is a regular critic of what he thinks is the wooly liberalism at the heart of RTE.

    That’s where McDowell is coming from

  • “But journalists are obliged to serve the over riding purposes of democracy, surely? A vote every five years is not perfect, but its beats spurious moral authority of the circulation figures.”

    They’re obliged to do their job to the best of their ability, Mick. Nothing else.

    No longer the gatekeepers.

    And there’s no moral authority from circulation figures.. nor from a vote every five years.

    That only provides the next group of TDs, MPs or, perhaps, MLAs.

    Given the choice between a too strident journalism and a too meek one?.. I’ll take the too strident every time and trust my own facilities in deciding if they’re coming from a party political agenda – and too many of them are.

    I was probably too harsh on John Lloyd though. I doubt that he seeks the public service broadcasters that ‘de anarchist’ describes, nor do I believe that Michael McDowell does either. But it is a risk inherent in pursing that type of constraint on any media.

    It could, perhaps, be more readily resolved by removing the state from the media completely?

  • mick de dublin anarchist

    It’s there in black and white (with respect to what ‘public service’ broadcasters should be doing):

    “not struggling with political power, but struggling together with that power’s best instincts”

  • Mick Fealty

    Robert,

    Thanks for that. I notice though that you’ve, so far, eschewed any analysis of the actual text.

    Pete,

    Strident journalism is definitely preferred to quiescence.

    Some of the problem is a post Watergate culture within journalism, which imagines there is a break-in or a slush fund capable of being cracked at every moment.

    I get a very strong sense that this leads to one very obvious corollary: ie, too many people are man watching rather than ball watching. My complaint as a reader is that it’s too easy on politicians, not too hard.

    There is an important distinction between scepticism and cynicism. The former is an essential tool of journalism, the second corrosive of it.

  • Mick Fealty

    Mick de…,

    As an anarchist, I cannot fault either your logic or your consistency. But it would be good to have your extended view of what makes good journalism and what doesn’t.

  • Robert

    Mick Fealty wrote:

    “Thanks for that. I notice though that you’ve, so far, eschewed any analysis of the actual text.”

    If you pay attention you’ll see that I’ve done that throughout. The point is that McDowell is worse than the worst of journalism in terms of his contribution to public discourse. He does everything that he accuses them of doing, and then some more.

    So the first thing is the discrepancy between the actions of the man and his words above.

    There are some quite serious howlers in the piece which also indicate a desire on McDowell’s part to dictate what media ought to be. That’s not the liberal way. Diversity and then letting things take their course is the liberal way.

    Here’s a good example:

    “There are signs that a minority of journalists and programme makers have decided they want to be political players – that their legal obligations of impartiality and objectivity are boring, outdated, style-cramping counsels of perfection. There are signs that some of them want to be agenda setters. There are signs that some feel that they are better at choosing the battlefields for elected politicians than are those politicians themselves.”

    This could only come from a man who hadn’t the foggiest notion about print culture and how it began the political pamphleteers and subsequent newspapers. They were always political. There is no separation between public discourse and democracy and politics. That only happens in totalitarian societies.

    So back to what liberalism is supposed to be about. It’s supposed to be about a diversity of opinion competing in public discourse, something McDowell has a very bad record on.

    In sum, the piece you quoted has nothing to do with liberalism, and everything to do with reining in the free expression of varied opinion.

  • mick de dublin anarchist

    Mick: best attribute of good journalism: honesty
    next best attribute is an appreciation of fallibility on the part of the journalist
    Also important is an appreciation of how power (political, economic, cultural, etc) can and does manipulate and control the output of the media.
    It is also good to realise that power can even warp one’s own perceptions, which demands a commitment to self-examination about one’s preconceptions and a genuine attempt to let people speak for themselves as much as possible. But I would think that 😉

    But this piece isn’t anything to do with journalism. If you take the references to representative democracy and how it is contrasted with the ‘plebiscite’ – what on earth has that to do with journalistic ethics? The only possible point that I can see to it is the implication that “us politicians were the ones who they voted for, you public service broadcasters should sell our message” – which is a recipe for pravda.

    For example, you can simply change the local references in the paragraph quoted below, without changing any of the semantics, and it looks like it could well have been an exhortation from the CCCP politburo in the late 80’s

    “The party and communism are everywhere under pressure. Most media, and many new political movements, implicitly or explicitly prefer some form of plebiscite – through polls, or mass rallies, or audience figures – to the will of the party. It is clear from the history of the twentieth century to what dangers that leads. The strength of the Soviet Union, as of our allies, has long been the ability of commissars to make the judgments and effect the compromises necessary to relatively peaceful, relatively prosperous, relatively equable and civilized life. The media have been the beneficiaries of that: time, now, to take a more active hand in its protection.

  • Mick Fealty

    Mick,

    That’s by far the most interesting comment so far. The first part’s not a million miles away from Lloyd’s concept of civic journalism.

  • mark

    Vincent Browne had a lot to say on McDowell’s lecture in the Village (Village links can be a little temperamental so I’ll add as much of the text below as I think Mick is allowed without permission and hope the link kicks in later)

    McDowell’s troubling questions and confusions
    by Vincent Browne
    Thursday, February 23, 2006

    On 9 February Minister for Justice Michael McDowell delivered a challenging lecture to the media in Ireland, which got surprisingly little media attention. It raised issues pressingly relevant to the media in general and to the role of the media in politics. Here we reproduce some of the key elements of the lecture, along with a commentary
    It may well suit us from an economic point of view to regard media activity as the doings of a number of competitive enterprises. But between them, the mass media have an effective oligopoly on news, commentary, ideas, social innovation and publicly expressed opinion. Apart from door to door canvassing, leaflet distribution mail shots and the long extinct “public rally”, the media provides the central modern arena of democratic politics. Whoever controls media content, in large measure controls our democratic debate and, in effect, the main workings of our democracy.
    This is a significant acknowledgement: that it is not the politicians, let alone the electorate, that controls our “democratic debate”, rather it is the media, now largely owed and controlled by powerful vested interests, in many instances, foreign corporate vested interests. It raises the obvious question: in what way can such a debate be deemed “democratic” if the agenda for that debate is not set by the participants or by the listeners?
    There has been a paradigm shift from parliament to radio and TV as the focus or centre of political debate. In the print media, by contrast, parliamentary coverage is under pressure. From a democratic point of view, therefore, it matters crucially who owns and controls the media and how the media owners exercise that ownership and control.
    Yes, an obvious corollary of the point made earlier but what has he or this Government ever suggested we do about this? There clearly is no disposition to do anything about the concentration of media ownership, in part, one suspects, because of fear what the corporate media barons would do in retaliation. He argued that the public service media should not take its cue from the private media and should be critical of the private media. But how does this fit with an objection to the public service media seeking to establish an independent agenda, seeking to ask different questions, seeking to shape the democratic debate outside the parameters decided by the private corporate media?
    He hints public service media should conform to the agenda set by politicians themselves. But he has already conceded that politicians do not set the agenda, it is the private media.

    For the rest you’ll have to wait until the link works, buy it, find a copy or email a friend.

  • Brian Boru

    McDowell is my favourite Cabinet minister because he has increased deportations of illegal immigrants from virtually zero under O’Donoghue to hundreds now. House prices are going up too high and immigrants are pushing them higher. I am glad he forbids asylum-seekers from working as otherwise, they would compete for jobs on the basis of low pay (especially coming from countries earning $1 a day) and we would have more Irish Ferries.

    “That this message comes from the Minister of Justice, and not from within Irish journalism itself, is a poor reflection on the maturity of the debate in Ireland north and south.”

    I don’t think they are anything as bad as the British in certain respects. Recall the resignations from the Tories because of hounding over affairs. This could never happen in the Republic. Yes the media mention politicians’ private lives from time to time – the worst example being the outing of a gay FF councillor in Wexford, but he has refused to resign and radio polls show over 90% support for him. That wouldn’t be the case in Britain. I think that despite the lack of church-going in modern Britain, that there remains an underlying Puritanical streak which expects politicians to be purer than pure in moral terms (while not requiring it of themselves of course) and which demands – in traditional Puritanical form – punishment for “sins”. I’m glad we don’t have that down here.

    Criticisms can be made of our press – but they still compare favourably with those of the UK. Reporting of the Liam Lawlor death was nothing short of disgraceful, but I consider it a fluke. I agree we may need laws to protect people’s reputations when allegations have not been proven against them. Both in Britain and Ireland, there is a trial by media of suspects – with quotes from the trial being splashed on front pages of the tabloids as if they are facts. By the time the person is cleared (if they are), their reputation may nonetheless be irretrievably in ruins. Perhaps during a trial, the media should not be allowed to publish a suspect’s name unless they are later found guilty. Otherwise, the media are effectively a star chamber in terms of being able to ruin a reputation on the basis of unproven allegations and hearsay. Remember in particular the cases in the North of the Barnardo’s workers who were wrongly convicted of child-abuse and whose convictions were later overturned. So I welcome McDowell’s plans for a Press Council, although I am unsure if the latter concerns I have mentioned will be dealt with by it. But something needs to change. At least the UK has a Press Complaints Commission – albeit a rather toothless after the event one. Ours hopefully won’t be toothless. At the same time it should not interfere in political criticisms.It’s remit should be strictly limited.

    I agree with McDowell on “agenda setting journalists” even while I would defend their right to set agendas – at least in the private-sector. I personally share his discomfort with excessive agenda-setting in RTE – especially regarding immigration – in which our asylum-policies have sometimes been referred to as “cruel and heartless”. I was especially angered by the blatently partisan way in which the channel seemed to be supporting the Palmerstown pupils (successful) campaign to get Olunkunle Eluhanla brought back to Ireland. This is probably the sort of agenda-setting McDowell is talking about. I hear “Kunle” has just become a father – a week or so before he is due to be deported. Very convenient for his judicial review. Thought we had a referendum on the issue of people having children to stay in Ireland? Is that what this was about? Why did we not hear about the pregnancy months ago? I have a fair idea why! I think we are entitled to expect RTE to allow both sides of the argument on immigration to be heard. The agenda-setting on this issue has to stop. The private-sector can have whatever opinions it wants, but as a publicly-funded channel, we are entitled to ask for more impartiality from RTE.

    Another aspect of agenda-setting from RTE in my opinion was their treatment of FF shortly after the 2002 landslide. Almost immediately, they started demonising the party as making “cuts” when in fact I think they were announcing lower spending increases than expected. That is not a cut. While FF is not blameless in its predicament in the polls, RTE is mostly responsible for it in my opinion. Again we need more impartiality. I am not sure if I will vote for them next time, but they haven’t always received a fair hearing since 2002 – and that’s wrong.

  • Mark

    Vincent Browne [remind us again of his various media interests?] always has a lot to say on this particular topic.. strangely.. ANYway, arguably, he’s one of the journalists with the most to learn from this discussion..

  • Felix Quigley

    McDowell wrote

    “There are signs that a minority of journalists and programme makers have decided they want to be political players – that their legal obligations of impartiality and objectivity are boring, outdated, style-cramping counsels of perfection. There are signs that some of them want to be agenda setters. ”

    McDowell is dead right in that though I am not sure of the “minority” aspect, I think it is the Media as a whole.

    I am thinking in particular as to how the whole of the Media were united in a campaign to attack the Serb nation, a small people of some 8 miillions, as nazis. This INTENSIFIED as their country was being bombed by NATO.

    Were there any exceptions to this portrayal in the Media? None that I could find.

    At the same time the Media as a whole went easy on Croatian fascism and certainly the Media as a whole portrayed the Bosnian Muslim Government under Izetbegovic as moderate Muslims, when in fact they were Islamofascists of the worst kind, aided directly by Iran and Bin Laden.

    McDowell is absolutely correct and good for him for stating it (for whatever reasons)