In the Lyrical Ballads, a collection of essays and poems by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the latter coined the phrase “the willing suspension of disbelief.” It enabled the reader to overlook the logical improbabilities or fanciful concoctions to achieve “poetic faith”.
A modern equivalent might be “magical realism,” a term conceived by the German writer Franz Roh in 1925. Magical realism was a style of fiction that painted a realistic view of the modern world while also adding magical elements.
Both terms are appropriate when one considers modern journalism, especially as applied to some of the major stories of 2018. Four events during that year illustrate the point.
Although not strictly speaking a 2018 story, it nonetheless ran strongly through 2018, blending a number of sub stories, all with the common element of Russia bashing.
Following the United States inspired and financed Maidan coup in February 2014, the Crimeans decided to hold a referendum as to whether or not they would remain part of Ukraine (to whom they were ‘gifted’ by Khrushchev in 1954 after hundreds of years as part of Russia), or revert to being part of what was now the Russian Federation.
A referendum overwhelmingly voted to rejoin Russia. Although the process was far more democratic than was the case with Kosovo leaving Serbia (which the West supported) the Crimean move has been consistently referred to in the western media as an example, variously, of a “Russian invasion,” or “Russian aggression.”
Contrary facts are simply ignored. A similar inability to distinguish fact from fiction was also applied to the Ukrainian shooting down of MH17, or the manifestly staged provocation in the Kerch Strait linking the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov.
Actual evidence in respect of these matters is simply not reported in the western media. It is a phenomenon George Orwell would readily recognise where only “newspeak” is allowed, and dissenters and “unpersons” never seen or heard.
The second illustration is the ongoing war in Syria and western media allegations that Syria’s President Assad used chemical weapons against the civilian population. The White Helmets, a British led group of fake emergency responders feature prominently in multiple Syria related stories, but never portrayed for what they really are. On the ground independent reporters such as Vanessa Beeley are simply ignored.
The alleged chemical attack at Douma on 7 April 2018 was immediately used to justify the bombing of Syria by United States, United Kingdom and French military forces before there had even been an inquiry, much less a finding adverse to the Syrian government.
When the OPCW released their interim report on 17 July 2018 they concluded “no organophosphate nerve agents or their degradation products were found.” There was no apology from the US, UK or France. No compensation was paid to the victims of their bombing.
Instead, there was a media blackout, just as one can never find in the mainstream media any articles arguing that the US led “Coalition” fighting in Syria is there in violation of international law.
Australia’s politicians pretend to have legal justification, but refuse to release the advice upon which this claim is founded. Similarly, part of the alleged justification for attacking Syria is a supposed invitation from the Iraqi Government, who have has flatly denied any such invitation. None of this is reported in the mainstream media.
The third ongoing farce is the Mueller “investigation” into what is boldly claimed (not alleged, but stated as a fact) Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. That not a shred of actual evidence has been produced to support this claim is again simply ignored. Instead, each indictment brought by Mueller against sundry bit players in the Trump campaign, and individuals who don’t even qualify as such, is treated as ‘corroboration’ of Russian interference.
The careful demolition of the ‘Russia interference’ meme by respected investigative analyst Gareth Porter (www.consortiumnews.com 10 October 2018) is of course completely ignored.
The final illustration is the alleged of poisoning with “Novichok” of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury in March 2018. This was immediately blamed on Russia, again before an investigation had been concluded, followed by sanctions, the expulsion of Russian diplomats (including by Australia) and a general tirade of abuse against Russia in general and President Putin in particular.
The Skripal case is a classic illustration of Coleridge’s willing suspension of disbelief, Roh’s magical realism and Orwell’s doublethink (the act of simultaneously accepting two mutually contradictory beliefs as correct) all rolled into one.
Rob Slane (www.theblogmire.com 9 January 2019) has brilliantly deconstructed the many logical, scientific and political absurdities in the official story. One will wait in vain for the merest hint of this demolition in the mainstream media.
One possible reason for this non-coverage of the actual evidence and instead a non-stop barrage of disinformation, suppression of evidence and manipulation of the public can be found in the activities of a shadowy organisation known as the Institute for Statecraft, and one of its projects known as the Integrity Initiative (sic).
Fresh revelations are emerging about this project on a daily basis and a proper analysis must await developments. Suffice to note at this point that the Integrity Initiative is known to be funded by the United Kingdom government, ostensibly to counter ‘Russian disinformation.’ It is rather a major project to spread falsehoods about Russia through “clusters” of journalists working in mainstream media outlets.
The latter have gone beyond the willing suspension of disbelief and instead actively promote disinformation they know to be untrue. It is not only potential embarrassment that prevents this story getting the attention it deserves. It is a strong suspicion, no more than that at the time of writing, that a D Notice has been issued in the United Kingdom and Australia.
The effect has been to prevent discussion of what is an extraordinary campaign to mislead the public, attack opposition politicians and the alternative media, and generally undermine what used to be regarded as a free press.
That some of the same personnel involved in the Integrity Initiative are also involved in the Skripal matter (itself subject to a D Notice) reinforces the belief that this project has wider tentacles than originally thought.
It seems that Coleridge, Roh and Orwell will continue to be highly relevant through 2019.
James O’Neill is a barrister at law and geopolitical analyst. He may be contacted at [email protected]
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