17 February 2015

UK Journalist Calls Out 'Fraud on Readers' in Coverage of HSBC

“An editorial operation that is clearly influenced by advertising is classic appeasement. Once a very powerful body know they can exert influence they know they can come back and threaten you. It totally changes the relationship you have with them. You know that even if you are robust you won’t be supported and will be undermined...

The coverage of HSBC in Britain's Daily Telegraph is a fraud on its readers. If major newspapers allow corporations to influence their content for fear of losing advertising revenue, democracy itself is in peril.”

A 'principled resignation' is a phenomenon somewhat unfamiliar to US readers.  Rarely does a public figure or a politician resign because they is something they won't do to get along.  They resign because they get caught doing something that is so repugnant to public sentiment that they are finished, at least for a while.  We have a marvelous way of excusing and ignoring behavior in the selected elite that would shame a garbageman into changing their name and moving.

And so a decline in journalistic standards is not as great of an issue in the States, because the major media was captured by a handful of corporations in the 1990's, in part thanks to Bill Clinton's change in ownership rules.

So one might ask, what standards?  What were the standards that allowed the lies that have led to war, that covered up mass spying and torture, and that allowed one of the greatest thefts of the public trust in history to occur in the 'bank bailouts,' with a coordinated suppression of any meaningful protest?

In the recent World Press Freedom Index, the US ranked 49th, in same tier as Romania, El Salvador, and Niger.

Their standards have long been so low that journalist may be more of a hollow title on a business card than a calling to a profession with time-honored standards.
In the States, journalistic independence and integrity were some years ago led down a blind alley, and quietly strangled. 

The capture of key institutions of democracy are already well underway or in place.  Where this leads, one cannot say.   But it does not bode well.

Even television spokesmodels and serial liars are considered 'credentialed journalists' in good standing as long as they remain within the well defined bounds of the corporatist credibility trap.
Why I Have Resigned From the Telegraph
Peter Osborne
17 February 2015

...With the collapse in standards has come a most sinister development. It has long been axiomatic in quality British journalism that the advertising department and editorial should be kept rigorously apart. There is a great deal of evidence that, at the Telegraph, this distinction has collapsed...

This brings me to a second and even more important point that bears not just on the fate of one newspaper but on public life as a whole. A free press is essential to a healthy democracy. There is a purpose to journalism, and it is not just to entertain. It is not to pander to political power, big corporations and rich men. Newspapers have what amounts in the end to a constitutional duty to tell their readers the truth.

It is not only the Telegraph that is at fault here. The past few years have seen the rise of shadowy executives who determine what truths can and what truths can’t be conveyed across the mainstream media. The criminality of News International newspapers during the phone hacking years was a particularly grotesque example of this wholly malign phenomenon. All the newspaper groups, bar the magnificent exception of the Guardian, maintained a culture of omerta around phone-hacking, even if (like the Telegraph) they had not themselves been involved. One of the consequences of this conspiracy of silence was the appointment of Andy Coulson, who has since been jailed and now faces further charges of perjury, as director of communications in 10 Downing Street...

This was the pivotal moment. From the start of 2013 onwards stories critical of HSBC were discouraged. HSBC suspended its advertising with the Telegraph. Its account, I have been told by an extremely well informed insider, was extremely valuable. HSBC, as one former Telegraph executive told me, is “the advertiser you literally cannot afford to offend”. HSBC today refused to comment when I asked whether the bank's decision to stop advertising with the Telegraph was connected in any way with the paper's investigation into the Jersey accounts.

Read the entire article at OpenDemocracy here.
 Here are some selections from financial television.  I do not mean to pick on CNBC.  Bloomberg and Fox are certainly no better, and in many ways probably worse. 

And the mainstream media now pretty much follows the same patterns on its high gloss coverage whether it be on television or in print.
But if you watch the shows on Sunday morning where very serious people come to discuss important public and foreign policy issues of war and peace, basic freedoms, the economy, what you find is a pre-sorted selection of talking heads hurling the latest ying and yang of corporatist spin at each other, with the occasional honest individual, never to be invited again, who is harangued by the network 'journalist.'