Neil Clark writes:
The Times used to be regarded as Britain’s newspaper of record. But in recent years, the historic title, once renowned for its sober and balanced coverage, has morphed into a crude neocon propaganda organ.
It is shilling endlessly for US-led wars and ‘interventions’ and attacking - often in the most obnoxious way possible - those who dare to question the War Party narrative.
Needless to say, RT - which urges its viewers to ‘Question More’ (a very dangerous thing in an age of Imperial Truth Enforcement) - has been in The Times’s line of fire.
In fact, over one weekend at the end of July and the beginning of August - a time when most normal people turn their mind to things like ice cream, sun loungers and beaches - the Murdoch-owned newspaper ran at least six articles on RT.
And attack pieces on Russia’s Sputnik news agency too, making it a total of seven Russian media-focused hit pieces in just two and a half days.
These pieces are not just about criticizing RT, which of course everyone has the right to do.
They also seem to be about trying to exert pressure on regulatory bodies to go after RT and take action against a channel that doesn’t toe the neocon editorial line.
One of the articles was an opinion piece claiming that RT was a “fake news channel” which had “no place on our screens”.
The author, one ‘Oliver Kamm,’ has been in the forefront of The Times’s campaign, and, based on the tone and the general take, might have been the author of otherwise authorless introduction editorial to the aforementioned seven-piece Times slam.
Earlier, in October 2014, Kamm wrote a hit piece on the launch of RT UK in which he urged UK media regulator Ofcom to take action against what he called “a den of deceivers”.
Kamm‘s anti-RT diatribe was cited by the BBC and subsequently even made it to a prominent placement on Wikipedia’s page about RT UK.
This week, he was at it again.
One day after the news broke that NatWest was to close RT UK’s bank accounts, Kamm declared in a furious Times column that denying RT a bank account was “the least of the problems we should be making for it.”
“It’s past time that Britain’s civil society, broadcasting regulator and elected government ceased pussyfooting around with RT,” he thundered.
Once again, Kamm’s piece made it to a prominent placement on RT UK’s Wikipedia page.
But who is this ‘Oliver Kamm’, the man who sets himself up as a media censor and an arbiter of journalistic standards?
Based on my personal experience, he seems to be more an obsessive and extremely creepy cyber-stalker, rather than a journalist.
Kamm’s Internet behaviour, which involves the relentless hounding of principled anti-war activists, is truly shocking.
But no less scandalous is the way that powerful and influential members of the UK’s neocon establishment have promoted and protected him.
Having been digitally stalked and defamed by Kamm for over 10 years, after I critically reviewed his pro Iraq War book for the Daily Telegraph in 2005, I decided earlier this month to publish a detailed 6,000 word expose of Kamm’s very disturbing and very vicious stalking campaigns, prior to launching a crowd-funded legal action against him and his employers.
Rather than reining Kamm in after detailed evidence of his stalking was presented to them, The Times instead clearly decided to make the ex-banker and hedge fund manager, who had no background in journalism before he was appointed a leader writer on the paper in 2008, the man to spearhead their attacks on RT.
By doing so, the credibility of the paper has been tarnished still further.
Kamm tweets obsessively about RT, denigrating it as a ‘fake’ station that hardly anyone watches
But if it were true that hardly anyone watched RT, then the obvious question would be: why does The Times’s leader writer devote so much time and energy to attacking it?
The answer is clear: Kamm targets RT not because it’s unpopular, of course, but because too many are watching.
A European Parliament briefing paper from last November admitted that RT had “garnered a huge global audience.”
“It is estimated to have 2.5 million viewers in the UK (year-on-year, a rise of 60%) and 3 million in US urban areas, while in South Africa it is by far the largest European news channel.”
The paper also conceded that: “Russian-language media broadcast from Western countries do not enjoy the same popularity in Russia as RT does in the West.”
In 2014, we were told that the BBC World’s Service feared losing ‘the information war’, because of the expansion of RT.
Meanwhile, the journalist Glenn Greenwald has noted Kamm’s prominence in the anti-RT campaign and highlighted the double standards involved:
“The most vocal among the anti-RT crowd - on the ground that it spreads lies and propaganda — such as Nick Cohen and Oliver Kamm — were also the most aggressive peddlers of the pro-U.K.-government conspiracy theories and lies that led to the Iraq War.
“That people like this, with their histories of pro-government propaganda, are the ones demanding punishment of RT for “bias” tells you all you need to know about what is really at play here,” Greenwald wrote.
The good news for those who want to see a media landscape where a wide range of views are heard, and not just neocon and ‘liberal interventionist’ ones officially approved by The Times, is that the attacks seem to have been counterproductive.
Establishment gatekeepers who think they have the right to tell us what channels to watch and which to boycott are finding that their influence is on the wane.
RT’s popularity, despite the relentless neocon campaign against it - or perhaps partly because of it - continues to grow.